« Rick Warren Purpose Driven Critique - Is Repentance the Central Message of the New Testament? | Main | The Debut of the NEW Issues, Etc. »


John Draper

CR: Does Rick Warren or any Purpose-Driven Preacher have any good news to offer me?

JD: Romans 8:1 is a big favorite at Saddleback.

Diane R

While I certainly agree with you, I am saddened to see that there doesn't seem to be anyway in your post as to how change is accomplished. So, I'm not sure what your definition of Sanctification would be, or how that is achieved. In other words, how are we changed into the image of Christ as it is so often expressed in the New Testament epistles. I absolutely agree with your assessment that "trying" to change, or just doing the "3 steps" won't change a person. And, the cross MUST be brought into this. But Sanctification then must be through the power of the God and His Spirit. But in your post, I am not quite finding out how this happens. Perhaps in another post you've told how?

Chris Rosebrough

Diane R,

I would like to do two things with you.

1. Ask you how the change in your life is coming along?

When you take a deep, long and honest look at your life and compare it to God's standard, His law, how do you measure up? Do you still sin every single day?

If you are anything like me then you still sin daily. In other words, you haven't nearly changed enough and neither have I.

Should I then preach the law more stringently with you in order to whip you into better shape? Maybe I should recommend that you sell everything that you have, give it to the poor and then join a convent. Would that make you holier, more obedient or sinless? Think about the fact that compared to nuns and monks, you haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to putting your whole heart into changing your life. Yet nuns and monks would be the first to tell you that they still struggle with their sin and make very little progress in really living up to God's standards. In fact, Mother Teresa had serous doubts that she was even a Christian at the end of her life. Yet, think of all the good works that Mother Teresa accomplished in her life time. Not even a life dedicated to serving the poor in the slums of India was able to comfort Mother Teresa and convince her that her life had changed enough.

What makes you think that your feeble efforts at changing your life are going to do you more good than Mother Teresa's life of serving the poor? Have you done more and changed more than she has?

2. Here is an article I would like for you to read. Once your are finished I'd love to hear what you have to say.

The question that you are asking can only be answered by the Gospel. We are not merely justified by the Gospel we are also sanctified through the Gospel.

Steve Newell


Before we talk about sanctification, we must first get justification correct. Many "evangelical" Christians view of justification isn't that far from Rome. They view justification as God + my action. My Action can be "making a decision for Christ".

How are we justified is one of the big issues during the Reformation.

Scott Diekmann

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1 John 1:1-10


Wow! Chris, I cried when I read your post today. It was beautiful! The sins that we commit aren't beautiful, they're horrible. The pain I feel when I grieve God, again, because of that hatred I felt, which is likened to murder, or that lie, etc., is horrible. What is beautiful is you pointing out exactly what everyone needs. More advice, as good as it may be, won't do it. That's why I cried. The Good News of Jesus Christ saved my life, because I will never be good enough.

You are so right about the purpose driven teachings being law driven. I know of so many people doing rick warren material, who feel so overwhelmed. They feel so miserable. They can't seem to keep up on all the disciplines, or the 7 steps of this, or 40 days of that. They compare themselves to other Christians who seem to be doing better at helping the poor, better with their money, better with their family, etc. It's a vicious circle, and they never feel good enough. They don't seem to see all this as works driven.

Thanks for posting this meeting and your insights on it. I pray it helps many see how worthless and hurtful these teachings are.


It sounds like there is a fundamental difference of opinion about the ability/inablity of man (including Christians).
Rick Warren would say that man has the ability to please God.
Chris Rosebrough would say the man does not have the ability to please God.

Is this correct?


That was difficult for me to read because it sounds just like me. But, I think I get it now.

Jesus wants us to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The good news is the forgiveness of sins. So when I pastor only talks about obedience or only gives 'good advice' he's kind of missing the whole point and is omitting the most important part, the good news about the forgiveness of sins.

But now I have a problem because I can't remember the last time I heard my pastor tell me about the forgiveness of sins. He only tells that message to the unbelievers that come to our church.


Hi Chris,
Nice job. If I may, perhaps most folks aren't like you, me etc.. maybe they have no desire to repent. Jesus' first words of His earthly ministry were to repent. I think Repentance must always be preached first, it is God's Holy law that prepares us, albeit then giving the Good News! Repentance and our assurance of forgiveness is part of our lives as we mature and look at our daily choices through spiritual eyes. I get what your saying though - but maybe Rick Warren does have something to offer after all...



"But now I have a problem because I can't remember the last time I heard my pastor tell me about the forgiveness of sins."

Have a read of the article Preach the Gospel to Yourself below and then get your pastor to read it and then discuss it with him if he is open. Lovingly of course. I say that because I am real rough and abrupt and nasty and unloving at times, something I am most ashamed of, they are only some of the many sins and weights, in thought, word and deed, that so easily beset me, I am a mass of sin. God help me. In me, in of myself, dwells no good thing.

Romans 7:18For I know that nothing good dwells(A) in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Cross references:
A. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; 15:14; Psalm 51:5

"Mankind is, as experience shows, a "mass of sin" [massa peccati (perditionis)], waited on by death, and incapable of raising itself to the good; for having revolted from God, it could no more return to him than an empty vessel could refill itself...Christ by his death removed the guilt between God and mankind-breaking the rule of the devil-so that the grace of God, which for that reason is gratia per (propter) Christum, could pursue its work. This free grace (gratia gratisdata) working in the Church, is beginning, middle, and end." - Adolph Harnack quoted by R. C. Sproul on pages 136-137 of "Faith Alone The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification"

Preach the Gospel to Yourself
by Mark Mullery

I am wanting to get hold of a copy of this book, I have read several of his books and essays in the past and they are great, this book looks like it will be even better, I have read several favorable reviews of it:

Jerry Bridges Preaches the Gospel to Himself

The essay Chris posted above is excellent too. God bless them.


RW's style may not work for you, but I can tell you it worked for me. Here is my experience, which, based on 15 years of attending Saddleback, is a common experience for other people there (this is not a completely linear process):
-Visit the church and hear a message on goal setting, time management, etc.
-Think "this is useful, I'll come back."
-Keep coming back because the messages are practical.

-Notice that the Bible has a lot of wisdom useful in everyday life.
-Think "the Bible came from God, so maybe He is someone I need to know better", and "this is a book I can trust".

-Hear testimonies from people whose shattered, torn, and/or sinful lives have been healed by God
-Think, "If God can do that with these people, he can do something with my life".

-Hear that Heaven is a perfect place.
-Knowing that I am not, realize I need a savior.

-Admit my sin, and accept Jesus as my Lord and savior.
-Experience forgiveness, and the peace that comes with it.

-Come to know that God loves, forgives and accepts me.
-Pass that love, forgiveness and acceptance on to others.


