Dynamic Christian Hospitality and Strangers - RR166A1
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Someone has said that there are three important facts. First, there is a God. Second, He has spoken to us in the Bible. Third, He means what He says. Apparently the church does not take that too seriously. Because, the Bible has a great deal to say to us about hospitality and we rarely hear about the subject. In ancient Israel hospitality was more than a question of good manners. It was, as someone, a scholar has said, a moral institution. Covenant members were reminded that they were once strangers in Egypt and that they were called to a Godly way of dealing with one another. Job declared, “The stranger did lodge in the street but I opened my door to the traveler.” In the New Testament era hospitality was more important than ever especially outside of Judea. It was in the Roman Empire routinely assumed that travelling men wanted a prostitute together with their room. If they rejected the girl they sent in a boy. It was not therefore very wise to go to an inn in the Roman Empire. Missionaries like Paul in going to a new city went to a synagogue in order to be invited to someone’s home. We have thus two kinds of hospitality mentioned in Scripture. First, towards strangers and aliens. Second, towards fellow covenant members. This latter is strongly stressed in the New Testament because Christians were resented and hated by Jews and pagans alike and because persecution sometimes drove Christians from one city to another. [00:02:32]
If the church were to survive a continuing concern...
If the church were to survive a continuing concern for, and assistance of needy fellow Christians was urgently necessary. Thus, hospitality is strongly insisted on in the following verses from the New Testament. Romans 12:10-13, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another. Distributing to the necessity of saints. Given to hospitality.” I Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” Titus 1:8 “A bishop must be a lover of hospitality, a lover of good man, sober, just, holy, temperate.” “Use hospitality” 1 Peter 4:9 “one to another without grudging.” Hebrews 13:1-2 “Let brotherly love continue. Do not be forgetful to entertain stranger for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9 “For as touching brotherly love you need not that I write unto you for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” 1 Peter 1:22 “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.” 2 Peter 1:7 “And add to your faith to Godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity.” And then, 1John 3:10 “And this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God neither doth he that loveth not his brother.” Now, it is important that these texts be not divorced from the rest of Scripture. Neither hospitality nor charity are unconditional in Scripture. Some qualifications among others appear in the following verses. In Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you this we commanded you that if any should not work neither should he eat.” 2 John 10,11 “If there any come unto you and receive not this doctrine receive him not into your house neither bid him Godspeed. For he that biddest him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Romans 16:7 “Now I besiege you brethren mark them that cause division and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them.” And then in 1 Corinthians 5:11 that “Now I have written unto not to keep company if some man who is called a brother is a fornicator or covetous or an idolater or a railer or a drunkard or an extortioner. With such a one no not to eat.” And then finally 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14 “Now we command you brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you withdraw yourselves from every brethren that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition that you received from us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle note that man and have no company with him that he may be ashamed.” These verses are important because they establish limits to hospitality and to charity; two related virtues. Turning back to the verses on hospitality we see first that the Old Testament requirement of helping the stranger is strongly stressed by Hebrews 13:1-2. Second, brotherly love is closely tied to charity and hospitality in Romans 12:10-13. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9, in 1 Peter 1:22, 2 Peter 1:7 and it is implicit in 1 John 3:10. Third, brotherly love is tied to justice or righteousness in 1 John 3:10. [00:07:18]
Fourth, such behavior is obeying the truth according...
