HUMAN STRATEGY OR HOLY SPIRIT STRATEGY?
(This article was originally printed in May, 2005)
Throughout the Bible we are given warning not to be deceived or led away with error.
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (II Pet. 3:17).
The Greek word for error, “plan’ay,” means a “straying from orthodoxy” and to “deceive.” The “wicked” refers to those who would misrepresent or twist God’s Word in such a manner to make them condone or excuse their lusts and sinful practices. The subtleness of Rick Warren throughout his books can be deciphered by Believers applying the proper context to the Scriptures he uses. The other undoubtable test of Warren’s misuse of Scripture is his obvious elimination of the Work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with a Believer’s Faith in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. When Jesus Christ was on the Earth, He was led by the Holy Spirit and did only the Will of the Father. Likewise, we as Believers are to be led by the Holy Spirit. He is to give us direction and wisdom.
“And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:2).
TWISTING GOD’S WORD
Throughout his books, Rick Warren will try to make Scriptures apply to worldly principles. We may ask, why has he been successful at promoting his worldly appealing doctrine as scriptural?
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you . . .” (II Pet. 2:3).
Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would tell us what the likes of Warren does, and others do, in order to get money to spend on their own lusts. They will fabricate their own doctrines and false theories through feigned words. In other words, fictitious (false) words designed to deceive by playing on covetousness. The entire “Seeker Sensitive Movement” preys on the “felt needs” of people by trying to satisfy their personal desires or needs. To the unsaved, their personal desires and needs are not in accordance to the Will of God. In the case of Christians, their desires may be good desires given by God. However, if a Believer attempts to satisfy their good desires through any other means than Faith in Christ and the Cross, they may birth an “Ishmael.” For example, Pastors have a desire to see their church grow. To address this concern, Warren offers worldly business marketing techniques and pawns them off as Scriptural. It is not the Pastors place to be overly concerned with the size of their congregations. However, the desire to see souls saved is a good desire, but that does not give the Pastor a license to experiment with or use marketing tools of the world to satisfy his desire to see his church grow.
TARGET THE AUDIENCE OR UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PLAN?
Rick Warren: For your church to be most effective in Evangelism, you must decide on a target, discover what types of people live in your area, decide which of those groups your church is best equipped to reach, and then discover which styles of Evangelism best meet your target (The Purpose Driven Church, pg. 157).
Notice how Warren has reduced people to being spiritual consumers. There is only one message every church should be equipped to give, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified! This must be the foundation and all doctrine must be built upon it.
“According to the Grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:10-11).
Rick Warren: The practice of targeting specific kinds of people for evangelism is a biblical principle for ministry. It is as old as the New Testament. Jesus targeted His ministry. When a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to minister to her demon-possessed daughter, he publicly stated that the Father had told him to focus on the “lost sheep of Israel.” (see Mat. 15:22-28). Although Jesus went ahead and healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter because of her Faith, He publicly identified His ministry target as the Jews. Was Jesus being unfair or prejudiced? Certainly not! Jesus targeted His ministry in order to be effective, not to be exclusive. (The Purpose Driven Church, Pg. 158).
God’s Plan was to first offer Salvation to Israel and then to the Gentiles. This was foretold through prophecy and was confirmed by Jesus Christ and others in the New Testament: John 1:11; Matthew 10:6; Romans 1:16, and then to the Gentiles, Matthew 21:43; John 10:16; Romans 1:16; Romans 9:24-33; Acts 15:13-18; and, Ephesians 3:1-11. The true focus and object lesson of this story is one of Faith. Israel did not exhibit faith in her Messiah yet Jesus would not deny the “great Faith” demonstrated by this humble pagan woman who was not in the Covenant. The story of this woman’s Faith is an example for us to believe God in what would seem to be impossible circumstances by persisting in Faith. There was no occasion here for Jesus to make a “public” declaration of His “target market” since the only audience present was His Disciples and the woman in need. A little contextual study of God’s Word would clarify and expose Warren’s unscriptural errors.
“And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.  For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet” (Mk. 7:24-25).