Chris Rosebrough


I will be the first to admit that when it comes to Saddleback "Your Mileage May Vary".

I have also been in contact with people who have been to Saddleback and heard the useful sermons but never progressed to the later stages that you described and they left confused, depressed and empty.

The primary issue that I am responding to is Rick Warren's, very clearly stated philosophy of preaching. I heard him lay this out at the Purpose-Driven Community Gathering. I recorded the lecture and took notes and interacted with him face to face regarding what the scriptures clearly teach.

I took issue with the fact that he believes that the purpose of preaching is obedience and that THE central message of the New Testament is 'repentance'. I believe he is incorrect because he is half right. Jesus clearly said that we are to proclaim repentance AND the forgiveness of sins. His approach leans too heavily on the law and withholds 'the forgiveness of sins'. This practice causes SOME to mis-understand Christianity by thinking that it is a performance based religion and for some it causes them to despair because it causes them to doubt God's love for them because of the all too real fact that they do not measure up to God's standards and still sin.


Robert: What a wonderful, beautiful testimony. God the Father reaching out to you with the power of the Spirit presenting the message of Christ and of HOPE for ETERNITY! He is not willing that ANY should perish, and there will be NO-ONE with an excuse when the drama of the ages comes to a conclusion.

But, don't you realize what your testimony proves once and for all?

Rick Warren doesn't preach the Gospel.

The Truth found you because you were searching for it, NOT BECAUSE WARREN PRESENTED THE TRUTH TO YOU.

Our pastors & preachers FAIL if all they do is whet your appetite for common sense advice. Praise GOD, though - that He is infinitely loving, gracious and ABLE to break through the failure of man to reach a seeking heart with the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 [ESV]

What was good enough for Paul, should be good enough for Warren.

I AM saved, yet I am BEING saved - and the message of cross is the power of God to me. Moment by sinful, repentant, forgiven, blessed moment.


First, thank God, salvation is not based on our performance, we would all be doomed if it was! He does things for His own glory even saving a people for himself, why, because if He left anything up to us we would fail at it. He knows our nature, in bondage, to our flesh better than we could ever hope to know ourselves. I have heard J Piper say that even our “best deeds” need repentance. He did a great sermon on the “Divided Man” Romans 7:14-25:


The Apostle Paul was a million times more sanctified than any of us here, and if you believe that Romans 7:14-25 is about Paul the Christian, and not Paul the pre-Christian as J Piper does the above sermon, could do for you what it did for me, give me HOPE in my minute by minute struggles with indwelling sin!


Chris, you wrote: "It is too late for me to have a 'no regrets life'. Even though I have been a Christian for nearly all of my life, I have committed terrible sins for which I have deep regrets."

With all due respect, I'm at a loss as to what you mean. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 13 but was enticed by worldly pleasure and made some unbelievably terrible choices in my late teens and 20's. If I lived under the self-condemnation you are speaking of I would not have the strength to look in the mirror and leave my house, for I would be consumed by guilt and shame.

The lyrics to White as Snow say:
White as snow, white as snow
Though my sins were as scarlet
Lord, I know, Lord, I know
That I'm clean and forgiven

The Bible says:
Ephesians 1:7
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace."

This is not to say I have "no regrets"; of course I do, but I know in my heart that Salvation is an accomplished work, purchased by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2). God offers us salvation and assurance of salvation because Jesus’ sacrifice was fully, completely, and perfectly sufficient. If we receive God’s precious gift of salvation, we can know that we are saved.

In other words, since the Word of God tells me that I am no longer under condemnation but under grace....that's Good News to me, and as a Christian, that is what I am called to tell the world they can have, too. That is VERY Good News. When I accept Jesus as my Savior, God looks upon me as clean and forgiven. How else could I hope to approach Him as His child?

I know you are laying out what you hope to be a fair and balanced look at Rick Warren. Take a look at some of the other sermon series he has preached. He does talk about salvation through faith in Jesus' once-for-all sacrifice.

Check out Rick Warren's free sermons on pastors.com. You'll see entire message outlines and find that the Good News is preached. Maybe not the same manner or method that other pastors would preach it, but I have attended Saddleback for many years and I can tell you that at some point in the message it IS PREACHED (whether a specific prayer for salvation made it onto the outline or not), and it is preached in a way that someone completely new to church and Christianity can easily understand and accept....and more important, want.



Chris, you state
Jesus clearly said that we are to proclaim repentance AND the forgiveness of sins.

How could one possibly preach forgiveness of sins without SOMETHING to repent for? If the "central" message of the NT is not repentance FIRST - how would the unsaved gain Knowledge and understanding of what HOLY means? i.e. the very defintion of God.

Brother, maybe your "beef" isn't the message, but perhpas the ORDER it is delivered? If the world around you is Hell bound - give 'em a reason to change, reconsider, re-think their worldview, and what they think is Truth vs. a lie. Without repentance (the central message) you got nothing man, nothing but death. Don't underestimate what the Holy Spirit does after one comes to the Cross of Christ. Repentance is the key that tears down the curtain of seperation - forgiveness of sins is not a message so much as it is a REALITY to those at the foot of the cross. Dead men don't struggle, the saved and alive do. make sense?

Chris Rosebrough


My beef is that the forgiveness of sins is rarely ever preached at Saddleback. The reason I keep saying "AND" the forgiveness of sins is because that AND is important.



Awesome, I wish I would hear Warren confess his inability to overcome sin and his need for Christ for salvation.

Your confession is what a true christian. You are like the tax "collector in Luke's gospel asking God, "have mercy on me a sinner". And this tax collector went justified while the pharisee in the samee parable that thought he was working hard did not. Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Jonnathan Edwards, they all felt the same conviction of sin that you feel Chris. It's the spirit of God that produces it, that humbles man before God. I wish I would hear Rick Warren confessing his sin and admitting that he needs Christ and not a 12 step program to be saved. The gospel of salvation that produces eternal life needs to be preached in a church and not the gospel of self improvement.

First John chapter 1 verse 8:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."



Agree 100%. I have been trying to tell Chris the same thing you are on my comments on Chris' article whether repentance is the essence of the gospel.

My point like yours is that Warren does not preach repentance and as a result people don't see the need for a saviour. The law is a schoolmaster to christ, it leads to Christ. Warren doesn't preach biblical law, nor does he preach the gospel, since there's no need for a saviour when there is no conviction of the sinner.

With that said Rick Warren preaches works, and that's why Chris thinks Rick Warren preaches repentance and the law. I politely disagree with Chris, I honestly think that Rick Warren preaches works the same way as eastern religions preach works. They all preach good works without preaching the biblical law and sin. Rick Warren skips the condemnation of the law and moves directly to how to manage your time better, or have successful relationships. It is very similar to buddhist enlightenment, in budhism they teach enlightenment, how to become a budha, which is by doing good works, yet budhism and hinduism do not talk about sin the way the bible does. It's more of a Warrenesque positive message of "how tos". All these eastern religions do not consider sin an offense against a holy God that deserves punishment, they view it more as an offense against the self. so the way to overcome sin in budhism is by self improvement.


