Part 2 continued
Warren writes of Jesus “Knowing he was about to be crucified, he cried out: my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say ', Father, save Me from this hour? But for this Purpose I came to this hour, glorify thy name.”
“Jesus stood at a fork in the road. Would he fulfill his Purpose and bring glory to God or would he shrink back and live a comfortable, Self-centered life? You face the same choice. Will you, live for your own goals, and pleasure, or will you live the rest of your life for God’s glory, knowing that he has promised eternal rewards” (p.57)
This one of the more absurd interpretations of Scripture bent on making application to the reader and ignoring the Bibles context. Jesus never lived nor would live a comfortable life and it would have been sin to even think this way; much less do it. Could the Son of God ever live a self-centered life? No. As sinners we do not have the same choice as Jesus. No one is going to be persecuted, rejected or crucified for mankind’s sin like Jesus. Would Jesus tell others to pick up the cross in their lives and then have the option to refuse to go to the cross himself knowing this was the very purpose He became man? (Mt.16:24-25; Lk.14:27-29). Doesn’t this go against a Purpose Driven life?
The Bible explains to us that Jesus knew His purpose from the beginning. Mark 1:37-38: “When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” He knew the reason He came to earth.
So we find Jesus’ main purpose was to preach, and it is not hard to zero in on what he preached…
Luke 4:43 but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Jesus said over and over to his disciples that he would be crucified by the Gentiles, and rejected by his own people. God’s ultimate purpose in Jesus’ life was fulfilled as it was brought to a conclusion by those who rejected him: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:23-24). I John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” that is through the cross (Col.2:14-15; Heb.10:7,9).
Heb. 12:2-4 “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
Purpose is good and necessary but not the most important thing in our lives. Can anyone reduce the whole Christian life to any one element?
The Bibles ANSWER IS to -Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.(Prov 3:5-6)
Warren comes close to giving the gospel in his book but never fully explains who Jesus is; nor why our sin separates us from a Holy God, nor does he concentrate on the resurrection. This is why so many consider this kind of teaching as gospel-lite. Because of this weakness of it hinders some of the essentials for understanding the gospel. The “new paradigm” seeker friendly churches (AKA Schullerism and others) diminishes teaching on sin and concentrates more on the felt needs of the people.
On page 34 in explaining that we will all stand before God at the judgment seat, God wants us to pass the test...“From the Bible we can surmise that God will ask us two crucial questions: First, 'What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” God won't ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him? Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Second, 'What did you do with what I gave you?” What did you do with your life-all the gifts, talents, relationships, and resources God gave you? Did you spend them on yourself, or did you use them for the purposes God made you for?” Preparing you for these two questions is the goal of this book. The first question will determine where you spend eternity.”
There are many cults who accept Jesus as the Son of God and believe they are serving him fulfilling God’s purpose. It would have helped if Warren was more specific, especially writing to such a broad base of different people that are reading his book. Again this is very open and can interpreted to mean anything to anyone. It would be beneficial to go more in depth in this area.
On page 37, Warren states, “If you learn to love and trust God's Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.” This would have more to do with ones sanctification process than a salvation response. God draws us first to His Son and we need to repent of our sin. It is the “what for” that needs to be explained not the .
On page 58 he says, “It's time to settle this issue. Who are you going to live for yourself or God? You may hesitate, wondering whether you will have strength to live for God. Don't worry. God will give you what you need if you will just make the choice to live for him. The Bible says, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.
Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for. It's really the only way to live. Everything else is just existing. Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe. The Bible promises, ' To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, be gave the right to become children of God.”
The short and long is - “Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you've done, God wants to forgive you.”
“Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose.” Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: 'Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” Go ahead.”’
It’s not that any of this is wrong but what is missing is the explanation of our sins and Jesus' necessity to die on the cross. Why did He die? More importantly, who this Jesus you are actually believing in actually is. So I wonder do people understand who they are accepting and why? 2 Cor.5:20-21 show Jesus was indeed God. God pleads through us to have others to be reconciled to God, in Christ. There is none of this emphasis or explanation in his book. I do not hear an emphasis on ones urgent need to spiritually be born but instead on everyone’s purpose in life. Somehow this all reminds me of the past mistakes of Constantine when he legalized Christianity. The pagans later entered the church by baptism not by spiritually being born. If we have a membership boom from a message like this, what will happen? It needs to be further explained
Using the Message translation Warren quotes on p.58 John 3:36: “The Bible
says, “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life
complete and forever!”
