Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Seeking the welfare of the city

"Seek the welfare of the city 
where I have sent you into exile, 
and pray to the LORD 
on its behalf; 
for in its welfare 
you will have welfare."
 Jeremiah 29:7

As New Testament believers "in exile," seeking a heavenly city, how do we seek the welfare of the city?

The above verse (Jeremiah 29:7) was recently sent to us.  It got us thinking, as those entrusted with the gospel message, what welfare should we seek for the city? 

Further, how should we who are christians relate to those who are not (yet) finding themselves in exile, who are still at enmity with God as we once were? 

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:
 for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, 
if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. 
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Romans 8:4-9

Here are some scriptures which we have found helpful in guiding our hearts and hands and speech over the past years.   Our purpose is not debate, but edification.  We have tried to avoid scripture-clipping, so have included meatier nuggets with certain words emphasized.  May God guide each of us.

When we are indignant 
of the way worldly men 
treat the Lord Jesus

And it came to pass, 
when the time was come 
that he should be received up, 
he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 
And sent messengers before his face: 
and they went, and entered into
 a village of the Samaritans, 
to make ready for him. 
And they did not receive him, 
because his face was 
as though he would go to Jerusalem. 
And when his disciples 
James and John saw this, 
they said, Lord, wilt thou 
that we command fire 
to come down from heaven, 
and consume them, even as Elias did? 
But he turned, and rebuked them, 
and said, Ye know not what manner
 of spirit ye are of. 
For the Son of man 
is not come to destroy men's lives, 
but to save them. 
And they went to another village.
Luke 9:51-56

When we are shocked 
at the level of sinfulness 
to which society has sunk

But, beloved, remember ye the words 

which were spoken before 

of the apostles of 

our Lord Jesus Christ; 
How that they told you there should be 
mockers in the last time, 
who should walk 
after their own ungodly lusts. 
These be they who separate themselves, 
sensual, having not the Spirit.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves 
on your most holy faith, 
praying in the Holy Ghost, 
Keep yourselves in the love of God, 
looking for the mercy of 
our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, 
making a difference: 
And others save with fear, 
pulling them out of the fire; 
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 

Jude 1:17-24

When we, in our godly sorrow, 
may have forgotten that the decline 
of morality in society is a spiritual problem 
and its only remedy is the gospel

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, 
which are these; 
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, 
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, 
variance, emulations, wrath, 
strife, seditions, heresies, 
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, 
revellings, and such like: 
of the which I tell you before, 
as I have also told you in time past, 
that they which do such things 
shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 
But the fruit of the Spirit
is love, 
joy, peace, longsuffering, 
gentleness, goodness, faith, 
Meekness, temperance: 
against such there is no law. 
And they that are Christ's 
have crucified the flesh 
with the affections and lusts.
Galatians 5: 19-24

When we have forgotten 
from whence we also came

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, 

who hath enabled me, 
for that he counted me faithful, 

putting me into the ministry; 

Who was before a blasphemer, 
and a persecutor, and injurious: 
but I obtained mercy, 
because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding 
abundant with faith and love 
which is in Christ Jesus. 
 This is a faithful saying, 
and worthy of all acceptation, 
that Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners; 
of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:12-15

For we ourselves also were sometimes 
foolish, disobedient, deceived, 
serving divers lusts and pleasures, 
living in malice and envy, hateful, 
and hating one another. 
But after that the kindness and love of 
God our Saviour toward man appeared, 
Not by works of righteousness 
which we have done, 
but according to his mercy he saved us, 
by the washing of regeneration, 
and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 
Which he shed on us abundantly 
through Jesus Christ our Savior
Titus 3:3-6

When we feel we 
must take a stand 
to uphold righteous
standards in society

I wrote unto you in an epistle 

not to company with fornicators: 

Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, 

or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; 

for then must ye needs go out of the world. 

But now I have written unto you 
not to keep company, 
if any man that is called a brother 
be a fornicator, 
or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, 
or a drunkard, or an extortioner; 
with such an one no not to eat.

For what have I to do to judge 

them also that are without? 

do not ye judge them that are within? 

But them that are without God judgeth. 

1 Corinthians 5:9-12

When we are offended 
by those who mock God
and flaunt their sin 
before our eyes 

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven 
likened unto a certain king, 
which would take account of his servants. 
And when he had begun to reckon, 
one was brought unto him, 
which owed him ten thousand talents. 
But forasmuch as he had not to pay, 
his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, 
and children, and all that he had, 
and payment to be made. 
The servant therefore fell down, 
and worshipped him, 
saying, Lord, have patience with me,
 and I will pay thee all. 
Then the lord of that servant 
was moved with compassion, 
and loosed him, 
and forgave him the debt. 
But the same servant went out, 
and found one of his fellowservants, 
which owed him an hundred pence: 
and he laid hands on him, 
and took him by the throat, saying, 
Pay me that thou owest. 
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, 
and besought him, saying, 
Have patience with me, 
and I will pay thee all. 
And he would not: 
but went and cast him into prison, 
till he should pay the debt.  
So when his fellowservants 
saw what was done, 
they were very sorry, 
and came and told unto their lord 
all that was done. 
Then his lord, after that he had called him, 
said unto him, O thou wicked servant, 
I forgave thee all that debt, 
because thou desiredst me: 
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion 
on thy fellowservant, 
even as I had pity on thee? 
And his lord was wroth, 
and delivered him to the tormentors, 
till he should pay all that was due unto him. 
So likewise shall my heavenly Father
 do also unto you, 
if ye from your hearts forgive not every one 
his brother their trespasses.
Matthew 18:23-35