Everything Jesus Christ did was under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. His “purpose” was to fulfill the law of Moses in His righteous living and then pay the debt of the broken law on our behalf. The Cross was His destiny. It was God’s purpose for us to be found in Christ by our Faith in what He did for us in the Finished Work of the Cross.
“To the intent that now unto the Principalities and Powers in Heavenly Places might be known by the Church the manifold Wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the Faith of Him” (Eph. 3:10-12).
Our “purpose” is to be found “in Him.” Everything the Believer needs, including proper desires, is found “in Him.”
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
When we find Jesus Christ and accept Him we have found our “purpose” in life.
Rick Warren: When Jesus sent His Disciples out on their first evangelistic campaign, He defined the target very specifically: they were to focus on their own countrymen. “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel’” (Mat. 10:5-6).
Most elementary students of the Bible understand Warren’s gross error by his twisting of the Scriptures to support his own theory. The Disciples were commissioned to go to the “Jew” first. It was not time for the Message of Redemption to be taken to the Gentiles. That certainly would follow after the death of Jesus Christ. It was the responsibility and calling of Israel to bring the Message of Hope, of the Messiah, to the world. They rejected Him and the Church would be called to perform the task.
“And He said, It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My Salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).
Prior to the Cross, a Gentile could be saved by becoming a proselyte Jew. When Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead the commission would extend to the world.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE OR MARKETING?
God didn’t give a “strategy to catch fish by recommending to “go where the fish are biting.” Warren would have the followers of his marketing philosophy, “learn to think like fish.” He says:
Rick Warren: “In order to catch fish, it helps to understand their habits, preferences, and feeding patterns. Certain fish like smooth, still waters, and others like to swim in rushing rivers. Some fish are bottom crawlers, and others like to hide under rocks. Successful fishing requires the ability to think like fish. Jesus often knew what believers were thinking (see Mat. 9:4; 12:25; Mk. 2:8; Lk. 5:22; 9:47; 11:17). He was effective in dealing with people because he understood and was able to defuse the mental barriers they held” (The Purpose Driven Church, pg. 188).
Jesus Christ under the complete control of the Holy Spirit would be given the “Word of Knowledge” to know on a few occasions, what people thought.
“ And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:2).
“For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the Words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him” (Jn. 3:34).
In most of these instances it was not to “defuse the mental barriers they held” but rather to discern the evil hearts of religious leaders who questioned His authority and desired to kill Him. In no way or measure can we speculate that Jesus was introducing a “method” or “strategy” on how we are to market Christianity to unbelievers. As I said towards the beginning of this article, the absence of the Holy Spirit’s leading isn’t an issue with Warren. There are numerous examples in the Book of Acts as to how the Spirit of God made known God’s Will on where to evangelize. Here are a few examples of God leading Believer’s and their obedience by Faith to the Will of God:
“And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert” (Acts 8:26).
“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
“And after he had seen the Vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them” (Acts 16:10).
“And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles . . .  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The Will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:11-14).
To further illustrate Rick Warren’s circus of indisputable contradicting errors, let’s examine statements from his book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” On page 10 of the PDL, Warren states, “Jesus was empowered by 40 days in the wilderness.” On page 11 Warren says, “Real spiritual growth is never an isolated, individual pursuit. Maturity is produced through relationships and community.”
Spiritual Growth in a Believer’s life is always done by the working of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual instruction and fellowship don’t produce growth, but should lead one to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone can produce Spiritual Growth. When I read Warren’s statement, the first man who came to my mind was Joseph. I don’t think anyone could honestly say he wasn’t a “solitary” saint. Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and then sold as a slave by them to merchants. The Ishmaelite merchants brought him to Egypt and there sold him to Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh. “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian” (Gen. 39:2). Joseph was in a foreign land separated from other Believers. Joseph grew and developed into a spiritual giant while in a heathen land without the benefit of other Believers. Joseph was properly instructed as a young man to trust God. His unwavering Faith in God sustained him through hardship and imprisonment from the false accusations of Potipher’s wife. Joseph is a perfect example that shows us nothing can separate us from the Love of God. Even though he was removed to a foreign land and suffered persecution, he maintained his Faith in God and grew spiritually. He would mature to become in Egypt the second highest in command, prepared by God, in order to receive his family as God’s provision for their protection.