Fourth, such behavior is obeying the truth according to 1 Peter 1:22. In brief, as in ancient Israel hospitality and charity is a moral duty that Christians must discharge. They are both aspects of life in communion with God and in community with man. Now, it is at this point that we understand that persecutions set in against Christian hospitality and charity. It is an aspect of the war against the Christian community. When Christians help one another, when they receive into their midst the oppressed from other areas they manifest a government outside the government. They manifest a community. To illustrate episodes I have encountered in my travels, to illustrate this hostility. A church opened its doors daily in one city to feed the homeless and hungry who wandered close to and near to its doors. The church women brought food and the pastor before praying told these needy persons of his readiness to give counsel and help and the results were very good. The city fathers however declared that it was an unlicensed and uninspected food service and had to meet various impossible regulations or shut down. In many respects the churches food service was cleaner and superior to some of the nearby eating places which had city licenses. But this was an argument brushed aside by the city. What the church was doing as an act of Christian community was denied the right to exist. Another example. Six young mothers living in a particular area within a block of one another each had a preschool child. Inflation created problems, made it necessary for them to go to work and rightly so by what they saw at the state licensed daycare center. One of the six young mothers agreed to stay at home and care for all six children as her job and the other five paying her. The mother found the work a joy and she found that she enjoyed teaching. The children were taught to read, although they were preschool, given Christian instruction generally and all were happy with the arrangement. The state however learned of it and ruled it to be an unlicensed daycare center, declared that Bible teaching and prayers were illegal in any such facility and threatened the young mother with legal action against her. Now, this is the kind of thing that is going on all over the country against Christian hospitality and charity. These episodes are not unusual. They are as I indicated routine from coast to coast. The state is denying the right of the family and church to be free and independent communities. [00:11:18]
In the thinking of John Dewey and others the state...
In the thinking of John Dewey and others the state is the great community that must supersede all others and it therefore persecutes the concrete manifestations of Christian charity. In the days of the early church Rome bitterly resented the churches expressions of community. The churches good was evil spoken of (Ricke?) wrote, and I quote, “About the same time the pagan satirist, Lucien, of (Sama Satta?) circa 130 to 200 A.D. in the Death of Peregrinus jeered at the Christians for their universal charity. He said, “The earnestness with which the people of this religion help one another with their needs is incredible. They spare themselves nothing for this end. Their first lawgiver put it into their heads that they were all brethren.” Continues (Ficke?) again in the same period (Arburqeois?) a bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia after making the tour of the Roman world and visiting Rome was able to state in the epitaph on his tomb, “Everywhere I met brethren.” Lucian also wrote of the Christians whom he called, “Worshippers,” and I am quoting of that, “crucified (Sophis) but they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property.” [00:13:05]
That was because of their hospitality and charity...
That was because of their hospitality and charity. The Christians sense of community, their hospitality and charity, seemed to the Romans to be communism. The Romans accused the Christians of a variety of offenses, incest, sexual orgies, cannibalism and the like. They could not believe that people would gather together for other than evil purposes. And, in their experience this was often true in their circles. At any rate, the Christians were a community. From the earliest days they excommunicated ungodly members. As we see in 1 Corinthians 5 this is a very important fact because it tells us that the church is a government. It has the right in Christ to receive new members and to excommunicate ungodly ones. The states excommunications take the form of imprisonment, deprival of citizenship or the death penalty. The state out and out claims the power and right alone to judge and evaluate the people. Consider the Oklahoma case in Collinsville. A woman who did not deny the charge against her was flagrantly guilty of adultery. When the church sought to impose discipline on her she withdrew her membership and retained a lawyer. The church in terms of its denominational requirements excommunicated her and let the other churches of that denomination know of the excommunication so that she would not transfer to another church in that city unbeknownst to them. She sued. She won a judgment to the amount of $437,000.00 and it was based on the Tort of outrage and invasion of privacy. It went to the Supreme of Oklahoma recently which ruled that the church body had the right to excommunicate her but not to let anyone know that she was excommunicated. And so, it was remanded to the lower courts for retrial but it effectively gave the victory to the woman because they denied the right of the church to notify anyone of her excommunication. According to them they formulated the doctrine of consent no such thing could be done if it were published it had to be totally private, known only to the woman and the church board. And, as William D. Graves, an attorney wrote, “What if a free press was dependent upon the consent of the subject of an investigative article?” [00:16:34]
Implications of this case and others like it are obvious...
