GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND
The Apostle Paul declared:
'even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind [to] all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness...[They are] haters of God...inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents...without natural affection...who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death...do the same, [and] have pleasure in them that do them' (Romans 1v28-32).
Today we see the evil foretold for 'the last days' (2 Timothy 3v1-7), through godless 'lifestyles' popularized through the media. The promotion of every form of rebellion against God is not even done in the dark, as in the days of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8v8-18), but can be seen in blasphemous filth such as 'The Jerry Springer Opera' (currently proposed to be 'touring' the UK in the near future after being screened by the immoral vehicle that is now the BBC - using fees paid by the Christians of the country!). Equally tragically, Christian denominations allow God-dishonouring 'priesthoods' to attempt to promote perverts to positions of authority - as the recent appearances on TV (on the laughable 'Heaven and Earth' show) and in Anglican meetings of 'Bishop' Gene Robinson exemplifies. That these edifices tolerate those already known to promote lifestyles contrary to the Word of God proves their 'consciences have been seared as with a hot iron' (1 Timothy 4v2). As a result, just as in the days of the corrupt sons of Eli, the 'priests' Hophni and Phinehas who died at the hands of the Philistines when they thought the ark of the covenant would save them (1 Samuel 4), the Holy Spirit has deserted many denominations whose people are in love with the world, rather than in love with their God (1 Timothy 6v6-10):
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Incredibly, the majority of the church has learned little from the example of Israel who joined in the Baal worship and every form of entertainment of her day. Even in the days before the Babylonian captivity, when God sent His prophets - Isaiah, Nahum, Amos, and Hosea - to warn Israel and Judah of her errors, they continued to indulge in the sins of the surrounding nations. Scripture is clear that God is patient, slow to anger and not willing that anyone should perish under His judgment (Psalm 103v8; Nahum 1v3; 2 Peter 3v9). Yet even the patience of God has its limits. He will not allow sin to go unchecked forever and, sooner or later, He will deal with evil and those who commit it and, when He does, His wrath will come swiftly (Genesis 19v24; 2 Peter 3v10).
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FEAR OF A HOLY GOD'S WRATH AGAINST SIN?
THOUSANDS HAVE FALLEN FOR ROBERT SCHULLER'S HERETICAL 'CHURCH GROWTH MOVEMENT' GOSPEL
How is the church in the UK reacting to all of these horrors in our own midst? By and large in the way she has followed for a large number of years. To attract corrupted believers, and the ignorant, she mimics the world in so-called 'seeker-friendly' and 'youth-oriented' services that exploit sensuality and compromise the truth. So much of contemporary Christian music is mere mimicry of the rock-concert so that the world is now in the church, rather than the church going out to the world. The trend in many of the most mimicked churches is to attempt to design services based upon what the ungodly seek. Whatever happened to fear of a holy God's wrath against sin? (Psalm 36v1; Romans 3v18; 2 Corinthians 7v1). Repentance, and acceptance of faith in Christ, the eternal God who became man through the Virgin Birth to suffer the full penalty of God's judgment in our place, has been replaced with the world's philosophy. 'Seeker-friendly' churches must not 'offend' with the Truth, but pamper with the flattering 'gospel' of self-esteem, self-love, and positive thinking - a 'gospel' that cannot save. As Paul foretold, 'they will not endure sound doctrine...' (2 Timothy 4v3). Creating large, rich churches is not new. Just as the Roman Catholic Church grew out of a marriage between the Roman world and the church to form a pale imitation of true Christianity, the insufficiently reformed Protestant churches are merging with the 'new paganism' in today's culture. Today's world doesn't need more entertainment and 'positive' messages assuring the 'hurting' that God loves, forgives, 'accepts them as they are,' heals their 'inner child,' and has an exciting plan for their lives. Mankind needs the changeless convicting truth that leads sinners to repentance and salvation. God's holy character has not changed; the separation between man and God caused by sin - and the judgment to come - have not changed; nor has God's remedy in Christ been outdated and revised. On these basic facts the Bible is clear and uncompromising.
RICK WARREN - A GRADUATE FROM SCHULLER'S INSTITUTE!
