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Comparison: Rick Warren vs. Truth… Is Purpose Driven Church Deceptive?

Reader’s Digest Drops Rick Warren Connection Deception Driven Church? You decide…
Stuart L. Brogden compiled this comparison between what Relevant Rick teaches in Purpose Driven Church and what the Bible teaches.

All the work of all men contains error.  That I perceive error in Rick Warren’s work is not note worthy.  But the repeated patterns of false teaching over 20 or more years and 25 million or so books combine for something to take notice of.  This book proclaims an Armenian, man-centered view of the world and its Creator, claiming all the while to be a Biblically sound God-centered work.  I think it is actually Biblically bankrupt, gilded with the false gospel of pragmatism.  As subtle and dangerous as the serpent in the garden, Warren calls us to believe a lie.

Curious – Many people have criticized Rick Warren by calling him a disciple or associate of Robert Schuller.  Warren has denied in this in myriad letters and articles, wanting to put distance between himself and the father of “possibility thinking”.  So why does Warren include Schuller’s effusive endorsement of this book (on the third page of the endorsements in the front of the book)?  And why does so much of Warren’s instruction sound so much like Schuller (see quotes at the end of this review)?

“The Purpose Driven Church” (PDC) is a humanistic, psychological view of how to handle a church, sprinkled with scripture in whichever translation or version can most easily be used to allegedly support Warren’s claims.  Whereas “The Purpose Driven Life” started out with a truth and spent itself in contradiction, so does PDC – claiming rightfully (page 14) “Only God makes the church grow” – and spending nearly 400 pages telling man how to manipulate people into something that only looks like church growth.

The foreward is a sugary sweet, sappy tribute from a once credible W.A. Criswell.  In his opening statement, Criswell declares that “God could not have a given me a more beloved and effective ‘son in the ministry’ than Rick Warren.”  You know a man is wrong when he limits God or assigns human characteristics to Him.  Criswell claims Saddleback “has grown without compromising the mission or the doctrine of a New Testament church.”  (Italics in the original.)  We shall see.  Criswell parrots the Schuller/Warren principal – “If churches are to be successful in evangelizing our society, which is becoming more pagan by the day, they must learn to think like an unbeliever.”  (Sic)  Right there, Criswell shows that he has lost sight of the New Testament church.

In what appears to be the introduction, Warren tells us the church must “look for the spiritual waves” of church growth, saying “because our churches haven’t been taught the needed skills, we are missing the spiritual waves that could bring revival, health, and explosive growth to our churches.”  Evidently, Warren’s Bible is not adequate instruction to the church or its members on the topic of spiritual outreach and discipleship.  He shows us right off that he is focused on “growth”.  And in this introduction, as well as throughout the book, Warren pays lip service to God while heralding and teaching humanistic methods.

It appears, even in the introduction, that Warren has slipped into an Armenian worldview, saying churches need to ask, “What barriers are blocking the waves God wants to send our way?”  (pages 15 & 16)  Poor, God Almighty – needs the church to move barriers out of the way.  Warren tells us (page 17) “the key issue for churches in the twenty-first century will be church health, not church growth.”  He then goes on to tell us, same page, that he’s “been a student of growing churches” for over twenty years. 

On page 18, Warren rightly lauds the Bible, and then declares, “My greatest source of learning, however has been watching what God has done in the church I pastor.”  This pragmatic view – study men and how to motivate them – pervades this whole book, and everything of Warren that I’ve read.

In Part One, page 26 & 27, Warren reciprocates Criswell’s sappy sweet foreword, quoting a Criswell prayer/prophecy of church growth for Warren, convinced that God had called him to pastor a church – sounding much like a mutual admiration society.  Warren admonishes us (page 27) to not “copy things we did without considering the context”, but to look at the “transferable principles”.  We will see what these “transferable principles” are shortly. 

Still on page 27, Warren states, “Very little of Saddleback’s ministry was preplanned.”  Remember this claim.  He then devotes the balance of chapter 1 describing all the planning that went into the “planting” of Saddleback.  His research led Warren to conclude that the pastor is the key figure in the health and growth of the church, describing the pastor as the “daddy” of the church!  Any church that has this view of its pastor has already failed. 

In spite of telling us that only God grows the church, Warren’s research drew him to the fastest growing population center in the country, a fact that “grabbed me by the throat and made my heart start racing.”  Lots of people moving into an area typified by upper middle class Americans certainly set a solid stage for numerical growth – a very pragmatic view. 

On page 38, Warren recommends a list of preachers he heard on the radio.  While several on Warren’s list are sound pastors, he recommends to his reader Robert Schuller and John Wimber as well.  No disciple of Christ should recommend these false teachers to anyone, much less the wide and long term audience of a book. 

And on the next page, Warren says that, with Saddleback, he ”determined to begin with unbelievers, rather than a core of committed Christians.”  Consider this statement carefully.  In the first case, the church is comprised of believers, not those who don’t believe.  By purposefully refusing to build his church surrounded by mature saints, there was nobody to hold Warren accountable as a preacher.  Who in this group of lost folks that he gathered could understand anything spiritual?  The Bible tells us those who are lost cannot discern spiritual matters.  A “pastor” with only lost people in his “church” is no pastor.  What Warren started was an evangelistic outreach to middle class lost Americans – not a church.  Near the end of this page Warren tells us he spent 12 weeks studying lost folks in order to know what his “church” should be like.  “No planning” went into the founding of Saddleback, he told us.  Studying heathens, rather than scripture, was how he planned Saddleback.  Apparently without any elders or other biblical safeguards, he was swept away by one of the “spiritual waves” he was surfing for.

Page 44 – “pastor” Warren excitedly recounts how Saddleback “caught a wave”, when over 200 heathens showed up to the service designed with them in mind.  While many churches have operated in temporary settings, Warren touts Saddleback’s “homeless” years as if they were a special virtue.  Thankfully, he recounts a proper understanding of the Great Commission (page 46), yet he leaves this reader wondering how many of his “seekers” make it around the “bases” to becoming a “servant-hearted Christian.” 

Starting on page 47, Warren uses “conventional wisdom” to create several straw-man myths to knock down.

  • “Myth #1: The Only Thing That Large Churches Care About Is Attendance.”  While many have rightfully pointed out the tendency of many large churches to focus too much attention on attendance, I have never heard of any rational person saying it’s the only thing.  Warren’s own words, with the series of “if” statements leave out the essential bit of the Gospel, wherein the lost are confronted with their sin and the attendant need of a Savior.  He “validates” his Gospel-lite by observing, “it’s happening all over the world.”  On page 49 we are told that “Intentionally setting up a strategy and a structure to force ourselves to give equal attention to each purpose is what being a purpose-driven church is all about.”  None of Warren’s 5 listed purposes (page 49) convey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Myths 2, 3, & 4: Once again, Warren touts all-or-nothing myths that are, in truth, common failings among many churches.  In talking about purpose #4, Warren discloses that his view of church discipline consists of dropping from membership those rogues who fail to fulfill the membership covenant.  I don’t think that’s what the Lord tells us in Matthew 18.
  • “Myth #5: If You Are Dedicated Enough, Your Church Will Grow.”  Any pastor who believes this “myth” has lost sight of Who builds the church.  To counter “good, godly pastors” who are dedicated yet have churches that are not growing, Warren provides a prescription that follows the same rabbit trail as his “myth” – relying on human effort.
  • “Myth #7: All God Expects of Us Is Faithfulness” In the short list that follows, Warren tells us we must also bear fruit (true) and makes it sound as if we can make ourselves be fruitful.  Bearing spiritual fruit is the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of saints, not a trait the person can develop.

