Bearing Fruit in a Secular Culture

Dr. Steve Viars February 11, 2018 Romans 12:1-2
Outline

 “…the writer recognized that his arguments were not just skillful, but grounded in his Christian beliefs.  While literally ‘defining the field,’ Capian wrote, ‘he was living his faith.’ The piece also pointed to his inspiring example as he dealt courageously with cancer and faced his impending death with grace.  Here we see a man who definitely engaged and influenced the culture, brought his faith and its distinctive worldview to bear on the field of law, did it with undeniable excellence, and showed compassion for the poor within his theories of justice.  In spite of the fact that he worked in places that largely disdained the Christian faith, the combination of his clear commitment to the common good, the integration of his faith with his scholarship, and his undeniable skill and excellence combined to make a real difference.” (Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 239)

1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:10 - …each man must be careful how he builds on it.

3 principles to help us relate properly to the world around us

I. Heed the Warning – Do Not Be Conformed to This World

Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

A. Which world?

1. The physical cosmos, universe

Psalm 89:11 - The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them.

2. The “world of people”

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world…

3. The present sinful age (aion), the world system, the demonic human philosophy of life

“…that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.” (G. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973], pp. 217–18)

B. Defining culture

“Culture…is any and all human effort and labor expended on the cosmos, to unearth its treasures and riches and bring them into…service…to something.” (Henry Van Til, The Calvinist Concept of Culture)

“Culture is…a normative order by which we comprehend ourselves, others, and the larger world and through which we order our experience.  At the heart of culture is a system of norms and values…but these norms are better understood as commanding truths so deeply embedded in our consciousness and in the habits of our lives that to question them is to question reality itself.” (James D. Hunter, Before the Shooting Begins)

John 17:13-17 - But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

C. What does it mean to be conformed?

suschematizo – an outward reflection that does not reflect what is within, masquerading, putting on an act, following a prescribed pattern or scheme

“Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God.” (Kenneth Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955], 1:206–7)

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” (J. B. Phillips)

“If we are not deliberately thinking about our culture, we will be conformed to it without ever knowing it is happening” (Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 186).

D. 2 key questions

1. Is the current culture redeemable and good, or fundamentally fallen?

2. Should we be pessimistic or optimistic about the possibility for cultural change?

E. Your answer is somewhat dependent on your view of the end times

1. Amillennial - no millennium - This view says that there is no literal 1,000 year period of Christian rule on the earth; instead the 1,000 years is a symbol for the time period of today until the second coming of Jesus

2. Postmillennial - This view say that there is a prolonged period of Christian prosperity brought on through the church; the second coming of Christ to earth occurs at the end of that prolonged period of gospel success

3. Premillennial - This view says that Jesus will return to earth and establish a literal 1,000 year reign followed by the eternal state in heaven

F. Various ways others have tried to relate to the world historically

1. Pietism – Be indifferent to and unengaged with culture because it is fundamentally and irredeemably flawed

“I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel.  God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’” (D.L. Moody)

2. Theological Liberalism- Christianity can and must be redefined to be fundamentally compatible with the surrounding culture

3. Religious Right – Take the culture back by political means

4. Seeker Driven Church Movement – Make church relevant and attractive to unbelievers by removing anything offensive from your church services

II. Pursue the Antidote – A Mind Renewed by God’s Word

Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

A. Fueled by the truth of the first 11 chapters of this book

cf. Romans 12:1 – “Therefore…”

1. Creation

Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Psalm 19:1 - The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

2. Fall

3. Redemption

Romans 5:8-9 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

B. Learning to ask key questions through the lens of God’s Word

1. Because of our view of creation

a. What are the opportunities to praise God because of His creative beauty and power?

b. What are the opportunities to commend people for their expertise and skill?

2. Because of our view of the fall

a. What are the opportunities to see our own weaknesses?

b. What are the opportunities to meet needs because our world has been impacted by sin in this way?

c. What are the ways our culture should be confronted because of this sinful tendency?

3. Because of our view of redemption

a. How and when can the good news of the gospel be proclaimed on this ministry platform?

b. How can this aspect of culture be improved, albeit temporarily, because of the presence of those who say they know Christ?

III. Embrace the Challenge – Present Your Body for Cultural Engagement in a Way that Displays God’s Marvelous Mercy and Perfect Will

- This morning I’d like to begin our time by asking you a question – what relationship should Christians seek to have with the culture around us?

- I would suggest that each one of us has to make decisions about that each and every day…so what principles do you use when you’re trying to decide as a follower of Jesus Christ how to relate to culture?...

