The Cultural Iceberg and the Gospel

The Cultural Iceberg and the Gospel 

Introduction of Pastor Stephen Leston’s message, on Titus 2:11-15,  preached at Kishwaukee Bible Church. Sycamore, IL  9-13-15 and Titus 3:1-4, preached 9-20-15.

Exposition of Titus:  Character Impacts Part 2. Titus 2:11-15


We have all noticed a change in the world in the past several years.  All of us feel the culture changing around us.  I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating.  The church is in a unique place in our day.  When I was a child the church was part of the culture.  We built our buildings in the middle of neighborhoods.  Pastors were invited to the city council meetings to open in prayers.  Principles would consult pastors to help them pick the right school plays.  In short, we were leaders in the culture.  As a result, we really did not think about having to explain or defend our faith to the world.  We were part of our community.

Today, we are in a different place.  We are not part of the community we are on the outside.  Schools do not seek our help, council meetings do not look for pastoral leadership, and the world not only ignores what we believe, they actually reject it.

That places the church in a different place in our world.  We are no longer able to speak from within the culture, we now speak from the outside.  Because of this shift we are watching changes going on in our world that can be upsetting to many of us.

What is our response to this?  What we want to do is impact our culture.  We desire to make a difference in our world and to help people who are heading down difficult and destructives paths to be saved.  Yet, how do we do this?

In order to answer this question for you I want to explain to you something about culture.  Before we can know how we are to speak to our culture, we have to understand what culture is.  The following diagram will illustrate the nature of culture.

Surface culture are the things that you see: laws passed, movies made, music, art, etc.  These are the things that we see changing around us.  These are the things that we are motivated to respond to when the change.

If we see a movie that is wretched we want to stand up against that movie.  If we hear of a practice or a song that emerges we want to stand up and protest to try and stop it from being happening.

Protesting can work to stop a certain expression of culture from being expressed, but it actually does not have the ability to change a culture. In order to change a culture, you have to actually address it at its deep culture level.

Deep culture is the part of culture that address the heart, motives, and worldviews that drive a culture.  They deal with the way we define love, hate, sin, God, justice, sexuality, marriage.  Not just how those are expressed, but the actual belief systems that are behind these practices.  When you address the world at the deep culture level you can actually change the culture.

The tool in our tool box to address deep culture is the Word of God.  It is the teaching that touches on the heart of issues.  How do we get people to examine or read the Bible?  One of the ways is by the way we live our lives.  God designed our lives to be living testimony of change and transformation.  This will cause people to see the change in us and will confirm the Truth of God’s Word.  This is what Titus 2 is all about.

Titus chapter 2 is about how the church is to impact at the deep culture level.  What Paul wanted was for Titus to use the Word of God to establish the households to live at a level of deep integrity.  The issues being dealt with here are not food and cloths, but issues of self-control and kindness.  When the people live this way they are able to hold high the Word of God, show people that the Truth of the Scriptures can set people free from the bondage of selfishness.  This is a deep culture impact.

When homes are established this way culture is impacted.  If men, women, pastors and servants walked in the integrity of this passage we will have the impact in the culture at the deep level.  This is when culture changes.

Last week we observed what a home should look like if the people are followers of Jesus.  This was intended to be the description of one home.  In the home in that day you would have up to three generations living at one time.  So what Titus was to do was to make sure that the older men were walking in godliness, older women, younger women and younger men.  In addition, if the home had servants they were to be godly as well.  Titus was to make sure that he was modeling godliness in his life as well as handling the Word of God in a manner that will not bring reproach upon himself or the Scriptures.

This can feel like a tall order.  It can feel like there is no way to actually live this way in the world.  When you read how the gospel calls us to live it can feel a bit overwhelming.

That is where grace comes in.  Grace is the part of God’s character where He actually works at changing us and forming us into His image so that we can impact culture at a deep level.

Part 2: Preached 9-20-15 by Pastor Stephen Leston:

One of the amazing things we have been learning as we study the book of Titus is that this book is addressing one of the fundamental questions that our age has to face – how to live in a world that is anti-God.  I know we have been talking about this over the past few weeks, but it is very important to understand.  Today as we engage this book we will be given some very practical ways that we are to engage a pagan culture.

Crete was a very pagan place and Titus had the job of making sure that they were ready to live in this world to make a difference. God designed His church to make a difference in this world.  In fact, I believe that God has designed us to be people who are what I would call, high impact people.  High impact means that we are to not just make a little difference in the world, but to actually be game changers in the world.


How do we make a difference in the world?  We make a difference by impacting the culture.  You might say – “Steve, the culture around us is getting pretty bad, how are we to make an impact in the culture?”  That is a great question.  We make a difference in the culture by impacting culture at the deep culture level.


In order to understand this, I want to bring up the diagram that I showed you last week.  In this diagram we have a wonderful picture of culture.  What is here will give us an understanding of culture.

Last week we talked about the fact that there are two elements to culture.  The first is what you see – those things are the laws that are passed, the way schools choose to educate, the way that people treat marriage, the elderly, etc.  There is an observable part of the culture.


Yet, that is not all there is to culture.  There is also the part of culture that you cannot see.  These are the things that are below the surface.  Like an iceberg, there is more below the surface than above.


The things below deal with

  • How people think about God, sin, death, life.
  • The moral reasoning behind the way people raise their children.
  • Views of good and evil, right and wrong.
  • The values that drive their decisions


Deep culture is what actually drives the culture.  Therefore, if you are going to make an impact on the culture we have to do so dealing at the things below the surface.  In fact, culture can be defined as the accumulation of values of a people.  In other words, when a group of people share a certain value that becomes a culture.


The biggest impact in any culture is when someone lives godly among godless people. You see the culture deals only with what it sees, but Christ touches people in the areas that no one sees.  Christ touches us at our belief systems, and then when enough people gather to share that belief then culture changes.


Paul has called Titus to work equip the church to live in a godly manner so that they would impact at the level of change.


Today what we are going to look at is how the church is to make this huge impact.  What is before us is what we would call the basic way that we are to engage the world.  Next week we will learn why we are to engage this way.  Today, we will focus on how our life is to be lived so that we will make an impact at a very deep and meaningful level.


If we, as a body commit ourselves to living this way, then we start to make a dent in the culture.  As we spread this to the world we can actually make a difference in the world.


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