Let me take a break and say that I think pages 64, 65, 68 – 79, and 393 & 394 are sound teaching.  Not all in this book is worthless or dangerous, but even these passages are mere “spiritual cotton candy”.

On page 77, Warren uses metaphorical, non-Biblical definitions to build a case for churches being driven.  In Scripture, the word drive and derivatives are used in conjunction with people being punished.  Those being treated kindly by God are led, as sheep, not driven.  Context is key to proper interpretation, and Warren strips a word out of its Biblical context and uses its tertiary meaning to lay the foundation for his whole trademarked “driven” model, pulling people away from the Biblical view of how God leads His children.

Near the bottom of page 79, Warren gives a welcome warning to not “allow seekers to drive the total agenda of the church.” – but I must confess that this book, as a whole, leads me to believe Warren allows “seekers” to drive entirely too much of his church’s agenda. 

After listing, on pages 77 – 79, seven things that should not drive churches (tradition, personality, finances, programs, buildings, events, and seekers), he reveals, on page 80, “What is needed today are churches that are driven by purpose instead of by other forces.”  And, “You must begin to look at everything your church does through the lens of five New Testament purposes”.  Warren’s 5 purposes are culled from scripture, but, again, churches and saints are to be led by the Spirit of God – not driven by anything.  And his 5 purposes are not “the lens” of the Word.

On pages 86 & 87, Warren uses different Bible paraphrases to ensure the word “purpose” is used.  On page 91, he tells us that the church in Philippi was “captivated by Paul’s mission” (Philippians 4:15); whereas Paul makes it clear that he preached Christ crucified and resurrected – people were captivated by Christ and led by His Spirit, not Paul’s “mission”.

On page 93, we are pointed to scripture for the correct question, but led to Warren’s self-proclaimed mentor, heathen business guru Peter Drucker, for the diagnostic standard: “Your church’s purpose statement must become the standard by which you measure your congregation’s health and growth.”  Oops.  I thought the Bible and the Holy Spirit give us everything needed to live a righteous life in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 2:1 – 3)

Page 95: Warren tells about a church that he claims was “theologically sound” and “sound asleep”.  He says, “the church leaders had become lazy and lethargic.”  That does not sound like a “theologically sound” church to me.  It appears to be labeled as such to create a straw man to be knocked down by Warren.

On the next page, Warren tells us, “Prior to starting Saddleback Church I took six months to do an extensive, personal Bible study on the church”.  Remember page 27 – not much planning went into Saddleback?  As part of Warren’s Bible study on the church, about a third of his listed scripture passages are from the four Gospel accounts – they describe Christ’s life, but not the church.  Remember – most of the life of Christ took place before the New Testament church was founded.

In Part Two, Warren describes “the 5 purposes for the church” – Biblically sound purposes but not completely sound in his exposition on them.  “Purpose #3: Go and make disciples.  This purpose we call evangelism.”  One must indeed evangelize (preach the Gospel to) lost folks before they can be discipled, but the focus of this aspect of the Great Commission is on the making of disciples – not evangelism.  Seeker sensitive churches are widely critiqued as being ineffective in discipleship – this error may explain that, in part.

In describing Saddleback’s purpose statement, Warren notes “three important distinctives”, the first of which is, “it is stated in terms of results rather than in terms of activity.”  This is a common failing of man – trying to control the results of his activities; pragmatism defined.  (From John MacArthur: “What is pragmatism?  Basically it is the philosophy that results determine meaning, truth, and value–what will work becomes a more important question than what is true.  As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside.  Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse.”)  Throughout His Word, God calls His people to obedience – not to results.  Often, the results He brings about are not what man expects or would seek.  I believe the Biblical pattern is to remind us that our efforts have no merit before God – only the work of Jesus does. 

On page 109, Warren sums up his argument for your church to adopt his purpose-driven model by saying, “To do less is to leave to chance the great responsibility we’ve given by our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (emphasis mine)  This is another glimpse into what appears to be Warren’s Armenian view of God.  And if recommending Schuller and Wimber are not enough, Warren touts David (or Paul) Yonggi Cho’s occult Central Church in Seoul, Korea.  This man has written “You can create the presence of Jesus with your mouth.  He is bound by your lips and by your words.”  He and Schuller are fans of one another and disciples of the risen Lord Jesus should view neither of them credibly.

In chapter 6, Warren teaches pastors how to communicate their purposes.  He reviews the narrative of Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem and discovers what he calls, “the Nehemiah principle”.  Since the Jews working on the wall grew discouraged after 26 days of work, Warren projects that onto every church and declares, “Vision and purpose must be restated every twenty-six days to keep the church moving in the right direction.”  Certainly, a degree of repetition is a hallmark of effective communication.  But the larger issue is that of deriving a key principle from a narrative contained in scripture.  This is a dangerous practice, the best example I can think of being Bruce Wilkerson’s subtly deceptive book, “The Prayer of Jabez”.

On pages 113 and 114, Warren encourages good personal management techniques – once again showing how to create “good results” by manipulating people and calling it God’s work.  “People tend to do whatever gets rewarded, so make heroes of people in your church when they do the work of the church.”  God tells us not to seek the applause or rewards of men, but to trust God who is faithful to reward those walk by faith, not by sight.  Biblical leadership often flies in the face of accepted “good personal management techniques.”

Warren stays on track into chapter 7, opening with a story about George Whitfield and John Wesley.  Whitfield preached 18,000 sermons to 100,000 people but left no organization behind, whereas Wesley left us the Methodist denomination – as if what we can see today determines the value of the work these men did.  And as far as I can tell, the Lord Jesus did not leave us much of an organization – what would Warren say about His legacy?  Further in this chapter, pages 126 & 127, Warren recommends false teachers among others who are Biblically sound.  Check out the teachings of Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Peter Wagner – men who think themselves modern prophets and apostles of the church. 

In discussing Saddleback’s “5 Circles of Community”, pages 131 and following, Warren tells us he focuses evangelism efforts on those who have already attended his church.  He is either derelict in failing to send witnesses out into the lost world or admitting his “church” is fairly well full of lost folks.  He admits that a heathen cannot worship God, but is “convinced that genuine worship is a powerful witness to unbelievers if it is done in a style that makes sense to them.”  Genuine worship is a spiritual act and impossible for a lost person to comprehend.  But note that Warren emphasizes the style of worship, as if the emotional connection with the music can save anyone.  And this from a man who adamantly maintains style and methods don’t matter in justifying his use of all sorts of culturally relevant music and drama.  He goes on to say, “If an unbeliever makes a commitment to regular attendance at Saddleback, I believe it will be just a matter of time until he accepts Christ.”  With Warren’s declared determination to avoid preaching the law or anything that would convict a lost person of his sin, one wonders what in Saddleback would cause anyone to be saved.  Time hanging with supposed saints won’t save anyone unless the Gospel is preached – which does not appear to happen at Saddleback.

On page 133, Warren describes Saddleback’s membership covenant, which requires “a commitment to three spiritual habits: (1) having a daily quiet time, (2) tithing ten percent of their income (Nowhere in scripture are Christian instructed – even implicitly – to tithe, but give as the Spirit of God leads and not under compulsion. – 2 Corinthians 9:6 & 7), and (3) being active in a small group.”  This sounds like the chains of legalism – whereas the Bible tells Saints to be led by the Spirit in such matters.  He sets up this disclosure by describing people who are “dedicated to growing in discipleship” … “but they have not yet gotten involved in ministry.”  This is a contradiction in terms, indicating that pastor Rick has a non-Biblical definition of discipleship. 

