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.
If you’re new to the program, in our opening segment, we have been reviewing Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. And, at least from a numbers standpoint, at 20 million copies sold, it may be the most influential book outside the Bible in the history of the church.
A week or so ago, Dave, as you remember, Larry King mentioned that—I think it was according to Publisher’s Weekly—that this was the best-selling book in the history of American publishing. Wow!
Tom: Wow! Thirty thousand churches, so far, have participated in 40 Days of Purpose or 40 Days of Community, and thousands more are lining up in 2005 to do the same.
Dave, some people are upset, actually, that we’re even discussing Rick Warren’s book, especially from a critical perspective.
However, Rick himself says that once a person has gone through The Purpose Driven Life, he should go back through it, and then form a discussion group about the book. You’ve been through the book. I’ve been through it a couple of times, and we’re having a discussion about it. So, I don’t see why there’s a problem.
Dave: Well, I think Rick would agree that anything that has been put in print is subject to review by reviewers. I mean, people certainly criticize my books, review them, and so forth. But, in this particular case, you know, the issue is the eternal destiny of souls.
Dave: And that’s what concerns me. I know it concerns you. That’s why we are even talking about this. Can people be led to believe that they’re on their way to heaven, when, in fact, they are not? Well, according to the Bible they can. Jesus was asked by His disciples, “Are there few that be saved?”
Jesus said, “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to life, few there be that find it. Broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” He said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, didn’t we do this and that? And Jesus said, I will say, I never knew you.”
So, maybe there are some criteria that are essential. Paul writes, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.”
Now, there are a number of things about the gospel. First of all, we must believe that Jesus is God. I don’t find that…maybe you did, you’ve gone through the book more carefully than I have. Does he define that Jesus is God?
Tom: Well, Dave, along this line, part of the problem with the book is that you never know quite who Rick is addressing here. If you remember on Larry King Live, he said that the book was written for believers. And, then, he sort of shifted and said, “Well, it’s actually, it’s the purpose…our purpose in life…it’s for everyone.” So, as you go through the book, you don’t know who he’s addressing.
Now, with regard to—no, it’s not defined, in any sense, that a non-believer…somebody who doesn’t know who Jesus is—
Tom: You know…who exactly He is. What exactly did He do?
Dave: The book is very popular with…well, I think I recall one statement: He said, “Almost all football teams, or whatever…”
Tom: That’s another problem. See, you never know from Rick who he’s talking about. He’s talking about corporations, and so on.
Dave: Well, he names some of them.
Tom: But are these…are these Bible studies within those organizations? Or, you know, somehow, I think it may be, but I could be wrong.
Dave: He says that these teams and these corporations are studying his book, and it’s very popular with them, and they love it.
Now, if it is written for Christians, then how do they get in on this? And, I don’t want to repeat myself, Tom, but I mentioned…I guess…a couple of times…the young businesswoman, you know…executive, I was sitting next to on the plane—she loved The Purpose Drive Life! Not a Christian. Did not become a Christian through reading it. Didn’t even have a clue what Christianity was about, because I talked to her, and I gave her the gospel, and I saw her heart open in wonder. And I believe she really believed the gospel at that time. But she did not get that from Rick Warren’s book. Now, the problem is could he be leading people to think that…. well, he says, for example, if I can find the page here…
He says—this is on page 48—now, to whom is he speaking? He says, “Your identity is in eternity, and your homeland is heaven.”
Well, on page 58—that’s ten pages later—for the first time, he asks the reader to pray, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” But he hasn’t explained who this Jesus is.
Dave: He does go on much later in the book. He does say on a later page, he says that Christ—(this is page 86) “When he paid for our sins on the cross, the veil in the temple that symbolized our separation from God was split from top to bottom, indicating that direct access to God was once again available.”
On the other hand, Tom, one of my concerns is “But what does he mean by direct access to God?” It’s almost—in many places—and if you were not a Christian, you would get the idea…in fact, he begins the very first chapter telling you [that] every gene, every atom in your body, the color of your hair, all of it has been planned by God. It’s exactly the way God wants it—so you get the idea that God is sort of watching over us to make us successful in this life.
