I’ve written elsewhere about the false dichotomy pushed by some pastors, primarily from the Calvinist camp, between doing good to our neighbors and preaching. Their primary argument is people need salvation more than they need healing. We will set aside the ironic fact in the New Testament the two words, salvation and healing, are one Greek word. What we need to look at is Jesus. What did he do and should we imitate it?
In Acts, the apostles’ emphasis in their preaching was the actions Jesus, what he did. The beginning of Acts says it is a story of what Jesus taught AND did, not just what he taught. They preached, “God anointed Jesus…He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil…” (Acts 10:38).
What is the good Jesus did? He healed the sick, the lame, the blind. He set free those in bondage to sin and Satan. He proclaimed a gospel of the kingdom of God and his justice.
The stories of Jesus inspires us, and even compels us, to do the same. The early church was so inspired by the stories of Jesus they created a community of generosity.
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need… with glad and generous hearts.” Acts 2:25, 26
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common… There was not a needy person among them…” Acts 4:32, 34
These tight-knit communities are the envy of the world – trying to emulate “everything in common” without the need for heart change. Unfortunately, the American Church has largely ignored these passages for the sake of our individualistic ideals. We have over spiritualized the salvation process to be merely an intellectual issue masquerading as a heart issue. The whole person is what needs to be saved, the mind, soul, and body.
Preaching a half gospel is not enough. The whole gospel, one in which everyone has their needs met, both physical and spiritual, is the one the world needs right now. The Church here in American needs to pick up the banner of Jesus Christ and go about doing good.