The Message translation quoted eliminated the punishment for refusing to believe. This is consistently missing in Warren’s book even though he cites Scriptures that have it or refer to it. Neither the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man are presented, nor explained. These are essential for understanding our sinful state and the need for a savior. Jesus is said to die for your sins, but why? The explanation is avoided, yet the book is written to people who need to know. So how can one really understand the gospel message if the main elements are left out.
“Tragically, many people will have to endure eternity without God because they chose to live without him here on earth.” The most important point of being without God is where is this eternity spent. In the seeker friendly model of church the concept of hell is diminished or omitted (on p.112 he does mention about being spared “eternity in hell”). He not only avoids the subject but words like “eternal punishment” are not there.
The facts that non -Christians (and those in other religions) like and use this book seems to clarify the avoidance of the hard subjects that “traditional churches” teach. Of course it’s good that they are reading about Jesus and there is enough Scripture and teaching to begin them on pursing more. But when was the last time you heard of a Christian book that was really preaching Christ that was well received by the public? The fact is, the book mentions Christ, but its main theme is how individuals find and live with purpose. This is a message everyone is willing to hear and can apply no matter what their religious or non religious persuasion is.
Unity and Division
p.150 God is very clear that we are to confront those who cause division among Christians. In context he is addressing gossip and rightly so, but there are some things more serious than even gossip, false teaching which the Bible says causes division. These are not mentioned at all.
Warren correctly says “We protect the fellowship when we honor those who serve us by leading. Pastors and elders need our prayers, encouragement, appreciation, and love.” It is mentioned how will have to give an account to God how they watched over you, members will also have to give an account how well they followed their leaders. This is all true the church is to be a loving place for all to gather, however how does he apply this. What does someone consider divisive? There is good division and bad division. This needs to be taken into account because of direction he is headed in his book on this subject.
On p.158 “Christians often have legitimate, honest disagreements and differing opinions, but we can disagree without being disagreeable…God expects unity, not uniformity, and we can walk arm-in arm without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue”
p.161 He recommends that we focus on what we have in common, not our differences. “God wants unity not uniformity. For unity’s sake we must never let differences divide us.”
It depends what those issues are, keeping unity and ignoring what is wrong is not God’s intent in any matter, be it between brothers or between churches.
On p.166 “The Leaders responsible to maintain the unity of the Church.”
“The Bible gives pastors very specific instructions on how to deal with divisive people in the fellowship. They are to avoid arguing, gently teach the opposition while praying they'll change warn those who are argumentative, plead for harmony and unity, rebuke those who are disrespectful of leadership, and remove divisive people from the church if they ignore two warnings.”
This is good if he would qualify what he means. Certainly pastors who are upholding the word and living right deserve our support and loyalty. But what about those who do not?
Quoting Titus 3:10 “Warn a divisive person once,
and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him”
“God blesses churches that are unified. At Saddleback every Church member signs a covenant that includes a promise to protect the unity of our fellowship. As a result, the church has never had a conflict that split the fellowship” (p.167)
If this is what is needed to keep unity, then where is the working of the Spirit to keep the unity of the faith? The unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3) leads us into the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13; Jude 3). We are to be unified in the truth not only unified in fellowship and purpose. The early church needed no extra covenant to sign for their unity. So if one does not sign this covenant they will be asked to leave (also if they are no in service to the church as indicated earlier in this article- by moving hundreds of members for non-participation). So division would be not going along with a vision the pastor has, even when it may be unbiblical or extra biblical.
The Bible teaches the unity is based on our common faith not a certain pastor’s vision or direction for the church. Jesus never said to unite with false churches that claim his name (Warren makes no distinction, and considers keeping unity with those outside the faith (as USA TODAY, 7/21/2003 reported posted on his website--Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women). Neither does Warren take into account churches that change and begin to teach false doctrine or abuse members. We are not to follow leaders who no longer uphold the Bible correctly. We are to separate from them. I can only conclude from what I have read that Warren believes that every church that calls them-self Christian is practicing the truth from what he is doing since he makes not distinction.