Implications of this case and others like it are obvious. I am at present involved as an expert witness in one such case in Seattle. The church established by Jesus Christ to be His redeeming community is in effect denied the right to exist except at the state’s toleration and on the state’s terms if at all. The church, its self-government, its hospitality and its charity like all other aspects of its life are now increasingly seen as within the province of the state. This raises an important point. The persecution of the early church was done legally. Mob action against Christians as in Acts 19 was normally discouraged. Rome did not want the people to take action. If someone had to be killed they wanted to do it. The Christians and their churches were persecuted legally and with meticulous attention to juridical procedures. We tend to think of persecution then and now as something outside the law. During most of history including now persecutions have been legally very clearly proper and fastidiously correct in terms of the state’s laws. Injustice often revels in legality. Today, step by step, the legal framework for the dismantling or the abolishing of Christian is underway. [00:18:31]
I began with a statement that from the Old Testament...
I began with a statement that from the Old Testament era hospitality has been and is a moral institution. That is not my statement but this can be said of every aspect of Christian life. And in all things, because of its faith in the Triune God and His infallible Word, Biblical faith has a moral requirement to meet. God’s law Word applies to all men and nations because He is the Creator and Governor over all. As against this however every civil government, every person agency or group which claims the right to legislate and govern without God and without God’s law, must urge war against and wage war against all who believe that God is the governor over man and nations. The humanistic state therefore wages war against Christianity. Our Lord says to His kingdom and its rulers, “And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bond on heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loose in heaven.” This means that all binding and loosing done in conformity to God’s lawword stands in terms of heaven and earth. The church has binding power to bless and curse according to God’s law within it sphere. The states excommunicating power must be in terms of God’s law, punishment in terms of what God declares to be wrong, not the state. The family has under God the power to discipline or punish its members as well as to prosper them under God. All life’s spheres have their God ordained powers. Our problem today is that the state denies God’s Lordship. It also denies the freedom of the various spheres of life outside itself. All must be under its jurisdiction it holds. Hospitality and charity are the free acts of morally motivated man in Christ. They have been replaced by welfarism which rests on the coercion of taxation and is depersonalized. It does not represent the concern of the community but rather of the actions of the state. Let me add, increasingly our immigration laws are biased against Christians coming here and if you want to let in some Russian immigrants who are Christians move fast. The doors are being shut to Christians and opened to the ungodly; the third world countries where there is no Christianity. Christians are not wanted. [00:22:07]
Two realms are in conflict here and elsewhere, the...
Two realms are in conflict here and elsewhere, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. Irenaeus, one of the early church fathers, in writing on the exodus of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, spoke of the Passover and of our communion as the source of freedom, the source of freedom. And the sadness as the celebration of our freedom. This view of Irenaeus seeks to confront men with the fact that their freedom, the source of their freedom, is in Christ who is our atonement, our redemption. And the view of humanistic statism freedom means that a country no matter how fearfully oppressed internally is a free country if it is not under a foreign power. President Gerald Ford actually called Poland a free country in the mid 1970’s merely because the Polish government ostensibly ruled. He disregarded the presence of the Russian army as George Bush is now disregarding it. In this statist perspective freedom is closer to slavery at times and it has always close to coercion for this reason the humanistic state cannot long tolerate the freedom, the self-government and the ruling power of the Christian church and community. The issue is in essence conversion or coercion. Either we work to convert our country and its people to Christ or we shall be coercist and persecuted into radical submission. Take your choice. [00:24:24]
This is the day of decisions before freedom is totally...
This is the day of decisions before freedom is totally whipped out in this country and it is disappearing rapidly. You no longer read about the trials of Christian schools and homeschoolers and parents or of churches. It is no longer carried in the news and not even the Christian media, so called, carries stories of it. It is not political discreet but it is taking place and you had better be aware of it. We are either going to Christianize this country or we shall be persecuted to the fullest extent of humanistic statist law. Take your choice. It demands faith and action in order to meet this crisis. [00:25:53]