Jesus – a Practicing Socialist

 An excellent message by Rick Frueh. 

It is impossible to read the New Testament and not see the theme of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that is the exclusive theme in both the Old and New Testament. The sacrifice of God’s Son upon the cross provided redemption for whosever will believe. And yes, we can understand that now, but our understanding with be much greater and soaked in experience when we one day lay eyes upon the Risen Christ! What a glorious day of promise.

But there is an interesting subplot that makes much more than a minor cameo appearance throughout the New Testament. And this supportive theme many times is minimized if not wholly ignored. Again, it is impossible to read through the New Testament and not see this continuing exhortation. And this theme is designed to uphold, empower, and aid in the spreading of the gospel of redemption. As believing followers of the Lord Jesus, we are personally called to lives of moderation.

But it goes much deeper than that. Even in that moderation and personal sacrifice, we are called to minister to the people of this world. And when I say minister, I mean more than just teaching and preaching. So often we have isolated teaching and preaching and walked away with a feeling of religious fulfillment and a faithful dispatch of our New Testament duties. But in so doing we are ignoring the Scriptural outline for a disciple’s behavior.

Capitalism, nationalism, and hedonism has captured and imprisoned the western evangelical marketplace. And if you are “orthodox” in your doctrine, then the fringe issues seem negotiable. Therefore, if you believe in the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith, and a few other pillars of the doctrinal faith, then you stand in fulfillment of the teachings of Christ. You are a disciple.

But wait a minute….

Continued at Following Judah’s Lion, Jesus – a Practicing Socialist


10 comments on “Jesus – a Practicing Socialist

  1. PJ,

    well, I just finished reading Rick’s article.

    Here’s some things I would address directly to Rick now that I read it.

    Rick, I am having some trouble with it and the premise you lay out about doing which goes to the question at the end of the essay: “…Redemption required blood. Read James once more and see that spreading that gospel message requires more than words. How much does He require of us who bear His name?”

    Your list of do’s doesn’t impress nor impact me. As far as I can see it, there is just one requirement, to “receive” the promises of God through Christ by the same spirit of faith that Christ lived with as the young man who died on the Cross for my sins, was buried and rose again!

    I fear your message, though excellent to some, falls way short of what the Spirit of Grace teaches.

    Granted, there is a stagnation inside the Church. Whose fault is it then? Is it God’s?

    I think not!

    For instance, I would try again and redact your essay to refine it away from “what” I do for God, which, if I understood the thrust of the essay, that is what you are laying out in it, and draw us to see the Promises of God and what He does for us by them, because we are not required to do anything for God other than believe and receive from Him?

    If that is not the case, I will stand corrected.

    We shall see.

    I want to first touch on a Greek Word, συζωοποιέω, (suzōopoieō),
    sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o; which means and is defined into English “to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): – quicken together with”.

    You find this Greek Word used twice in the New Testament, at Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13. The context of the Word follows the condition we are in before God which is DEATH, being dead. Dead people do nothing for God.

    When you make the point like you have in this essay and end with that question, I immediately label the essay a work of Arminianism, or a teaching on “works righteousness”.

    I don’t suppose that is what you teaching, now, is it? Or, is it?

    You might consider something here? Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Church, Philippians 4:9.

    When I read your essay, my focus is focused on me and what I am not doing, hence being disobedience to God and His Word to me, instead of focusing on what God has promised He will do and is doing as we see, also, with these verses from Acts 20: Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

    What does the Holy Spirit bring out, then, there at Philippians 4:9 with the Apostle’s words to them? The things Paul taught and his disciples received, the things Paul spoke and the things Paul did that his disciples saw in him and followed were to bring them into a dynamic relationship with God, the God of Peace.

    It troubles me that after reading your essay, that is not the end result for me. But, rather, I am being asked to become introspective and analyze what I am or I am not doing, which, for me, is a let down.

    Just three portions of Scripture I will leave off with. Consider “who” is doing what in each of these portions of these verses and where they leave a True Biblical Disciple of Christ, Christ, who is the One saving me and doing for me and who is the one receiving for me what I cannot? When it is all about what Christ has done, is doing and will continue doing for me in His faithfulness, as my Savior, the boast is narrowed down to just One Man and it ain’t me, but Him so that my boast is in the Lord and not in any fallen man!:

    Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

    Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
    Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
    Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
    Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

    1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    1Pe 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
    1Pe 5:11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    It is this way so we will get out of the way and let God get in our way so that Christ’s Way, Truth and Life can begin fulfilling the Promises of God God has made to us, fallen mankind, and by so doing, we start enjoying the Life God has willed for His sojourning Children to enjoy, until each one of us passes to the other Side in Christ as countless many have, already, by going before us.

    Elihu, I believe, as God’s spokesman, summed it up best about this receiving from God. You might reconsider your “to do” list to what God promises the Holy Spirit will do through the Gospel and what Christ is doing, and of course, what He (God Our Heavenly Father) is doing through both Christ and the Holy Spirit to deliver us over to the Man, Our Husband, as the Wife of the Lamb at the great day of Salvation that awaits all who have died in Christ and have been raised up in Him, too! Also consider Hebrews 9:11-14.