1. For example – in sports. 

- many of you probably watched the Super Bowl last Sunday evening…regardless of who you were cheering for – it was a great game for sure…

- but an event like that raises all sorts of cultural questions for followers of Jesus Christ…

- including the athletes – many of whom you know are very committed and outspoken Christians…well, the game is on Sunday…and there’s all sorts of events and entertainment associated with the event and the sport that are “morally questionable” (let’s just say)

- so, should Christian athletes participate in that kind of cultural event…

- should you have watched it if you did?...

- should our church have had Super Bowl parties at the HH Hub and Faith West?

- see, as a follower of Christ, how do you interact with that aspect of our culture?...

2. Then there’s the issue of movies and theater…that too is an important aspect of culture…and many times a form of communication that is filled with all sorts of ungodly speech and choices and mentalities…

- well, some of us may have grown up in environments where it was considered wrong to ever attend a movie…even if it was a Disney Movie…or never go to a play at a theater…we were to separate ourselves from that aspect of culture…

- well, have you looked carefully at our new 5 year strategic ministry plan that our church family designed and overwhelmingly approved last fall?...

- one of the initiatives  is – “Consider forming a film production company”…

- that team is finalizing their first documentary about one family's experience with drug addiction and is making plans to take it to a film festival once it's completed…

- another initiative is “Explore the possibility of producing an original Passion Play annually”…at a public theater where we have no influence on what kind of messages might have been proclaimed from that same stage the day before or the day after we leave…

- still another part of the plan is to Consider using FCS’s fine arts events to minister at different community locations.

- well, wait a minute – isn’t all of that worldly?...are those appropriate uses of cultural expression?...or are we allowing the world to squeeze us into it’s mold?..

3. What about whether a Christian should ever teach at a public university?...using their God-given intellect to advance all sorts of secular activities and endeavors?...should anyone seek to relate to culture in that way?...

- if you’re reading Center Church by Tim Keller right now …you may have come across the story of William Stuntz…who was professor of criminal law at Harvard Law School…he was also an outspoken Christian and very vocal about his religious and even his political beliefs…

- When Stuntz died of cancer at age 52, Lincoln Capian of the New York Times wrote a full op-ed piece on their editorial page about him…

- the point the author made was that Stuntz had a profound effect on the practice of criminal law by incorporating the principle of showing mercy to the marginalized without undermining the rule of law.

- speaking of this article, Tim Keller explained that “the writer recognized that his arguments were not just skillful, but grounded in his Christian beliefs.  While literally ‘defining the field,’ Capian wrote, ‘he was living his faith.’ The piece also pointed to his inspiring example as he dealt courageously with cancer and faced his impending death with grace.  Here we see a man who definitely engaged and influenced the culture, brought his faith and its distinctive worldview to bear on the field of law, did it with undeniable excellence, and showed compassion for the poor within his theories of justice.  In spite of the fact that he worked in places that largely disdained the Christian faith, the combination of his clear commitment to the common good, the integration of his faith with his scholarship, and his undeniable skill and excellence combined to make a real difference” (Center Church, p. 239).

- see, was it appropriate for William Stuntz to use his God-given intellectual abilities to teach at a citadel of worldly culture like Harvard Law School?...

- that’s the question – and I would suggest people like you and me have to answer it when making decisions large and small practically every day -- what principles do you use when you’re trying to decide as a follower of Jesus Christ how to relate to culture?

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible this am to Romans chapter 12…page 126 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- our church’s theme this year is Being Careful How We Build

- by God’s grace, there’s a lot of 2 x 4’s flying around our various campuses this year…

- so Lord willing, we’ll be breaking ground on another duplex for our Restoration Men’s Ministry this spring and doubling the size of that program…

-  we plan to add classrooms and offices and a music room at FE for our school and children’s ministries…hoping to begin that project in June…

- and of course there’s the ongoing construction taking place on the Northend Community Center downtown…

- we’ve never had a year in our history where we had taken on more building…well, we’re all committed to this...Being Careful How We Build

- now, of course ultimately we’re using this as a metaphor for our Christian lives personally because that’s what the apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 3…

- 1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

- we’re still admonished to…1 Corinthians 3:10 - …each man must be careful how he builds on it.

- that’s the privilege and the task before us this year…

- now in these first few weeks of 2018, we’re focusing on Building on the Foundation of the Gospel…

- and we’re encouraging as many people as possible from our church family to carve out some time and read the book Center Church by Tim Keller…

- the subtitle is – Doing balanced, gospel centered ministry in your city…

- our goal this am is to think about Being Fruitful in a Secular Culture

- read Romans 12:1-2

- so, Being Fruitful in a Secular Culture…and from this passage, let’s look for 3 principles to help us relate properly to the world around us.