The father of the 'church growth movement' was the relatively unknown Donald McGavran. His best known student, and successor, at the Fuller School of World Mission in California was C. Peter Wagner, a founding member of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization. Wagner, a close friend of the late John Wimber (Vineyard), calls himself an apostle and is one of the world's leading promoters of charismatic 'signs and wonders.' From Fuller Seminary the church growth philosophy spread worldwide through modern church growth techniques popularised through Robert Schuller who claims: 'An undisputed fact is that I am the founder, really, of the church-growth movement in this country ... I advocated and launched what has become known as the marketing approach in Christianity.' (G.A. Pritchard, Willow Creek Seeker Services, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996, p. 51). He claims that: 'The secret of winning unchurched people into the church is really quite simple. Find out what would impress the non-churched in your community [then give it to them]' (ibid.). Should Schuller be followed by Christians? He is an unashamed universalist who rejects Jesus as the only way to heaven.
Schuller wrote Your Church Has Real Possibilities (1975), a book which impressed Warren and Hybels so much that they apparently visited the writer to learn more. Incredibly, Hybels called his first meeting with Schuller a 'divine encounter' (Lynne & Bill Hybels, Rediscovering Church, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, p. 69) - a good sign of the spiritual naiveté of the man. Warren's wife, Kay, claims that Schuller had a 'profound influence' on Rick, who was 'captivated by his positive appeal to unbelievers' (Tim Stafford, A Regular Purpose Driven Guy, Christianity Today, 18.11.02, Vol 46, No. 12, p. 4). A mutual connection was clearly made, as Warren shared the platform at several of Schuller's leadership conferences and received an endorsement by Schuller at the beginning of his book, The Purpose Driven Church: 'I'm praying that every pastor will read this book ... Rick Warren is the one all of us should listen to and learn from.' So Warren, Hybels and Schuller all direct their churches on the same market-driven principles. Thousands have now fallen for Robert Schuller's heretical gospel which declares, 'We have to find God in our own way...' (Larry King Live, 12/19/98). Schuller claims we should 'Believe in the God Who Believes in You' (Thomas Nelson Publishers). By contrast, Jesus certainly never taught that man was anything but a sinner in need of a Redeemer and the apostle Paul declared that he had 'no confidence in the flesh' (Philippians 3v3) - so how can we have confidence that God believes in us? Whereas the Bible declares that 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' (1 Timothy 1v15), Schuller claims that 'attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition' is an 'unchristian strategy' which is 'destructive [and] counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise...' (Christianity Today, 10/5/84) - and the 'new birth' (John 3v3) simply means changing from 'a negative to a positive self-image'.
Like the father with the 'prodigal son' (Luke 15v11-32), a gracious God is ever eager to embrace repentant sinners. But His holiness and justice allow pardon only for those who accept the blood of Christ poured out upon the Cross on their behalf. We must preach the gospel everywhere to everyone (Mark 16v15). It must be believed for anyone to be saved from eternal separation from God: 'the gospel of Christ ... is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth' (Rom 1v16); 'there is none other name...whereby we must be saved (Acts 4v12); 'what must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ...' (Acts 16v30,31). The warning is solemn and clear: 'he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him' (John 3v36). We are commanded to 'preach the word...reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine ' (2 Tim 4v2). God's Word is the foundation of our faith - yet that foundation is being undermined.
WE ARE NOT ROBOTS WHO DO EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS GOD DECREED
Parts of the contemporary church have swallowed the latest version of Schuller's teachings presented by Rick Warren - a graduate from Schuller's Institute! Thousands of pastors, desperate to build large and successful churches, are following his methods and millions read his books. As in all deception, there is some sound advice in his books: The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life. He seemingly supports each point in his books with 'nearly a thousand quotations from Scripture' (Life, p. 325). However, the 'scriptures' he quotes are speculative paraphrases from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson (NavPress)! Whereas the Bible declares that: 'Every word of God is pure' (Proverbs 30v5), and we 'live...by every word of God' (Luke 4v4), and are 'born again...by the word of God...which by the gospel is preached...' (1 Peter 1v23-25), the source used by Warren, The Message, shares the attributes of many other paraphrases and substitutes man's thoughts for God's words. A clear feature of Warren's work is therefore the 'interpretation' he applies to passages of Scripture. But these are often very poor 'interpretations' of the original languages with the strained 'meaning' being used as major support for his thesis.