I don’t read about eternal judgment, punishment, [and] separation from God, in that sense.
Dave: But, rather in the sense of missing out on the wonder of what God wanted you to experience in this life, the success, and so forth.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, again, the book is—Dave, the book is 300-and-some pages long, all right? And, you do find elements spotted throughout that might reinforce what a Christian would know and understand. But for a non-Christian to be able to put it together is, I think, almost impossible.
And, there are some things that are misleading. For example, this is in chapter seven, before he presents a gospel—the sinner’s prayer—he leads somebody, you know…the reader, in a sinner’s prayer…. Back on page 37, he writes, “While life on earth offers many choices, eternity offers only two: heaven or hell.”
Tom: Okay, that’s straightforward.
Tom: “Your relationship to God on earth will determine your relationship to him in eternity.” Now, that’s a bit ambiguous. But then he says, “If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.”
Now, Dave, if I came out of a works-oriented—either religion, or that’s my mentality, to see what I could do for God—I’d be set on a path already thinking there are things that I need to do. This is misleading in regard to the gospel.
Dave: Please, anyone listening out there…we are not trying to be critical of Rick Warren and his book. But we have a concern for souls. Here, he says on page 41, well…he says there are three metaphors, and he gives some humanistic illustrations. He says, “The Bible talks about life is a test.” In fact, he says, “Life on earth is a test. God constantly watches your response to people, to problems,” and so forth. Now, that’s not telling you that you’re lost. It’s not telling you [that] you have to come to Christ as a repentant sinner who’s on his way to hell. And, if you don’t recognize that Jesus is God, who became a man through a virgin birth…didn’t cease to be God. He’s the one and only God and man in one person. Because of this, He paid the full penalty for our sins on the cross. If you don’t realize that, you are lost. But, he doesn’t tell you that…never does quite tell you that. He comes close, but later on, after…listen to what he says, “Life on earth is a test.” Okay? So, God is testing me. “Life on earth is a trust. At the end of your life on earth, you will be evaluated and rewarded.”
Now, is he writing to Christians, or non-Christians? And what does this really mean? You see? So, I think you could come out of reading this book with a very humanistic understanding. This is a success manual. And, again, this woman next to me, that’s how she viewed it. It must be how NFL teams, corporations, and so forth—why is it so popular?
Because I can get God on my side. Life is a test…Life is a trust. You know? And, I just live up to this and I do my best. I live a good life. I love God. I learn to love Jesus, although, I haven’t really been told exactly who this Jesus is. To many people, He’s a very inspiring character. And He showed His devotion to His principles. His ideals, by being willing to die for them. And He died in our place. Tom, I’m concerned….
Dave: …that millions of people are reading this, and are not getting the gospel, but in fact, they’re coming to false conclusions about going through a test, and so forth, on this earth. Every gene in their body was planned by God. They’re exactly what He wanted them to be, and we get a quote from one of these paraphrases that “every day, every moment of every day of your life has been planned by God.” Well, then, Tom, that undermines the very purpose of this Purpose Driven Life book.
Tom: Right. It’s fatalistic, as you said on past programs.
Dave: Yeah. If God has planned every moment, then what is the point?
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, let’s go to chapter seven, and on page 58, because as I said, for somebody reading this book—they’ve gone through six chapters already. We’re going to go back and look at some of those, but right now, we’re concentrating on the gospel.
So, a person gets to page 58, and here they’re given an opportunity to receive—this person who’s going to help them fulfill their purpose in life, right?
So, on page 58 it starts, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ.” Now, for a believer, for somebody who’s known the Lord for a while, they would say, “Yes, and amen.” But for somebody, who doesn’t understand, this hasn’t been explained and this is our concern.
Dave: How would a believer take this? Well, a believer would take it as, “Well, I believe in Jesus and I’ve said it. You know, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I really haven’t been living for Him as I should.”
Now, real life will come when I really surrender to the Lord; surrender to His will, and I put everything else aside, and I say, “Lord Jesus, I’m just going to live totally for you.” That’s how a believer would get it.
Dave: Now, how would an unbeliever get it?
