IS IT TRUE? THAT ONE CANNOT BE BIBLICAL AND RELEVANT AT THE SAME TIME
August 2020 - This article was reprinted in its entirety from the June 2013 issue of The Evangelist.
In a recent issue of his “Ministry Toolbox,” Rick Warren made a shocking indictment against the Word of Almighty God! Warren states: “It’s easy to be biblical if you don’t care about being relevant. It’s easy to be relevant if you don’t care about being biblical.” No, your eyes weren’t playing tricks; you did just read what you thought you read. Rick Warren just arrogantly called the Everlasting Word of the Living God “irrelevant” to our time! Yet, in his usual sly and devilish fashion, Warren always has a clever explanation for his blasphemous statements. This time he “explains” that it is the job of the preacher to “build a bridge between the ancient text and the contemporary audience,” in order to be both biblical and relevant. But, wait a minute! If you are Biblical, you are automatically relevant! If you are a Biblical church, you are automatically a relevant church! “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts . . .” (Mal. 3:6-7).
FAILING TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH THE WORLD
You see, what actually occurs during Warren’s indoctrinating lesson is that the message he truly intends to communicate is simply placed in a subliminal position while his fluff and puff occupies the active thoughts of the poor sheep. Do not be distracted! The entire goal is to keep your conscious mind busy, so that you fail to notice the overall message that’s being spoken to your spirit. And, like the serpent’s bogus claim in the garden, it is a message which brings doubt to God’s Word. “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace” (Jer. 50:6). If there is anything we do know about the present-day generation, it is that we are used to learning subconsciously. Television and movies, for example, entertain our thoughts with intriguing characters and/or dramatic events while teaching our subconscious the politically-correct ethics of the day. Since this tactic worked so well in the secular world, Rick Warren must have assumed it would give him the outcomes he desired in his “purpose-driven” church. He was right! The people have become so engrossed in solving the problems of the world they do not notice they are failing to share the Gospel with the world!
THE WORD OF GOD IS ALWAYS RELEVANT
You see, Warren’s fluff often begins with a dilemma that he plans to teach you how to solve. But, pay close attention. The dilemma is usually false. It is not usually a conflict that exists in true ministry in the first place. In this particular article, Warren said: “The best metaphor for preaching is bridge-building . . . On one side of the bridge is then [the ancient text]. On the other side is now [the contemporary audience].” Warren assumes that people today will automatically struggle trying to understand Scripture because it was written in an ancient culture. First of all, God does not view time in the same way we do. He is the Alpha and Omega and, therefore, knows the end from the beginning at all times. He actually views things outside of time. So, God is not the least bit worried that His Word is claimed by some to be outdated. He already knew it would not be! Time does not change the relevance of the Scripture! Furthermore, the nature of the Gospel is spiritual, not social. There can be no cross-cultural misunderstands when Biblical understandings are spiritual. The spirit world does not change with culture. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever . . . But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (I Pet. 1:23, 25).
PREACHING THE CROSS
In contrast to Warren’s inconsequential separation between the past and the present, the Bible talks about a separation that matters, the kind that is humanity’s real problem. This separation is not between ancient and modern environments, but between God and sinful man. On one side is man. On the other side is God. The true preacher of the Gospel has the task of pointing out The Bridge (Christ and Him Crucified), not building a bridge! Nowhere does Scripture tell preachers they are responsible for connecting people with God’s Truth. The preacher is simply the messenger. Getting the Truth inside a person’s heart is the Holy Spirit’s job! Spiritual revelation has to be accomplished spiritually. Thus, Rick Warren’s “solution” to the fabricated crisis also negates the work of the Holy Spirit! Ladies and gentleman, this is not preaching the Cross! Preaching the Cross allows the Holy Spirit to work. Rick Warren also muddies the water with these statements: “The message never changes . . . But the methods have to change with every generation. Otherwise you’re not being faithful to the intent of the Bible.” But, if this were true, why didn’t God give us those methods for future generations? Why are we supposed to blindly follow the ideas of Rick Warren, a mere man? Warren then proceeds to give us 4 Steps he thinks will help preachers make Truth relevant to today’s generation, but these 4 Steps are not found in Scripture either! Why? The reason, again, is because this job belongs to the Holy Spirit. It is not visible to the physical eye. Now, who is the one “not being faithful to the intent of the Bible”? The psalmist said, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the Word which he commanded to a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8).
THE WORD OF GOD
The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books written over a period of about sixteen hundred years by forty different authors. Among its authors was a wide variety of social class and background, including a fisherman, a shepherd, kings, prophets, and priests, but most importantly, it was the same Holy Spirit which inspired each writer. In essence, the Lord had men record His Word over time, but The Word existed with God, as part of God, before time began. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). Quoting from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE: “Knowing this first (harks back, as stated, to the Old Testament, which, in effect, was the Bible of Peter’s day), that no Prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. (This refers to the fact that the Word of God did not originate in the human mind.) For the Prophecy (the word ‘Prophecy’ is used here in a general sense, covering the entirety of the Word of God, which means it’s not limited merely to predictions regarding the future) came not in old time by the will of man (did not originate with man): but Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (This proclaims the manner in which the Word of God was written and, thereby, given unto us.)” (II Pet. 1:20-21).
