The Gospel, The Church, And Racial Injustice

Instead of a typical Wednesday’s Word devotional this week, I would ask you to watch my new 20-minute video: The Gospel, The Church, And Racial Injustice.

Watch until the end, please. It’s 20 minutes and includes a quote from Charles Spurgeon, two Bible passages, and four actions that you can take.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp


“A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness is a church that has no right to be. Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for Himself.” – Charles Spurgeon

I have been wanting to do a video addressing this moment that we’re in culturally. And I sort of wanted to let the dust settle a little bit. And I want to begin by saying that I really want to address my white brothers and sisters who love the word of God, who love the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And I want to start by sharing two experiences with you. The first is my own personal experience of ministry. For decades, I have committed myself to this mission, connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life, take that narrative of Scripture with its chief character being the Lord Jesus Christ, the chief event being the cross of His sacrifice, and apply that to daily life. I think of my ministry as putting on Gospel glasses and trying to look at everything. Now, here’s my experience. When I have done that and applied that mission to marriage and parenting, to midlife, to sex, to money, to human communication, to a variety of issues, people are just so encouraging, and tell me how thankful they are for my ministry.

But when I apply the very same mission looking at the issue of racial injustice from the vantage point of the same message of Scripture, the same Gospel, people get mad at me. They accuse me of forsaking my calling. They call me a socialist or a Marxist. And one of the interesting responses that I’ve had is people say, “Well, what about?” “What about this person’s background?” “What about abortion?” And here’s the issue for me. When you are addressing an area of sin, there are no “what-abouts”. Wrong is wrong. Sin is sin. And I don’t think people would say that to me if I were addressing the sin of adultery. I don’t think I’d get responses, “Well, what about stealing? Why aren’t you talking about stealing?” I wonder why that “what-about” response is there. Let’s take the abortion issue. I think that’s a horrible cultural sin, and I’ve spoken to it. I marched in some of the early protests, marched in Washington. It’s wrong. It’s a scourge on our culture. But so is racial injustice.

As I was thinking of this video, I thought of a second experience. Several years ago, Luella and I began to attend Epiphany Fellowship Church. It’s a largely African-American church. I would imagine that there are 75% or 80% of the congregation is populated by our Black brothers and sisters. Epiphany will always be a bit of a multicultural church, but it is predominantly a black church. It has been a transforming experience for us because we have listened to the experiences of brothers and sisters that we have come to love dearly. This is our family.

And we have heard things way outside of our personal field of experience. We’ve heard of moms and dads who have had to have conversations with their sons and daughters that we never had to have with our children. We’ve heard experiences of injustice that have made us weep; weep in a way that doesn’t allow us to be silent any longer. And when events happen where that injustice is clear, it now hurts us like it’s our people. This is our family that we love. And I know I will never experience these things like one of my Black brothers do. But our hearts have changed. We have been exposed and we have been convicted. We have been changed, and that change is still taking place. We’re deeply grateful.

We didn’t go to Epiphany for this reason. We went because we knew that we would hear the Gospel up one side and down the other, because the heart of that ministry is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I heard my pastor, Dr. Eric Mason, speak once on 1 Corinthians 15 on the resurrection. It was one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard in my life. The man spoke on the whole chapter. That, in itself, blew my mind. That’s what got us there, but as we’ve been there, God has opened our hearts to issues of injustice that are profoundly important.

Now, here’s what I think is important. We want to ground our thinking on this issue in the word of God. And as I thought about that, I thought of just two passages: one in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament. My mind first went to Amos 6, where God is railing against the leadership of Israel.

Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

– Amos 6:4-6, ESV

Now, I don’t know if you’re catching what’s going on here, but if you are lying on an ivory bed and you’re drinking wine out of big bowls and you’re inventing musical instruments because you got the time to do that, you are an affluent, privileged person. You just are.

And then he says, “You do all these things, but you’re not concerned with the ruin of Joseph. You’re not concerned that the people around you are living in cultural, spiritual ruin. You’re not concerned with all the ravages of injustices that are part of that ruin. You’re not concerned.” It’s a reminder that we do not have the ability to not be concerned about what doesn’t touch us. See, love your neighbor as yourself means, I will give myself to concerns about things that are distant from my experience because I want that person to be loved as I have would love myself.