Warren says, “Jesus started where people were – at their level of commitment – but he never left them there.”  I do not see this when I read the Bible: lost folks have NO commitment to Christ.  He says Jesus “didn’t lay any heavy requirement” on John and Andrew, but every Jewish boy knew the total commitment required when a Rabbi bid one, “come”.  Further on page 135, Warren claims that Christ did not issue “his ultimate challenge to the crowd” until these people had hung around Him for three years and saw the ways in which He loved them.  “Jesus was able to ask for that kind of commitment only after demonstrating his love for them and earning their trust.”  Unlike sinful man, Jesus the Christ does not need to earn anything before He speaks Truth to anyone.  Warren puts too much emphasis on the lost person rather than on the Gospel. 

In chapter 8, Warren tells us “There are ten areas you must consider as you begin to reshape your church into a purpose-driven church.”  Where in Scripture are pastors advised to “reshape” the churches they shepherd?  He says he cautions other churches to not clone Saddleback, yet lists 10 mandatory “principles”, 5 purposes, and his own “circles of influence” that these churches must embrace.  “Notice that I suggest you grow your church from the outside in, rather than from the inside out.”  Read the book of Acts – the church was made up of saints and disciples who were sent out into the cities, the reverse of what Pastor Rick suggests.  “The problem I have found with an ‘inside-out’ approach is that by the time the church planter has ‘discipled’ his core, they have often lost contact with the community and are actually afraid of interacting with the unchurched.”  This is another indication that Pastor Rick knows very little of Biblical discipleship, but at least gives credit for this backwards idea where it is due – false apostle C. Peter Wagner!

On page 139, we find out that the first year of Saddleback, when ostensibly everyone was lost except (?) Pastor Rick, he “preached very simple, straightforward evangelistic series such as ‘Good News About Common Problems’ and ‘God’s Plan for Your Life.’”  There are pop-psychology messages with a Bible flavor – not evangelistic, or Gospel, presentations.  How can he say that “most of them (the 200 attenders) were brand new believers.” considering his messages?  God’s Word shows the error of this approach: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  1 Corinthians 2:12 – 14

In a highlight box on page 156, we are admonished, “Never criticize any method that God is blessing!”  Yet all the criteria Warren urges us to use are that which the eye can see, and ignores the Biblical command to “test all things, hold on to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), with “good” being in accordance with God’s view.  On page 157 we are urged to use market research to determine “when, where, and how” evangelism should be pursued and on page 158 tells us a church “driven by market forces rather than the Word of God” will be “unstable and unbiblical.”  One page is wrong, one is right. 

Page 160, Warren continues in his study of man as first priority: “I must pay as much attention to the geography, customs, culture, and religious background of my community as I do to those who live in Bible times if I am to faithfully communicate God’s Word.”  The Word of God cannot be understood or communicated unless one seeks to know the literal, grammatical, and historical context of the text.  Nobody in scripture paid that much attention to the spiritually dead people they encountered.  They proclaimed the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and commended men to believe on Him!

Pastor Rick advises us to tailor the presentation based on the worldly concerns our “crowd” is perceived as having – resulting in a false gospel that might as well be delivered by Joel Osteen.  By telling lost folks how God can make their marriage better, we teach people to look to the Lord for temporal rewards that satisfy our flesh.  But in truth, lost people need to know they are dead in sin, convicted by the Law, so they might realize their deepest need and cry out to the Lamb of God for mercy.  If “god” makes their life more comfortable and they are not confronted with their rebellion against the Holy Creator God, we have made their path to hell all the more pleasant – heaping judgment on ourselves (James 3:1).

Opening up chapter 10, page 173, Warren declares, “Even a casual reading of the New Testament will show that the Gospel spread primarily through relationships.”  Relationships are important, but the Gospel was and is spread through the preaching of it – mostly to people the preacher knows only superficially.  In the next page, we are told, “The people your church is most likely to reach are those who match the existing culture of your church.”  This is true if you do not make disciples and send them out into the world to proclaim the Gospel to all tongues and nations.  The church is not intended to be a reflection of the culture – it is, by definition, counter culture and intended to make a difference in the world.  Warren’s advice is for the church to be conformed to patterns of the world, contrary to Romans 12:1 – 2.

Pastor Rick reinforces this un-Biblical nonsense on pages 188 – 189, where we are told to think like lost people.  This is Warren’s interpretation of the scriptural mandate to “understand the times”?  He shows a shallow view of the Lord: “Jesus often knew what unbelievers were thinking.  He was effective in dealing with people because he understood and was able to defuse the mental barriers they held.”  (emphasis mine)  We are to believe that Jesus sometimes did not know what people were thinking – a limited God.  Warren tells us Christ relied on popular psychological theory in order to effectively deal with His creatures.  And we are once again told, “We must learn to think like unbelievers in order to win them. … “The problem is, the longer you are a believer, the less you think like an unbeliever.”  The Bible tell us the old man is dead – we have been re-born as children of God and are now “a peculiar people”; that we are to be salt and light; that lost folk love darkness because their deeds are dark; and that we are not to hide our light under a bushel.  Pastor Rick thinks the church exists to be valued by pagans!  Paul gives a different prescription in 2 Corinthians 4:3 – 6: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

You can read many objections from Rick Warren anytime someone publicly associates him with Robert Schuller.  But again, on page 190, Warren shows us how big an impact Schuller had on him.  It should not be a surprise that so many of Schuller’s people pleasing ways are embraced and endorsed by Warren.  Near the bottom of Page 191, this pearl: “The unchurched aren’t asking for watered-down messages, just practical ones.  They want to hear something on Sunday that they can apply on Monday.”  Warren’s idea of church is to help lost folks have a better life, according to the world’s standard.  The Creator’s idea of church is for the saints to come together for worship, discipleship, fellowship, and be sent into the world proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And yes, we welcome lost people into the church – we simply don’t expect them to be comfortable there.  They should be confronted with the Word of God and their sinful nature.

Warren’s own “tale of success” in the early days of Saddleback tells the sad truth in what is left unsaid.  He defined Saddleback as “a church for the unchurched”, and he attracted many of them, summing up with, “You have to decide who you want to impress.”  Warren wants to impress lost folk – his charge, however, is to honor God.  On page 195: “This is the heart of Saddleback’s evangelism strategy: We must be willing to catch fish on their own terms.”  Fish don’t want to be caught!  And lost men do not seek after God.  His Word doesn’t tell us to be on the same wavelength as lost men, He tells us to be fishers of men – different from them, with a mission they cannot understand.  Warren tells us (page 197) that he has determined that Jesus had no “standard approach” in evangelism.  He is talking about “style points”, not content or motive.  I am convinced that a careful reading of the New Testament shows that Jesus did have a “standard approach.  Evangelist Ray Comfort sums it up thusly – “With the Law we break the proud heart; with the gospel we heal the broken heart.”  And, “If we care about the lost, we will not hesitate to speak to them about sin, righteousness, and judgment … the way Jesus did.”  In Mark 10:17 – 22, the Lord used the law to expose the rich man as idolater, in John 5:45 – 47, Jesus confronts the Jews with the accusation of the Law of Moses.  In John 4:4 – 26 the Lord seeks out the woman at the well and uses the law to gently confront her with her sin – violating the 7th commandment.

On page 219, Pastor Rick says, “Jesus often established a beachhead for evangelism in a person’s life by meeting a felt need.”  And he cites not one example – because there are none.  Dr. Luke records this encounter with the “crowd”: “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:25 – 27)  The Apostle John recorded this encounter (John 6:24 – 27):  “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.  And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?  Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”  And in verses 52 – 61: ”The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?  When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? Culminating in verses 65 & 66: “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Jesus doesn’t sound like Rick Warren.  To Whom shall we listen?