I. Heed the Warning – Do Not Be Conformed to this World

- that emphasis could not have been any clearer in this passage…

- Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

- so whatever we say about that athlete in the Super Bowl – it better be in line with this clear warning…the same goes for what we might watch, or parties we might plan…

- and can we just say it plainly – worldliness is a huge problem in the church and in our hearts…nobody who hears or delivers this message has completely won that battle…

- we have to factor this into the way we think about using film or theater or even teaching at a place like Harvard Law…whatever we say about any of that has to meet the test of this seminal text…but that assumes we’re interpreting it carefully….so let’s dig in some…

A. Which world?

- the word “world” is used at least three different ways in Scripture…and remember, words always derive their meaning from their context…so which world is Paul talking about here?

1. The physical cosmos, universe

- Psalm 89:11 - The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them.

- the Bible is filled with verses like that – is that what Paul is speaking about in Romans 12:2?

2. The “world of people”

- John 3:16 – For God so loved the world…

- Is that what Paul was talking about – “don’t be conformed to this world of people?”

3. The present sinful age (aion), the world system, the demonic human philosophy of life.

- “…that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale” (G. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973], pp. 217–18).

- of those three choices, it’s fairly easy to decide which one Paul is speaking about in our passage…don’t be conformed to the world’s system, ungodly philosophy of life…

- now, going back to our three examples at the beginning…here’s the challenge…

- while sports includes these kinds of worldly philosophies…we wouldn’t say that everything about sports fits under that heading, would we?...

- we wouldn’t say that everything about the theater or movies fits under that heading…or everything about working at a secular university…or any secular job…

- they are overlapping, but they are not identical…

- perhaps this will help us…how do we…

B. Defining culture

- does the word “worldly” in Romans 12:2 and culture mean exactly the same thing?...

- are they identical/interchangeable – or are they overlapping and therefore sometimes the same and sometimes different?...

- the way you answer that question is going to go a long way toward how you try to apply this passage to everyday life decisions…and also your efficacy and fruitfulness in the world in which we’ve been placed to live out our faith and serve our Savior…

- Henry Van Til – Culture…is any and all human effort and labor expended on the cosmos, to unearth its treasures and riches and bring them into…service…to something (The Calvinist Concept of Culture).

- James D. Hunter – Culture is…a normative order by which we comprehend ourselves, others, and the larger world and through which we order our experience.  At the heart of culture is a system of norms and values…but these norms are better understood as commanding truths so deeply embedded in our consciousness and in the habits of our lives that to question them is to question reality itself (Before the Shooting Begins).

- so when you visit a great art museum – that is a great cultural experience…is every piece of art you look at worldly in a Romans 12:2 sense?...of course not…

- what about if you attend a symphony?...clearly cultural…not necessarily worldly…

- what about politics, education, science, health-care, business, economics, religion, counseling…all of that and much more is culture…

- its where you and I live every day—we couldn’t possibly get away from it…

- in fact, we could even say this…Jesus didn’t want us to get away from it…how do we know that?...

- John 17:13–17 - But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

- that is a fascinating passage in light of what we’re talking about – and we could spend the rest of the day parsing out how Jesus was using the word “world” in each of these phrases…[and BTW, He does it throughout the high priestly prayer]…but we can at least say this – Jesus wants us to wrestle with this challenge of living fruitfully and faithfully in the secular culture in which we’ve been placed…without being conformed to it…

- now, that raises this question…

C. What does it mean to be conformed?

- suschematizo – an outward reflection that does not reflect what is within, masquerading, putting on an act, following a prescribed pattern or scheme

- and please note – it’s a passive imperative…don’t let this happen to you – that’s the point of this warning…

- Kenneth Wuest - Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God” (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955], 1:206–7).

- J. B. Phillips – “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold”

- this is why Keller makes this very helpful comment – “If we are not deliberately thinking about our culture, we will be conformed to it without ever knowing it is happening” (Center Church, p. 186).

- there’s no question that could happen to that football player because of his participation in that aspect of culture, the film company, the passion play, the university professor…

- clearly Jesus did not want us taken out of the world…but the possibility of being conformed to it – to be squeezed into its mold is a constant and profound pressure that should concern us each and every day…

- now let’s push this one step further logically by posing…

D. 2 key questions

- and I’m giving them to you in the reverse order Keller poses them in his book…

1. Is the current culture redeemable and good, or fundamentally fallen?

2. Should we be pessimistic or optimistic about the possibility for cultural change?

(Center Church, p. 225).