Tom: Well, following what I just quoted, he says, “If you are not sure you have done this…” so, we’re talking about, at least, call it the un-churched, or, you know, somebody that’s lost and…
Tom: …an unbeliever, “…All you need to do is receive and believe.” What does that mean? “The Bible promises, ‘To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’ Will you accept God’s offer?”
Well, that’s appealing, I would say, if you understood what this is all about, which hasn’t been presented.
Now, let’s go through what he says to do. Rick says over and over again, this is not a how-to book and so on. Dave, there are 600-and-some reviews of The Purpose Driven Life on Amazon.com and over and over, everybody refers to it as a self-help book. So…Rick’s missing something here. But anyway, he begins, “First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes.” Again, this is necessary for receiving Christ. Is that the case?
“…And he made you for his purposes. Believe you’re not an accident.”
Dave: I don’t find that in the gospel. Paul gives us the gospel [in] 1 Corinthians 15: “This is the gospel I preach to you that you believed, where you stand, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures….”
Now, that includes an awful lot, Tom. That includes everything the Bible has to say about who Jesus is, what He became, why we need Him as our Savior. And we’re not…
Dave: …we’re not getting that here. “Believe and receive….”
Tom: Dave, in past programs, over the years we’ve been encouraging people, going to the Scriptures, to get understanding.
Tom: To understand. I mean, how can you accept something that has to do with your eternal destiny, if you don’t really understand it? And this isn’t helping the situation. He says, “Believe you’re not an accident.” We don’t find that. “Believe you were made to last forever.” Is that part of the criteria that I need for this? “Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you.” Well, why would He have done that? Again, I’m thinking about this as a nonbeliever. I don’t know why He would have done that.
Dave: If He has chosen me, then it’s going to happen, isn’t it?
Tom: Yeah. Well, “Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you.” I think that’s fine.
Tom: “Second, receive.”
Now, first of all, what have I believed? What have I understood? And, now I’m going to receive. “Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior.”
Again, believers who have understood the gospel, they’re going to read into this. They know things. They presume and assume certain things about this that a nonbeliever wouldn’t. “Receive his Spirit, who will give you….”
Dave: Well, wait a minute. “Receive his forgiveness for your sins.”
Tom: Very good. Okay? “Receive his Spirit….”
Dave: On what basis? How does He forgive me for my sins? Just because He wants to forgive me—I mean, even Allah, supposedly, will forgive those whom he desires to forgive.
Dave: So, what is the basis for God forgiving me? Now, Paul argues this in the Book of Romans, for example. Chapter 3: “How can a just God forgive sinners?” Big question. Only because Christ paid the full penalty. He suffered in my place. He took the penalty that His infinite justice required for sin.
Tom: And, Dave, that’s the key. Divine justice is never laid out here, so you don’t know why Jesus—you know, as it goes on to say, “…the forgiveness for your sins,” as he said—on what basis? A person doesn’t understand it.
Dave: What does that mean? If I weren’t forgiven, what would be the penalty? I would lead a less successful life? I don’t know.
Tom: Yeah. Now, here’s where it takes a problematic turn. We have been characterizing the book in the time we’ve been talking about it as humanistic, self-oriented.
Tom: And for somebody who objects to that, we would just encourage them, as you go through the book, look at all of—even though Rick starts out on the first page, and he says in the first chapter, on the first page, “This is not about you,” you find continually throughout the book it is about you.
Dave: Well, of course, it’s all about the person. It’s about finding the purpose for their life.
Dave: I don’t understand how he could say that, or what he means by that.
Tom: And here’s how that—he even introduces that into the gospel. He says, “Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose.” And, then, he compounds the error by quoting The Message. And, our listeners know our great concerns about that so-called translation, the paraphrase by Eugene Petersen.
“The Bible says, I’m quoting from The Message [Rick is quoting from The Message] ‘Whosoever accepts and trusts his Son gets in on everything….’” Dave!
“…Life complete and forever!” Dave!
Dave: You would get the idea that it would be a fulfilling life here and now. Of course, everyone wants that—success, and this is why the corporations want it, and so forth.
But, Jesus said, “The world will hate you.” He doesn’t promise success in this world. And I don’t find anything about finding out what my purpose is, as though I had one purpose. And I have to go through this book in order to find my purpose.