Ever the pragmatist, Warren tells us (page 224) that a passage in Luke 4 is all about Jesus “meeting needs and healing hurts.”  Jesus used that well known passage from Isaiah to establish His claim as Messiah, not “meet needs or heal hurts”.  On page 230, he beats the same drum: “The unchurched are not asking that we change the message or even dilute it, only that we show its relevance. …  I’ve found that the unchurched in America are very interested in Bible doctrine when it is applied in practical and relevant ways to their lives.”  What I’ve observed is that lost folks – whether they be “churched” or “unchurched” – want their ears tickled.  They want to be told that God loves them and wants them to be healthy and wealthy – things that are “practical and relevant”.  This is why prosperity gospel pimps such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen can fill up stadiums!  The Word of God tells us to preach the simple Truth and not work to earn the approval of men.  Lost folk do not need motivational messages on how to “live large with Jesus” – they need to repent and be saved.

Warren thinks (page 232) that the major purpose of Christ’s parables was to entertain folk and ensure they would remember His story.  But in Matthew 15, Mark 4, Mark 7, Luke 8, John 10 and other passages, His very own disciples failed to understand the parable and sought an explanation.  And while Pastor Rick cites Matthew 13:34, he did so as a proof-text, as verse 35 makes clear: He spoke in parables to fulfill scripture, not to satisfy the felt needs of unchurched Harry.  But if His purpose was as Warren claims, why did so many people need – and still need – an explanation of them?  To close this question, the Lord Himself gives us the answer in Matthew 13:10 – 13 (And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.)  And Luke 8:9 – 10 (And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?  And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.)

On page 241, “America’s Pastor” tells us “More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence than by all our apologetic arguments combined.”  This is a false argument: apologetics is not what wins people to Christ – the Gospel does that.  It is by preaching the Word of the Lord that people are saved – not by feeling anything.  He ascribes the salvation of the 3,000 people recorded in Acts 2 to their having felt God’s presence.  But the Bible makes it clear that the Spirit of God empowered Peter and it was the Word of God proclaimed by Peter that caused the response.  Read Acts 2:1 – 36 to see the set-up and the message of Christ crucified.  Then in verses 37 – 41: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Do you perceive these people were saved by having “felt God’s presence” or by the Word of God piercing their sinful hearts?

Page 243, Warren joins countless seeker sensitive fans by misappropriating 1 Corinthians 14:23.  Paul’s main argument was not to restrict the use of tongues so lost people wouldn’t think them foolish – this is a final argument in Paul’s long, passionate discourse against the improper use of this spiritual gift.  His main point was to encourage the saints to speak in a known tongue so others in the church could understand them.  It’s almost “and by the way, don’t you see how a heathen who might wander in here could think you mad?”  It was not normative in the early church for lost people to fill up the meeting place.  The church was of and for believers.

On pages 244 and 245 Warren furthers his humanistic view that unchurched people ought to have their felt needs addressed from the pulpit.  He again tells us these unchurched “expect to hear the Bible when they come to church.”  How would such a person know what to expect from the Word of God?  Go back to 1 Corinthians 2:12 – 14.  Pastor Rick tells us “They are looking for solutions, not a scolding.”  The problem for Rick and other seeker sensitive pastors is that unless a lost person is confronted with his condition (being dead is sin) he will not see any value in the Lamb of God.  The Gospel is not a scolding – but neither is it offering solutions to life’s circumstantial problems.  Warren instructs, “Design one worship service to edify believers and another service to evangelize the unchurched friends brought by your members.”  He then describes how he has marginalized the Saints by devoting weekends at Saddleback to lost folks.  We can readily surmise that Saddleback is a church on Wednesday evenings, but not on Saturdays or Sundays.

In chapter 14 – Designing a Seeker-Sensitive Service, Warren once again relies on and recommends a false prophet to make his point – citing “Apostle” Peter Wagner on page 267:  “When you run out of space, you experience what Pete Wagner calls ‘sociological strangulation’.”  But many churches have experienced true fellowship and spiritual growth while struggling with the logistical constraints of what experts see as too little space.  My wife heard a pastor in such a situation say, “Some pastors think you need 200 square feet per person.  We have 200 people per square feet!”  And he was praising God – not complaining about being “sociologically strangled.”

On to chapter 16 – Preaching to the Unchurched, Pastor Rick says, “The common ground we have with unbelievers is not the Bible, but our common needs, hurts, and interests as human beings.”  This is fine guidance on how to start a fraternal organization, such as a Rotary Club – the Bible tells us that unbelievers’ greatest need is salvation.  That we saints share some of the same sinful “habits and hang-ups” as the “unchurched” can be an encouragement to the lost, as we teach them that all are unworthy apart from Christ.  Nowhere in this chapter does Pastor Rick advise the use of the law to convict people of their sin; he only wants the lost folk to know they are valuable and loved, etc.  They may well go to hell thinking this, having never been convicted of sin or saved by grace.  Good feelings save nobody.

On page 312, Warren poses a handful of questions that unchurched people want answered before they are willing to join the church:

  • Do I fit here?
  • Does anybody want to know me?
  • Am I needed?
  • What is the advantage of joining?
  • What is required of members?

Rick shows us, once again, that his focus is on growing the “church” by answering the “felt needs” of the flesh – not following the Biblical mandate on how to lead a flock of believers.  He is building a social fraternity and calling it “church”.

In chapter 16 – Turning Members into Ministers, Warren mixes some solid Biblical instruction with a humanistic, Jungian psychological matrix appraisal of people – his five SHAPE factors.  A detailed comparison of Warren’s SHAPE to Jungian psychology and God’s Word can be found at the end of this review.

Page 384, Warren again confirms he sees man as more important than does our Creator: “The most critical factor in a new ministry isn’t the idea, but the leadership.”  Jesus, the most important human ever, said this about Himself vs. the message (or idea): “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.  (John 8:28)”, “but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, (John 15:15b – 16a).”  The Bible tells us the main thing is the message, not the messenger.

Lastly, page 395 – “Purpose-driven churches are led by purpose-driven leaders.”  Although I care nothing for Warren’s penchant for using “purpose-driven”, leave it aside.  Consider this – Churches are led by leaders.  Now consider the Words of the One Who “wrote the Book” on “how to do church”:  “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  (2 Timothy 2:1 – 2)  And recall the Words of Jesus, above – He spoke and worked only what His Father told Him.  The only leadership is from God and the truly effective pastor will be purposeful and Spirit led.

Quotes from Schuller – or is it Rick Warren?

Rick Warren denies virtually every connection and influence with or of Robert Schuller.  But judge for yourself – read a few choice quotes from Schuller and see if Warren’s teaching doesn’t line up near perfectly.  Read more at


“Yes, here is a theology for church growth.  Here is a theology for success, for the secret of success is to find a need and fill it.  Truly, when the church reforms and refines all of its theological expressions around every person’s daily need for self-affirmation, it shall flourish ‘like trees planted by rivers of water.'”  (Robert Schuller, “Self-Esteem: the New Reformation,” page 175)

“People who have studied our work and read our materials have said that historically we are not like other churches.  Denominations and religions started with teaching a theology about God.  Whenever there was disagreement with each other about a certain detail, the result was to establish a new religion or branch thereof, so today there are many different denominations and lots of different religions.  When I started this ministry, I chose to focus on human need and said,

“Let’s ask what a human being really is?  What does he need?”  And is there a God who can provide for those needs and what kind of God does he need?  So we started talking about the needs in humanity and we defined the single deepest need of the human being.”

