How to Change Our Culture

 How to Change our Culture

 I was recently asked if I thought that the Church needs to change to reach our culture. My, answer is: if you think the Church needs to become more like the culture to appeal to it, I strongly disagree. The Church, by being the Body of Christ and His witness to the world, is to be like Christ, not the culture! However, I would agree that the Church needs to change to be more like Christ in the culture.

Unfortunately, the Church is often referred to as an institution instead of people who love God and are filled with His Spirit for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which has the power to change the culture. Jesus did not establish an institution or a denomination.

Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now the Spirit of God is always trying to awaken the attention of men to the subject of their sin and the plan of salvation. Sometimes He uses miracles to capture their attention, and in this way, miracles may become instrumental in conversion (although miracles in themselves never convert anybody). They may be the means of awakening, but are not always effective, as demonstrated by the unbelief of the Sanhedrin after witnessing the many miracles of Jesus.

Therefore, God has chosen something able not only to get people’s attention, but to keep it—something that will keep the sinner's mind in continual contact with the Truth. That something is His Spirit filled children.

That is why God has scattered His children everywhere, in neighborhoods and among the nations - that they may be those continual ever-present miracles, witnessing to the glory and Truth of Jesus Christ.

Christians (means Christ-like) are to exemplify a miracle of God and be a testimony of Jesus Christ by their words and by their lives. Christians have no right to be silent. Like Jesus, we should correct, rebuke, encourage, and teach, with great love, kindness, and patience.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view or his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage, with great patience and careful instruction.

However, our strongest testimony is by our example. We have often heard, "Actions speak louder than words." But where words and actions are both displayed, the greatest impact is made.

Our words and actions must testify that we really believe the Bible. More specifically:

1. We must live and speak as if we believe the soul of man is immortal, that death is not the termination of our existence, but the entrance into eternal life in Heaven or eternal death in Hell.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

It is easy to see that words without an example will do no good, because the afterlife is unseen and understood by faith. All the arguments in the world will not convince men that we believe this, unless we live as if we really do. Our reasoning may be flawless, but if our lifestyle does not demonstrate our faith, our actions will defeat our arguments.

Sinners will say, "It's obvious that your reasoning is not true, and that you know it is all false because your life contradicts your theory." Or they will say that, "If it is true, you do not believe it at any rate!" And so all the influence of our testimony witnesses against Jesus Christ.

2. We must live and speak against the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the things of this world. Love for the things of the world is a great stumbling block in the way of salvation. Men are so constantly occupied with what they can see, hear, feel, etc., that they shut out eternity from all their thoughts. Therefore, our lives must testify to eternal life in Jesus Christ, even though they may hate us for convicting them. While we live in this world, we are not to be of the world.

Jesus prayed in John 17:14-18 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Jesus has sent us into the world, to testify to the reality of the Gospel and glory of the Kingdom of God, but if we are in love with the things of this world and pursuing them for ourselves, then our testimony is null and void.

3. Therefore, we must live and speak to the fulfilling nature of Christianity. Christians are called to show by their conduct that they are actually satisfied with the joy of serving Jesus. We are to live like this world is not our home. Our professed belief is that Heaven is a reality, the Kingdom to which we belong, and we look forward to dwelling there forever.

But suppose we live in such a way as to prove that we cannot be happy unless we have a full share of the world, and as far as going to Heaven, we would much rather remain here on earth than die and go there! If we do that, no one will believe our testimony.

4. We must live and speak regarding the guilt of sinners and the reality of Hell. Christians are under solemn obligation to warn sinners of their awful condition, and exhort them to flee from the wrath to come and take hold of everlasting life.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Everyone has a death sentence and a judgment coming. But the way we say this is everything. If we go to a sinner and talk to him about his guilt and danger, but our manner of living makes an impression that does not correspond with our words, we may in effect testify the other way and convince him he is in no real danger of condemnation.

For example, Sisters, if your manner of life around your unconverted husband is un-submissive to him and to the Lord, you show that you either do not believe there is a Hell, or that you wish to have him go there, because your un-submissive behavior proves to him you are not serious about your faith. On the other hand, it is your submissive behavior that will convince him you are sincere and that a change has occurred in your life that can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit! By your submissive love and the joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, and patience of the Holy Spirit exhibited toward him, he will be convicted of his sin and his need for salvation.

1 Peter 3:1-2 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (personal example—testing—fruit—repentance)

5. We must live and speak to the love of Christ. We are to bear witness to the reality of the love of Christ by the way we love sinners. We should act as if we believe that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and share the Good News with them. At the same time, we must leave sinners with no one to blame but themselves if they reject His great salvation and end up in Hell. It is a loving thing to tell sinners the consequences of rejecting so great a salvation.