    Job 36:5 “Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding.
    Job 36:6 He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right.
    Job 36:7 He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
    Job 36:8 And if they are bound in chains and caught in the cords of affliction,
    Job 36:9 then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.
    Job 36:10 He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.
    Job 36:11 If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.
    Job 36:12 But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge.

    Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
    Heb 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
    Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
    Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

  2. You have completely missed the point.

    “Read James once more and see that spreading that gospel message requires more than words.”

    Notice the words “spreading the gospel”. And if you read my first paragraph you would see that faith in Christ is all that is necessary to inheret eternal life. But my post was all about revealing and spreading the gospel through “living epistles read of all men.”

    • my post was all about revealing and spreading the gospel through “living epistles read of all men.”


      Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3

      Our lives are “read” every day by those around us, and if our actions and/or deeds do not reflect the gospel of Christ, who will listen to our message?

    • Rick,

      that I completely missed the point of your essay may very well be? I guess we should let others judge what I commented after reading your essay.

      I would now come back to another part of your essay, then, and object even more to it. It is this:

      “…The church is so stagnant, so insulated, and so immobilized even while exhibiting a form of godliness within a myriad of activities while millions die physically and spiritually….”

      When I read that my mind goes to these verses as an alternative anecdote to what you say about millions die physically and spiritually “because the church is so stagnant and so immobilized”:

      “…Php 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

      Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
      Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

      Again, what you are doing by this essay I would not do. Instead, if it is clear by what I am commenting, my comments now and earlier, I am shifting off the shoulders of the Church the things (your to do list) your essay says the Church is not doing and because of that “millions die physically and spiritually”?

      No, I do not see that in Scripture, that is, that Jesus Christ loses any God has given to Him to save save the one, Judas Iscariot.

      I contend you do not fully understand the Grace of God in truth. Consider His Grace as we read here:

      Joh 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
      Joh 6:42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
      Joh 6:43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
      Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
      Joh 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–
      Joh 6:46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
      Joh 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

      Either God the Father is in charge of all that He draws to Christ or He is not? Either God the Father starts and finishes the salvation process of those for whom Christ died to save or He does not?

      What Scripture does say there is “no one” comes to Christ “unless” the Father draws them to Him; learning from the Father Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done and is continuing in doing by the sanctification work and power of the Holy Spirit to all those who are drawn to Christ, who are the ones drawn to Christ by the Father. To these He will in no wise cast out!

      I will leave off with these definitions about Grace, Mercy and Peace, how these work in and among those God draws to Christ and for whom Christ died to save from their sins:

      Grace, as defined is What God Gives us that we don’t deserve.
      Mercy, as defined is What God does not give us that we do deserve.
      Peace is the outcome of both Grace and Mercy from God in our daily lives.

      What about Jesus, what did He get and did not get??

      Jesus did not deserve what He got from God and was given, so hence, He was shown no Grace.
      Jesus did not deserve what He got from God and was not given, so hence, He was shown no Mercy.
      Therefore Jesus was deprived of Peace from God.

    • that I completely missed the point of your essay may very well be…….I contend you do not fully understand the Grace of God in truth

      Michael, i believe you have.

      From my reading of the article, it doesn’t question the work of complete-total grace (unmerited favor) on the part of God;

      It is impossible to read the New Testament and not see the theme of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that is the exclusive theme in both the Old and New Testament. The sacrifice of God’s Son upon the cross provided redemption for whosoever will believe.

      But points out the “lack” of spiritual fruit on the part of many believers today, evident by their ignoring the commands of Jesus to,

      – Feed the poor
      – Minister to the sick
      – Visit the prisoners
      – Clothe the needy
      – Give water to the thirsty
      – Do good to your enemies
      – Rejoice in persecution
      – Bless them which curse you
      – Take up your cross
      – Be clothed with humility

      “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” James 2

      Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ’s righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works;

      A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favours.

      We see then, ver. 24, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary James 2:14-26)

  3. While I would agree that much if not most of the church today has embraced capitalism to the point that it even pervades the spiritual realm, I have a difficult time with identifying Jesus as a “socialist”. I realize that Rick is trying to make a counterpoint here and in fact has done it quite well, but I really don’t think Jesus is committed to any worldly “ism”. Certainly Jesus is *not* a capitalist either, although you would figure that out listening to the preaching in many churches these days. Jesus is unique. He alone is God manifest to the world. He is not in *any* way politically correct. As Michael notes above, all that is required for salvation is a sincere trust in His redemptive work. BUT … a sincere trust in His redemptive work brings with it a transformation. The Orthodox Church refers to this as deification, becoming more like Christ. Thus, if we truly know Him, we are becoming more politically incorrect in *any* environment where worldly “isms” are worshiped. Other than that point, its an excellent read.

    • Lets not forget that Jesus also said, “If a man will not work, neither shall he eat.”