(Robert Schuller, “Mirror or Window People: Which Are You?”  August 2, 2004)

“Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered’.”  (Robert Schuller, “Self-Esteem: the New Reformation,” page 64)

“The classical error of historical Christianity is that we have never started with the value of the person.  Rather, we have started from the ‘unworthiness of the sinner,’ and that starting point has set the stage for the glorification of human shame in Christian theology.”  (Robert Schuller, “Self-Esteem: the New Reformation,” page 162)




(extracted from


“When you minister in a manner consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness.” (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 246)“…when you are forced to minister in a manner that is “out of character” for your temperament, it creates tension and discomfort, requires extra effort and energy, and produces less than the best results. This is why mimicking someone else’s ministry never works. You don’t have their personality.” (PDL, p. 245) “…the ultimate aim and strongest desire of all mankind is to develop that fulness (sic) of life which is called personality… To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being and does not rise to personality, he has failed to realize his life’s meaning.” (The Development of Personality, Collected Works 17; from The Essential Jung, pg. 191, 207) There is absolutely no biblical precedent for this position. Personality typology has never been a criteria for God choosing someone for ministry, but is in great part grounded in Jungian psychology. Did Paul rely on personality assessment to guide his ministry? Hardly…

“God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” 1 Cor 1:27-29

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10




“You may be driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief.” (PDL, p. 27)“(Guilt-driven people) often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success.” (PDL, pp. 27-28) “The unconscious . . . is the source of the instinctual forces of the psyche and of the forms or categories that regulate them, namely the archetypes.” (The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 342)“Constant observation pays the unconscious a tribute that more or less guarantees its cooperation. One of the most important tasks of psychic hygiene [is] to pay continual attention to the symptomatology of unconscious contents and processes.” (The Portable Jung, New York: Penguin Books, 1986, p. 156) The “unconscious” is the foundational concept of both Freudian and Jungian psychology, and has no biblical basis whatsoever. In fact, Scripture does not allow for the idea that people are “driven” by an “unconscious belief.” By endorsing the idea of the unconscious, Warren is promoting the Jungian belief that people must analyze the forces of the unconscious to discover their life’s purpose. According to Scripture, any driving force outside of God’s will is sin, no matter where it resides. Psychology, however, downplays our personal accountability for sin by making the “unconscious” the ultimate reservoir and bastion of unavoidable human instinct.

“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23


“If I asked how you picture life, what image would come to your mind? That image is your life metaphor. It’s the view of life that you hold, consciously or unconsciously, in your mind.” (PDL, pp. 41-42)“Your unspoken life metaphor influences your life more than you realize. It determines your expectations, your values, your relationships, your goals, and your priorities.” (PDL, p. 42) “An archetypal content expresses itself, first and foremost, in metaphors.” (“The Psychology of the Child Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 267)Archetypes are not inborn ideas, but “typical forms of behaviour which, once they become conscious, naturally present themselves as ideas and images, like everything else that becomes a content of consciousness.” (Collected Works 8, par. 435)

“Indeed, the fate of the individual is largely dependent on unconscious factors.” (“Conscious, Unconscious, and Individuation” CW 9)

The analysis of “metaphors” housed in the unconscious is a trademark concept of psychology, not of Scripture. The use of images, fantasies, and dreams to better understand our “unconscious” is a signature feature of Jungian psychotherapy that borders on the occult.


“God made introverts and extroverts… He made some people thinkersand others feelers.’” (PDL, p. 245)“Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities. For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.” (PDL, p. 245)

“Ask yourself questions:… Am I more introverted or extroverted? Am I more a thinker or a feeler?” (PDL, pp.251-252)

“Two types (of typical differences in human psychology) especially become clear to me; I have termed them the introverted and the extraverted types.” (“Introduction” Psychological Types, CW 6 par. 1)“I have found from experience that the basic psychological functions, this is, functions which are genuinely as well as essentially different from other functions, prove to be thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. If one of these functions habitually predominates, a corresponding type results. I therefore distinguish a thinking, a feeling, a sensation, and an intuitive type. Each of these types may moreover be either introverted or extraverted” (“Introduction” Psychological Types, CW 6) Warren is explicitly using the specific terminology of the psychological typology theory originally conceived by Carl Jung. Despite the claims of his supporters, Warren has clearly based his Personality Theory (the “P” in his SHAPE teaching) on the unbiblical foundation of Jungian psychology.“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” 1 Cor 2:12-13


“The Bible gives us plenty of proof that God uses all types of personalities. Peter was a sanguine. Paul was a choleric. Jeremiah was a melancholy. When you look at the personality differences in the twelve disciples, it’s easy to see why they sometimes had interpersonal conflict.” (PDL, p. 245)“There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ temperament for ministry.” (PDL, p. 245) “…the physicians of ancient times…tried to reduce the bewildering diversity of mankind to orderly groups… The very names of the Galenic temperaments betray their origin in the pathology of the four “humours.” Melancholic denotes a preponderance of black bile, phlegmatic a preponderance of phlegm or mucus, sanguine a preponderance of blood, and choleric a preponderance of choler, or yellow bile.” (“Psychological Typology” CW 6)“The whole make-up of the body, its constitution in the broadest sense, has in fact a very great deal to do with psychological temperament…” (“Psychological Typology” CW 6) Despite Warren’s claim, the Bible never gives “proof” of the classification of personalities; it is a purely pagan concoction. The four temperaments, as conceived by Hippocrates and later developed by Galen, was a prevalent Greek philosophy during the time of Paul’s apostolic ministry. Unlike Warren and Jung, however, Paul did not implement these Greeks ideas into his teachings. In fact, he categorically rejected them and “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Cor 2:2).“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” I Timothy 6:20

Worse yet, Warren is teaching that a person’s “no right or wrong” personality is somehow unaffected by the fall and is always beneficial for ministry. How, we ask, does a “phlegmatic temperament” towards laziness and slothfulness serve God’s purpose in ministry?


“Today there are many books and tools that can help you understand your personality so you can determine how to use it for God.” (PDL, p. 246) MBTI is “based on Jung’s theory of psychological types.” (Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1983, p.4)“The (MBTI) Indicator was developed specifically to carry Carl Jung’s theory of type (Jung, 1921, 1971) into practical application.” (Dr. Gordon Lawrence, People Types & Tiger Stripes, p. 6, also p. x)

“Carl Jung’s psychology lies behind…the MBTI.” (Robert Innes, Personality Indicators and The Spiritual Life, p.8)

Without qualifying this statement, Warren is promoting any and all Jungian personality and temperament tests and theories, including the widely-used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (an offshoot of the MBTI), and the Enneagram Test, which has its origin in Sufism, a mystical offshoot of Islam. (Click here for more information on Enneagram).Despite the contrary advice offered by Warren, Christians must acknowledge the Bible as the only book needed to understand the human condition:

“For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

(See also II Timothy 3:16-17)


“Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude. God revealed this thousands of years before psychologists understood it.” (PDL, p. 181) “(Unconscious phenomena) manifest themselves in the individual’s behaviour… ” (“Conscious, Unconscious, and Individuation” CW 9)“Modern psychological development leads to a much better understanding as to what man really consists of.” (“Psychology and Religion” CW 11) Warren is suggesting here that psychologists have the same understanding as God on the issue of human behavior, thus putting man’s “wisdom” on equal footing with God’s revelation.If Warren truly believes in the preeminence of God’s revelation to understand man, then why does he rely so heavily on the “useless wisdom” of psychology instead of Scripture?

