By Eric Alcock
Envoy, Salvation Army
May is a very special time for the Salvation Army as it is the month that sees the Red Shield Appeal rise prominently to the attention of the whole community.
Funds raised during that month are used throughout the entire year to support Salvation Army ministries.
Such ministries are advanced in the name of Christ because, for the Christian, reaching out to the hungry, the prisoner, and the sick is not optional but under the command of our Lord Jesus.
In Matthew 25:35, 36, 40, it is written: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
How awful will that judgement be on the day spoken of in that discourse by Jesus recorded in Matthew 25. Evidently ministry to the needy, the poor, the persecuted, and the stranger in the name of Christ is equated to ministry to Christ Himself!
What a shock it was to those on His left hand when He told them to depart and He cast them to the same fate as that of the devil and his angels.
They never made the connection, like so many today who profess to know Christ but have little or no compassion for those around them, much less for those in distance lands who suffer continually under the cruel hands of greed and oppression.
We have another reminder of such false profession in Chapter 7 of Matthew’s gospel as Christ was warning of the trademarks of true and false teachers. “By their fruits you shall know them,” He said.
Imagine the horror of those sent away from the presence of the Lord when they discovered that their good works, even though done in the name of the Lord, could not save them.
The record of scripture is clear: “He that has the Son has Life, and he that has not the Son of God has not Life.” (1 John 5:12). Neither our good works nor our profession of faith can save us. Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in a personal Saviour, One who bore our sin and who ever lives to intercede for us in heaven.
Out of that living faith will come works of righteousness to all those of Adam’s lost race who are in need, whether hungry or a stranger, or sick, or whatever.
Have you had a living encounter with a personal Saviour? If you’re not sure, seek spiritual counsel. The stakes are very high indeed.