Tom: Forty days.
Dave: Yeah, I’ve got to spend 40 days on it, and I’ve got to work at this. Finally, I find out my purpose in life. Now, I wonder how people knew their purpose—because Rick says, “This is the most important thing” is to know your purpose. Now, how did they find their purpose before this book came along? How did Paul find out his purpose in life? It isn’t biblical, Tom.
Dave: I’m not saying that Rick doesn’t mean well. He’s trying to help people—
Dave: I believe he really is sincere.
Tom: But, Dave, as we’re going to see in the next few weeks in our program as we go over this, he introduces methodologies, techniques…
Tom: …self-help kinds of things that…
Tom: …in our estimation, draw you away from God’s true purpose for your life. They don’t supplement it, or direct you toward it, in our view. Now, Dave, we have to finish up with this gospel here.
Dave: Mm-sav hmm.
Tom: After he quotes The Message, “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!” He says, “Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and receive you.’ Go ahead,” he writes.
Is that it?
Dave: Well, Tom, Paul in Acts:16:31, the Philippian jailer cries out, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved….”
Now, I can’t tell a person to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, unless he knows who Jesus Christ is. In other words, it doesn’t entail just believing there was someone named Jesus Christ, and if I just believe that there was someone named Jesus Christ, who was a historical character, I just believe in him, he will save me.
Obviously, they’ve been singing hymns, they’ve been preaching the gospel to the prisoners… the Philippian jailer has heard the whole story of who Jesus is. They wouldn’t say “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” if they hadn’t explained who Christ is, and why this man needed to be saved.
Tom: And, Dave, can I just add to that? And they wouldn’t say, “He’s the one who’s going to get you in on everything, life complete and forever.” You know, there’s no appeal to the flesh here.
Dave: Well, there’s eternal life. That’s for sure.
Tom: (laughing) Okay.
Dave: But, but…
Tom: But, you know what I’m getting at.
Dave: Right. This is not promised to the Philippian jailer. It’s not promised to anyone else.
So, Tom, what are we saying? Well, we’re saying that here we have the most popular book that has ever been written. Apparently, selling a million copies a month! That’s going to add another 12,000,000 at the end of the next year, if it keeps up that way, and it seems to be keeping up.
Jesus said, “Broad is the road that leads to destruction.” I’m not saying that on that criteria alone, it seems a bit suspect, but at the end of His life—Jesus spent a number of years on this earth—at the end of His life, He was crucified. He was hated. There seemed to be 500 brethren—at least, there were 500 to whom He appeared. But some of them doubted, even then. There were 120 on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said, “You’re not going to be popular.” Then, if we have a Jesus who is so popular, we have a way of salvation, supposedly, being offered that is so popular, Tom, let me say it again, like I’ve said it many times. If someone would come running up to Jesus and say, “Lord, I’ll follow you where ever you go,” Jesus didn’t say, “Peter, sign him up quick. James, get him in the choir. John, make a deacon out of him.” Jesus said, “Are you sure you really want to follow me? Let me tell you, the foxes have holes; birds of the air have nests. I don’t have anywhere to lay my head. Now, if you want to follow me, I’m going to end up here on this earth at a hill called Calvary, outside Jerusalem, and they’re going to nail me to a cross. If you want to follow me, pick up your cross, right now, because that’s where we’re going.”
Now, that’s not popular. That’s not going to sell 20 million copies. And that is one of the major things that concerns me. Is Rick being true to Jesus Christ and to the gospel? And are these people who are reading this, and praying this prayer, are they really becoming Christians, or are they being deceived?
Tom: Right. And, Dave, we have seen this time and time again. I’ve been in large churches where an altar call was given and the question I had in my mind…Wait a minute! This was an emotional appeal. Why are these people going forward? I have not heard the gospel. That’s our concern.
After Rick presents this, he says, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations!”
Well, I don’t know what they could have understood thus far, in his book, to receive the God of our salvation.
Dave: Tom, this is on page 58, and they did not get the gospel up to page 58. I can tell you that, for sure. Sadly, that’s true.