Unfortunately, Christians often make the impression on sinners that Christ is so compassionate that they have very little to fear from Him. This will only produce false conversions. The Gospel is: God hates sin because it separates us from Him and condemns us to Hell. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. Our relationship with God can be restored if we believe, repent and are baptized. Continual repentance is the evidence of faith necessary for salvation. We do what we believe. Therefore, we must exhibit repentance and Christ’s love in the way we speak and live; otherwise, no one will believe the Gospel.

6. We must live and speak to necessity of holiness in order to see the Lord. Just talking about holiness won't do - we must live holy.

Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

The idea that has prevailed for too long is "we will never be perfect here". Therefore, many Christians do not even try living a life without sin. They drift along in a loose, sinful manner, at which undoubtedly the devil laughs, because it destroys their testimony. Sinners see them as hypocrites who are no better than themselves. They feel justified in ignoring their testimony and rejecting it as false.

Instead of using “I’m human” as an excuse to walk in the flesh, we should try using “I’m saved” as a reason to walk in the Spirit.

7. We must live and speak to the necessity of self-denial. Christians ought to exemplify what self-denial looks like. That is the most powerful preaching - the kind which shows sinners the difference between selfish living and a cross-bearing self-denying life, like Jesus.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Many believe they can best make people accept the Truth by bringing Christianity down to the standards of the world. And they think they are displaying such wonderful wisdom and love by taking so much pain not to scare people with the requirements for following Jesus, namely repentance from sin, denying self, and taking up a cross.

They argue that if you show people that such a great change is required in their life, why you will drive them all away! This is not true. When professing Christians do not practice self-denial, sinners say, "Why I can see that I am about right, or at least so near right that it is impossible for God to send me to Hell for the few differences between me and Christians."

No, the best way to present the Truth is to contrast Christianity and the world by our life. We can explain that the changes made in our life happened over time and continue to happen by the grace of God. He continually conforms us to the image of Christ as we continually repent and die to self.

We must help sinners understand that God has established unalterable curses for disobedience and blessings for obedience, and that we are given a choice about which ones we receive. Otherwise, we can never make sinners feel the necessity to repent and make Jesus Lord of their lives. If Christians attempt to accommodate Christianity to the selfish worldliness and sinfulness of men, they render salvation of men and a cultural change impossible.

8. We must live and speak with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The people of God should always be filled with the Holy Spirit and show a temperament like the Son of God.

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.

If a professing Christian is irritable, ready to resent an injury, to fly into a rage, or to take the same measures as the world does to get even, how is he to make people believe there is any reality to becoming like Christ? Nothing makes such a great impression upon sinners or convicts their consciences, than to see a Christian, truly Christ-like, bearing injuries with the forgiveness and meekness of Jesus Christ.

9. Finally, we must live and speak to the necessity of entire honesty. This extends to every area of life. Christians need to show the strictest integrity in their dealings with all mankind.

1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

In the culture today, sinners are so taken up with business, pleasure, and the things of the world, that they will not examine the Bible to find out what the Truth is. Their feelings are only moved by worldly subjects, because these are the only ones on their minds. They almost never have thoughts about eternity and things of God unless someone close to them dies. When they are forced to examine the subject, they are more willing to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they never will hear it unless God's witnesses around them are testifying with their lives, the Word, and the love of Jesus Christ!

As I said earlier, this is why God has scattered His children everywhere, that they may be those continual ever-present miracles, witnessing to the glory and Truth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has left His Church, His witnesses, to testify on His behalf, but considering the way many Christians live, it seems they're testifying for the other side! Suppose you were a lawyer and went into court and spread out your client's case. As the trial begins, you make your opening statements, tell what you expect to prove, and then call your witnesses. The first witness takes the stand, and then proceeds to contradict you to your face. What good will all further pleading do? You might address the jury for a month, and be as eloquent as Shakespeare, but as long as your witnesses contradict you, all your pleading is in vain!

Jesus and all men have great reason to complain of our false testimony. By not obeying His Word nor acting like Jesus, we are practically testifying that Jesus is a liar when He said, “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Jesus, in His mercy, has this warning for us:

Revelation 2:4-5 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

It is evident that the standard of Christian living must be raised or the culture will never be changed. If we are depending on preaching alone to carry on the work, we will fail because the culture is not listening to preachers.

Furthermore, sales tactics are ineffective. People will run from you or close the door in your face like you are a telemarketer. The only ever-present effective witness for Jesus Christ is Christians, living and speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit and producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the character of Jesus, as they relate to and live around sinners.

Every Christian makes an impression by his conduct and witnesses either for one side or the other. His looks, dress, and whole demeanor make a constant impression, one way or the other. He cannot help testifying for or against Jesus. He's either gathering for Christ or scattering. At every step, we do and say things that will affect the eternal destiny of souls all around us.

If the Church is going to change the culture, it must change by returning to the days when it loved Jesus Christ more than the world, more than their own lives, and followed Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

This is the altar call today. If God, the Holy Spirit, has spoken to you and convicted you, now is the time to repent. Changing the culture begins with the people called by God’s Name—Christians. Let each one of us do our part.