THE DIVINELY APPOINTED SAVIOR
The Bible, despite having sixty-six books, is really one outstanding story, one predominant theme – The Redemption of Mankind through a Divinely Appointed Savior! Because all the human authors were under the direction of one Author, the Holy Spirit, there is perfect unity throughout all Books of the Scripture even though there is a mingling of history, biography, and doctrine. The Bible’s Story, which produces this perfect unity, has for its foundation a Theme that has never failed! Its plan is well known! Its success and influence have been sensational! Its witness has been true! In the very beginning of Scripture we are told that man was separated from his Creator because a lie of Satan caused him to sin against God. Satan, by the way, has remained consistent in his attempts to prevent reconciliation between man and God to this day. But, Scripture then clearly informed us that Satan was defeated by Jesus Christ when He made the Ultimate Sacrifice that would deliver the human race! The Bible goes on to give us a picture of the ultimate destruction of Satan while the redeemed will be eternally united to God, living in a New Eden that shall never pass away! Hallelujah!
THE INERRANT WORD OF GOD
The Plan of Redemption found in Scripture is the Truth that satisfies both the human heart and the human mind. The Story and Plan of Redemption find their center in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, His Cross bringing life to all who believe! It is always Jesus to Whom all Scripture points. It is Jesus Who brings perfect unity to the varied stories and subject matter of the Bible. The Great Author assigned different portions of this same Story to different writers without necessarily letting them see or understand the Plan in its completeness. The Story’s full purpose and detail were not always shown to them, but they were faithful men who wrote down the inspired words of God without question or hesitation. They did not presume they would understand every detail immediately and try to fill in the blanks with their own ideas and plans, but they believed and trusted in a God who would reveal more to them as they sought Him above all other things! Where are such men of faith in the church today? The Bible has also taught us that Redemption is not canceled out by our outward failures. It is actually in the depths of our adversity and defeat when God’s Plan of Redemption asserts itself most clearly, and it is never more confident of victory than when the cause of the Kingdom of God seems hopelessly lost. We do not have to make the Gospel relevant; we just have to believe that it is! Christianity takes faith, not clever application techniques and “bridge-building” strategies! Luke asked, “. . . Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the Earth?” (Lk. 18:8).
THE ETERNAL WORD
We also learned that the great Truth of Redemption was sealed up, so to speak, in one nation – Israel, which was for a time the center of God’s Plan and the custodian of His Truth. But when the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Redemption Truth was given to the whole world and now “whosoever will,” may come. Praise God! Now I would like to ask Mr. Rick Warren and others like him what part of this story and plan is not relevant to today? The Bible is as old as yesterday and as modern as tomorrow. It never changes! God never changes! What was spoken by God in the past is still Truth today! What man tries to do is change the Truth with his babble, which is exactly what’s happening in today’s churches! Do they not realize God knew there would be a twenty-first century? They should! Perhaps then they might realize God directly addressed this modern church and its unfaithful leadership! The Lord knew these “preachers” would try to say that the Bible is no longer relevant for this day and time. He knew deceivers of this sort would try to pervert His Word. And, not only did He know, but He warned us about them repeatedly in His Word: “Now the Spirit (Holy Spirit) speaks expressly (pointedly), that in the latter times (the times in which we now live, the last of the last days, which begin the fulfillment of Endtime Prophecies) some shall depart from the Faith (anytime Paul uses the term ‘the Faith,’ in short he is referring to the Cross; so, we are told here that some will depart from the Cross as the means of Salvation and Victory), giving heed to seducing spirits (evil spirits, i.e., ‘religious spirits,’ making something seem like what it isn’t), and doctrines of devils (should have been translated, ‘doctrines of demons’; the ‘seducing spirits’ entice Believers away from the true Faith, causing them to believe ‘doctrines inspired by demon spirits’); Speaking lies in hypocrisy (concerns the teachers of these ‘doctrines of demons,’ which pertain to anything that leads one away from the Cross); having their conscience seared with a hot iron (refers to the fact that these deceivers are not acting under delusion, but deliberately and against conscience)” (I Tim. 4:1-2; notes from The Expositor’s Study Bible).
God knew even before He sent His Son and His Word that false prophets in this twenty-first century would try to lead people away from the Faith. By using various perverted translations of Scripture they have made the Bible say what they wanted it to say rather than what it really says. Some such translations include the “Message Bible,” and the “New Century Version,” as well as others that water down the Truth until it is hardly recognizable. God warned of this as well: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (‘beware of false prophets’ is said in the sternest of measures! There will be and are false prophets, and are some of Satan’s greatest weapons)” (Mat. 7:15; notes from The Expositor’s Study Bible). Also, in Acts: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock (presents a perfect description of those who merchandise the Body of Christ, and in whatever way).” (Acts 20:29; notes from The Expositor’s Study Bible).
Now, what can one find in these Scriptures which we have just quoted that is not totally Biblical and relevant for today? Perhaps these “preachers” do not want you to believe the Bible is relevant today because it so clearly labels them as wolves! Believer, will you trust a wolf that has infiltrated the flock or The Great Shepherd? Do not be deceived! Trust God’s Word above all men!