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Authors: David Platt

Tags: #RELIGION / Christian Life / General

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BOOK: Because We Are Called to Counter Culture
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SEXUAL MORALITY

God prohibits sexual worship
 
—the idolization of sex and infatuation with sexual activity as a fundamental means to personal fulfillment. All throughout Scripture and history, people have mistakenly fallen into the trap of thinking that the God-created pleasure of sex and sexuality will bring us ultimate satisfaction (see Exodus 32:2-6; Deuteronomy 23:17; Proverbs 7:1-27; 1 Corinthians 10:8). Sadly, it seems that we are no different in our time. All across our culture, people believe, “If only I have sexual freedom in this way or that way, then I will be happy.” But this is not true. Sex is good, but sex is not God. It will not ultimately fulfill. Like anything else
that becomes an idol, it will always take more than it gives while diverting the human heart away from the only One who is able to give supreme joy.

Each of the Bible’s sexual prohibitions is encapsulated in the all-encompassing command “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). These words were written to a church in the sex-crazed city of Corinth, where singles were sexually involved before marriage, husbands and wives were sexually involved outside of marriage, homosexuality was condoned, and prostitution was common. (Not much has changed in two thousand years.) So to the church in that culture and to the church in our culture, God says, “Flee from sexual immorality
 
—any and all sexual thinking, looking, desiring, touching, speaking, and acting outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Don’t rationalize it, and don’t reason with it
 

run from it
. Flee it as fast as you can.”

But we don’t believe God on this one. None of us do. The Bible doesn’t speak simply against adultery or homosexuality but against multiple manifestations of sexual immorality in every single one of our lives. All of us
 
—men and women, heterosexual and homosexual
 
—are sexual sinners, and all of us are in need of a Savior.

PRAY

Ask God to:

  • Bring conviction and repentance in the lives of Christians (including you) involved in sexual immorality.
  • Give Christians compassion, boldness, wisdom, and humility in addressing issues such as homosexual activity, pornography, and other forms of sexual sin.
  • Open the hearts of unbelievers to see that God forgives and breaks the power of sexual sin and that true freedom is found in Jesus Christ.
PARTICIPATE

Prayerfully consider taking these steps:

  • Meet with a small group of others in your church to exhort one another to sexual purity and faithfulness.
  • Support or become involved in a ministry that helps those who struggle with same-sex attraction.
  • Contact government officials and exhort them to enact and implement legislation that will prevent the exploitation of women (through avenues such as pornography or prostitution) in our culture.
PROCLAIM

Consider the following truths from Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
  • Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the
    L
    ORD
    : though your
    sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

For more (and more specific) suggestions, visit
CounterCultureBook.com/SexualMorality
.

ETHNICITY

We live in a culture where we are constantly submerged in discussions about race and racism. We have conversations and host forums, sponsor debates and foster dialogues, write articles and give speeches about how to solve racial tension in our culture. But could it be that the gospel not only counters culture on this issue but reshapes the conversation about race altogether?

Consider the starting point in the gospel: the creation of man and woman in the image of God with equal dignity before God. This means that no human being is more or less human than another. All are made in
God’s image. It is a lack of trust in this gospel truth that has led to indescribable horrors in human history. Slavery in America, the Holocaust in Germany, the Armenian massacre in Turkey, the genocide in Rwanda, and the Japanese slaughter of six million Koreans, Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Indonesians, and Filipinos all derived from the satanic deception of leaders and citizens who believed that they were intrinsically superior to other types of people. From the first chapter of the Bible, however, this much is clear: all men and women are made in the very likeness of God. The Bible’s story line depicts a basic unity behind worldly diversity.

Throughout history Christians have failed to understand how the gospel affects the way we view and love people of different ethnicities. My hope and prayer is that this would not be what historians write concerning the church in our day. The body of Christ is a
multicultural citizenry of an otherworldly kingdom. By the sheer grace of God in the gospel, we are compelled to counter selfish pride and ethnic prejudice both in our hearts and in our culture. For this is not the culture to which we ultimately belong. Instead, we are looking forward to the day when “a great multitude that no one [can] number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9) will stand as one redeemed race to give glory to the Father who calls us not sojourners or exiles, but sons and daughters.

PRAY

Ask God to:

  • Open the eyes of all believers (including your own) to selfish pride and sinful prejudice and to grant repentance.
  • Protect and provide for immigrants
    and their families and to put believers in their paths to minister to them.
  • Give the leadership of the United States (and other governments) wisdom in addressing the issue of immigration.
PARTICIPATE

Prayerfully consider taking these steps:

  • Talk with the leadership of your church about partnering in ministry with a church whose members are of a different ethnicity from yours.
  • Open your home to someone from a different people group. Consider specifically international students, as the vast majority of these individuals never have an opportunity to go inside the home of an American family.
  • Begin a ministry to immigrants in need in your local area. Provide food,
    shelter, and help with the language. Most important, proclaim the gospel to them.
PROCLAIM

Consider the following truths from Scripture:

  • Acts 17:26: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:19: “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
  • Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

For more (and more specific) suggestions, visit
CounterCultureBook.com/Ethnicity
.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

One of the fundamental human freedoms
 
—if not the most fundamental human freedom
 
—is the privilege of each person to explore truth about the divine and to live in light of his or her determinations. Obviously, different people will make different determinations regarding what to believe, whom to worship, and how to live. This is a choice God has offered to all people, for from the beginning God has given men and women the freedom to decide whether to worship him.

