Can we actually reason with a world that hates Jesus Christ? It’s a strange question, but one that I feel is very important. As Christians, we understand that, under the moral law of God, we stood as convicted criminals before Him. Every thought, word and deed in our lives was contaminated by our sin nature. That means that nothing about us was good in the eyes of God. In fact, on our very best day, where we did everything “right,” God saw us as rebel sinners who were only motivated by our most selfish desires. We were destined for the fires of Hell and rightfully so.
Yet, in His mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live the life of perfection we could never achieve. Everything He ever did was in complete obedience to God, with no motivation other than glorifying the Father. Then Jesus willing allowed Himself to be placed on the cross so that the righteous wrath of God could be poured on Him in our place. He readily took the punishment we deserved and became the substitutionary sacrifice in our place. Then Christ rose Himself from the grave three days later, proving His power over death. Through the preaching of the gospel, God miraculously and mercifully granted us repentance and faith in Christ. He redeemed us through the shed blood of His Son and adopted us as His children.
Before God redeemed us and made us into new creations, such concepts were completely foreign to us. Sin, judgment, hell, sacrifice and redemption were concepts we may have heard of at some point; however, our minds were hardwired, due to our sinful nature, to see ourselves as good. If we even believed we were capable of being bad, then we believed we could do enough good to make up for it. The idea that Someone had to be punished in our place was ludicrous to us. Yet, God broke through that sin hardened heart with the gospel message which caused us to be broken over our sin and saved us from His wrath.
The reason I write this is that I need to establish a foundation for the rest of the article. It was only through the precious message of the gospel that Christians now understand the evil that resides in their hearts. Prior to that, sin was a foreign concept that could either be rationalized away or personally atoned for. The world is made up of billions of sinners whose hearts are hardened against God and His commandments. While they have knowledge of His existence according to Romans 1, they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. The law of God is written on men’s hearts, but they reject the authority God has over them, making themselves gods over their own lives. Consequently, the rampant sin we see in our world – sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion, hatred, lust, covetousness – is the byproduct of a world governed by sin.
I now come back to my original question. Can the church reason with a world that hates Jesus Christ? Today, we see a lot of churches and Christian groups lobbying and protesting against the widespread debauchery of our day. Many are willing to link arms with co-belligerents (be they political, secular or religious) in an effort to bring “morality” back into the world. Often times, such groups will state that arguments of a philosophical or sociological nature are the means by which to achieve moral victory because the world rejects the Bible. The claim is that, because the world doesn’t understand the scriptures, it rejects them. Therefore, we cannot use the Bible as our source material. We must, they say, speak to them on their level and prove to them, without God’s word, that God’s morality is superior. In the end, if we can legislate a Christian worldview into existence, the world will be in a much better place.
Such an argument, on its surface can seem to have merit. After all, as stated above, mankind is utterly sinful and rebellious against God. Since that is the case, by bringing the Bible into the discussion seems to guarantee that they will reject what we have to say. However, that argument assumes that the purpose of the church is to somehow redeem culture. In other words, the job of Christians is to make the world a more moral and pleasant place to live. That by changing the standards of the laws and morality to a Christian worldview, life will be better. But is that really the mission of the church? I would argue that it is not.
When a person is redeemed in Christ, he is to live his life in such a way as to glorify the One who purchased him. A Christian does not exist to make the world a better place to live, but to serve as a beacon, a sign post pointing to Jesus Christ, the Savior. By living a life of obedience to God, and acknowledging Him in all that one does, the Christian testifies to the world that his allegiance is not to the fallen, sinful system of mankind, but to the One who will one day judge all men. Thus, his job is not to necessarily fix a broken system. Short of all mankind being saved in Christ, no system established in this world will ever be fixed. It will always be tainted by the sinfulness of the human heart.
The Christian’s calling then is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One who came to save sinners. Any attempt to cure societal ills (which is not the specific calling of the Christian) by arguing with worldly philosophies, allows people to believe that they, not God, are the chief authority in this world. We are allowing them to deny the power and lordship of Christ. They will continue to operate in the delusion that they are the ones who decide right and wrong, good and evil. Thus, without the Bible and the power of the gospel, the unregenerate world will continue to operate in its sin tainted worldview. Any changes that occur, moral or immoral, will still result in billions of souls condemned to hell, despising the God whom they have denied and rejected.