Thus John 3v17, which tells us 'that the world through him might be saved,' is watered down to: 'He came to help, to put the world right again.' Whereas 'saved' is recognised in the orthodox interpretation as redemption from the judgment we deserve for our sins, and we are made fit for heaven, 'to help' gives the dreadfully false impression that Christ merely assists our efforts, whereas the Bible teaches that our efforts are absolutely without any merit whatsoever! The final part of the paraphrase: 'to put the world right again' sounds like some kind of social or political reform! Paraphrases too often rewrite Scripture in their attempt to make the message more understandable and, apart from misleading well-meaning Christians, the verses are promptly seized upon by cults, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, in their desperate attempts to find support for their heresies. God's Word has such incredible depth that even the most mature Christian finds some verses difficult. Remember, Peter said that in Paul's epistles were 'some things hard to be understood...' (2 Peter 3v16). Truly, the 'deep things of God' are only revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2v10), not by 'simplifying' God's Word.
Equally seriously, The Purpose Driven Life never presents the Biblical gospel, which alone saves. Readers are told to 'learn to love and trust God's Son, Jesus' (p. 37); that if they 'have a relationship with God through Jesus,' they needn't fear death (p. 40); that 'your identity is in eternity, and your homeland is heaven' (p. 48); and that 'Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe' (p. 58). None of the essential elements of the gospel - that man is a sinner under God's judgment, that Christ is God and man through Virgin Birth, that He paid the penalty for our sins, that He was resurrected on the third day - is given (1 Corinthians 15v1-4). Readers are offered 'friendship' with God through believing in a 'Christ' who went to the cross because He 'would rather die than live without us' (p. 79)! This is not the gospel, yet ignorant and naive church leaders the world over are embracing Warren's methodology to try and bolster their flagging congregations, or to try and match the 'mega-churches' of the USA! A church leader in Cardiff wrote in this way to encourage 'home fellowship groups':
'We may like Rick Warren's style of writing, or we may dislike and criticise, but The Purpose Driven Life is certainly causing many of us to explore subjects that can only be good for our spiritual development. The exciting thing about this book is that it allows us to discuss some important subjects, such as worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. We may not all agree with the way things are written, but please don't let this stop you from reading the book. Use your questions as springboards for discussion within your Home Group, and you may be surprised at what others have to say'.
What does this say about the state of Biblical ignorance in the church? Do we need some vehicle to cause us to explore the source of all our spiritual development - the Bible, as inspired by the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3v16)? Is it wise to examine something that is in any way counterfeit in order to prove where the truth lies? Remember the classic illustration used by expositors for the truth: in banks, those who have to identify counterfeit bank notes are trained by continuously examining only genuine notes! They become so familiar with the real thing that, when they come into contact with counterfeit notes, the counterfeit quickly becomes obvious. So why, why, why - is the church turning to Warren's work to try and evangelise or bring about church growth? Jesus said it is the Holy Spirit who would 'lead us into all truth' (John 16v13)? Is He no longer good enough? And don't dream for a moment that you can suggest the Spirit has in way inspired Warren to produce such a hopelessly flawed work! That would be an appalling blasphemy.
WHAT ARE THE METHODS USED?
Warren asserts that our genetic makeup, physical features, talents, personality, the details of our daily life, etc., are exactly what God foreordained: 'God prescribed every single detail of your body....He planned it all for his purpose...' (pp. 22, 23) and: 'You're just what he wanted to make' (p. 25). This fatalistic view is justified by Warren's use of another paraphrase of the Word of God from The Living Bible which renders Psalm 139v16: 'You [God]...scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.' We are not robots who do everything exactly as God decreed. Rather, the cumulative effects of man's sinful rebellion have created a damaged gene pool resulting in humans who are not as God intended. Humans who can't help but follow the pattern of the first man, Adam. Has Warren ever tried to explain to someone born mentally or physically handicapped that God intended them to be born exactly like that? This is akin to Islamic fatalism rather than Christianity. Warren makes it sound as if every sinful thought and deed of man was planned by God - which is patently untrue! Men are not sinners but puppets if everything is exactly what God has decreed.