      Preemptive strike: The disciples were students of, uhm, someone…. And they were alway careful to preface personal opinions with “Note: Personal opinion follows… Not the lord, but I speak….”

  4. PJ,

    You have made a well reasoned counterpoint to my argument, thanks!

    I will leave off my commenting further, unless Rick comes in and makes some further comments that seems to me I should respond too, with making my point again, first by using your own words in the latest comments and then with more of my own.

    You write: “…Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ’s righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works;

    A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls?…”

    I answer, “yes”, precisely!

    The production of holy fruits is a God thing. The only “to do” lists that bear God’s holy fruits are the ones where we are actively receiving of the Promises of God that we believe and receive the fruits thereof.

    Let me quote from both Romans and Galatians and maybe from other places, too? Hopefully from these Scriptures we can narrow our understanding Who it is who produces holy fruit, the necessary production in life in spite of good opinions of pious people?

    Romans: Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
    Rom 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

    Who is putting to day the deeds of my flesh? Me or the Holy Spirit in me?

    Galatians: Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
    Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
    Gal 5:21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    Gal 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    Gal 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
    Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

    I hope with the reading of these Words, Words produced by the Spirit, you will see what the emphasis is and where it is being placed as to “Who” is doing what to who putting to death the fruits of the flesh?

    There is a saying that you see on bumper stickers stuck on bumpers that goes like this: “Wise men still seek Him”.

    No, no one seeks after God, no one! It is God Who sent Christ to condescend to our low estate! Christ has been given the authority to transform our low bodies to be like His Glorious Body by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself.

    To finish up my thoughts, then, on this whole matter brought about by Rick’s essay, I finish off with more from Romans again, and Colossians, and Jeremiah. Consider the “origin” of these Words and Who the One is doing what “They” are doing to the man of flesh, of the flesh, of which we are all partakers:

    Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, “it cannot”.

    All I, a man of flesh can do is “set” my mind on the things of the flesh. There is nothing in me naturally that can submit to God’s Holy, Righteous and Good Law!

    In fact, if you can understand it, from pondering on verse 7, the flesh “cannot” submit to God’s law at all at any time. The True, Holy Spirit Church is on total 100% life support systems. Take away those systems and we realize we are nothing more than dead people!

    It was not until the Law came alive in me that I realized I was dead in trespasses and sins! Until that happened I thought I was a pretty good guy and at least far better off than most other people seeing I came from an affluent, prosperous family who pumped me up to be all that I aspired to be!

    We were not created to be able to submit to God’s law. That is why Adam was not able to overcome the temptation in the Garden even though sinless at that time.

    This all points to the concept of “Election” and who is being saved.

    Election is from God. God gives His Elect the “spirit of faith” to believe and receive the promises of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God not the rallying cries of good and able men! This sanctification work I am speaking about is done by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to teach us to let Him put to death the deeds of our flesh.

    It is the “holy fruit” of the Spirit that is visible to the world, not the fruits of the flesh that I manifest, that is being recognized and, by some, being scorned?

    To the one, it is an aroma of Life to Life, while at the very same time it is an aroma of death to death!

    The “life” I now live, I live: “… not by the flesh, but I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose….”.

    I say, “put all to do lists” aside and through Christ, by the Holy Spirit, give God the glory due His Names!

    God has simply taken all the work out of it, for me. He is bearing the fruits of the Spirit through me. I am a happy beneficiary of this New Covenant in Christ! Just as it says, rightfully, here, in the book of Colossians, so it is I point:

    Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
    Col 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
    Col 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

    To Him, to Him, to Him, be all the glory so that in everything “He” might be preeminent!

    By Grace you are saved, through Faith, and that not of yourself, it is the Gift of God, lest anyone should boast!

    Jer_9:23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,
    Jer_9:24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

  5. Thank you, michael, for the good Scripture study. I receive what you are saying. However, I would like to emphasize words of Jesus as recorded in the canonized gospels, words of warning based on what a person does or does not DO. Mathew chapters 5,6,and 7 are largely “to-do lists!”, as are John the Baptist’s teachings and most of Jesus’ later warnings and explanations of the Kingdom of God. I would also emphasize New Testament records of the things the early churches did regarding giving, sending relief, sewing clothes for the poor, counting nothing as belonging to themselves alone but met every need among the believers. These are Scripture, too, and need to be given full consideration and weight alongside systematic theologies of soteriology. There is orthodoxy AND orthopraxy. I take Rick’s pastoral challenges and essays to be calling us to biblical orthopraxy and true biblical faith, which is a life of righteous works quickened by the indwelling divine nature IF the person chooses to OBEY (the Holy Spirit is given to them that obey…”)
    Rick’s shocking title of Jesus practicing socialism is a rhetorical technique, and it is true that some of the things Jesus and the early disciples practiced would be considered socialistic–things some evangelicals today ignore or explain away. Of course, Jesus is King, not any “ism.” But Rick is making the point that Jesus is not american, nor capitalist, either. And that the Western church in general is lacking the righteous works that characterize obedient abiding disciples, largely because of its syncretism with worldly politics.
    Thanks for some good discussion.

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