Therefore, the duty of the Christian is to always – not sometimes, but always – preach the gospel in any discussion we have with those in the world. If we are discussing homosexual marriage, the gospel teaches that sex was created by God for a man and a woman in the confines of a lifelong, monogamous marriage (which reflects Christ and the church). Any other act of sexual intimacy is a sin and rebellion against God and will result in the judgment of God. Thus, we stand against it and we proclaim that good news that Christ came to save homosexuals. If the issue at hand is abortion, the gospel says that all life is created in the image of God and that abortion is the murder of life created by God. Thus we stand against it and we proclaim that Jesus Christ came to save women who want to murder children and the abortionists who commit the detestable act. If the matter is a tyrannical government, the gospel teaches that God appoints leaders over people for the good of the people, that those under the government are to obey the leaders, and that God will hold those in account who abuse its citizens for their personal gain. Then we preach the good news that Jesus Christ can save even tyrannical leaders if they will but repent and trust in Christ alone.
Christians, we cannot reason with the unregenerate, Christ hating world on their terms. They have no reasoning outside of God and we only will feed their insatiable appetite for sin. We must always preach the gospel, regardless of whether the world agrees with it or not. The gospel is the power of God to salvation. Only the gospel can change sin hardened heart. Only the gospel can bring a dead man to new life. Let us be less about the winning of culture and be more about the winning of souls condemned to Hell. If we commit to be obedient in this calling, then the Lord will save whom He will save. And if scores of untold souls are saved, then the consequence may just be a society that desires to live morally because it loves the Lord who established true morality to begin with.
I agree with the overall emphasis of your post, but narrowly speaking, we can reason with lost folk. Some lost folk, not all. I am not saying that reasoning with lost folk is a substitute nor equal in importance to the proclamation of the gospel. But most unregenerate people are not as depraved as they could be and are, therfore, able to reason. Presuppositional appologetics can be used to cause a lost person to rethink something they have been taking for granted and – by the grace of God – change their minds. The Spirit of God by the agency of the Gospel is the only eternal hope for these people, but many of them can be reasoned with. Some not.
Hi Manfred, over-all, but speaking under correction, one tends to agree with what you’re saying. What was Paul’s example when he spoke on Mars Hill and before the Roman authorities? Could this not be construed as reasoning?
But then again I’m not enitely sure what Chris sees as “reasoning”.
Chris; I sometimes feel just a trifle irritated (which isn’t the best word, but it does roughly convey my meaning) when we use what I term “flavour of the month” topics for illustration purposes instead of more serious sins (If sin is sin, can one sin be more serious than another?) . I’m referring to your using homosexuality and abortion in your article. These can be said to be the latest visible manifestations of a fallen world that is presently receiving much discussion but surely the quiet sins of omission are some of things that constituet fruit, e.g. love, kindness mixed with a little bit of gentleness. When I read some of the somewhat vitriolic posts about such things as you mention and the views on Obama’s “Christianity” I do ask myself where’s that fruit being displayed.
But please Chris, I do not want to create a diversion as regards what you said because I in my view, for what it’s worth, your post was spot on.
Thanks for the input guys. The point of this article is to call on Christians to stop attempting to use worldly reasoning to address what are clearly biblical issues. We can’t truly reason with the world on these sinful matters on their terms because it negates the Word of God and gives the sinner the false impression that their sin tainted worldview is the ruling authority. Therefore, regardless of whether the desire to accept it or not, we must reason from the one true authority in all matters, God’s revealed word.
As far as using “the flavor of the month” sins goes, they are the issues of our day. They must be addressed, to do otherwise is to neglect what is on the hearts and minds of the unregenerate world. However, given that the vast majority of my articles address a host of sinful behavior, to suggest my intentions are questionable because of it simply doesn’t hold water.
Chris, amen absolutely. We should not water down the Truth rather represent it.
We have a clear mandate to do it.
I marvel that these days I rarely hear quoted what Peter is recorded saying when confronted about preaching in the temple the Word of God.
Here’s what I have in mind that Peter said and it seems to me to be the necessary Truth one needs to be freed from self:
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” (Acts 3:18-23 ESV)
One wonders when we will hear publicly again that if you do not listen to The Lord Jesus Christ you too will be destroyed from the people?
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21, 22 ESV)
Thank you Chris, Finally some sense being spoke non the Internet regarding the interaction of Christians with the world.
“For what has Christ with Belial?”
“The world hates you”
“The flesh is at enmity with God”
“The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth”