"We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent. God will reclaim this world and rule forever. The earth’s groaning will cease and God will dwell with us here in a restored creation. On that day we will beat swords into tools for cultivating the earth, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, there will be no more death, and God will wipe away all our tears. Our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation will be whole. All will flourish as God intends. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. And we are giving our lives to living out that future reality now."
I was recently reading through Luke and was struck by the emphasis on money and the poor, especially how generosity is bound up with conversion. I could point to many examples, but will limit myself to three from Luke and one from 2 Corinthians.
In the third chapter, John the Baptist is preparing the way as the prophet Isaiah predicted he would. John is calling the crowd to repentance, and they ask, "What should we do then?" (3.10) John answers, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same" (3.11). Then some tax collectors came and asked the same question. John says, "Don't collect any more than you are required to" (3.13). Then when some soldiers asked him the same, he replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely - be content with your pay" (3.14).
Do you remember the story where the Pharisee was surprised that Jesus didn't wash before he ate (11.37-41)? Jesus told him that they cleaned the outside of the cup but were full of greed and wickedness on the inside. He goes on to say, "But now as for what is inside you - be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you" (11.41).
Then we have the wee little man. Zacchaeus told Jesus that then and there he'd give half of his stuff to the poor and pay back anyone he'd cheated four-fold (19.8). Jesus responds by saying, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham (19.9).
Finally, in 2 Corinthians 8-9, the Apostle Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to give generously to the poor saints. In 9.13, he writes, "Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else."
Have you converted?
"From a comprehensive theological perspective the gospel is the good news of the coming of Jesus - who he is, his mission, above all his death and resurrection, the inauguration of the final eschatological kingdom even now, and all that this means for how we live as individuals and as the church, the eschatological people of God, in fulfilment of all the promises God made in the scriptures that led up to Jesus."
Pope Carson, "The Biblical Gospel"
Pope Carson, "The Biblical Gospel"
"They prate that the ceremonial works of the law are excluded, not the moral works. They become so proficient by continual wrangling that they do not even grasp the first elements of logic. Do they think that the apostle was raving when he brought forward these passages to prove his opinion? 'The man who does these things will live in them' [Gal. 3:12], and, 'Cursed be every one who does not fulfill all things written in the book of the law' [Gal. 3:10 p.]. Unless they have gone mad they will not say that life was promised to keepers of ceremonies or the curse announced only to those who transgress the ceremonies. If these passages are to be understood of the moral law, there is no doubt that moral works are also excluded from the power of justifying. These arguments which Paul uses look to the same end: 'Since through the law comes knowledge of sin' [Rom. 3:20], therefore not righteousness. Because 'the law works wrath' [Rom. 4:15], hence not righteousness. Because the law does not make conscience certain, it cannot confer righteousness either. Because faith is imputed as righteousness, righteousness is therefore not the reward of works but is given unearned [Rom. 4:4-5]. Because we are justified by faith, our boasting is cut off [Rom. 3:27 p.]. 'If a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But God consigned all things to sin that the promise might be given to those who believe.' [Gal. 3:21-22 p.] Let them now babble, if they dare, that these statements apply to ceremonies, not to morals. Even schoolboys would hoot at such impudence. Therefore, let us hold as certain that when the ability to justify is denied to the law, these words refer to the whole law."