The impact of the Bible on culture…and on us

Have you ever thought about how Jesus viewed the Old Testament? Since the Old Testament was the entire Bible in His day, His view of it can be understood as His view of the Bible.

Matthew has the first record of Jesus’ temptations. When Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness in order to tempt Jesus, the Savior’s response was to quote Scripture. His strength to resist temptation was found in obedience to God’s Word.

Later, when confronting the Pharisees, Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” How trustworthy were the writings of Moses? Jesus, the living Word of God, equated Moses’ words with His own.

Following His resurrection, Jesus met two disciples walking to the town of Emmaus. During the ensuing discussion Luke relates that Jesus began “with Moses and all the Prophets” interpreting “for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (24:27). Later, after Jesus vanished before their very eyes they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (v 32).

The Word of God changes us. It is not possible to take the Word of God into our hearts, minds and souls and come away the same. And as the Word of God changes us, we change culture.

Jesus called His followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both of these explain how we influence those around us. As we grow in the Spirit and the Word we are compelled to demonstrate the love of Christ around us. We learn how to respond to cultural challenges by God’s Word.

In the Old Testament the men of Issachar’s tribe were known for having an understanding of the times, to know what Israel should do in every situation. How do we know what to do, how to understand culture, how to influence it? Through God’s Word.

The mistake we sometimes make is trying to use God’s Word for changing culture without allowing its changing work in us first. We are quick to condemn the sins of others, point out a few select verses and preach loud and long. Never mind we regularly overlook Scriptures condemning our own preferred sins.

In our blindness we think the world hears our words rather than our actions. They are not so easily fooled. Neither can we try to clean up ourselves mainly so we can call out the sins of culture. We cannot remove the log from our own eyes for the sole purpose of pointing out the splinter in the eye of society. Culture will be better served when we show holiness birthed in a pursuit of God, rather than a quick, critical spirit.

When we pursue God and become immersed in His Word, our image is more conformed to Christ.  When we show love instead of hate, patience instead of curtness, gentleness instead of harshness, mercy instead of judgment, or diligence instead of slothfulness, Christ is displayed. And when Christ is displayed doors will open to share the Gospel. As people accept the Christ of the Gospel they, and eventually the culture, are changed.

When I think about Bible Studies for Life I anticipate both personal and cultural change. When the Bible meets life, things change!

I pray God’s Word so powerfully changes us that culture cannot help but feel the impact person by person.

Why the Great Commission (Still) Matters welcomes guest writer Dr. Jeff Crawford. Dr. Crawford is the President of the Cross Church School of Ministry and he also serves as a Teaching Pastor of Cross Church Northwest Arkansas.

Why the Great Commission (Still) Matters

1. Because Jesus told us to “go.”

We will either obey Jesus or we will disobey him. To disobey is sin. It’s that simple. The Great Commission is not an option for the Christian or for the Church.  Our tendency is to sit back and say to the world, “Come and see.” Jesus said, “Go and tell.” The Great Commission is not limited by the time or the culture we live in. It is for all believers in all places at all times.

2. Because 254 million of the 340 million people living in North America are lost.

Our country was brought to its knees at the “loss” of 3,000 people on 9/11. Imagine the “loss” of 258 million people. That is the tragedy staring at us. It is the elephant in the room. No one wants to look or even consider this kind of human toll.

3. Because 4.5 billion people in the world have little or no access to the Gospel.

A massive earthquake strikes the island nation of Haiti killing 200,000 people. The human death toll is so high the world is paralyzed in its attempts to adequately respond. Now consider 4.5 billion people lost to eternity. Can your mind even go there?

4. Because 1.5 billion people on the planet have never even heard the name of Jesus.

With all the resources and technology of a new millennium, the Gospel still has not reached full saturation of the earth. Without a clear focus, without a Great Commission to push us, it will never happen.

5. Because a full 90% of our world is not going to heaven.

We say we care about people. But why are we content to walk past 9 out of 10 people everyday knowing full well they are doomed for all of eternity without Jesus? We say we believe in the Great Commission but our actions say we don’t…or worse, we really do believe but we just don’t care.

6. Because the Great Commission is the antidote for dying churches (and denominations).

Churches die when they become fruitless or faithless. The Great Commission cures both of these. Every mainline denomination is in decline. Why? Because the Great Commission has been trumped by something “greater” in the denomination’s eyes.

7. Because the Great Commission is the recipe for church plants.

We plant churches because of the Great Commission. And those new churches will plant churches because of the Great Commission. The Great Commission is the DNA of reproduction and life. No reproduction  = death.

8. Because the Great Commission unites the generations and does not divide them.

We are good at drawing lines between the generations. Music, clothes, worship style, movies, tattoos, PC, Mac, Chevy, Honda, etc. But the Great Commission is something we ALL can get behind. The Great Commission drives out division in the body of Christ. It IS our course correction.

9. Because the Great Commission provides us with a Great Vision.

Without a Vision, people will pursue their own “vision.” The Great Commission is the focus. It keeps us focused on people and it keeps us focused on God. It calls us to do the impossible (take the Gospel to the whole world), and ensures that God will get all the credit when the impossible is achieved.

10. Because if it doesn’t then it says something awful about us.

If the Great Commission doesn’t matter then it means we aren’t interested in following Jesus.  It means we don’t really care about people. It means we are comfortable with 90% of humanity suffering an eternity in hell. It means we are totally and utterly depraved. And it might even mean that WE are lost.


JeffC-272x300You can follow Dr. Crawford on Twitter @jeffcraw4d and on his blog.