- I’m just going to let those questions sit there for a few minutes…but I hope we all recognize them to be very important when it comes to decisions we make personally and also as a church…

E. Your answer is somewhat dependent on your view of the end times.

-  this is where eschatology matters [your view of the end times]…

- our approach toward treating addictive behaviors at our Men’s Restoration Ministry will be greatly impacted by how we think about all of this…

- so will our methods of education in that new addition we’re building…

- and everything we’re attempting in the north end will be affected…

- we have to be careful how we build…now you might say, I’m not even sure what my view of the end times is…here are three brief possibilities….specifically as it relates to all the OT prophecies and promises about the Messiah establishing a 1000 year reign on the earth

1. Amillennial – no millennium. This view says that there is no literal 1,000 year period of Christian rule on the earth. Instead the 1000 years is a symbol for the time period of today until the second coming of Jesus.

2. Postmillennial = This view say that there is a prolonged period of Christian prosperity brought on through the church. The second coming of Christ to earth occurs at the end of that prolonged period of gospel success.

3. Premillennial = This view says that Jesus will return to earth and establish a literal 1,000 year reign followed by the eternal state in heaven.

- now, we’re starting a conference here this weekend and we’ll have people here from all these perspectives…but at our church, we’re pre-millennial…and that affects everything we’re talking about here this am – including how/why we would enter the world of sports, education, art, politics, economics, and on and on…either as individuals or as a church…

- now, what are some of the….

F. Various ways others have tried to relate to the world historically

1. Pietism – Be indifferent to and unengaged with culture because it is fundamentally and irredeemably flawed.

- cf. D.L. Moody – I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel.  God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.”

- so people like this tend to be hyper-separated from culture…

- they don’t have unsaved friends or associates…they don’t read books or watch films…they don’t see any value in community interaction…

- there’s so much we could say about that – but I’d like to at least make this observation…this approach can be just as worldly as any of the others…

- because it often confuses the third definition we gave of the world with the second one…

- in other words, it confuses the world’s system with the world’s people…

- and there is no such thing as fruitfulness without a love for and engagement with people

2. Theological Liberalism- Christianity can and must be redefined to be fundamentally compatible with the surrounding culture.

- pietism has a highly negative view of culture – liberalism has a highly positive view…

- and since they don’t believe in the infallibility of Scripture, whatever the world believes is true at the time has to be embraced or the church will be viewed as irrelevant…

- conformity to the world is obvious here and you undoubtedly know people who believe and live this way

3. Religious Right – Take the culture back by political means.

- this was the Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority Days…

- and if you’d like to read a rather scathing review of that period of time, I’d recommend – Blinded by Might by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, subtitled “Why the Religious Right Can’s Save America”…

- and this approach often became very worldly as well because the attitudes and activities came out of the playbook of some political party or action committee instead of the pages of Scriptures…

4. Seeker Driven Church Movement – Make church relevant and attractive to unbelievers by removing anything offensive from your church services.

- again, the relationship between this approach and the concept if being squeezed into the world’s mold is obvious…

- now, there’s so much more that could about the various alternatives – and I would direct your attention to chapters 15-18 of Center Church if you’d like to think it through more comprehensively…

- but I hope every one of us would say – I want to be effective and fruitful in the world in which I’ve been placed – but I also want to heed this warning – I don’t want to be squeezed into the world’s mold…that means we have to…

II. Pursue the Antidote – A Mind Renewed by God’s Word

- Romans 12:2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

A. Fueled by the truth of the first 11 chapters of this book

- we’re right at a transition mark in this all important book of Romans…

- cf. Romans 12:1 – “Therefore…”

- so here’s the question – what framework does God’s Word give us…to renew our minds…to help us think about the world, our culture, in a more biblical fashion?...

- and one very important answer is this classic conceptualization summarized with the letters  C, F, R…Creation, Fall, Redemption…

1. Creation

- several weeks ago we saw how Paul began his discussion in chapter 1 at that very concept…just like the Bible does…

- Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

- now, this is a very important question for what we’re talking about this morning…

- is the creation that Paul is talking about in this passage before the fall, or after the fall?...

