Christian Basis for Race Relations

No Place for Racism Among Christians

Through his covenant with Abraham and elaboration of the covenant in the gospel according to John, God establishes a uniform criterion for the status of every person before him, irrespective of race. He explained the criterion further in interactions between Peter and Cornelius, where he poured out the Holy Spirit without regard to racial, national, cultural, or other differences among the people. He mandates every person to accept and interact with others the same way he would: without regard to race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Therefore, racism or racial discrimination is a human failure and has no place among people that believe in God.

God to all that worship and serve him
God to all that worship and serve him theglobalgospel.org freebibleimages.org

We digress somewhat from our scheduled study in order to participate in the on-going discussion of race relations occasioned by events in the United States of America. We focus our contribution on understanding God’s purpose for multiracial interactions and relationships based on accounts in the bible. God creates people into categories based on race, nationality, geographical location, physical features, gender, and others. However, none of these categorizations has any effect on a person’s status before God. Instead, his covenant with Abraham and explanation of the covenant in the gospel according to John establish the equality of all people under God, irrespective of race or any other categorization.

Furthermore, interactions between Peter and Cornelius clearly explain God’s purpose for race relations. During Peter-Cornelius meeting in Caesarea, God poured out the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his relations and friends the same way that he did on Jewish followers of Jesus at Pentecost. Racial, national, cultural, or other differences between Jews and Gentiles did not matter to God and should not matter among his people.

Comfortable among others
Comfortable among others
LumoProject.com FreeBibleImages.org

Also, as we discuss in Following God Schedule by Living in His Image, God creates every person to represent him in interactions among people: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Therefore, he mandates every person to accept and interact with others the same way he would, without regard to race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Racism or racial discrimination is a human failure before God. Any person that rejects, demeans, or in any way discriminates against another person on the basis of race has failed in God’s purpose of Let Us make man in Our image… [Genesis 1:26].

Further, as we discuss in Equality Under the Law—Saul Terminated as King, the punishment of Saul in interaction with Amalekites underscores equality under the law as God’s mandate.

Samuel rebukes Saul [1 Sam 15:23]
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org
God terminated Saul as king of Israel because he departed from God’s command in executing judgment against Amalek. Instead of destroying all as he was commanded, he spared “everything that was good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Based on the swift termination of Saul’s kingship following the incident, we learn that God will not condone discriminatory application of the law. The principle of equality under the law is part of God’s mandate and means the law of a people must apply equally to all, irrespective of race, status in the society, or any other categorization.

First, we discuss God’s covenant with Abraham and elaboration of the covenant in the gospel according to John to understand the status of a person before God is determined based on a uniform criterion and choice available to every person. Second, we discuss Peter-Cornelius interactions to understand God accepts every person that believes in him and wants us to do the same without regard to race or any other categorization. Third, we discuss the termination of Saul as king of Israel following his interaction with Amalekites to understand equality under the law as God’s mandate.

Covenant with Abraham:
Conditional Promise for All People

God made a covenant with Abraham: a conditional promise to be God to those that worship and serve him. The covenant consists of two parts: In the first part (the condition), God declares his expectation regarding how people relate to him (i.e., what God expects from people). The second part is the declaration of promise (i.e., God’s promise to those that commit to the condition). First, he invited Abraham to fulfill the covenant condition: “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless” [Genesis 17:1]. Then, he declared the promise: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you” [Genesis 17:7].

Receiving from God
Receiving from God
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

As we discuss in Husband-Wife Blessing Revealed to One, Abraham received the covenant on behalf of himself (Abraham-Sarah union), his descendants, and beneficiaries of the Messiah promise (God’s promise to send the Messiah for all people through Abraham’s offspring): “… And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” [Genesis 12:3]. The gospel according to John explains that all people are party to the covenant through the Messiah promise [John 1:12–13]: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” That is, all that receive Jesus as the Messiah and worship and serve God according to his teaching are given the right to be children of God.

Messiah for all people
Messiah for all people
LumoProject.com freebibleimages.org

God grants the right to be a child of God to every person based on one condition: worship and serve God by accepting Christ as the Savior he promised and committing to life based on his teaching. Life based on Christ teaching means Living in the Image of God: representing God in every interaction, as a channel for his compassion (his provider assistant) and conveyor of his image. A child of God will accept and interact with every person the same way that God would: irrespective of race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Therefore, racism or racial discrimination has no place among people that worship and serve God.

Command Against Racism—
Peter-Cornelius Interactions

God used interactions between Peter and Cornelius to declare and explain his command against discrimination or favoritism on the basis of race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other human categorization. Because Cornelius was a Gentile (i.e., non-Jewish person), the interactions would have been forbidden under Jewish law and custom.

Cornelius, a commander in the Roman administration, was God-fearing: devoted to worshiping and serving God, prayed regularly, and was generous to those in need. One day, an angel of God appeared to him and asked him to invite Peter to his house [Acts 10:4–5]: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.”

God talks to Peter in vision
God talks to Peter in vision
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God spoke to Peter in a vision to prepare him for interactions with Cornelius: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” [Acts 10:15], which conveys the message that a person should not question or try to overturn God’s determination of the status of another person. The command would become clear during Peter’s meeting with Cornelius. Peter arrived at Cornelius’ house accompanied by some believers from Joppa. Cornelius had assembled his relatives and close friends.

Peter explained he was visiting with them despite being prohibited based on Jewish law, because God revealed to him “…how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” [Acts 10:34–35]. As he preached the gospel to them, all who heard the message received the holy spirit. The believers from Joppa “were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles” [Acts 10:45]. Peter ordered that they be baptized with water in the name of Jesus Christ [Acts 10:47]: “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

Holy Spirit for all that believed
Holy Spirit for all that believed
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Back in Jerusalem, the believers criticized Peter that he “went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them” [Acts 11:3]. Peter explained his actions based on what God revealed to him regarding multi-racial relationships [Acts 11:15-17]: “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning… So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” The believers agreed: “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life” [Acts 11:18].

God used Peter-Cornelius interactions to explain he determines the status of every person based on one condition and mandates every child of God to accept and interact with every person the same way he would: irrespective of race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other human categorization. Racism or racial discrimination has no place among people that worship and serve God.

Equality Under the Law

God terminated Saul as king of Israel because he departed from God’s command in executing judgment against Amalek. Instead of destroying all as he was commanded, he spared “everything that was good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Based on his swift punishment following the incident, we learn that God will not condone discriminatory application of the law. The principle of equality under the law is part of God’s mandate and means the law of a people must apply equally to them, irrespective of race, status in the society, or any other categorization.

God judged Amalek for complete destruction and commanded Saul to execute the judgment. Saul was to destroy all Amalekites and possession [1 Samuel 15:3]: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Therefore, equal application of the law required destruction of every Amalekite and possession irrespective of differences or similarities among them.

Saved the good for special treatment
Saved the good for special treatment
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

However, Saul devised discriminatory criteria to separate Amalekites into two classes for unequal treatment under the order. He selected the good for special treatment and destroyed others (the not good) [1 Samuel 15:9]: “But Saul and the army spared Agag [king of the Amalekites] and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.”

God regretted making Saul king. His action of not applying the order equally as God commanded meant he had turned away from following God. He disobeyed God’s command and, as a result, violated the principle of equality under the law. God terminated him as king of Israel following the violation.

Summary of What We Learned

Through his covenant with Abraham and elaboration of the covenant in the gospel according to John, God establishes a uniform criterion for the status of every person before him, irrespective of race. He grants the right to be a child of God to every person based on one condition: worship and serve God by accepting Christ as the Savior he promised and committing to life based on his teaching.

He explained the criterion further in interactions between Peter and Cornelius, where he poured out the Holy Spirit without regard to racial, national, cultural, or other differences among the people. He mandates every person to accept and interact with others the same way he would: without regard to race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Therefore, racism or racial discrimination is a human failure and has no place among people that believe in God.

Furthermore, we discussed punishment of Saul in interaction with Amalekites to understand the principle of equality under the law is part of God’s mandate. The law of a people must apply equally to all, irrespective of race, status in the society, or any other categorization.

More Information

You can download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation of this bible study from PDF_LINK.

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