Bill posts: I honestly think that Rick Warren preaches works the same way as eastern religions preach works. They all preach good works without preaching the biblical law and sin. Rick Warren skips the condemnation of the law.....

Cat48: Respectfully, Bill, you are entitled to think whatever yuo want to, but your speculation is simply not backed up by fact.

Chris Rosebrough


Your point about Rick Warren not actually preaching repentance is duly noted.


Does PD Preaching Have Any Good News to Offer Me?

PD preaching has so redefined the Good News that it is virtually powerless. The good news they have to offer contains too much leaven. PD preaching contains spiritual poison. PD preaching is about deeds and not creeds, where as biblical Christianity is all about sound creeds with deeds the outworking of that sound doctrine. Good deeds save no one no matter how good they are, even pagans do good deeds, even more than some Christians but their lily white good deeds will not save them. PD preaching contains way too many distorted teachings and twisted Scriptures that are focused on you and it is blinding the minds of millions around the world. True biblical preaching is constantly focused on Christ and his work of redemption upon that bloodied roman cross. Boast in nothing but the cross. No need to boast in reverse tithing, 90% percent to the foundations one sets up and manages and keeping a mere 10% percent for ones self. Tithing is not for the Church. Tithing is a legalistic bind loaded upon the backs of the ignorant (without knowledge.) God loves a cheerful giver who gives whatever they have decided in their heart to give, one does not have to sign a legalistic tithing covenant, so on and so forth. One does not need to sign a covenant where one is not allowed to criticize the false teachings going down in a church. Rick Warren loads a heavy burden upon people when he says; "You cannot criticize what God is blessing" and he uses that to keep the legitimate critics of his false teachings and Scripture twisting at bay. God is not blessing Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Movement. God is blessing the sound proclamation of His holy Word which is preached here, there and everywhere, all over the world, day in and day out.

Sinners will not realize they are truly sinners unless the law has being lawfully used to to expose the true nature of their sinfulness. Law to the proud, grace to the humbled. Law to the unrepentant sinner, the good news of the gospel to the convicted.

"So we all have to be gospel preachers, but we all have to be preachers of the Law. What leads the sinner to true salvation is an overpowering realization and a frightening awareness of the inescapable result of breaking God’s Law. You want a little divine order for evangelism? It goes like this--Law written, personified in Christ, sin, guilt, judgment, fear, gospel. Law written and personified in Christ, sin, guilt, condemnation, fear, gospel. You’ve got to get through those things before you get to gospel.

In fact, if you looked at the ministry of Jesus, you would have to conclude that He preached more judgment than He did forgiveness. It was Martin Luther who said, “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and to show the nature of sin because it will act as a school master and bring him to everlasting life which is in Jesus Christ.”

It was John Wesley who said, “Before I preach love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, Law and judgment.” It was Wesley who said, “Preach ninety-percent Law and ten percent grace.”

It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law.”

It was John Wycliffe who said, “The highest service to which a man may attain on earth is to preach the Law of God.”

J.C. Ryle, “People who will never set their faces decidedly toward heaven and live like pilgrims until they really feel they’re endanger of hell. Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments and show the length and breadth and depth and height of the requirements of the Law. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. We cannot do better than to follow His plan.”

John Stott wrote, “We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we’ve first been to Moses to be condemned. Once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there, we must leave Moses and go to Christ.”

Isaac Watts, many of whose hymns we sing, wrote, “I never knew but one person in the whole course of my ministry who acknowledged that the first motions of religion in his own heart arose from a sense of the goodness of God. I think all besides who have come within my notice have rather been awaken to fly from the wrath to come by a passion of fear.” In his life and ministry, only one came by the goodness of God, the rest by fear.

One writer said, “If I had my way, I would declare a moratorium on the public preaching of the plan of salvation in America. Then I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the Law of God until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ Then I would take them off into a corner and whisper the gospel to them. Such drastic action is needed because we do have gospel-hardened sinners. Don’t even use John 3:16.” Why? He wrote, “Because you tell a sinner how to be saved before he realized that he needs to be saved. And you have gospel-hardened him.”

Romans 3:18 says of sinners, as we read this morning, that they have no fear of God before their eyes. So what do we want to do then? We want them to feel fear and the Law produces fear. The purpose of evangelism is not to get people attracted to Jesus because He loves them and wants to be their friend. But to get them to fear God because He hates them and wants to punish them forever. But the same God also will save him from himself.

No one is saved because...really saved...because they want a better life here. People who are truly saved are saved because they’re fleeing to Christ to rescue them from damnation. This is when the good news is good news.

The Law shows a fiery face. The gospel shows enthroned grace. In the Law, God is revealed as Judge. In the gospel, He’s revealed as Redeemer. You cannot diminish the condemning force of the Law without diminishing the comfort of the gospel.
" - The Law and the Gospel

Here are two very good interviews everyone can listen to over the weekend if they would like, enjoy the clear proclamation of the truth:

BOB DeWAAY: "REDEFINING CHRISTIANITY: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement "
MP3 Available Here
"BOB DeWAAY, pastor of Twin City Fellowship in St. Louis Park, MN and administrator of Critical Issues Commentary will discuss the theme of his controversial and timely book: REDEFINING CHRISTIANITY: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement .

Bob DeWaay has received many e-mails over the last two years from people concerned about what has happened to their churches since they became Purpose Driven. This book will explain what has happened, why it has happened, and how a Purpose Driven church is different from a Bible-centered, Gospel church.

Excerpt from Redefining Christianity:

"Jesus said, 'If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you' (John 15:19). Not even the greatest marketing genius can change this without redefining the church. Seeking the approval of the world is precisely what the Purpose Driven movement is all about."

During this interview, we will also discuss Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. Coalition and how, according to Pastor DeWaay, there is nothing distinctively Christian about it. As Pastor DeWaay puts it, "The claim that the church can have a second reformation using processes that do not even need Christians as leaders is very alarming.""

Worldview Matters with Brannon Howse
"Brannon interviews Pastor Bob DeWaay about his recent 75 minute, face to face conversation with Pastor Rick Warren. What is it about the Purpose Driven Life and Church movement that Pastor Bob objects to? How did Pastor Warren respond to the questions and comments of Pastor Bob? We also talk calls from our listeners on this topic."

