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40,000 "Christians" Threatened

posted Aug 23, 2014, 12:44 PM by hbchurch org   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 5:42 PM ]

   The terrible human tragedy in northern Iraq is undoubtedly tugging at the heart strings of many people. You have likely heard about 40,000 “Christians” trapped on top of Mt. Sinjar with little more than the clothes on their backs, being torn between two unthinkable choices. They can die (either by starvation or beheading at the hands of the Islamic State) or convert to Islam. Daily appeals are being made to “Christians” all over the world to help these people. Solicitations for aid are being sought from individuals and churches. How should we respond?

   Students of the N.T. know that we have scriptural authority for churches to take money from a congregation’s treasury and send financial assistance to another congregation where there are needy brethren (1 Cor. 16:1-3; Rom. 15:25-26). Question: “Should we, as a congregation, send money to help the stricken people in Iraq?”

   The need is real; that’s not the issue. Do we have the ability to help? Yes, we have money in our treasury. That leaves us with one question, “Are these people needy saints (Christians)?” Maybe this is a good time to be reminded of God’s description of a Christian.

   Most people think of a Christian as anyone who believes that Christ was a real person and they probably are connected with some group having a similar conviction. This makes for a cozy conglomeration of religious people often referred to as believers. But with no definite guidelines for one’s beliefs, anything goes as long as it can be tied to Jesus in some way. The result is what the world calls “Christendom”. Is this what we learn about Christians from reading the New Testament?  No!

   The first use of Christian is in reference to those who had been “added to the Lord” in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:24, 26). We know from Acts 2:47 that the only ones who were added to the Lord on Pentecost were believing, penitent, baptized people who responded to the apostles’ teaching. People who heed divine instruction (the New Testament) are also disciples. This is why the true Christians of Acts 11 were also known as disciples. They obeyed the Gospel (2 Thes. 1:8), i.e. the divine pattern for their salvation as it was preached by inspired men in the first century (Rom. 6:17).

   Since Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9), then those who are not obeying are not really His true followers or disciples. They are not truly Christians even though they are referred to as Christians by many people. Here is the problem: Satan has convinced myriads that it is possible to be a Christian and follow a man’s teaching instead of adhering to the Lord’s will. Today, the world uses Christian generically just like medicine refers to a variety of very different items.

   Christian is NOT generic; it is used three times in the N.T. referring exclusively to disciples of Christ. A disciple is literally a “learner or follower” of Christ who must “abide in His teaching”. Those who don’t are cut off from God (2 Jn 9). 

   So who are the people on Mt. Sinjar? Reportedly, they are Yazidis “the world’s oldest and smallest monotheistic minority”. They “worship one god and honor seven angles” while rejecting the idea of sin, the devil, and hell. They obviously do not follow the teaching of Christ or His apostles. They are not Christians, but this does not mean that we don’t care about them. They are fellow human beings in a desperate situation. Even though they are not Christians we still have the opportunity to help. But how? 

   We would be violating God’s will if we used money from the church’s treasury for general benevolence, i.e. for anyone who is not a needy saint. This sounds cold and hardhearted to most people. What they don’t realize is that as individuals we can contribute to any worthy cause from our own personal resources. In fact, God holds people accountable for their charitableness (or lack thereof) cf. Romans 1:31. Also, we can pray for political leaders who might be able to use national resources to help (1 Tim. 2:1-2). God ordained civil government as an instrument for protecting the rights of innocent people and punishing evil doers (Rom. 13:1-4). Human wisdom may question the limitations God’s word places upon our collective actions, but to “go beyond” His teaching is tantamount to disbelief. Trust Him. His way is always right.   

Ken Dart