Another fine example for us to consider in the New Testament is Paul. After Paul’s miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus he did not confer with other Saints, including the Apostles.
“To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were Apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days” (Gal. 1:16-18).
Paul knew his calling and the fruit of his life would testify to the working of the Holy Spirit in his life.
Let’s consider the apostle Mstrong>John who was banished to exile on Patmos. Didn’t he become isolated from other Believers and their relationships found in a church “community”? Are we to surmise he didn’t have Spiritual Growth? Since Warren claims “growth is never isolated or an individualistic pursuit,” John must have made up the Book of Revelation. In all truth, Spiritual Growth is the exact opposite of what Rick Warren claims. Believers are admonished to work out their own Salvation with fear and trembling. We are individually responsible for our own Walk with God and will be rewarded accordingly at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
“For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).
It is an abject insult to God’s Word for Warren to claim, “spiritual growth is never an isolated, individualistic pursuit.” The blood of all the martyred Saints throughout history testify of loneliness and isolation. Many of whom were imprisoned for their testimony of Faith in Jesus Christ and the Cross. Countless souls were stripped of family and church relationship’s because they took a stand against error. Daniel the Prophet refused to bow down and worship the king. He was cast into a den of hungry lions, isolated! While I am at it, what about Jeremiah and Ezekiel? Should we leave out Moses? He spent 40 years in the wilderness on the backside of a desert, separated from his people in Egypt. Does Warren know that God took Enoch out of the world because he had a testimony that would cause his church to kill him, and separated him unto Himself? Pardon the sarcasm but what can and will separate us is truth. Likewise truth is the only place that we can have unity and fellowship and proper relationships. “Noah found Grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). Noah was of pure decent from Adam. He also lived pure in his conduct and walked habitually with God. He was ridiculed and separated from community because of his testimony. Noah proved that doing the Will of God is more important than gaining relationships through tolerance and compromise.
“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22).
SEPARATION, REFINING, AND FRUITFULNESS
The list of Bible testimony’s include Elijah. God would first speak to him when he was unknown to Israel and king Ahab. He would call for a drought by the Word of the Lord and then was instructed to go to the brook Cherith. The Hebrew word Cherith means “separation.” Elijah would learn of God’s provision during the drought at the location God commaned the Ravens to deliver food, Cherith. This would prepare Elijah for his next step of Spiritual Growth. He was to go to a widow in Zarepath. This word means “refining”. God would first separate Elijah to a solitary place and then refine him by being a vessel of blessing to a widow with great Faith. He was prepared by God to meet his destiny at Carmel. Carmel is a place of fruitfulness. He was only fruitful to the community when he drew the line in the sand, so to speak.
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Ki. 18:21).
It would take a true man of a God, separated from the world and refined by God, to stand up for righteousness and tell the people of Israel, to choose who they would serve. A man who would rebuild the broken Altar of God. This is what is so desperately needed today, men and women of God pursuing God with all their hearts, willing to be tried and refined in the fire of God, in order to be made an instrument, usable in the hands of God, which can only be done, by the Believer looking to Christ and the Cross (Heb. 12:2).
This type of Godly growth and dependence on God does not come from a cell group meeting. One does not obtain deeper Spiritual Growth with a partner in a small reading group discussing the reading of “The Purpose Driven Life”, while bouncing ideas off of each other. This ridiculous idea is advised by Warren. It does not come from the Bible.
Rick Warren: With a partner or a small reading group you can discuss what you read and bounce ideas off of each other. This will help you grow stronger and deeper spiritually.
Rick Warren is attempting to remove God’s Plan in dealing with man, to God dealing with community. This new paradigm shift is an old lie of Satan that boosts man’s pride to believe that he can change the world and he can create social unity through solving man’s needs. The failure of the Tower of Babel proves God is not pleased with man’s attempts to build a social world which excludes God. God had one Plan for sinful man. God has one Purpose for sinful man. God has settled it through His Son, Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice for man. If we try to enter in any other way, we are a robber and a thief. Don’t allow Rick Warren, or anyone else, to cause you to become a thief and a robber (Jn. 10:1). The gift of God’s Grace is free.