It is not
the job of Christians to "reclaim" this present world's cultures.
Christianity is the culture of a people who are no longer at home
in this present evil world destined for destruction. They are citizens
of the world to come.
June 2016 – As we approach
another election in the United States, some in the evangelical community are speaking of this
event as "a major opportunity for a significant step forward in reclaiming the
culture for Christ." Republican presidential candidate
Donald J. Trump has established a "religious advisory board"
composed of leading evangelical figures, including these:
- Former Congresswoman and tea-party presidential candidate
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, health-and-wealth prosperity
- James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family
- Jerry Falwell, Jr. - President, Liberty University
- Jack Graham - Senior Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church
- Harry Jackson - Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
- Robert Jeffress - Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of
- David Jeremiah - Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community
- Richard Land – President, Southern Evangelical Seminary
- Ralph Reed - Founder, Faith and Freedom Coalition
Paula White, the twice-divorced and thrice-married senior pastor
(so-called) of New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando,
Falwell, Graham, Jackson, Jeffress,
Jeremiah, and Land are leading Southern Baptists.
Many are actually
expressing the hope that this group will, through Trump, somehow
change the spiritual course of the nation.
But is it Christians' or the church's job
to "reclaim the culture"? Does the Bible mandate such a
commission? Can these kinds of efforts accomplish such a thing? We find the answer in many places in the
Word of God, and it is consistently "No". This truth is
set before us in a most striking way in Paul's epistle to
I believe it is no accident that the
outline of the book of Colossians reflects one of the great
statements the Lord Jesus Christ made about Himself. In John
14:6, Jesus said to His disciples, "I am
the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father
except through Me."
This is precisely the pattern we find in
Paul's letter. In Colossians chapter one, Paul declares the
Lord Jesus Christ as the only Way to eternal life. It is only by
His person and work that men can be delivered from the power of
darkness and conveyed into Christ's kingdom (1:13).
In Colossians chapter two, the Apostle
Paul declares that Jesus Christ is the Truth – the only Truth,
in contrast and opposition to three particular spiritual
forces that we find arrayed against the truth of God and the people of God
throughout all ages of this present world. The Colossian believers
faced these forces in the first century, and present-day
Christians still face them: worldly philosophy, legalism, and
man-made doctrines. These evils, and the men who promote them, will continue to the end, and
"grow worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13).
In Colossians chapters 3 and 4, the Apostle Paul
sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the Life. Jesus has
delivered those who believe on Him into newness of life, both in
this present world and in the world to come. It is for this
reason that the Holy Spirit commands us through Paul,
If [or since] then you were raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at
the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on
things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with
Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you
also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
"Set your mind on things above, not on
things on the earth." Why are we to do that? What great fact
demands this of us? It is, the Apostle Paul tells us, the
momentous fact that "you died, and your life is hidden with
Christ in God."
The believer who has been raised with
Christ is dead to sin, to this present world, and to its
cultures. The Christian is alive in Christ for the purpose of
living to please Him in this present evil world, and for the
purpose of living with Him in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
"When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear
with Him in glory."
In chapters 3 and 4, Paul tells the
Colossian church how to think and to live in the light of these
cosmic truths. These truths have to do with our living for
Christ in cultures that are cursed and perishing.
On the authority of Scripture, this is
the truth: The assertion that Christians must be on a quest to
reclaim this world's cultures is a false teaching. God's purpose
in redeeming a people for Himself is not the renovation or the
improvement of this present world, or to "reclaim" the cultures
of this world.
Dear friends, Christians cannot reclaim that
which was never theirs in the first place. This present world is
under God's curse. In 2 Peter 3 beginning at verse 10, we are
told that this present earth is not going to be renovated by the
arm of flesh. It is going to be destroyed by God's consuming fire.
The day is coming when God will purge this world of all
of the remnants of sin and of the curse. He will usher in
New Heavens and a New Earth.
The original language of the New
Testament tells us that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be entirely new – not new in time, but new in quality.
God will restore and renew His creation that Satan sought
to destroy. He will not permit Satan to have that victory.
This present creation, renovated and restored
by God, purged by fire of all traces of the
curse of sin, will be given an even greater glory than it had
originally. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will live
and reign in it with Christ forever.
Never once did the Lord Jesus, or any of the apostles, ever say to Christians, "Go and
reclaim the culture." 1 John 5:19 tells us that while "we are of
God…the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one."
Galatians 1:4 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ "gave Himself
for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil
age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be
glory forever and ever."
The commission that the Lord Jesus has
given to us is not to reclaim the world's cultures, but to be
used of Him in saving a people for the world to come. Go and
preach the Gospel, Jesus said. Tell people how to be saved from
this present evil world so that they may not perish in Hell, but
may have life in the world to come. And teach them how to live
life in this present world as citizens of that world to come
This is why any emphasis on the
renovation of this present world by Christians, or on supposedly
reclaiming the cultures of this present world, is a wrong
emphasis: It is un-Biblical. God's plan is not to redeem the
cultures of this present sinful world. God's plan is a new
creation, New Heavens and New Earth, in which righteousness will
dwell forever - the culture of the world to come.
Therefore, since all these things
will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in
holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening [Greek
speudontas, perhaps better translated "earnestly desiring"]
the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will
be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with
fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look
for New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:11-13)
Next: Christianity - The Culture of the
World to Come