The second passage I thought of was Christ railing against the Pharisees. This is Matthew 23:23.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
– Matthew 23:23, ESV

Jesus calls justice, mercy, and faithfulness. This is our Savior. This is the hero of the story. This is the epicenter. This is the one into whom we are being formed into His likeness. This is the one who says, “The weightier matters of the law are justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”

You see, here’s God’s plan. Until we are on the other side in the new heavens and new earth, where perfect justice will reign in righteousness forever, here’s the plan. We are called to be God’s ambassadors. And that means God makes His invisible justice visible by sending people of justice to stand for, to defend people who are experiencing injustice. Life between the already and the not yet is ambassadorial. I’m always, in every way, called to represent the message, the method, and the character of the King, and justice is close to the heart of our Savior King.

Now, here’s what has hit me as I’ve had these experiences over the last couple years. That change in this area of racial injustice, which has so marked our culture, is so marked with the unique experience of Blacks in America from 1619 to 2020. If change is going to take place, change takes action. Action requires compassion, and compassion requires information. I say all the time that human beings made in the image of God do not live life based on the facts of their experience, but based on their interpretation of the facts.

And so, if you’re hearing about the experience of another person from a distance and you hear words that are similar of the words that you use, and you don’t unpack that person’s experience so you really understand what they’re saying and what they’re experiencing, you will interpret those things out of your own experience. And you will hear the words, but it’s sort of like this. You will add two and two together and get five because you’ll put your experience on that person’s experience. And what almost often happens, always happens when we do that is we end up minimizing the reality of that other person’s experience because we just haven’t come to understand it.

So, here’s what I want to say to my white brothers and sisters. I love you. I love the Church of Jesus Christ. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve given my life to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the body of Christ. I love every word in the Bible, from the very first word to the very last word. I would have nothing to offer if it weren’t for the Gospel. But what I want to say to you is, this is what motivates me to say: Please care enough about this issue of racial injustice to become informed.

I want to ask you to do four things to get informed. First, just get out your phone or your iPad or your computer and Google the Bible and justice, and read the volume of passages on this issue. This is one of your Bible’s most dominant themes because a God of perfect justice will not be silent in the face of the multitude of injustices that a sin-broken world will create. That’s the first thing.

Second thing I want to do is recommend three resources that have been produced by people who are committed to the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m recommending these resources. I think they’re each helpful in different ways. The first one is a 17-minute video done by Phil Vischer, he’s the creator of VeggieTales, called “Race In America.” It is a brilliant video. The thing that’s brilliant about this video is there’s almost no opinion whatsoever. In fact, I could say there’s no opinion whatsoever in this video. This video is fact after fact after fact that is a bit mind-blowing, characterizing the Black experience in America.

The second resource is by my pastor, Eric Mason. It’s called Woke Church. Now, I’m aware that woke language has become very controversial, and some of you will react against that just because of the title. It’s an extremely helpful book, actually. And you may not agree with everything in the book, but even if you can’t find your way to read the whole book, at least read the brilliant forwards. There’s two forwards in this book by John Perkins and Ligon Duncan. Those together are incredible, and I would plead with you, read the whole book.

The third resource is by Jemar Tisby. He’s a historian, and it’s called The Color of Compromise. And it just traces the history of the complicity of the Church of Jesus Christ in this issue.

So, four things:

  1. Go to your Bible and do a biblical study of justice. How can you represent the value of this in the heart of God as His ambassador unless you’re biblically informed?
  2. Second, check out that 17-minute video [done by Phil Vischer]
  3. Download Woke Church
  4. and The Color of Compromise.

Change is needed, and change requires action, and action requires compassion, and compassion requires information. The white church does not have the liberty of being silent in the face of any cultural iniquity, no matter what it is. And we should not be silent in this one too. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the reason my heart is exercised at this moment is because of that Genesis to Revelation message. I think we can do better. I think it’s time to speak and to act, to live as ambassadors of the One who is perfectly holy in justice. God help us. May we do that.

“A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness is a church that has no right to be. Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for Himself.” – Charles Spurgeon


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The Gospel, The Church, And Racial Injustice

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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