Steve Newell

Bill and Mark,

I believe that the type of repentance that Chris is talking about is a "soft repentance". What I mean by that is the PDL does not use the Law to convict us of our sin but the "Christian Life" as a way to change our lives. This "soft repentance" says that "You are not living the Christian life so do 'X' or 'Y'". It replaces the Law and a lifestyle. Instead of focusing on the 10 Commandants, it will focus on things like how own uses their time, how they parent. This type of repentance is the same type we can seen in many more liberal church bodies where the preaching of Law has been replaced with "lifestyle sins". It's a lifestyle repentance, not Christian repentance.

Chris pointed out that Warren wants people to make a change in their lives as the result of their hearing his sermons (or messages) each Sunday but filling out a commitment card.

That we have a confusion of what true repentance is and what the answer to this repentance is. Is the answer to repentance "your sins are forgiven due to Christ' work on the cross" or is it "change your life"?


I honestly believe that Rick Warren does not actually preach and teach correct biblical repentance. I believe Rick Warren has redefined repentance like he has redefined the rest of Christianity overall and transformed it into his Purpose Driven Model, using proof texts, some out of context and others that are tortured, to shore up his ministry philosophy. Twisting the Word of God is a serious sin. I pray God keeps me from ever doing that deliberately and forgive me if I do it ignorantly. I wrote about Rick Warren's redefining of repentance around two years ago and posted it here. I could probably update what I wrote there, tidy up the grammar and so forth but overall I believe what I said about Rick Warren's redefining of biblical repentance in that post to be true. Even though Warren goes to the Greek root meaning of the word repentance: metanoia "change of mind," I believe biblical repentance is much much more than a mere change of mind. Rick Warren takes it from there and expounds on it to mean: "change your thinking, change the way you think." Rick Warren's "change of mind, change the the way you think, change your thinking" view of "repentance" is more in line with the positive/possibility thinking, positive confession teachings of Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. I see their influence in Rick Warren's methods and messages. Apparently Rick Warren denies that he teaches "self-esteem" but the message of "self-esteem" is embedded within the whole Purpose Driven paradigm, it is not blatantly obvious but it is there. Rick Warren down plays the fearsome, awesome, terrifying attributes of God and the fact that God hates the workers of iniquity and is angry with the wicked every day. How many times does he warn the wicked to flee the wrath of God that abides upon them and that the wrath of God is coming.

An excellent teaching on Repentance and the Universal Call of the Gospel by Bob DeWaay here: Part 1 & Part 2


"The meaning of repentance in the New Testament is not determined simply by its etymology, “change of mind,” but by its Biblical usage. Repentance is linked to the concept of conversion and means to “turn away from one’s former ways and turn to God.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament contains a lengthy entry on the Greek words for “repent” and “repentance.” Their conclusion, based on the Hebrew (not Greek) background of the New Testament is that the terms have to do with religious conversion: “Investigation of the history of the term up to New Testament days has shown us, however, the only path which may be followed, and exposition of the theological usage of the New Testament will pursue this to its destination, namely, that ìåôáíïÝù and ìåôÜíïéá are the forms in which the New Testament gives new expression to the ancient concept of religious and moral conversion.”[i] "

Rick Warren on page 10 of PDL misuses Romans 12:2 from the NLT version. Rick Warren says; "The Bible says, "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do" (Rom. 12:2 NLT). The NLT version of that verse is wrong and Rick Warren is wrong to say "The Bible says" when the Bible says no such thing in that verse as translated by the NLT. It is a wrong interpretation and very misleading. Romans 12:2 says nothing about us to "Let God transform you into a new person..." Romans 12:2 in a correct translation of the Bible says nothing about us letting God do anything, God is not waiting on our beck and call before He does as He pleases, God does as He pleases and no man can stay His hand. Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, it does not tell us to let God do it. We do not let God transform us into a new person as if we have to give Him permission to transform us, God transformed us into a new person at and in consequence of the new birth, at the moment of regeneration, an instantaneous work of God, delivering us from the domain of darkness and transferring us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. If anyone be in Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone the new has come. Romans 12:2 does not talk about "changing the way you think," Romans 12:2 talks about "be transformed by the renewing of the mind." How are we to be transformed by the renewing of the mind? By carefully and prayerfully and diligently studying the Word of God, handling it accurately. By memorizing Scripture, by musing upon Scripture, by mediating upon the Word of God, by other means of grace. It is the Word of God that transforms us and renews our minds. Rick Warren hasn't even mentioned the first section of Roman 12:2 which says; "And do not be conformed to this world....." That section is missing from the NLT version of Rom. 12:2 that Warren uses there on page 10 of PDL. Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Program are so worldly minded, they are so conformed to this world, that they really are no heavenly good. Warren went to the degenerate pagans in the world and asked them what they wanted in church and so Rick Warren built his church around their "felt needs", including ear splitting so called Christian rock and roll music. That's the sort of stuff the world loves. Romans 12:2 is not about knowing "what God wants you to do." Romans 12:2 is about what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. We are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds so that we are able to test, to prove, to discern His will. Romans 12:2 is not about a long list of does and don'ts required of us by God, so that we become so busy we do not know whether we are coming or going. Romans 12:2 is ultimately about The Will of God and us knowing and understanding His will. That comes about by being transformed by the renewing of our minds and not by changing the way we think. Being transformed by the renewing of the mind happens throughout our lifetime while we sojourn upon this earth. We are aliens and pilgrims passing through on our way to the Celestial City. On page 10 of PDL Warren writes; "One reason most books don't transform us is that we are so eager to read the next chapter...." The inference implied there is that Rick Warren's book will "transform us." There is only one book that ultimately transform us and that is the Word of God, The Bible. Every book I read written by a Christian supplies me with tools to help me understand the text of Scripture. Their books do not transform me, only the Word of God does that, only the Word of God has the power to transform me and the power to renew my mind.

Daniel 4:33-35; John 15:3; John 17:17; Romans 12:2 (in an accurate translation); Rom. 15:4; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 5:26; Col. 1:13


Chris: "Bill, Your point about Rick Warren not actually preaching repentance is duly noted."

Excellent Chris, sounds like you will then agree with John McArthur as well. There's a three minute video from John MacArthur where he addresses the lack of gospel preaching (in particular repentance) in the book the purpose driven life. This is John McArthur at his best.



Douglas: Rick Warren takes it from there and expounds on it to mean: "change your thinking, change the way you think."

Bill: Sounds like Anthony Robbins to me.

As I just wrote in my last post watch this video from John MacArthur where it takes John 3 minutes to prove Rick Warren does not teach biblical repentance. John MacArthur makes the case that repentance is the key element missing from the Purpose Driven Life book. From my perspective repentance and forgiveness of sins are so united (they are the gospel) that you can not preach one without preaching the other.

Link to MacArthur's 3 minute video:


@ Bill, Chris, and Steve,
I should have probably read the previous post, which I will. Either way - this is the first time I have ever defended Rick Warren, nevertheless, any teaching void of repentance is dead teaching. I don't care how much forgiveness is offered. I think John McArthur nails it spot on.