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS‘; and again, ‘THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.’” I Cor 3:19-20


“The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape. To do this you must discover your shape, learn to accept and enjoy it, and then develop it to its fullest potential.” (PDL, p. 249)The SHAPE program states: “To discover your S.H.A.P.E. is to discover where God is calling you to do His work in the world.” “Only the man who can consciously assent to the power of the inner voice becomes a personality.” (“The Development of Personality” CW 17)“The achievement of personality means nothing less than the optimum development of the whole individual human being.” (“The Development of Personality” CW 17)

“In so far as every individual has the law of his life inborn in him, it is theoretically possible for any man to follow this law and to become a personality, this is, to achieve wholeness.” (“The Development of Personality” CW 17)

Finding your SHAPE has no biblical support. Warren’s teaching that one must “discover his shape” is philosophically and systematically akin to Jung’s teaching that a man must “consciously assent to the power of the inner voice” and be true to “the law of his being.”While Warren has rightly acknowledged God’s sovereign purpose in creating us, he has mistakenly made God’s divine purpose synonymous with our so-called “shape” by advocating the Jungian idea of developing the personality to “achieve wholeness.” This Jungian process, however, does not serve God, but serves the god within us.

Scripture calls for an active, heartfelt obedience to God’s will through the transforming power of the Spirit, not a misguided exploration of our natural psychological makeup to define our God-given purpose.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“…your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:5


Yes, Jesus associated with sinners, but he certainly didn’t borrow his teachings from the Pharisees or any other false teachers. Clearly there is a very tangible connection between Rick Warren’s SHAPE teaching on personality and the psychological theories of Carl Jung. Not only does Warren base his teachings on parallel psychological concepts, but he uses exact Jungian terms to make his case. By focusing on assessing and developing one’s personality as the key to a successful life or ministry, Warren, like Jung, is promoting a reliance on one’s inner self instead of on God’s transcendent truth and the working of the Holy Spirit. As a popular Christian teacher, how can Warren ignore the crucial biblical truths of the sufficiency of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit to perfectly furnish every Christian with the ability to minister according to God’s purpose?

 Stuart L Brogden Home

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Posted by on November 22, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Boycotts and Book Burnings…Are they beneficial to our cause?

Recently, you without a doubt heard of the church in NC that was planning to burn non KJV Bibles and other superfluous writings on halloween. This morning I heard that the American Family Association was organizing a boycott of a large clothing retailer because of their non-Christian beliefs and actions.

I am not saying there is no merit to the concerns of groups that coordinate boycotts and burnings. I am asking whether boycotts and burnings are the best use of our time.

The problem I have with these protests is that the boycott and the fire get all of the attention and the reason for them gets little if any… Remember about 15 years ago when a Christian group was boycotting Disney? I do.

I remember this coming up in conversation with a friend. They said they were glad the Christians were boycotting Disney. Maybe Disney would not be so crowded for them… Wow, is this what a boycott accomplishes?

I offer a suggestion. Prior to boycotting or burning, why not schedule a series of meetings to discuss with the community why you have reason to boycott someone or to burn something? This way, you can use scripture to teach a lesson. If the plan to boycott or burn gets a bunch of attention, at least you can direct some of that attention to the meetings and the information you will provide.

Just a thought… What do you think?

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Posted by on November 12, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Bible Study Acts 9:1-21 part 4

Daily Bible Study Acts Daily Bible Study Acts Daily Bible Study Acts Bible Study   

For the final installment of the Acts 9:1-21 passage, let’s look at what Saul/Paul experienced in light of current-day teaching about salvation, purpose, abundance, and service.

Saul is walking along the road to Damascus planning to capture and imprison any Christian he can find. This is not the picture of a man who is ‘on the ropes’ so to speak in contemplation of his need for faith in Christ. As a matter of fact, I do not see in scripture where anyone who follows Jesus took time to weigh the pros and cons of the intellectual information about God, Jesus, service, or anything… I also do not see preachers appealing to man’s emotions, his intellect, his goals, his desire for a purpose, his humanity, his concept of self-image, his felt-needs…none of that.

Anyway, back to Saul. Saul sees no need for Jesus. He believes himself to be in perfect alignment with God. Even though he is wrong, he firmly believes himself to be correct and he is so confident that he sets out to rid the world of Christians. Then Jesus selects Saul to be His!

Saul gets up from the ground a changed man. This change is not due to ANYTHING Saul did, thought, hoped, intellectually assented to…it is due only to the sovereign will of God.

Next, let’s look at purpose. Did Saul have a purpose. Yes, God had something in mind for Saul/Paul to accomplish. And boy did he accomplish some things! However, notice the purpose was God’s and not Saul’s thoughts/desires/need for a purpose. Saul was not ‘adding Jesus’ on top of his already carefully ordered life to complete him. Saul’s life was totally destroyed! God had dismantled everything about Saul’s life. Saul had been crushed on the rock of offense. Saul would be transformed so that he could have a purpose.

This is in stark contrast to things we hear today. God did not appeal to Saul’s self-esteem or felt-needs. Saul did not ‘make a decision’ for Jesus but was transformed by Jesus. Saul was not enticed into the ‘faith’ by adding Jesus on top of his goals to complete him. Saul’s purpose would be God’s purpose and this purpose would be nothing like Saul would have thought of on his own.

But what about abundant life? Doesn’t God want everyone wealthy, healthy, and wise? Saul/Paul would go on to say in coming years that he was totally content and had learned to be happy regardless of his circumstances. God did indeed give him an abundant life. However, this abundant life did not include driving a Merc, living in a posh estate, or being served by everyone. Saul’s life would be one of toil, turmoil, striving for the faith, running for his life, sitting in prison, and being accused of all manner of wrongdoings. God’s call for Saul/Paul was no prosperity message in earthly terms.

And finally, what about service? Everyone catered to Saul’s every whim once he was saved, right? Uh, no. Saul labored for God’s work. He taught, traveled, discipled, rebuked, debated, suffered, and served. He served more than he was served. God’s work was no prestige party or social event for Saul. It was work. Later Saul/Paul would reflect upon his work and regret nothing yet hope he could have done more for God.

Be careful of who/what you listen to today. False teachers are plentiful. Ear-tickling messages are everywhere.  Listen to God’s word not man’s thoughts.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Bible Study Acts 9:1-21 part 3

Daily Bible Study Acts Daily Bible Study Acts Daily Bible Study Acts Acts Acts “>Acts Acts

We will pick up in verse 6. Saul/Paul responds to Jesus by saying, “Lord, What do you want me to do?” Now that is a fitting response to give to Jesus.  The Lord tells Saul to rise and go into the city and wait for instructions. 

Watch the reaction of those who traveled with Saul. Now, remember, these people were associates and/or servants of Saul and are still in the old mindset of seeking the Christians out to imprison them.  The Bible says these people stood speechless because they heard a voice but saw no one. They helped Saul get up but Saul is blind. Wow, what happened? The people were undoubtedly confused. They heard the voice but saw nothing. And why did Saul fall down? Why was he now blind? Who is this he is calling Lord?

I would bet Saul told quite a story to his friends. But it was not the story they expected. Saul had made a serious 180 degree turn spiritually. What did they think about this? We cannot be sure since scripture does not tell us. However, Saul would go on to tell as many people as possible about Jesus as the Messiah. I would imagine that he told his friends about how he had been wrong to oppose Jesus and that Jesus is really the Messiah the Jews had been awaiting!

Saul was blind for three days and neither ate nor drank. While this was occurring, God was working on the other side of the conversion experience of Saul/Paul. Verse 10 says God spoke to a disciple named Ananias who was in Damascus. Ananias answers, apparently not having a heart attack at hearing a direct call from God, and listens to His instructions. God tells him where to go to find Saul and that Saul will see in a vision that Ananias would come to pray for him to receive his sight.

Verse 13 records Ananias’ concerns. This is a very understandable response. Ananias says something similar to, “Uh, what? Saul of Tarsus? The one who is trying to arrest the saints? The one who hates us? I have heard of this man. Are you sure, Lord?” I’m sure there were many more concerns and fears that are not recorded. Ananias has reasonable fears and concern but he did not know all of the information. God was in control…there was no reason to fear.

