Tom: Thanks Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth, to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
The topic for this segment of our program and has been for the last couple of weeks, is Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, which we’ve already said a lot about as an introduction.
So, Dave, let’s pick up where we left off last week, which would be chapter 9, the title of which is “What Makes God Smile?” Now, Dave, he gives us two verses to…I assume, establish that God does smile. He says, “May the Lord smile on you,” and that’s from Numbers:6:25, but he quotes the New Living Translation. And then, Psalm:119:135 from Eugene Petersen’s The Message, and that says “Smile on me, your servant; teach me the right way to live.”
Now, Dave, on the one hand, I don’t have any problem with somebody having the idea that God may smile. Yet, when you’re trying to establish that as, in effect, a doctrine and you’re using verses from paraphrases…and I don’t know anywhere in the Bible where the word “smile” is used in a literal translation. And then, I’m establishing throughout a whole chapter what makes God smile, what makes God smile. I mean, you’ve sort of taken a reasonable idea and worked it into a doctrine. I don’t think that’s the way to go.
Dave: Well, Psalm:119:135 actually says, “Make thy face to shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes.” Now, we don’t have anything about teaching his statutes to the person. That’s left out here.
I don’t understand, Tom, why he wants to change what God himself said. The Word of God is pure, the Scripture says. It is a “buckler to those that walk uprightly.” And we have so much about the Word of God. In fact, in Psalm 119, it’s all about meditating on the Word of God.
But now, we’ve changed the Word. The Word says, “Make thy face shine upon thy servant and teach me thy statutes,” and here, it says…The Message says, “Smile on me, your servant, and teach me the right way to live.”
Now, again, it’s rather humanistic.
Dave: The right way to live—we’re back to the living in this life. “Make thy face to shine upon thy servant.”
He’s changed it to, “Smile.” But, nowhere…as you’ve said…nowhere in the Bible does the Word of God say that God smiles.
Tom: Now, Dave, with that established—and that is established—at the bottom of page 69, he says, “The Bible says, ‘Noah was a pleasure to the Lord,’” okay? God said—now, this is Rick telling us God said, “This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I’ll start over with his family.”
Dave: Well, Tom, in fact, the Scripture says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
Tom: “He makes his face to shine upon me.” That’s what it means. God is extending grace to me.
Dave: Right. There’s a big difference between God smiling as though He’s pleased with you. It wasn’t that Noah pleased God. Although, one day we hope that God will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Dave: The Bible indicates that. But Tom, the thing that bothers me is…why are we changing what the Bible says?
Dave: If “smile” was a better word, then the Holy Spirit would’ve said it.
Dave: Now, why must we change what the Bible says?
Tom: Well, one of the reasons—you just gave the term for it. It’s humanistic. It’s kind of an anthropological thing—that if something’s going to make me feel better, or make me relate to God much better, then I’d like Him smiling. But, as you say, that’s not what the Word of God says.
Dave: There are a lot of nuances in language. And, the Bible surely must be very careful with its choice of words. The Holy Spirit was very careful with His choice of words.
Now—but Tom, you said he makes a doctrine out this. “What Makes God Smile?” is the title of the chapter.
Dave: The very first sentence is: “The smile of God is the goal of your life.” Now, we’ve taken something that the Bible never tells us God does, and it has become the goal of my life to get the smile of God. The Bible says…it goes on, “Figure out what will please Christ and then do it.” That’s from The Message, Ephesians:5:10. What does Ephesians:5:10 actually say? “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” Now, going back in this passage: “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light, proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”
Now, we can relate that to Romans 12: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” It’s not that I’m going to figure out what will please Christ, and then set out to do it. I can’t do it, first of all.
Dave: It’s only the power of God working in me—the Holy Spirit—and that’s quite clear, if we go back to Ephesians:5:9, I read verses 8 and 10. Verse 9 says, “(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)….” So, what the Scripture is actually saying is, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, submit to Him, trust Him, allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, and Christ to live through you, and thereby, you will demonstrate the perfect will of God.” You will experience the will of God in your life, as you submit to Him, and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.
Now, that’s not what Rick is telling us from The Message. “Figure out what will please Christ and then do it.” There is a big difference, Tom! Look, I’m not trying to be hard on Rick Warren. He evidently, means well. He’s trying to do right by people. He’s trying to lead them into something, but he’s led them into something that is taking them away from the Bible.
Dave: Now, why not be satisfied with what the Bible itself says? Why try to change it; write a whole chapter “What Makes God Smile?” when the Bible never says God smiles? There’s a different meaning to what these verses actually say, but he gets a translation, not a translation…a paraphrase….
Dave: …That makes it sound like what he wants it to say.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, he has a responsibility as a teacher. As we all do, you do, I do, everyone who teaches…you have a responsibility to accurately handle the Word of God, to accurately teach. If we don’t, we’re teaching something else.