Thanks Bill, I have seen that clip previously and I just finished watching/listening to it again. That prayer of Rick Warren's saves no one. If anyone is saved while in the midst of praying that prayer they will be saved in spite of that prayer by God alone, not because of praying that prayer. That example prayer of Rick Warren's in the PDL book is filling the Purpose Driven Movement with tares.

Watching and listening to that again by John MacArthur reminded me of something that Robert said in a post in the thread above:

"-Admit my sin, and accept Jesus as my Lord and savior."

and that in turn reminded me of this post:

Should They Accept Christ as Personal Savior?
"In an effort to get sinners saved we often hear them exhorted to "Accept Christ as their personal Savior" as though those who are slaves of Satan and captives of the Devil could do so and be saved if they did so. But this is utterly foreign to Holy Scripture; there is no foundation in Holy Writ for it. It presents a false way of salvation, and therefore should be discarded along with other similar expressions such as "Give your heart to Jesus", "Take Jesus as your Savior", etc."
Continued in the link above.

How can a person who is dead in their trespasses and sins accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior prior to the new birth? The above essay and links to other articles in there are really helpful. Including this one on Decisional Regeneration by James E. Adams

One can see the similarities of Rick Warren's rote prayer with the Decisional Regeneration/Accepting Christ concepts set forth in the other essays.

"How many souls have been led to vain confidence by a man-made, evangelistic formula? How many are sent home from evangelistic services with calm, who should have gone away grieved and disturbed as the rich young ruler who approached Jesus? How many unsaved children have been given assurance by the teachers of Bible classes, so that they have ceased to seek God for salvation?" -- Walter Chantry


What must I do to be saved? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:30-31)

Does the adulterer/alcoholic/homosexual/ walk away from a church service immediately ready to give up their sinful habit? Not necessarily. Some struggle for years. Does it mean that if that same person hears about the saving grace of Jesus at that church service and gives their life to Him at that moment that they are not saved because they still hang on to habits that are sinful?

Didn't some of Jesus' closest friends struggle with sin? Peter continually battled a quick temper and sharp tongue. Didn't the sons of Zebedee struggle with manipulation and selfish ambition, jockeying for position in the Kingdom?

On my own I am incapable of pleasing God, because try as I might, I still sin. Maybe not big "headline" sins or any that people close to me might even know about....but sin is sin and as long as I am in this mortal flesh I will fall short in subtle and not-so-subtle ways until the day I die. Thankfully, through Jesus' sacrifice, I am seen by God as clean and forgiven. It is only through His grace I am saved. That's Good News to me.

Chris Rosebrough


How many sermons per year does Rick Warren preach the gospel to believers? 1... 2... never?

How many sermons per year does Rick Warren preach preach about sin in such a way that those listening "“tremble before a just and holy law"? 1... 2... never?

I'll be brutally honest with you? You've been more forth coming regarding sins and have been more explicit with the gospel in your comments than the vast majority of Warren's sermons.


Q: How many sermons per year does Rick Warren preach the gospel to believers?

A: Well...since believers and nonbelievers are all at the same service together at Saddleback Church, I would think the Good News is actually preached to all. And I understand that there are free Bibles, materials and counselors available to everyone who attends a service immediately afterwards.

Q: How many sermons per year does Rick Warren preach about sin in such a way that those listening "“tremble before a just and holy law"?

A: I don't know about that, but here's wnhat I have to say. Hearing the gospel preached in a way I understood it - in a way that for the first time enabled me to see God as a loving Father who would love me unconditionally and not as the condemning, harsh person I grew up believing was the only type of "Father" that could possibly exist (based upon my own experience with my birth father) was when the Holy Spirit actually began to change my heart. Until I knew God was love, I could not love God the way I wanted to. I grew up thinking I wasn't good enough to approach God; that I needed a priest or an intercessor to "take my sins to God". Only when I realized that God loved me, that the only intercessor I needed was Jesus, and believed that I could have eternal life through Jesus' sacrifice did I ask God forgiveness for my sins and truly believe I was saved...right then and there, warts and all.

I speak about the gospel in a way that frankly I believe is a great way to break down barriers and allows people to see that God is a loving Father and that an eternal relationship with Him is possible if you believe that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is sufficient. I'm not saying it's the only way to get the gospel message across nor am I saying the gospel message isn't urgent. All I know that I am only a messenger and that the Holy Spirit is the one that does the work in a person's heart, not me.

Is every preacher supposed to preach in one style? Do I get a "pass" in my presentation because I don't have a seminary degree or a pulpit to preach from every week? Are Sunday school teachers accused of watering down the gospel because of their "simple to understand" presentation?

I am not foolish enough to believe that everyone I share the gospel with will give their hearts to Christ but I am hopeful that by just being who I am and being kind (and also discerning) that many people will come to know the peace I have and live forever with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23: Not compromising who I am but having compassion for those who don't know Who God is. Not "dumbing down" the gospel but meeting people where they are, in all of their hurts and humanity.

My presentation of the Good News may not be all fire and brimstone in its delivery but it has brought my husband to Christ, his family, and our children are saved. Many of our relatives, friends and neighbors have also wanted to know more about Jesus and even though they attend different churches than I do are also saved.



Thank you! The Truth is in you and you delivered it!

How many church services do you attend where sinners are denied God's grace because your church/denomination thinks men are in control of such? i.e (The Lord's Supper). ??

Many folks don't care for a lot of Rick Warren's messages, myself included - but more offensive is dispensing God's grace at the hands of men, IMHO. Be "explicit" - face to face with those folks and test it again against scripture as you have done in this post about RW and the "forgiveness factor". I speak this with nothing but respect for you and what you are trying to convey. It has nothing to do with works either.



Nice testimony. I had a similar experience where I saw first God as a judge before I could trust him as a saviour. I do believe that this is a requirement for salvation, we despair of our inability to please God before we accept Christ. The law (the judgment of God) is a schoolmaster to Christ because the law is holy and through the law there is knowledge of sin. the law makes sin more sinful and it prepares our heart for conversion by making us aware of our corrupt nature. Obviously the gospel (Christ as a remedy to our sinful nature) should be preached right after the law.

Now, although the love of God is very important, it has to be taught together with the judgment of God. You can not teach just love. I'm glad I read over and over and over again the Sermon on the Mount to remind myself of God's standard for judgment. God is good, He is love, but He is a judge. God is the only judge, the judgment seat has been reserved to Christ, in the end all mankind will be judged by God. God is good not only because he is Love but also because he is Justice. He is the justifier and will pardon those that are in Christ and will condemn everybody that is not in Christ.

You seem to love the message of love at Saddleback, but do you think Saddleback teaches the whole counself of God including, judgment and hell?


catransplant: Is every preacher supposed to preach in one style?