Paul gave Timothy the instruction to 'preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching' (2 Timothy 4v2). Paul spoke (v1) of Christ Jesus as the one who will 'judge the living and the dead' and made clear the seriousness of his adjuration: 'I give you this charge'. This one word in Greek (diamartyromai), often translated, 'I adjure,' or 'I solemnly charge', has the weight of a legal affirmation'. Timothy is told that his thinking must be controlled, not just by the present life, but also by the coming judgment and the eternal kingdom of Christ. The basic instruction of verse 2 is to 'preach ['herald, proclaim'; Greek: keryxon] the Word.' The preacher is not to air his own opinions, but to proclaim God's eternal, authoritative Word of truth. 'Be prepared' is the verb ephistemi, which means 'be ready, be on hand.' The minister has to be on duty constantly ('seasonably, opportunely, when the opportunity occurs, ready for any emergency'): 'In season and out of season' (Greek: eukairos akairos). In addition to preaching the Word, Timothy is to 'correct' (elenxon, 'convict, reprove'), 'rebuke' (epitimeson, 'censure, admonish'), and 'encourage' (parakaleson, which also means 'comfort' and 'exhort'). But he is to do these things with great 'patience' (makrothymia, 'longsuffering') and careful 'instruction' (didache, the act of teaching). And it must all be done in patience and love. How different is this careful instruction inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3v16) from the sloppy handling of the Word taught and encouraged by Rick Warren and his followers!
Timothy is warned (v3) that the time will come when men will not 'put up with (anexontai, `endure' or `listen to') sound doctrine' (hygiainouses didaskalias). This is a key phrase of the pastoral Epistles (cf. 1 Timothy 1v10) and occurs again in Titus 1v9; 2v1. Timothy's major responsibility in Ephesus was to defend and proclaim sound doctrine. He must do this constantly, since the time would come when people would not listen to the truth. Instead, 'to suit their own desires' (epithymias, 'evil desires'v 3v6) 'they will gather around them' (episoreusousi, literally 'heap together') teachers 'to say what their itching ears want to hear' (knethomenoi ten akoen, 'itching in their ears').
When the commandment of God is to take such care, why does Warren so often avoid the issue of repentance, sin, separation from God, the cross, and other biblical teachings of the Gospel? And why the regular appeal to the things sinful man wants to hear - that he is not a sinner in need of a Saviour? Even the opening 'Purpose Driven' survey, used in the USA, questions the unchurched about the things their nearby place of worship might offer that would motivate them to attend. Can you imagine Jesus inviting His listeners to ask such a question? What caused a large number of people to seek after Jesus? They asked for 'a sign'! And His reply?
Matthew 12v39: But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas ... (cf. Matthew 16v1-4; Mark 8v12; Luke 11v16, 29-30; John 2v18; 6v26-40)
If you read the comprehensive discussion Jesus had with the unbelieving 'sign seekers' in John 6v26-40 you will see that His answer to their question, 'What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?' was 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent' (v28-29).
How come the contemporary church can 'dilute' the major thrust of the Gospel of Christ by suggesting that other paths than 'belief' in Jesus can lead (eventually) to salvation? Of course, this is the hope of those who follow such as 'Purpose Driven' gospels. Get the folks to church and some will (eventually) hear the gospel and believe. In human theory this could work. But those who present this idea forget the rest of the passage in John 6v35-40:
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
If those 'lured' into fellowship with genuine Christians by 'seeker-friendly' invitation are not those 'given' to Jesus by the Father, i.e., not in His will to come to Christ (and who might even be enemies of the true Gospel of Christ), then, hard as it will be for Warrenites to accept, all you are doing is weakening the church by inviting tares in! In saying this we are not, for one moment, having any truck with hyper-Calvinistic views that the 'non-predestined' should never hear the Word of God lest they think Christ is addressing them, but inviting them to fellowship with believers under false pretenses is un-Biblical! Regarding the nature of 'believers' now being attracted to the church by such methods the evidence from the USA, via data from George Barna, reveals that the end-times worldwide apostasy continues to create progressively weaker or counterfeit 'believers.'
Yes, the stated goal of 'Purpose Driven' (seeker-friendly) churches is reaching the lost - which is both Biblical and praiseworthy. But are the methods used to try and achieve that goal truly Biblical? If they are not they simply will not 'produce' Christians. How did Warren come up with marketing as a method for reaching the lost when it has to do with 'profiling' consumers, determining what their 'felt needs' are - and then fashioning your product, or its image, to appeal to the targeted customer's desires. Hopefully, the consumer will buy, or 'buy into' your product. George Barna is one spokesman who encourages 'evangelical' church-growth leaders to believe that the marketing approach can be applied in our market-driven society without compromising the gospel.
(Continued on page 197)