When we feel the 
"welfare of the city" is 
equal to imposed societal order, 
decency, and freedom

For God so loved the world that 
he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him 
should not perish
but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Therefore if any man be in Christ, 
he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; 
behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Now the Lord is that Spirit: 
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is liberty.
2 Corinthians 3:17

When we feel we
shouldn't just sit around
and let things go downhill,
but should get out and do

Therefore said he unto them, 
The harvest truly is great, 
but the labourers are few: 
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, 
that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 
Go your ways: behold, 
I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
Luke 10:2, 3

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: 

for it is the power of God unto salvation 

to every one that believeth; 

to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 
 Romans 1:16

When we think that, 
while obviously the gospel is the 
ultimate answer, there
are still things we can 
accomplish by uniting 
with unbelievers to gain a
majority of votes for issues 
related to our
common moral ground

For we wrestle not against 
flesh and blood, 
but against principalities, 
against powers, 
against the rulers of the darkness 
of this world, 
against spiritual wickedness 
in high places. 
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, 
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, 
and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 
And your feet shod with 
the preparation of 
the gospel of peace; 
Above all, taking the shield of faith, 
wherewith ye shall be able to quench 
all the fiery darts of the wicked. 
And take the helmet of salvation, 
and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer 
and supplication in the Spirit, 
and watching thereunto with all perseverance 
and supplication for all saints; 
And for me, that utterance 
may be given unto me, 
that I may open 
my mouth boldly, 
to make known 
the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:12-19

Be ye not unequally yoked 
together with unbelievers: 
for what fellowship hath 
righteousness with unrighteousness? 
and what communion 
hath light with darkness? 
2 Corinthians 6:14

Thou therefore endure hardness, 

as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

No man 
that warreth 
himself with the 
affairs of this life; 
that he may 
please him 
who hath chosen 
him to be a soldier. 
 2 Timothy 2:3, 4

When we desire
 a higher degree of comfort, 
security and morality as an environment
for ourselves and our children

...in the last days perilous times shall come. 
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, 
covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, 
disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, 
false accusers, incontinent, fierce, 
despisers of those that are good, 
Traitors, heady, highminded, 
lovers of pleasures more 
than lovers of God; 
Having a form of godliness, 
but denying the power thereof: 
from such turn away. 
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, 
and lead captive silly women laden with sins, 
led away with divers lusts, 
Ever learning, and never able to come 
to the knowledge of the truth. 
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, 
so do these also resist the truth: 
men of corrupt minds, 
reprobate concerning the faith. 
But they shall proceed no further: 
for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, 
as theirs also was.
1 Timothy 3:1-9

And finally, the grand finale!  

Though not exhaustive, two passages come to mind that help us to fully understanding seeking the welfare of the city.

First, these verses 1 Timothy 2.

I exhort therefore, 
that, first of all, 
supplications, prayers, 
and giving of thanks, 
be made for all men; 
For kings, and for
 all that are in authority; 
that we may lead 
a quiet and peaceable life 
in all godliness and honesty. 
For this is good and acceptable 
in the sight of God our Saviour; 
Who will have 
all men to be saved, 
and to come unto the 
knowledge of the truth.
I will therefore that men pray every where, 
lifting up holy hands, 
without wrath and doubting.
1 Timothy 2:2-8

Let's seek the 
welfare of the city!

There are examples in modern history of whole communities which were transformed by the work of the gospel.  People burned their evil books (Acts 19:19) compelled by their own conviction after they were saved.  We read years ago of a village in Latin America, where the gospel came, and a community full of unmarried couples (with children) had a mass wedding after their conversion to Christ!  A feared, cannabalistic tribe in Ecuador came to Christ and began serving the Lord!  In other places, taverns and theaters were closed down, not by legislations, but because they lost their customers to Christ!  

Therefore they 

that were scattered abroad 
went every where 
preaching the word. 
Then Philip went down 
to the city of Samaria, 
and preached Christ unto them.

And the people with one accord gave heed 

unto those things which Philip spake, 

hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, 
came out of many that were possessed with them: 
and many taken with palsies,
 and that were lame, were healed.
And there was great joy in that city. 
Acts 8:4-8

We know it is God's will that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and his purpose in tarrying is that many more may hear the gospel and be saved (2 Peter 3:9).  History, and the news, has proven that even in the most dire circumstances, the gospel is not chained.  Praise the Lord.  

The verses we have shared have guided our thinking for many years, as we sought the Lord's will for our focus.  We pray you might be edified by thinking on these things.

We highly recommend this article as you seek the Lord's direction in this matter.

1 comment:

Nitalinb said...

Ah, sanity.