Bill: When it comes to the gospel the answer is yes. There is only gospel to be taught, no style should change its presentation.

catransplant: Do I get a "pass" in my presentation because I don't have a seminary degree or a pulpit to preach from every week?

Bill: Of course you get a pass. You don't need a Seminary degree to become a holy spirit filled christian and proclaim the gospel.

catransplant: Are Sunday school teachers accused of watering down the gospel because of their "simple to understand" presentation?

Bill: Of course not. The reason they are accused of watering down the gospel is because make it "seeker sensitive" and intended to please the unrepentant sinner.

catransplant: My presentation of the Good News may not be all fire and brimstone in its delivery but it has brought my husband to Christ, his family, and our children are saved.

Bill: Not sure what you mean by not all fire and brimstone. I'm sure that if it brought your husband to salvation it was fire and brimstone enough for your husband to understand he would not pass God's judgment unless he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died on the cross for the atonement of sins and was raised on the third day for the justification of everybody that believes in His name.


Beautiful testimony Catransplant, and I think one that underscores the discussion perfectly. We have Chris, on one hand saying that Rick Warren preaches too much law or only law and not any gospel, and on the other hand we have eye-witnesses who attend Saddleback, saying that Rick Warren preaches plenty of gospel.

I don't know, I tend to favor eye-witness accounts over second hand assessments and analysis. I know that Chris went to a meeting at Saddleback church and has listened to Warren's sermons, but if several other people have said that there is gospel, even too much as Bill contends.

Somebody has to be wrong and somebody has to be right. These are mutually exclusive outcomes and they can't both be right...

Or maybe they can, maybe the difference is in the personal perception of the listener. Maybe the difference is that one person has a certain theological lens through which they are viewing Rick Warren's sermons through, and another person's lens is different.

Chris, you answered my question in an earlier post. It was about unity.
For right now we'll define unity as sharing the same faith based upon agreement on cardinal doctrines. Although I do not believe that it is okay to hold to any false doctrine, fact is some doctrines are not negotiable while others are debatable.

I think we are in Christian unity with Rick Warren, and I think that what we are discussing now is a doctrine that is a "debatable doctrine" based on a persons perceptions.

just some thoughts,


Maybe for further discussion, but it's starting to become clear that:

1) Rick Warren's main use of the Law is "practical" advice on how to overcome sin, improve your life.

2) The New Testament's main use of the law on the other hand is to highlight God's perfect standard and to provide knowledge of sin and revealing the need of a Saviour.


Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad I conveyed what was on my heart accurately.

I believe the Bible that is given (free of charge) to people at Saddleback who have made a decision to accept Jesus' salvation is Tyndale's New Believer's Bible (NLT translation). All of the basic doctrinal questions someone new to Christianity might have (including God's perfect standard, knowledge of sin and revealing the need of a Saviour, judgment and hell and the other myriad of basic doctrinal topics mentioned in this thread) are fully addressed in this Bible. Also available to people is a class called Foundations. The topics covered in this class in depth are THE BIBLE,GOD,JESUS,THE HOLY SPIRIT,CREATION,SALVATION,SANCTIFICATION,GOOD & EVIL,THE AFTERLIFE,THE CHURCH,and THE SECOND COMING.

So, Bill, in answer to your question to me: "...do you think Saddleback teaches the whole counsel of God including, judgment and hell?"

My answer is a resounding YES.


Mike: "I know that Chris went to a meeting at Saddleback church and has listened to Warren's sermons, but if several other people have said that there is gospel, even too much as Bill contends.
Somebody has to be wrong and somebody has to be right. These are mutually exclusive outcomes and they can't both be right..."

Bill: Mike, with all due respect I never said there's too much gospel at Saddleback. What I have said is that neither the gospel nor the Law are preached in a biblical way at Saddleback.

I also said that this is primarily because Rick Warren does not preach the Law to convict the sinner of his condition, and as a result the sinner does not see a need for salvation. He is not ready to receive the gospel (not ready to repent, not ready to accept forgiveness of sins). Because of this there's hardly any gospel at Saddleback.

Another way of saying it is that Rick Warren's approach is to preach God's love first, without preaching God's wrath. God's wrath and judgment of mankind have to be preached first,before we even mention love. God hates sin, and he punishes the sinner that is not in Christ with eternal death (hell). This is the God that needs to be preached to every sinner or seeker, not a seeker friendly God that is a man made imagination. Once the wrath of God on Adam and its posterity has been preached, then you can move on to preach God's act of love of sending his only beloved Son to live a perfect life and die for our sins. First we are judged and condemned under God's wrath. If there is no condemnation, no wrath of God, then there is no need for Christ. We wouldn't need an atonement.


catransplant48: So, Bill, in answer to your question to me: "...do you think Saddleback teaches the whole counsel of God including, judgment and hell?"
My answer is a resounding YES.

Bill: Your loyalty to your church is admirable. I respect that.


Some corrections to my reply to Mike in my last post:

I wrote: "Another way of saying it is that Rick Warren's approach is to preach God's love first, without preaching God's wrath."
I should have used the word justice instead of wrath

I wrote: "Once the wrath of God on Adam and its posterity has been preached"
I should have used the word judgment instead of wrath.

I wrote: "First we are judged and condemned under God's wrath"
I should have used the word justice instead of wrath


Good post Mike. I read these with fascination because, as someone who's been around Saddleback for years, I know firsthand when some things reported are in error. The fact is, I hear the gospel preached at Saddleback often - sin, Jesus' death, redemption, repentance, our need for the Savior, etc - and I know many, many people personally who have been saved at Saddleback and understand the full measure of the gospel from being taught it at Saddleback. So, do we believe those who are there and tell one story, or do we believe those who watch from the outside? The personal testimonies of people who went from unbelief to radical conversion for the full gospel of Christ (again, including an understanding of sin, repentance, etc) under the pastorship of Rick Warren is simply to great to discount for those who claim He ignores it or leaves it out. I have seen it firsthand and believe my eyes.

In Ingrid's response to Rick Warren's invitation, she wrote that she can watch from afar and get a clear picture of what is going on at Saddleback. I doubt many of us would want to rely on that kind of eyewitness testimony in court. Chris, I believe, makes a strong effort to study Warren in his criticisms, but again, his testimony is simply not as valid as those of the many saved there who really, truly understand the Gospel in its fullness and who have Rick Warren and his unconventional methods to thank for that understanding.

I will grant you that a visitor to Saddleback may not get it on his only Sunday visit, and that for some it may require combination of sermons and series to fully hear and understand the full message of the Gospel, but it is there, it is powerful, it is winning souls to Christ and it is sending people on the Great Commission. Praise God.


steve martin



- Steve Martin


"Chris, I believe, makes a strong effort to study Warren in his criticisms, but again, his testimony is simply not as valid as those of the many saved there who really, truly understand the Gospel in its fullness and who have Rick Warren and his unconventional methods to thank for that understanding."