Overall there are some major problems with this book and numerous smaller ones that people seem to overlook throughout the book that are concerning.
Also on page 166, Warren says that Pastors are “given the impossible task of trying to make everyone happy, which even Jesus could not do!”
What pastor would ever think it is his job to do this. Jesus did not try to make anyone happy, he spoke the truth to people regardless of what they thought. He gave them what they needed. He goal was to please the Father only, not make people happy. Warren may want us us to feel sympathetic for our pastors plight of pleasing all the people but this is not not his job so any argument about this is moot.
p.241 “If you
don’t make your unique contribution to the body of Christ, it won’t be
made.” This is not
necessarily true. We do not honor the vessel but God who works through the
vessel. We find in the book of Esther 4:14 “For if you remain completely
silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from
another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows
whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
God does want us to
cooperate with him for His purpose to be accomplished, but God can easily
raise up another for any work he chooses. This
example can be seen with the nation Israel as well as individuals.
On p.176 “you cannot grow in Christ likeness in isolation.” Why not, there are people who have lived in areas where there are no Christians and all they had were their Bible, and the Holy Spirit. It's true we should be part of a church but we are to have a personal relationship with God foremost, then with people. Jesus can do far above what any person can do in our life.
On page p.245 Warren promotes the psychological categories of sanguine and choleric personalities and applies it to the apostles. The Four Temperaments theory is one of several behavior-oriented theories that modem psychology has adopted from ancient schools of philosophy.
In the Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, R.M. Coldenson defines temperament as “A general term for emotional make-up, including characteristic energy level, moods and mood changes, intensity and tempo of reactions to people and situations ” (James Mcconnell Understanding Human Behavior 6th ed. p.434)
In the past physicians and philosophers used their understanding of the four humors (body fluids), the four temperaments, and signs of the zodiac to treat diseases and understand individual differences in people.
Greek cosmology's four elements are basic to the four temperament personality theory. (It was popularized in Christianity by Florence Littauer and Tim LaHaye, Peter being a sanguine, Paul a choleric, is right out of Lahayes book.
True our personality is used by God but it does not necessarily rule over our spiritual gifts as Warren surmises, it is actually the other way around. Our Personality is part of our soul. God has given us spiritual gifts to FULFILL his purpose. God works through the weaknesses of people so that he receives the glory for what is done. It's our weakness not necessarily our strengths God uses. In fact the Bible tells us we are new creatures in Christ so whatever personality category one tries to peg us in is wrong. God often changes us, so we can do what we could not do before. These personality categories are psychology and humanistic.
We are no longer to be ruled by our old fallen nature Jesus has made all things new and we are to walk in the Spirit to fulfill his purposes.
Other problems have surfaced as numerous authors and practices are recommended inside his book.
Warren references Bernie Siegel’s (p.31) teaching on having hope in the greater context of explaining his message of purpose in his book. Dr. Bernie Siegel is a New Age holistic doctor an influential New Age leader. In his books and workshops he encourages people to do guided meditations and visualization. As he once did and made contact with his own personal spirit guides. Siegel openly endorses the teachings of A Course in Miracles which preaches another Christ. He also serves on the Board of Advisors of Jerry Jampolsky's the Course in Miracles-based Attitudinal Healing Center.” Just another incident of lack of discernment? Maybe, except there are many more examples.
Warren refers to “…Gary [Thomas] discovered that Christians have used many different paths for 2,000 years to enjoy intimacy God….(his book Sacred Pathways). Sacred Pathways subtitle is “Discover Your Soul’s Path to God.” There is only one way to God-through Jesus Christ and we do not discover it, it is revealed to us.
In Sacred Pathways, pp.184–186 Thomas suggests the use of “Dancing Prayer,” not in bodily movements, but we are to imagine in our minds dancing with God and allowing Him to lead. Then He gives instructions on “Centering Prayer.”
Warren presents prayer mantras bordering on positive confession type decrees: “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians [actually Catholic mystics] have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath: “You are with me.” “I receive your grace.” “I’m depending on you.” “I want to know you.” “I want to know you.” “I belong to you.” “Help me trust you.” “Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart.” (p. 89).