Now, on page 70, again, the heading is “God Smiles When We Trust Him Completely.” Then Rick says, “The second reason Noah pleased God was that he trusted God even when it didn’t make sense.”
Dave, where do you find that?
Dave: Well, he’s thinking because it had never rained and God said, “I’m sending a flood.”
I wouldn’t say, “It didn’t make sense.”
Tom: Well, you can’t say it. Because that’s not what the Scriptures indicate. Yes, you may think, “Well, there were these circumstances and these circumstances, so it probably didn’t make sense to him.” The Scripture doesn’t tell us that.
Dave: Well, it makes sense whenever you believe God. That’s the only thing that makes sense.
Tom: Well, Dave, is God going to instruct him to do something irrational? What do you mean, “It doesn’t make sense?” It just doesn’t square with His Word.
Dave: If God says that there’s going to be a flood and the highest mountains will be covered, then you…
Dave: …Couldn’t say it doesn’t make sense. For example, Tom, let’s take Hebrews 11…
Dave: …verse 3: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear.”
In other words, everything is made out of nothing. I can’t say that doesn’t make sense. There’s no basis, scientifically…
Dave: …rationally, any other way, for me to say that doesn’t make sense. Now, it may be beyond my comprehension; maybe that was what Rick meant, but again, it was a poor choice of words. But Tom, let me go back to what the Bible actually says about Noah…
Dave: …because we’re really missing something here. It says, “Noah found grace…. Grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
What is grace? It’s something that I don’t merit. Noah was apparently willing to accept God’s forgiveness. He was willing to recognize that he needed God’s grace and His mercy. Noah wasn’t going to merit escaping the floodwaters. It does say that Noah was a righteous man, and so forth. But no man is without sin. So, the whole point that the Bible is making is something about God’s grace, God’s mercy. But we’re missing that.
Dave: We’re being told we’ve got to perform in a way that will cause God to smile upon us. It’s a different meaning, entirely. Furthermore, I can’t perform except by the power of God, by the power of Christ. And that’s not coming across here.
Tom: Dave, one little side note. The first time I was introduced to The Purpose Drive Life, I hadn’t read it yet, but a missionary heading for Europe grabbed me and said, “Tom, have you read this book?”
And I said, “No, not yet.”
And he said, “Well, this is interesting.” He said, “I have Roman Catholic relatives, and I’ve been witnessing to them for ages, it seems, never getting anywhere with them. And I had a copy of The Purpose Driven Life on my coffee table. And they came over one day, and they looked at it. They were attracted to it, and they said, ‘Hey, can we borrow this?’ And I thought wow, this is really great!”
They took it home, they read it…they loved the book!
So I said to him, “Oh, terrific! Did they come to know the Lord?”
He said, “No, it just reinforced them in what they already believed.” Because with Catholicism it is works oriented; it is performance oriented, and so on. This is how-to-do, how-to-please God, how to make Him smile, all of these kinds of things. It can be, and it often is, very misleading.
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s a problem with the entire book. He takes Scriptures that don’t say what he wants them to say. He finds some translation that will say it, and then he justifies his ideas, by claiming that they come from the Bible. And, again, he means well.
Tom: Well, he does mean well, Dave. It seems so, anyway. This is where the great confusion comes in. If you turn to page 72, he says, “God’s Word is clear that you can’t earn your salvation. It comes only by grace, not your effort.”
Dave, throughout the book—and I’ve been over it, line by line. He flip-flops back and forth. He’s telling you one thing, then he’s contradicting…whether he really understands he’s doing that, I’m not sure. But, it’s a little bit disconcerting because it verges on almost double-speak sometimes.
Dave, let’s go to page 75.
Tom: And, again, you mentioned the humanism. By humanism, what we’re talking about folks is the whole idea of placing self first—that self is the most important thing. And he rejects that right from the beginning of the book. He says, “It’s not about you.” But, then, you find, page after page, these humanistic ideas that come in. For example, at the top of page 75 he writes, “You only bring Him enjoyment by being you. Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God’s wisdom and sovereignty in creating you.”
Dave: Well, I find it difficult to make that fit with what Christ said, “Except you deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
So, “any time you reject any part of yourself”? The Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I, the Lord, search it.”
Now, am I not to reject the wickedness of my heart? What about my pride? I have to deal with that continually. “Lord, where did that thought come from?”
Well, it comes from me. It comes from my heart. He is going to make me a new creature in Christ Jesus, and the Scripture says that “…old things are passed away, all things have become new.”
Now, what would these old things be that have passed away—that I’m to forget the past. “Forget what I’ve been in the past,” Paul says, “and look forth unto that which God has for me in the future.”
And then he says, “You only bring him enjoyment by being you.” Tom, again, maybe Rick has something in mind that is biblical, but he’s not saying it. “By being me….” This is not about me?