OK Miguel, you are a Saddleback church goer. At least you admit Rick Warren uses unconventional methods.


Well, Bill, not to make comparisons, but so did Jesus...


How many examples could we each list of great things being done by those willing to break from conventions imposed by man. And for every one of those, critics.


Remember they all thought Jesus was an unconventional teacher in His day. Unconventional doesn't necessarily mean incorrect. Hallelujah if a "different" style of preaching or testimony or song or anything brings someone to know the saving grace of Jesus....as long as the message is in keeping with the Word of God, I say "Whatever it takes". Who am I to judge how God moves in the hearts and minds of men? I can't presume to know the history of every person I come in contact with. We're all just vessels God uses to reach people with HIS Good News. God knows so much better than I do what each person needs to know in order for the door to their heart to open to His love.


Catransplant48, convention has little to do with it - unless unconventional = irreverent. Somehow today, we have lost sight of God's holiness and believe that just because we aren't offended it is no offense to God what we do. Scripture teaches a reverence for God. Fear even.

Concerning Chris's comments thus far, it is certainly true that there will never be a moment by "improving" ourselves, we will suddenly be made acceptable in His sight. Grace is where it is at - it is where it is ALL at. That doesn't mean that it doesn't please God when we are obedient. However, if we believe that our works will in any way make us acceptable to Him, we have missed the point entirely.

Miguel, do you know that God Created the Heavens and the Earth? Assuming your answer is yes, aside from God's Word, upon what evidence are we to believe you? Were you there? Did you witness it? Or is that truth self evident by the evidence that you see around you - not to mention the Word of the Creator Himself that He did so?

My point here is that when there is enough evidence out there (in Warren's case we have a plethora of it), one doesn't necessarily have to be an eye witness in order to have a reliable account. Warren's own words and actions are what is being examined on the witness stand. Ingrid is more like an attorney who points out where that evidence can be found.


In my defense I'd like to point out that I did say "as long as the message is in keeping with the Word of God, I say 'Whatever it takes'."

But I'd like to specifically note for the record that humor is also a tool the Lord often uses to engage people and draw them to Him. Humor, not irreverence for who God is or smut. Good old-fashioned humor.

Jesus had a great sense of humor, as evidenced by the many parables and stories He told. Sometimes His sense of humor gets lost in translation today because of non-understanding of the culture of the land Jesus lived in during His time on earth and the passage of time.

I doubt Jesus attracted the huge crowds He did by standing in front of them, stiff and unsmiling. I doubt little children would have wanted to be anywhere near Him if he was aloof or unapproachable. I doubt thousands of people followed Him around, having left home and everything they knew, or would have sat for an entire day without food or water on a hillside to listen to Him if He had a dour, unhappy demeanor.

Humor, not irreverance for Who God is, is fully in keeping with the joy Jesus both exuded and exhorted us to have in our lives.

Janine said (referring to a comment Chris R. made): "...it is certainly true that there will never be a moment by "improving" ourselves, we will suddenly be made acceptable in His sight. Grace is where it is at - it is where it is ALL at. That doesn't mean that it doesn't please God when we are obedient. However, if we believe that our works will in any way make us acceptable to Him, we have missed the point entirely."

This is exactly what Rick Warren preaches. I've heard it. Many times.


Chris Rosebrough

Regarding the allegations that I only study Saddleback 'from afar'. That is not the case. Not only do I listen to/watch Saddleback's sermons online. I have attended Saddleback many times in the course of my research AND I've personally interviewed many current and former members of Saddleback.

Also, I was the only one of Rick Warren's critics who attended all three days of the Purpose Driven Community Gathering.

Furthermore, I have personally shared my observations and concerns regarding Warren's preaching philosophy directly with Warren. Not only did I point out the fact that the clear gospel message is missing from Warren's sermons. But, I also challenged him regarding the fact that he has given highly inaccurate and incorrect presentations of 'the gospel'. Specifically, I challenged him regarding the inaccurate version of the gospel presented in the 2007 Christmas sermon that broadcast on Fox News.

The issue here is with Warren's preaching philosophy and how that philosophy impacts and plays out in his sermons. The problems are as follows:

1. Warren believes that the purpose of preaching is obedience and that the central message of the New Testament is 'repentance'. Furthermore, he defines repentance as a 'change of mind' and claims that he is preaching for 'repentance' without ever saying the word repentance and that the way you achieve 'repentance' is to give people practical 'how to' applications so that they can learn 'how' to obey God.

A. Jesus Christ is clear that our message is not repentance alone but repentance AND the forgiveness of sins. Over and again, sermon after sermon, year after year Warren preaches practical 'how to' application sermons but does NOT clearly preach the forgiveness of sins except of the rarest of occasions and then only to unbelievers. This matter is a historical fact that is verifiable by listening to Warren's sermons which are made available for the entire world via the internet.

If you disagree with my conclusions, I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong, all you need to do to convince me to change my mind is provide me with the evidence from his sermons that show that he consistently, regularly and clearly preaches the gospel message of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus' death on the cross and that he preaches this gospel message to BOTH believers and unbelievers and I will 'change my mind'.

B. Saying that 'God Loves You' and that you are 'not junk' is not the same thing as preaching the gospel, despite how nice those platitudes sound.

The gospel is a message about God loving us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins by dying for us on a cross. THIS Good News is to be preached and proclaimed to BOTH believers and unbelievers. This is the Good News that is conspicuously missing from the vast majority of Warren's sermons and offering this Good News as part of the Foundations Small Group Study does not absolve Warren of his duty as a Christian pastor to preach the gospel.

Warren's preaching philosophy, which is what is being critiqued here, is seriously flawed and Biblically in error. Despite what other things Saddleback is doing correctly, Purpose-Driven Preaching is wrong and in contradiction to the scriptures.


"The gospel is a message about God loving us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins by dying for us on a cross."

may I ask, who are the "us" there? Believers or unbelievers?

1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Who are the us there? Believers or non-believers?

1 John 4:14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Who are the world there? The whole world, believer and unbeliever alike or God's elect scattered throughout the world and God is the Savior of them only? Are there ones in the world that God does not save or does God save the whole world?

Is John 3:16 speaking to believers or unbelievers?

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Does the "whosoever believth in him" say what a person can (ability) do or may (permission) do, or what one does do? Can someone believe in Jesus Christ before the new birth? The demons believe God is one, will their belief save them? Do the unregenerate have the ability to believe in the LORD Jesus Christ prior to regeneration?

John 3:17-21; 36, 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.........36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Why are people so quick to quote John 3:16 and yet they leave out the rest of the verses below and do not expound upon them? They contain some of the hard sayings of the LORD Jesus Christ and of John.