Whether Warren is only experimenting or is an ardent practitioner of contemplative prayer techniques (Roman Catholic) it does not matter. They borrow from their methods from the Occult and Eastern spiritual practices.
“You must train your mind to remember God….Benedictine monks use the hourly chimes of a clock to remind them to pause and pray ‘the hourly prayer’” (p. 89).
The Benedictine Order is Catholic which practices contemplative prayer/meditation and holds to universalism in their teachings not a good source to point to.
He also quotes Mother Teresa favorably on page 125. All these recommendations and people make a mixture of various religious practices that would deter one from the purity found in the Scripture. If one were to read the sources he is quoting they would become confused not helped on how to practice their faith.
On p.88 Warren uses a translation that says “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” (Ephesians 4:6, New Century Version) This quote promotes “pantheism,” and should be obviously be avoided. This New Age concept teaches God is within all of His creation. This is not what this passage means as Paul is explaining our spiritual unity he concludes with “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6, KJV) meaning, in the born again Christian. God is everywhere but not IN everything.
“The last thing many believers need is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice” (p.231). It may be true that far too many Christians are not doing ministry but to say we don’t need to go to another Bible study is going against the commands of Jesus. I have found that far too many do not know their Bibles well enough This could be said in a better way like some of you are old enough to be teachers. Jesus said it is the bread we live on, we can never have enough spiritual food for learning. New believers especially need constant Bible study. Where are people going to learn if not at a Bible study, certainly not in their seeker friendly services!
Yet he contradicts himself, before this he states “I cannot overstate the value of being a part of a small Bible study discussion group.... p.191).This even contradicts what he says about his own church program. “We designed this journey around four vital habits that everyone needs to grow spiritually: the habit of weekly worship attendance, a daily quiet time, a weekly group Bible study.”
p.140 “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.”
James 5:16 (the Message.)
p. 79. He says that God “He doesn’t try to break our will, but woos us to himself so we might offer ourselves freely to him.” Warren correctly teaches that God wants us to completely surrender to give us freedom. However his statement is inaccurate, he does break our will if necessary; he chastens us (Jonah for example, Paul another). All one has to do is read about the history of Israel to find the examples. But Warren purposely leaves out these portions and interpretations to make God as one whom can only bless you. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives….The word chasten is paideuo, it means to train up a child, i.e. educate, discipline by punishment if necessary. “ God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8) “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Rev. 3)
On page 97 using Jacob as a model he further states, God isn’t offended when we wrestle Him, after all he let Jacob win. Yes and he gave him a limp for the rest of his life to remember it by. I thought God wants us to surrender to His will and not resist him. It is a fact that many of us will probably wrestle with Him over one thing or another, but to say He is not offended when he asks for obedience is very wrong?
p.101 “when Jesus said you must worship in spirit, he wasn’t referring to the Holy Spirit, but to your spirit.” This is incorrect. God’s Spirit is the Spirit of truth. If we take what Warren states we would have to assume mans sinful spirit can worship God correctly without his Holy Spirit. Man’s spirit is fallen and it is the Spirit of God who prompts and enables us to worship our creator. Without the Holy Spirit involved, it could not be acceptable.
To expand on his idea of worship Warren's comments on music are quite liberal, this is why in his services they rock and the music is loud enough to be felt. p.65 “God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all” fast, slow, loud and soft, old and new”…. If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship.”
Can he actually back up this statement? Warren gives no boundaries on music, everything is acceptable. If god invented all music then can we also say he invented everything else? Or did man with his imagination invent these songs. God may have originally created music but man has also corrupted it. To say He approves ALL music, even those that cater to the flesh and lyrics that are against God is hardly acceptable. I’m not someone that is against contemporary music but if there is no standard, anything goes.
On p. 219 of the Purpose Driven Church (not the Purpose Driven Life) Warren shows us what he thinks, “It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart . . . . The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.”
You mean to tell me that’s all that Jeremiah or Noah needed to
do and he would have had the boat filled and Jeremiah would have had Israel repenting.
Jeremiah would have had Israel repenting.