Verse 15 says, “But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Ananias is reassured and goes in obedience to God. We do not really have anything with which to compare this situation. We do not hear directly from God in a vocal command. If you did, you could not tell anyone because they would either think you were mad or accuse you of trying to sell books based on lies or sensationalism.

The point is, Ananias had reasonable fears yet he was obedient to God. That is what we should focus upon. Ananias follows through and Saul receives his sight. Saul spent time with the disciples in Damascus and was strengthened after ending his fast.

Saul immediately began preaching to the Jews in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. I can only imagine the confusion. What a conversion. The power of God had converted Saul from a vehement enemy to a faithful preacher. The HUGE change of direction in Saul’s life served as a witness of the power of God.

People who are converted today should also show a change in lifestyle, goals, cares, desires, behaviors, …etc. Why? The Bible is very clear that the ways of the world and the ways of God are diametrically opposed.

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Posted by on October 27, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Bible Study Acts 9:1-21 part 2 addendum

This article from Ken Silva at expresses some valuable information concerning the doctrine of election vs. the freewill of man argument. There is a treasure trove of sound, doctrinal information found on his web page.

A man-centered gospel is the belief that the determining factor in whether or not a man is eternally saved, in the end, relies (at some level) upon an act of his own will i.e. human decision. This is often called synergism because it is thought to be a cooperative effort between God and man. While a God-centered Gospel means that man has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with causing his salvation by “choosing God,” “deciding to follow Christ,” “asking Jesus into your heart,” and/or any other like phrases so common today.

Sola fide and sola gratia as used in the Protestant Reformation mean that while the sinner is dead in his trespasses and sins God Himself sovereignly regenerates those whom He will. As His gift God gives them the faith to believe in Christ, and they repent of their sins. This is actually diametrically opposed to any of the seeker-friendly postevangelical movements e.g. the Purpose Driven Life as taught by Rick Warren.

The sad fact is that the contemporary American Christian Church largely believes in synergism (man cooperates with God), while in stark opposition to the synergism of apostate Roman Catholicism, the Reformers (even before John Calvin) taught monergism (soli Deo gloria). Yet to a great extent today the Emerging Church movement overall, and voices in this Emergent rebellion against Sola Scriptura like Rob Bell in particular, also strongly believe in synergism (at best).


Posted by on October 23, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 9:1-21 part 1

Daily Truth Bible Study  Acts 9:1-21 Bible Study Bible Study Bible Study

Verses 1 & 2 tell us where Saul was coming from mentally; he was enraged against the followers of Jesus. He played the political/religious system by getting permission to capture and imprison them. What was the crime of those he pursued? They were ‘of the Way’ or followers of Christ.

So, as he walked along the road toward Damascus, he was torn about Jesus and was considering His life intellectually? Not at all! He was enraged against the followers of Christ and desired to arrest them. Being converted to Christianity was the LAST thing on his mind! He had no plans whatsoever to become a follower of Jesus.

Verse 3 says that a bright light suddenly shone around him. This was no focused beam of light from the sun peering through clouds. This light came from Heaven. Saul fell on the ground and heard the voice of the Lord say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul was totally overcome yet he was unclear about the source of the light and the voice…of the presence of the One who had overcome him. Verse 5 records him saying, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you  are persecuting…” said the Lord. Undoubtedly crushed by the power of the presence of the Lord as well as the reality of the truth of Jesus as Lord, Paul, trembling and astonished, asks, ” What  do you want me to do?”

At this point, the study of this text can go off into speculation and even absurdity. I have heard it said that during this instance, Saul considers Christ and decides to accept Him as Savior.  I see no grounds for this, however. I see Jesus selecting Saul to become His! Jesus is in control, not Saul. Saul does not consider the information about Jesus, he does not fill out a communication card, he does not walk down an aisle, he gets blasted by the sovereign election of God!

John MacArthur, in his commentary on the Book of Acts, says that although God does not always work this dramatically, He always initiates the contact in salvation. References can be found in several verses (John 6:37, 44; 10:27-29, 17:2,6,9,11,24; 2nd Cor 4:6; Phil 1:29; James 1:18).

Man is not sovereign in his decision to ‘accept’ Christ. People accept and follow Christ as the result of being saved by God’s sovereign grace. This is a very important fact of Bible doctrine. If a person misses this fact, they may drift and waver into all sorts of man-centered methods and theories aimed to entice and please the flesh of man in order to seek man’s assent for God to be God. Do not laugh. It is happening all around you as we speak. 

Church growth theories, seeker concepts, and entertainment megaplex churches all seek to gain man’s acceptance of God by enticing him to intellectually agree that God is good and can improve some area of man’s life or fill some felt-need. This is far from what the Bible teaches, however. Join me for part 2 and we will continue to discussion.   

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Posted by on October 21, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Is America Post-Christian? Hath the Glory Departed?

America is without a doubt the most materialistic and self-absorbed nation to have ever existed. Anyone disagree? I didn’t think so. Americans travel hundreds of miles to go to a rock concert or sports event, sit on hard bleacher seats in the broiling sun or falling snow, and stay up late regardless of needing to be at work the next day. Ask them if they went ot church last Sunday and they will say ‘no’ because the church is too far from home, the seats are uncomfortable, the temperature is too warm or cool, and they were too sleepy from a hard work week.

The irony is thicker than peanut butter.  

Some people are at least honest about the situation. They will say with pride that they do not want the traditional teaching of the orthodox Christian church because it is ‘out of touch’ with current trends.  I’m not saying I agree with them; I am saying that at least they are being honest.

To translate, most people will only tolerate a religion that gives them a stamp of approval for their lifestyle. “I’m in charge of my destiny” is the cry of this generation and the last several.

Ask an American to recount for you one of John Grisham’s novels, a poem of Robert Frost, a play by Shakespear, or a song by Lennon & McCartney and they will do so with no hesitation. Ask them to tell you a little something about the book of Romans and they will stare at you blankly.

 Have we been fooling ourselves about being a Christian Nation? I fear that maybe we have. If America was in court and the judge asked for evidence, would there be enough to prove that we are or have been a Christian Nation?

I’m not saying there are no Christians here. I am suggesting that we are a small minority however. Someone prove me wrong…

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Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 8:26-40

Daily Truth Bible Study for Acts 8:26-40 Bible Study Bible Study Bible Study

This time we look at a wonderful passage that explains a bit about a Christian’s role in the sharing of the faith with another. I am not saying that this passage depicts the only prescribed way for sharing the faith, I am saying that this is a definite example of how God worked and He likely continues to work in this way at times.

Philip had been with the others in Samaria and is told by an angel to go to a road that is to the south and connects Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip arose and went. Now, this is not a great deal of information. I don’t know about you but I like to have all of the information and all of the control when I leave to go somewhere. Philip was immediately compliant and went to the place he was instructed to go.

Philip sees someone  in a chariot traveling down the road. We are told in scripture that it is a servant who is the chief treasurer of the Ethiopian Queen, Candace. He had been to Jerusalem to worship and was returning to his country. He was reading from the book of Isaiah as the chariot slowly traveled along the road.

Philip knows nothing about who is riding in the chariot. He can tell it is someone important because an official of a nation rarely traveled without an entourage. So, after seeing this, Philip is told by the angel to go to chariot. We do not know if he is told anything else but it doesn’t really matter. Philip was obedient.

Let’s look at a few things about this situation. Philip is apparently sent into a blind situation. He is sent to an unknown destination, he is sent to an unknown person, and he does not know exactly what he is to do.

This holds some insight for each of us. We should be ready to go anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. How can we do this? Philip was committed to serve Christ. He was ready, willing, and able. Part of this was due to his relationship with Christ. He also had confidence in God’s power and he was willing to enter any situation in order to spread the word of God.