Dave: But now, I must be me? I must be who I am? Who I am…in what way? Well, he says, “By nature…the way you were created…every gene in your body…all the DNA…the color of your hair…your height…your weight, and so forth. Every day of your life has been planned by God…pre-planned by God.”
Tom: Right. Dave, where is Rick getting these things? I think it comes out of ideas about self, building up self, self-esteem, all these things that just permeates everything…you know, that’s around us. On page 74, for example, he writes, “Actually, God enjoys watching every detail of your life….” And then he says, “The Bible tells us, ‘the steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.’”
Dave: Well, he says, “Every human activity, except sin, can be done for God’s pleasure, if you do it with an attitude of praise.” He goes back and he says, “God said, ‘It’s time to get on with your life, do the things I designed humans to do, make love to your spouse, have babies, raise families, plant crops, and eat meals. Be humans! This is what I made you to be.’”
Well, that’s part of what He means us to be. But that’s not what ultimately what He made us to be, because in the new creation, we’re not going to be making love, and having babies, and planting crops, and so forth. There is something beyond that. And we ought, in this life, to begin to point in that direction. And, unfortunately, the book is not telling us about that. For example, now, let’s take David in Psalm 27, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”
We’re not getting anything of that from this book. It’s all about living your life, and being happy, and successful, on this earth. Now, I grant you that that is part of it. The children of Israel were to have feasts, and to rejoice, and so forth, but that’s not what God really wants us to set our affection on. Jesus said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on this earth. Don’t lay up treasure on this earth, but in heaven.”
And Paul says, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and looking forward to that which is before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
He prays [for] the Ephesians in chapter 1…. He wants them to know the purpose…. This is about this purpose, okay? What are you called for? What is your purpose? And Peter tells us, 1 Peter:5:10, “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory,…after…you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
So, what happened in the Garden? Adam and Eve sinned. Sin is defined as coming short of the glory of God. They were no longer what God wanted them to be. And, what the Bible is about is the redemption I have in Christ Jesus, and then, setting my affection on this, and pointing toward, and giving everything I’ve got, to be more like Christ in this life. And Paul said, “To attain unto the resurrection.” He didn’t mean he was worried whether he would be resurrected. That he might experience the resurrection power of Christ in his life here and now! And, Tom, that’s not what we’re getting.
Tom: Dave, there isn’t any doubt that God loves us beyond our comprehension. I mean sending His Son to die for us, and so forth. Yet, my concern here with Rick, is that he’s throwing these items at us that are not accurate to the character of God. God smiles on this; God smiles on that. We can’t find that in Scripture. “God enjoys watching every detail of our life.” He even says, “God enjoys watching you sleep.” That’s on page 75, Dave. He says, “When you are sleeping, God gazes at you with love, because you were His idea. He loves you as if you were the only person on earth.” Now, where’s the focus there, Dave? It’s on me. It’s on…it makes me feel good about myself, because God loves me so much. Is that scriptural?
Dave: I don’t think so, Tom. And, let’s just go back…let’s see what the Bible says. “He delights in every detail of their lives.”
What does the Bible actually say? This is Psalm:37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord….” Okay? He got that first part of it right. “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.”
But then it says, “And he delighteth in his way.” No…this so-called translation that Rick quotes says, “He delights in every detail of their lives.” Now, every detail of their lives…I mean, some of these people that are reading this book…what are the details of their lives? They’ve never been born-again. They’re living for themselves. And this is a license to “just be me.” “Just make love. Just have babies. Just be successful.” And… “All I’ve got to do is just be a human being, and God is just going smile on me….”
Tom: And be delighted.
Dave: “…and He’d just be pleased with every detail of my life.” Tom! That’s not what the Bible teaches, okay?
Tom: And again, contrary to Rick’s statement at the beginning, “…the book is not about you…” it ends up, page after page, somehow, some way, being about me, and esteeming me, and lifting me up.
Dave, let’s turn to page 79. This is in chapter 10, 79. He writes, “The greatest expression of this is the sacrifice of God’s Son for you. God proves His love…” he’s quoting now a Scripture, “God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” No problem there. But, then he goes on to say, “If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross saying, “I love you this much; I’d rather die than live without you.”
Dave: Tom, I have that highlighted in my copy of the book, with a big “NO” written in the margin. “I’d rather die than live without you.”
Tom, that’s not the message of the Bible. Christ died for our sins. Yes, He loved us so much, He wanted to rescue us from sin, but “…I would rather die than live without you?” I am so important to God that He couldn’t get along without me? I don’t think so. That’s not what the Bible teaches.
Tom: Dave, even if you didn’t go that far, this is still building up self.
Dave: Right, right. It’s filling me with a sense of my self-importance, and that’s not what the love of God is all about. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He rescued us—His mercy and His grace. That ought to humble me.
Tom: And He did it because of who He is, not because of who we are.