The Answer to Our Culture: The Power of God – September 4, 2020

The world seems to be losing its mind. Last week we looked at how we got here. We learned from Romans 1 that the world seems to be losing its mind because it has. Our culture has suppressed the truth, become futile in their thinking, and their understanding has been darkened. The result is a debased mind left to work all manner of evil they can invent. So, what is the answer? Is there no hope? If you ask most believers this question, they will give you a myriad of answers. Some will state that the answer is to vote for conservative politicians who will do a better job of legislating morality. Some will state that the answer is to focus on your family, keep your head down, and live life. Some will simply throw their hands up in exasperation. All of these answers can be seen every day on social media. Sadly, each of these answers are wrong.

Scripture gives clear answer to our question of how to respond. Over the next few weeks, we will walk through the answers that God gives us. The first response which we will look at this week is found in the statement which led to Paul’s breakdown of culture in Romans 1. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” The first response is the gospel. As I stated last week, the fault for the state in which our culture finds itself sits squarely on the shoulders of the church. We have forgotten the Gospel. The church has forgotten the Gospel because it no longer understands what the Gospel is. The American Church pedals several forms of a false gospel. Some forms add to the Gospel, some subtract from the Gospel, and some miss the Gospel altogether.

In the early 1900’s a major battle occurred in the American church between a group known as the Modernists and a group known as the Fundamentalists. Modernists had subtracted from the Gospel and missed the Gospel altogether. The Fundamentalists of the early 1900’s rightly stood on the Gospel as God presents it in the Scripture. The result was a massive split in American Christianity. Over the years following the split, however, the Fundamentalists began to fracture because many of them began to add to the gospel. They began to make extra biblical rules (such as music, dress, movies, church attendance, etc.) measuring sticks to determine if one was a Christian who loved Jesus. They began to add to the Gospel.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a group that subtracts from the Gospel. This group removed the need for repentance from sin and made the gospel simply about praying a prayer or “believing.” They missed the foundational need to recognize that you are lost before you can be found. The result is churches filled with unbelievers who believe that they are saved.

Finally, there are some who miss the Gospel all together. This is marked by those who are trying to make the church palatable to the unsaved. They believe that the church should seek to get the unsaved in the doors by any means necessary. They say things like, “We spent time talking to them, that’s what it’s all about.” But getting people in church is not the Gospel. Others view the gospel as something that is not about changing lives, but about changing culture. Not about saving people from sin, but about saving people from the ghetto. This is not the Gospel.

What is the Gospel? Paul proceeds through the rest of the Book of Romans to present the Gospel. That which is the true power of God.  He begins with the depravity of man. As we have seen, Romans 1 presents the sinfulness of our culture. Romans 2 presents the depravity of those who claim to be religious. And Romans 3 then comes to this conclusion, “10None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” The Gospel must begin with the understanding that man is not basically good. Man is all bad. We cannot come to God on our own terms. In Ephesians 2, Paul describes it as being dead in trespasses and sins. He also informs us that because of this problem, we stand condemned before God. He is just to inflict His full wrath on us. In Romans 6, we learn that this involves death (physical death and eternal death in hell).

Paul also informs us, in Romans 4, that this problem cannot be solved through our own efforts. Nothing we do can be good enough to atone for this sin. Only through faith can this sin be covered. But this faith is more than mental acknowledgement. Using the illustration of Abraham, Paul illustrates that this faith involves repentance and full trust in God. In chapter 10 Paul concludes that this means we submit to Christ as our Lord (our full authority) over our life.

Romans 5 demonstrates that this faith is in the sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. When we repent and believe, through the cross, Christ’s righteousness is placed on our account. Romans 6 states that we are actually made new people. And Romans 7-9 demonstrates that we demonstrate this faith by living in obedience to God. This is the Gospel. This is what we must proclaim first and foremost to the world around us.

The problem is that some of us don’t actually believe this Gospel. We believe a lot of almost gospels. And as a result, we are denied the power of God. The first response to all we see around us is to share the Gospel. Are you doing this?