Where is the Holy Spirit in the conversion process? Is this a Biblical understanding for someone to believe, all we need to
do is find that key and turn it? This means it is our fault if someone does
not repent and come to know the Lord because we failed to correctly present it
to them or find that key. And what of their responsibility? It says the gospel - the cross is an offense to people when it is
preached correctly. How can this be easy? Jesus said no one comes to him
unless the Father draws them. Though methods can be useful, Warren is reducing
witnessing to a successful method that is centered on what the person wants in
his life. He is starting on the wrong end.
Where is the Holy Spirit in the conversion process? Is this a Biblical understanding for someone to believe, all we need to do is find that key and turn it? This means it is our fault if someone does not repent and come to know the Lord because we failed to correctly present it to them or find that key. And what of their responsibility? It says the gospel - the cross is an offense to people when it is preached correctly. How can this be easy? Jesus said no one comes to him unless the Father draws them. Though methods can be useful, Warren is reducing witnessing to a successful method that is centered on what the person wants in his life. He is starting on the wrong end.
p.284 “this is why we must all be urgent about our mission” Good point but he applied the wrong Scripture “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” John.9:4 (New Living Translation)
NKJ John 9:4 "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” Jesus is speaking of himself Warren uses the NLT which subtly changed it to include all of us.
He writes “If you want Jesus to come back sooner focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy” (p.286). There is nothing we can do to make Jesus come back sooner. No one will be able to bring this about any sooner than God’s timing (Warren has said he avoids teaching on prophecy because no one knows when Jesus will return).
On p.298 He uses the term Middle eastern (is a new term) avoids the apostles ethnicity being Jewish. This is intentionally done, for what purpose I do not know. “When Jesus told his followers to “go everywhere into the world, and tell the good news to everyone” that small band of poor, Middle Eastern disciples were overwhelmed.”
He calls people who get involved -- world class Christians. p.298-299. What does this mean? Do we now have two classes of Christians. What’s the other class? Ones who do not have the purpose?
On p.300 he says World Class Christians pray for the world. And suggests to get a globe or map to pray with. “The Bible says “If you ask me. I will give you the nations, all the people on the earth will be yours” (Ps.2:8 New Century Version)
p. 300 He speaks of our Shift from local thinking to global thinking. Because God cares for the whole world we should too. He then explains how co-operations and business already think globally. While I agree with him on praying for other countries we are never asked to love and focus on the whole world as God does. He later contradicts this and says even Jesus did not meet the needs of everyone on earth. You have to choose whom you can best help.
God is not saying he will give them (all) to us. Warren is among many that take this Scripture out of its context. This is a specific promise to the Son of God, not mankind. Ps. 2:7-9 “I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.”’(NKJ).
p.302 I urge you to save and do whatever it takes to participate in a short term mission trip overseas as soon as possible.
p.304 “What steps can I take to prepare to go on a short-term missions experience in the next year.” Missions are good and necessary and it is often beneficial to do something like this, however, not All Christians are called to be missionaries: Warren has a myopic view of purpose in mind, it seems to relate only to evangelism/missions. Many people who are Christian are called to be doctors, firemen, lawyers, housewives, etc. and are used in their vocation, not just in mission work in other countries. Our mission is to be witnesses of Jesus to anyone we may come in contact with, both home or abroad.
If you want to be like Jesus, you must have a heart for the whole world. You can’t be satisfied with your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over 6 billion people on earth, and Jesus wants all his lost children found” Does Warren believe we can save the whole world? Warrens intentions are admiral but not realistic.
It is for these reasons I'm concerned about what is written in this book. Because so many have already read it I can only hope it is used to spur some people on to more than what they are doing.
In conclusion,does God want us to have only purpose or is faithfulness a necessary element so he can fulfill his purpose in us?
1 Cor. 4:1-2 “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
There is a principle that is supposed to be at work. Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” God is looking for faithfulness. Paul writes in1 Tim. 1:11-12 “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry”
Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him and we do not know each step of the journey. We need to rest in God and His sovereignty as He works His divine purpose through us, this can take time. Denying our self is the first step, and let our talents and abilities be crucified so he can breathe new life into which of them he wants to. By walking in God’s will and way we find fulfillment, peace and our purpose is developed. Purpose driven life may have some good ideas but it has just as many that are not good, it promotes enough unbiblical teaching for me to say pass, and find another book.