- an unbelieving Roman citizen was supposed to be able to look out at creation and learn truth about the power and existence of God from a physical world that had been cursed by sin…

- when the Psalmist said -- Psalm 19:1 - The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

- that’s true of the earth – even after it has suffered the effects of the curse…and please remember this – we’re in the book of Romans…and there is an extensive discussion in chapter 8 about the creation groaning because of the effects of sin…

- and here’s the point – culture, although reeling from the effects of the fall, is not as bad as it could possibly be…

- the glory of God is potentially on display in all sorts of ways in the world in which we live…and if you have an entirely negative, cynical view of the world in which we’ve been placed…you will invariably become separated from it…

- that’s what’s wrong with pietism…that’s what’s wrong with hyper-separation…

- it fails to affirm…it fails to appreciate…and it fails to celebrate the positive aspects of culture and it leads to a lack of engagement with the world in which we live…

- so let’s take the Super Bowl…it would have been perfectly appropriate to watch some of those plays and marvel at the athletic giftedness that God has given some men and women…God created those bodies to work that way…

- or to look at the design of that new stadium in MN and rejoice in the intellect God has given human beings to be so creative in their architecture…

- or the celebrate the joy we can have in coming together and participating in a great athletic game…

- some Christians need to stop sucking on lemons all the time and renew their minds with God’s Word regarding the ongoing beauty and value of the creation of our God…

2. Fall

- the book of Romans then moves to an extended discussion of the fall of man into sin

- and finding a verse in chapter 2-3 that would demonstrate that point would be like shooting fish in a barrel…

- and that’s what’s wrong with the social gospel and that’s what’s wrong with theological liberalism or the seeker driven church movement…

- from different perspectives they fail to take into account the pervasive effects of the fall of man into sin…

- which is why our only hope is the third leg of this stool…

3. Redemption

- Romans 5:8–9 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

B. Learning to ask key questions through the lens of God’s Word

1. Because of our view of creation…

a. What are the opportunities to praise God because of His creative beauty and power?

b. What are the opportunities to commend people for their expertise and skill?

- a biblically renewed mind will motivate us to celebrate and engage in the aspects of our world that are right…

2. Because of our view of the fall…

a. What are the opportunities to see our own weaknesses?

- we can position ourselves in our world in a way that comes off as being very proud and self-righteous…which is highly ineffective…

b. What are the opportunities to meet needs because our world has been impacted by sin in this way?

- God left us in this world on purpose…and we should view issues like poverty, and addictions, and crime, and urban blight – not as cynics, but as entrepreneurs…

c. What are the ways our culture should be confronted because of this sinful tendency?

- many times our willingness to ask and act on the previous questions is what provides the credibility to ask and act on the implications of this one…

3. Because of our view of redemption

a. How and when can the good news of the gospel be proclaimed on this ministry platform?

- the goal is always, as we saw recently from our study of 1 Corinthians 9, to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples…

b. How can this aspect of culture be improved, albeit temporarily, because of the presence of those who say they know Christ?

- is it true that wherever followers of Jesus Christ go, the conditions for everyone around should improve…as a platform to demonstrate the redemptive power of our Savior?

- so where does that put us practically?

III. Embrace the Challenge – Present Your Body for Cultural Engagement in a Way that Displays God’s Marvelous Mercy and Perfect Will

- so here’s the bottom line…we expect our culture to slowly deteriorate…but we seek great ministry opportunities at every phase of the process

- and our goal is not to transform culture…but to use it – in whatever shape it may be in at the time…to live and proclaim the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ…

- so at the workplace…

- be thankful for everything about your job and your co-workers that is right…because our God created work…

- don’t be shocked or frustrated that everything or everyone at your job isn’t perfect…because it’s been impacted by the effect of sin…

- but conduct yourself in such a way that God’s mercy is on display…as your spiritual act of worship at the job place…and when people ask you why your attitude is so different, or your work-ethic stands out – be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you that points them to Christ…

- bear fruit in this secular culture of ours…

- and if God calls you to be an athlete…be a good one…

- and celebrate the way God made the bodies of you and your competitors to do amazing things…be the encourager in your sport who commends others for the great job they do…

- and don’t be shocked when someone cheats or the refs miss a call…

- maybe someday God will direct you to the Olympics…and a reporter will point a microphone at you and ask how you’re handling your nerves…

- and on one of the largest stages in the world you’ll be able to say – by remembering that my identity isn’t found in anything that happens in the pool – it’s found in my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

- you don’t get those opportunities by disengaging from culture…or by being squeezed into its mold…

- just present your bodies as a living sacrifice…holy, acceptable unto the Lord…which is your spiritual service of worship.  And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

- and friends, that’s why we’re going to the north end…

- we’re going to celebrate everything about that area of our town that is right…and all the things that are good…Arni’s Pizza is there for crying out loud [Praise the Lord for Arni Cohen’s creative genius)…

- but we’re going to be honest about the spiritual realities behind the cultural challenges that exist there…

- creation is at work…and the fall is at work…

- which is why we’re focused ultimately on the power of redemption…

- renewed minds and sanctified bodies can produce can produce significant spiritual fruit…regardless of the culture in which it’s found.

Dr. Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video