How can we impact our culture today? Is it already good and getting better, or is it bad and getting worse? The biblical worldview of today’s culture is that it is dark—and getting darker. By its very nature, it cannot get anything but worse because it has no inherent goodness to build on. As John MacArthur said, “Man has increased in scientific, medical, historical, educational, psychological, and technological knowledge to an astounding degree. But he has not changed his own basic nature and he has not improved society. His confidence has increased, but his peace of mind has diminished. His accomplishments have increased, but his sense of purpose and meaning have all but disappeared.”

Sadly, this world will get worse before it gets better. In the last days, “Evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 NIV). Any person who knows the history of mankind, even the history of the past 100 years, and thinks that man is evolving upward is not only deceiving, but being deceived.

So how do we reach our culture? First, we must use a language they understand. As believers, at times we get frustrated because it does not seem like people are listening to what we have to say. One reason could be that we are speaking in a different language. We say things like, “Are you saved? Have you been washed in the blood? Have you been sanctified and justified?” When it comes to nonbelievers, we have a language barrier to scale. I am not suggesting that we not use biblical verbiage, but rather that we recognize that some people do not necessarily understand what we are saying. To even talk about “receiving Christ in your life” to a nonbeliever may sound mysterious. I am suggesting that we use biblical terms, but we need to translate.

We must also find common ground. Paul put it this way, “Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23 NLT). The Message puts it this way: “I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever.”

Jesus modeled this with the woman at the well—a loose-living immoralist—appealing to her inner thirst. He did the same thing with Nicodemus, the meticulous moralist. Paul spoke at Mars Hill to the nonreligious and Peter spoke on Pentecost to the religious. In each of these situations, they adapted to their audience without compromising content.