"The gospel is a message about God loving us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins by dying for us on a cross."

Why didn't the Apostles Use 'God Loves You' Evangelism in the book of Acts? Why didn't they preach; "the gospel is a message about God loving us so much?" Why did they not focus upon the "love" of God?

The love of God is never mentioned a single time in the entire book of Acts. Why?

Did The Apostles Use 'God Loves You' Evangelism?

"What was the emphasis in the evangelistic preaching of the Apostles as recorded in the book of Acts? Does the record of Acts support the notion that the central focus of Christianity is one's love-relationship with God and personal life enhancement? Or did these disciples of Christ focus on something else?


By Gregory Koukl of Stand To Reason

The list below includes every instance of evangelistic preaching in the book of Acts, a summary of content, and an analysis of emphasis.

1. Pentecost, Acts 2:14-39

Peter notes the manifestations of the Holy Spirit that all had been witnessing, then ties them to the fulfillment of prophecy of Joel about the last days. He then preaches Jesus as the Messiah--attested to by miracles and by the resurrection which was prophesied by David--and the guilt of the crowd for the crucifixion.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God's love or a relationship with Him.

2. Peter at the Gate Beautiful, Acts 3:12-26

After Peter and John healed a man lame from birth, Peter placed the blame for Jesus' death on the shoulders of the listeners. He then appealed to fulfilled prophecy and told them either to believe and return and thus receive forgiveness and times of refreshing, or be destroyed.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God's love or a relationship with Him.

3. Peter before the High Priest, Acts 4:8-12

Peter attributes the healing of the man lame from birth to Jesus the Messiah, whom the Jews had crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead. He quotes prophecy and says there is no other means of salvation but through Jesus. Peter then refuses to be silent about the Gospel.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God's love or a relationship with him.

4. Peter's Defense a Second Time before the Council, Acts 5:29-32

Peter proclaims the resurrected Christ as Prince and Savior who brings forgiveness of sin and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. He accuses the Council of putting Jesus to death. They are so infuriated they want to kill the Apostles. Instead, on the advice of Gamaliel, the believers are flogged and released.

There is no mention of God's love or any kind of tender relationship with Him.

5. Stephen's Defense before the Council, Acts 7:1-60

Stephen recounts the history of the Jews in which they constantly rebel, rejecting God's deliverer. He accuses the Jews of being stiff-necked, resisting the Holy Spirit just as their forefathers had. He accuses them also of betraying and murdering the Righteous One, the Messiah. They are so filled with rage they murder him.

Emphasis is on the guilt of the Jews. There is no mention of God's love.

[Note: When God speaks to Saul about his future during the events surrounding Saul's conversion (Acts 9), there is no mention of an intimate relationship, only that Paul would suffer much for the sake of Christ.]

6. Peter's Message to the Household of Cornelius, Acts 10:34-43

Peter talks of the ministry of Jesus, His miracles, death on the cross, and resurrection. Peter tells the Gentiles it is his job to solemnly testify that Jesus is the One appointed by God to judge the world, that Jesus' coming was prophesied, and that belief in Him brings forgiveness of sin.

The emphasis is on Jesus, the prophesied Messiah who either brings judgment or forgives of sin. There is no mention of God's love.

7. Paul's Message to the Jews in the Synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:16-41

Paul preaches Jesus as the anticipated Savior, affirmed by John the Baptist, crucified by the Jews, who rose from the dead in fulfillment of prophesy. Paul then proclaims forgiveness of sin and freedom from the Law for all who believe.

Paul proclaims Jesus the prophesied Messiah crucified and resurrected. His emphasis is on forgiveness amidst warning.

8. Paul at the Areopagus in Athens, Acts 17:22-31

Paul discloses the nature of the "unknown God," One who is responsible for all creation, and in whom we all depend for our very existence. He calls all men to repent, because God has appointed a judge, a man who has risen from the dead.

Emphasis is on the nature of God, and the reality of judgment. There is no mention of relationship or God's love.

9. Paul's Defense before the Jews in Jerusalem, Acts 22:1-21

Paul gives his testimony, detailing his persecution of Christians motivated by his zeal toward God, his conversion on the road to Damascus, and how his sins were washed away in Jesus' name. When he mentions his mission to the Gentiles, however, the Jews protested violently.

Emphasis is on Paul's personal encounter with Christ, his own forgiveness from sin, and his subsequent mission. There is no offer of personal relationship with God or mention of God's love.

10. Paul's Defense before the Sanhedrin, Acts 23:1-6

Paul says he is on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead. There is no mention of the love of God.

11. Paul's Defense before the governor, Felix, Acts 24:10-21

Paul establishes his innocence regarding the Jews' charges, then affirms the Law and the Prophets and the general resurrection of both righteous and wicked, a belief for which he says he is on trial.

There is no mention of God's love or even of forgiveness.

12. Paul before Felix and Drusilla, Acts 24:24-25

Paul speaks of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come which frightens Felix who then sends Paul away. There is no mention of God's love or of a personal relationship with Him.13. Paul's Defense before the Agrippa, Acts 26:1-29

Paul gives his testimony, noting the importance of the resurrection. He tells of the commission Jesus had given him, proclaiming the Gospel with a goal of deliverance from Satanic darkness to receiving forgiveness and an inheritance from God. Paul claims his message is the same as the prophets regarding the Messiah's suffering and resurrection.

Emphasis is on the resurrection of Christ, prophetic fulfillment and forgiveness, and Paul's responsibility to preach the Gospel. There is no mention of love or a relationship with God. The love of God is never mentioned a single time in the entire book of Acts.


1999 Gregory Koukl. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only.
For more information, contact Stand to Reason at
1438 East 33rd St., Signal Hill, CA 90755
(800) 2-REASON (562) 595-7333 www.str.org

Does God love everyone with common grace but He only loves His Chosen ones with elective loving grace? Does God save only his Elect or are there others that are not His Elect that He saves, and God eventually saves everyone?

Steve Newell


The practice of closed communion is a church practice that goes back to the early Church.

If a Christian comes to the Lord's table with the belief that they are only having a memorial meal and not the body and blood of Christ in with and under the elements of bread and wine, are they not participating in the Lord's meal in an unworthy manor? It is not an act of love to prevent them from eating to their detriment?

If you do not believe with the Lutheran understanding of Holy Communion, then why would you take communion in a Lutheran Church. When one takes communion in a particular church, they are publicly stating stating that they agree with that church's teaching on Holy Communion.

Saddleback denies the Means of Grace is both Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, so they are denying Christians God's Grace through the sacraments. Which is a greater issue, denying God's grace in the sacraments or following Paul's instruction on Holy Communion.

The comments to this entry are closed.

October 2010

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

A Little Leaven

Support This Site

Follow Me on Twitter

  • Twitter

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter