Dr. Michael Haykin has provided a succinct answer to a contentious question – “what is the central mandate of the church?” This was posted on his Facebook page on October 9, 2020.
“What is the central mandate of the church universal or local church? To save sinners and see them grow in the Lord Jesus? Or is the chief mandate to do good works and benefit society? And is this a fulfillment of the creation ordinance of Genesis 1? Is it then to reshape culture?
These are weighty questions, which lie at the heart of the current differences between Christians in North America.
It is not helpful that some on the differing sides on these questions have tended to lampoon their opponents with terms such as “pietist” and “social justice warrior” (a harking back to the social Gospel).
For me personally, the solution is found in asking this simple question: what is the main problem of every human being? Death? Ignorance? Poverty? Sin?
Surely, from the biblical perspective it is sin: sin brought death and has clouded minds from seeing properly. How can sin be rectified? By good works? No, not in the radix. It must be through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s propitiatory work on the cross and his glorious resurrection. So the church must preach the gospel: it is only as hearts are changed that systemic structures of sin will be changed.
Here, my cue is the Ancient Church and the Church in British Isles in the 18th century: in both cases, they brought about tremendous change in their respective societies because the gospel was preached and men and women were saved and then lived out their faith in good works. But first: the heart must be won. Without the divine conquest of sin in the human heart, there can be no change in the sinful structures of a culture, no matter what legislation you put in place.
So this is where our energy must be placed: in praying for the preaching of the gospel, in praying for God to raise up and endue with power preachers like Samuel Pearce and Adolphe Monod and DM Lloyd-Jones, in praying for the lost, in preaching the gospel, in praying for godly teachers in our churches, in praying for the descent of the Spirit upon our churches in crucientric power that they might be houses of truth and love, in praying for Christians to be what they are!”