The Temporary Gospel

This is a shortened version of an article taken out of the magazine, The Other Side.

As it turns out, the job of separating that which is permanent from that which is temporary is important not only for cross-cultural missionaries, but for all Christians as well.  Which of the specific practices and commands that appear in the New Testament are to apply at all times in all places?  Which are merely temporary, needed at one particular time in one particular place but not necessarily applicable at other times and in other places?

If you would like to get a handle on the problem, try this exercise adapted from some material put together by Mont Smith, a former missionary in Ethiopia.  The following test contains 20 practices and commands that appear in the New Testament.  In that sense, all are Scriptural, the question is, which are meant to be permanent (P) and which are merely temporary (T)?  (All are taken from the NIV, and the ones which are not quotes are marked by*)

Put the appropriate letter, P or T by each number.  Of course, there may be some you’re not too sure about – welcome to the mission field!  Take your time, switch each item from category to category until you’re more or less satisfied.

1.       Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Rom. 16:16)

2.       Abstain from food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29)

3.       Wash one another’s feet (John 13:14)

4.       Sing songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16)

5.        Call the elders of the church to pray over the sick and anoint them with oil (James  5:14)

6.        If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away (Matt. 5:29)

7.        I want men everywhere to lift up holy hand in prayer…(I Tim 2:8

8.       There is one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus (I Tim. 2:6)

9.       Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to    borrow from you (Mt. 5:42)

10.     Look out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4)

11.      Do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent (in   the church) (I Tim 2:12)

12.      Whoever believes and receives Jesus, to him is given the right to become the child    of God (John 1:12)

13.     I would like everyone of you to speak in tongues (I Cor. 14:5)

14.     Sell your possessions and give to the poor (Lk 12:33)

15.     When you pray, go into your room, close the door (Mt 6:6)

16.     Sell lands and houses and give the money to the church when one becomes a  Christian.  (Acts 4:32-37)

17.     Abstain from…sexual immorality (Acts 15:29)

18.    Do this (the Lord’s Supper) in remembrance of me (I Cor. 11:24)

19.    Divorce is not permissible under any circumstance (Mal 2:16)

20.   Divorce is not permissible, except for marital unfaithfulness on the part of the spouse (Mt 5:32)

Well, if you’ve made it this far, you might want to hear my thoughts on this exercise.  It is difficult to parse out what is permanent and temporary.  And what you consider one or the other, someone else is probably the opposite.  One quickie…I think #17 is temporary.  If you’re curious why, ask.




1 Comment

Filed under alan, gospel, temporary

One response to “The Temporary Gospel

  1. Renee

    Okay…I Love this post!!! Mark and I are reveiwing all the scriptures and producing a list of T and P Practices and commands. Would love to compare notes in the future!!
    P.S. Agree with your take on 17.

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