We could have hemmed and hawed about our not knowing where we were going, who we were going to see, whether there was danger, whether we were prepared to encounter someone of notoriety… the list could go on for a while. Philip was simply ready and willing and able. The scripture records no hesitation on his part.

Once we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus as our Savior, we should then prepare to be able to tell this wonderful story to others. We do not have to memorize presentation methods or techniques. We simply need to be able to show from scripture who God is, how we are lost in sin, and how Jesus came to save and accomplished His work for our benefit.

Philip hears the servant reading from Isaiah. Philip had to have known this part of God’ s word as well because he recognized it. Philip had an immediate opening and asked if the servant understood what he was reading. The servant did not and asked Philip for help.

We are to assume the man was convicted in his soul to read God’s word seeking to understand. God sent Philip to guide him. What must have been frustrating to the servant turned into a wonderful experience. Philip explained that Isaiah was referring to Jesus who was the Messiah. The servant immediately believed and asked to be baptised.

Notice there are no techniques used by Philip. He did not need them. He simply explained that Jesus fit all of the criteria to be the Messiah and had proven Himself so with many signs and wonders. Verse 35 says that Philip began with Isaiah and preached Jesus so we are to assume that he preached everything known about Jesus. This had to have been a truly exciting time for the servant and for Philip.

I do not believe Philip was interested in knotching his Bible with another ‘number’ to be bragged about in church next week. He was sincere and interested only in doing God’s work. God changed the servant’s life that day. Philip did not do it. The chariot did not do it. The water did not do it. All of these things were tools in the process. God was the power.

We are to follow God’s sovereign will. We will not likely hear a voice or see and angel but we do not need to. When we see or hear people struggling in life, it is a clear indication that they need to hear God’s word. God may be in the process of converting them or the person may be resistant. That is not for us to be concerned over. We must be faithful to Him. We must put aside our pride and be willing to be laughed at, criticised, and even impugned in order to be faithful to God’s call. We are to take His word to the world.

Philip went into a blind situation. The servant could have been a criminal or a hater of God’s people. Philip, like Stephen, could have wound up a martyr. He was obedient, however, and God used Philip to accomplish His plan.

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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Relevance: Is Your Church Relevant in Today’s Culture ?

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Relevance: Is Your Church Relevant in Today’s Culture ?   Is this even the correct question?

With many (and maybe most) churches chasing after style in order to be ‘relevant’ to today’s culture, where will the church eventually find itself?

Are we supposed to be relevant to the current culture? I suppose this depends upon how we define ‘relevant’. Let me begin by asking a simple question…did God ever seek to be relevant to the current culture in the Bible? This sounds like a simple question but people are sharply divided on it.

I have searched scripture trying to keep everything in proper context. Here is what I have noticed…

God never changed in order to accomodate man. Please follow along before attempting to rebut. God reached out to man in a way that man could understand. That is definite. Is that relevance in action? Well, maybe. But let’s look some more.

The whole concept of relevance is based upon what the recipient can and will understand. When we focus upon what the hearer WANTS TO HEAR, we are moving away from relevance and toward preference. defines relevance as “connected to or bearing upon the matter at hand”. Now, I would say that since God created everything and since He is the one to be feared because He cannot only destroy life but also damn it to hell (Matt 10:28), that God is the matter at hand. He determines and embodies all that is relevant because it is what He likes or dislikes that matters most of all.

Since this is the case, what is relevant? Only that which is approved by God. Does God approve of the church becoming like the world in order to be accepted by it? Not hardly. Nowhere can such an example be found in scripture. As a matter of fact, Paul addressed the church in Corinth about this exact problem of the church being no different than the world. Also, there are seven letters to churches in Revelation that addresses this problem as well.

God does not need to be overhauled and repackaged in order to be received by man. Man is not sovereign in the matter of salvation and discipleship. God is sovereign. Paul said he did not seek to speak eloquently but spoke only of Christ and Christ crucified (1Cor 2:2). 

I see the question of relevance to be more about our being relevant in God’s eyes as opposed to the church being relevant in the world’s eyes. Jesus was never relevant to the pharisees and other power players of His day. Why? Because He represented  a path different from the desires of man’s will.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that anyone who is in Christ is a NEW creature with the old stuff having passed away and everything having been made new. How on earth could the way of Christ ever be relevant to a corrupt and lost world?

Christ is the cornestone rejected by the builders of the world power base (Matt 21:42-45). The only people who embraced Jesus in scripture permanently are those who were saved and became the new creatures spoken of in 2Cor 5:17. 

Beware of the relevance-driven movement. No one is relevant who is separated from God. God has placed power for converting the soul in His word (Psalm 19:7-14, Rom 1:16, Rom 10:17).

We should seek to be found faithful to God. God can do any amount of great and powerful things. We do not drive the bus. God is in control. This was true yesterday, is true today, and will be true tomorrow.  Opine, if you please…

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Posted by on October 12, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 8:1-25 part 2

Daily Truth Bible Study  Acts 8:1-25  part 2

After reading the Bible text, lets continue with verse 5. Philip was in Samaria preaching Christ to the local people. His preaching was accompanied by signs and wonders via God’s power. Many heard, listened, and believed. These were apparently true conversions because verse 14 begins a section telling that Peter and John came to Samaria to lay hands on the believers so they would receive the Holy Spirit and they did.

However, there is mention of a sorcerer named Simon in this section as well. It seems as though he was not a true believer. Earlier in the Bible text, we see that Simon is a sorcerer who gave shows before the Samaritans and they thought him to be a great and powerful man…perhaps even a man of God. Remember that the Samaritans practiced a form of worship of the true God. This form was not without its problems but they were aware of the Old Testament writings and the fundamentals of the Jewish religion.

Simon was likely a practitioner of a combination of pseudo-science, magician’s tricks, and maybe even the occult. Once he encountered Philip, he saw that his tricks were no match for the real thing. He made a profession of belief and followed Philip but he was not a true convert. Watch what the text says in verse 18 and following. When Simon saw the Holy Spirit was received by those whom Peter and John laid hands upon, he asked to purchase with money the ability to confer the Holy Spirit.

Wow. How sad. I believe this confirms that Simon just didn’t get the picture of what was happening and why. He apparently wanted to be able to maintain a career being able to mesmerize an audience with a new trick in his toolkit. He thought the power of God could be manipulated for personal gain. Even back then, people saught to gain financially and self-righteously from God’s work.

In verse 20 of Acts 8, we see Peter sharply rebuke Simon for thinking God’s power could be bought! I presume that Simon was not a true believer since he was not struck dead like Ananias and Sapphira were in chapter 5. Ananias and Sapphira were true believers who tested God’s patience by lying to His Spirit for personal gain. Simon also saught personal gain but he apparently was not a true believer. Watch what Peter says next.

In verse 22, Peter tells Simon to repent for his wickedness and to ask for forgiveness. Peter also told Simon he was poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. Simon’s response in verse 24 implies that he feared Peter’s words not so much for the conviction of God’s wrath but for fear of not having Peter’s favor. Simon may have had his own idea of what was occurring before him but apparently did not have grace through faith resulting in salvation.

There is no more mention of Simon. I see him as being similar to the rich, young ruler of  Mark 10:17-22. He wanted to ‘add Jesus to his already structured life’. He wanted to purchase a new way to make a living and be assured of power and prosperity. It could have been he was afraid of impending judgement as well. For some reason, there was no conversion. God did not grant it at this time.

This is an awesome and fearful subject. People going through the motions but not being saved. I will attempt to expand this subject a bit more in the next post.  May God bless the study of His word.

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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in Uncategorized


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