The paradoxical issue with the Christian message is this: God has given a foolish message (the cross), to give to an impossible and hostile audience (spiritually dead people) through a weakest of means (preaching).
On the surface this seems like a hopeless proposition. Maybe that is why the modern church has sought to reform the prescribed way. R.C. Sproul once cited Martin Luther as saying, “God must be the worst teacher, because men are always trying to improve upon His methods.” What a true saying especially seeing how the modern church constantly seeks to cultivate their craft so as to attract the unbeliever. Much of the church world seeks to impress, implicitly or explicitly, through creating a palatable Christian package. The worship service, small groups, tee shirts, child care, mugs, and study materials in an all-inclusive package when one signs up. The church almost seeks to create a brand like McDonalds or Starbucks as to please the unchurched. As Spurgeon once said, “ministers have stopped feeding the sheep and are now entertaining the goats”.
The scripture is clear, God has a prescribed, ordained method by which to evangelize the lost, confront the culture and disciple the church. Those means are head-scratchingly simple: Preaching the Bible, prayers, the Lord’s Table, and Baptism. Many other church activities are subsumed under these.
When these simple means of grace are supped-up, added too, neglected, or done in pretense for selfish ambition, they become useless. Even worse they become goat magnets. Churches then seek to lower God and exalt man, eliminating the sense of God’s holiness. God gives a most sever judgement in sending worldly teachers that justify the congregation’s own selfish desires, further damning them to perdition.
To Biblically address culture is to embrace the insufficiency of human power; even to glory in the weakness of it. God has chosen a foolish method to confound the wise and display His power to save. Paul captures this principle in I Corinthians when he says,
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.I Corinthians 1:18-25
The principle thought is that the glory may be of God and not us.
In addressing the culture the power of God is on full display in the saving of sinners. Because it is God who melts the hard hearts, scrapes off the thick scales from spiritual eyes, and pops open deaf ears to hear the Gospel. God makes the message effectual to the sinner. God grants faith and repentance with respect to the Gospel, translating the sinner from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light. You see, how glorious it is that God saves sinners through the foolishness of preaching, with the offense of the Cross, through plain weak people. This is how culture is to be addressed. This is how the elect, the sheep are called.
John MacArthur, who has often been asked to appear on CNN’s Larry King Live, was asked how he prepared for each television appearance. He noted he did little in way of preparation, that he was not given a transcript, a topic and often did not know who would be the guests. He stated, he had only two talking points: The authority of the Bible as the standard of truth and that Jesus Christ was the answer. Likewise, as the church confronts the plethora of social issues, the message and means have not changed. Though the church be slapped with the label of archaic, bigoted, narrow, and foolish among others, so was the apostles and prophets of yesteryear. Stand and proclaim that there is only one name under heaven and earth that men may be saved, the Name of Jesus Christ.