The Cart Before The Horse.
The books that comprise the New Testament were written between AD 48 and AD 97. They are the record of the events that took place from the Incarnation of Jesus Christ to the early years of the formation of the church. They are our source of information on how ordinary people coped with and began to live out something that had never happened before in the history of the human race.
God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, came and in-dwelt human beings - brought new life - made them into new creations that were in the world but not of it. (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24; II Cor. 5:17.)
They were no previous events or a history of actions that they could draw on to work out how to deal with this new life. Without the New Testament to refer to all they had was the pre-Pentecost Old Testament which did tell them something about the nature of God and his promises which were now being fulfilled.
Teachers, such as Paul, Peter, John, etc. visited, and also wrote letters and epistles to the groups that were forming. They taught and gave information, made suggestions, addressed problems, and generally formed an understanding of what God was doing, why he was doing it and how the people should respond.
These letters and epistles were NOT written to unsaved people. They were written specifically to people who had experienced and changed by the new birth, by a personal regeneration by the Holy Spirit. They were written to those who had become one with Jesus, who had Christ in them the hope of glory, who were part of the body with Christ as the head. (Col. 1:27; 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 5:30)
These letters, epistles and teachings eventually (by the 4th century) became formalized and accepted as true doctrine. As a result we now have the New Testament and the basic doctrines of Christianity.
By and large the New Testament is a record and a commentary and teachings on what had already taken place in the 1st century, i.e. the new birth and the subsequent life experience.
In this day and age a person who has similarly experienced the new birth can go to the New Testament and learn from it, relate to it, and be led by the Holy Spirit into a deeper understanding of what their new life in Christ is about.
On the other hand there are people (call them 'nominal religious Christians’) who go to both the Old and New Testaments and use them to influence the behavior of others. They take what they read and apply it to people who, like them, have not experienced a personal rebirth by the Holy Spirit. In doing so they have put the cart before the horse.
Instead of the cause (rebirth) creating a link with a record of the effect, the effect is being used to create a cause. The result is thousands of 'converts' who are drawn into a religious system of rules and doctrinal positions that go unquestioned.
The more dedicated of them are sent away to Bible college or seminary where they are trained to replicate how to use the record of the effect of the new birth in order to create an effect of conversion in yet more people.
The end result is a dead, formal, rigid and unbending dogmatic and exclusive form of Religion that masquerades under the name 'Christianity'. Even the so-called 'free' churches have an inbuilt rigidity in the way that they operate.
This false church, built on doctrine rather than a personal spiritual regeneration, is the face of Jesus Christ that the world sees. It is this false image of the body with Christ as the head that the world understandably rejects.
With the cart so firmly placed before the horse is it any wonder that there is so little progress into the culture? In fact that the culture is moving on and leaving the cart behind.