Around the world, scores of men and women from many faiths, including many of
our brothers and sisters in Christ, live today without this fundamental freedom. Millions of people are presently denied the opportunity to even explore truth that will affect their lives on earth and for eternity.

Government coercion is one of the greatest restrictors of religious liberty around the globe. This is most clear in communist and Islamist states, where countries adopt an official religion (or nonreligion) and require their citizens to conform to corresponding beliefs. Societal pressure follows closely on the heels of governmental regulation as family, friends, religious fanatics, community leaders, and criminal mobs intimidate, threaten, harm, or kill men, women, and children who profess certain faith. Such pressure accounts for much Christian persecution today.

Surrounded by this global reality, and driven by our love for God, we must act. We must pray and work for our persecuted
brothers and sisters around the world. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers (see 1 Corinthians 12). Moreover, in a country where even our own religious liberty is increasingly limited, our suffering brothers and sisters beckon us not to let the cost of following Christ in our culture silence our faith.

PRAY

Ask God to:

  • Prepare Christians in our own culture to respond boldly and humbly to increased governmental and cultural opposition.
  • Work in the lives of rulers in our own country and around the world so that there is more freedom given to live and speak according to the truth of the gospel.
  • Strengthen persecuted believers
    around the world to persevere in faith and to continue to bear witness to Christ, regardless of the consequences.
PARTICIPATE

Prayerfully consider taking these steps:

  • Contact your state government representatives about instances here and abroad where religious liberty is being denied.
  • Support and/or get involved with a ministry that speaks on behalf of believers who live in persecuted contexts.
  • Consider how you or someone you know might get involved on the issue of religious liberty, either legally or politically.
PROCLAIM

Consider the following truths from Scripture:

  • Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you
    when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”
  • Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the
    L
    ORD
    ; he turns it wherever he will.”
  • 1 Peter 2:23: “When [Christ] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

For more (and more specific) suggestions, visit
CounterCultureBook.com/ReligiousLiberty
.

UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS

Throughout this booklet, we have considered massive physical needs in the world. Yet if we are not careful, we run the risk of ignoring people’s most pressing need
 
—the gospel.

Jesus knew that as great as people’s earthly needs were, their eternal need was far greater. When a paralytic was brought to him on a mat, Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). He used this opportunity to teach a paralyzed man and the people around him that the ultimate priority of his coming was not to relieve suffering, as important as that is. Instead, his ultimate priority was to sever the root of suffering: sin itself.

Because the gospel is the most pressing need in people’s lives, the gospel informs the fundamental purpose of our lives. We who know the gospel have been given the greatest gift in all the world. We have good news of a glorious God who has come to deliver men, women, and children from all sin and all suffering for all time. Therefore, we cannot
 
—we
must
not
 
—stay silent with this gospel. Gospel possession requires gospel proclamation.

The central mission of the church in the world, then, is proclaiming the gospel to the world, and there is much work to be done, not only in our culture but among people around the world. More than six thousand people groups are currently classified as “unreached”
 
—a population of at least two billion people.

When will the concept of unreached peoples become intolerable to the church? What will it take to wake us up to the dearth
of the gospel among the peoples of the world? What will it take to stir our hearts and lives for men and women whose souls are plunging into damnation without ever even hearing of salvation? This cannot be conceivable for people who confess the gospel. For if this gospel is true, then we must spend our lives and mobilize our churches for the spread of Christ’s love to unreached people groups all around the world. Jesus has not given us a commission to consider; he has given us a command to obey.

PRAY

Ask God to:

  • Grant you boldness in proclaiming the gospel to people around you and around the world who don’t know Christ.
  • Send out workers to other cultures and to open the door for many more
    unreached people groups to be reached with the gospel.
  • Give many churches and Christians a burden to become involved in praying, giving, and going for the purpose of taking the gospel to the unreached.
PARTICIPATE

Prayerfully consider taking these steps:

  • Give sacrificially through your local church so that missionaries and gospel efforts to the unreached might be supported.
  • Plan to go on a short-term mission trip and ask God to clarify what your role should be in obeying the great commission.
  • Support a missions agency, a translation team, or some other effort to get the gospel to unreached peoples.
PROCLAIM

Consider the following truths from Scripture:

  • Matthew 6:9-10: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
  • Matthew 9:37-38: “[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”
  • Luke 24:45-47: “[Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’”

For more (and more specific) suggestions, visit
CounterCultureBook.com/Unreached
.

BOOK: Because We Are Called to Counter Culture
9.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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