“Except the LORD Build the House,
They Labour in Vain That Build it”
The Kingdom of God Is the Narrow Way
“You want to know what God cares about most? He wants his lost children found! That’s why he went through that whole thing about the cross. Legend tells us that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and yet Christians are fiddling around debating things while the world goes to hell. Friends, it’s time to stop debating and start doing. Stop debating the Bible, and start doing it. It’s time to stop criticizing and start cooperating.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)1
First, God’s Word clearly says that we are only the children of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; the lost are not God’s “children.” Contending for the faith (“debating things”) is a necessary and compelling aspect of true love for the lost. True love does not want to see them go to hell while today’s Christianity fiddles around in cooperation with religions, associations, and beliefs on the broad way that can only give the lost a false gospel and a false “Jesus,” if any at all.
If the lost are truly cared about, then time will be taken to ensure that they are not led astray by a false religion (faith) and god. Any concern for the lost is undermined when churches are changed or “birthed” to accommodate the unbelieving and pagan perspective of the world and when other religions (faiths) are brought into the “solution” for spiritual lostness and emptiness. This is not compassionate service but a matter of the blind leading the blind.
The Kingdom of God is the narrow way. It is neither participated in nor served nor entered in by those on the broad way. Nor is it built through man’s interfaith efforts of world service.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:50)
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.… Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3, 5-6)
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7)
“… Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the Gospel of Christ. Believing the Gospel of Christ provides God’s salvation through which one is born again of the Spirit. This is the only entrance into God’s Kingdom. Thus, the true Kingdom of God is built through the power of the Gospel of Christ working within the hearts of repentant people who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and who are thus born again into newness of spirit and life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, a kingdom built in cooperative unity with the broad way of the world is not founded in the truth or righteousness or peace of God, all of which are only found on the narrow way. This is not the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which only exists within His true believers who have been called out of the world.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:23-24)
Is Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan the Kingdom of God?
Rick Warren’s purpose-driven, interfaith P.E.A.C.E. Plan places a far greater emphasis on temporal P.E.A.C.E. than it does on God’s eternal peace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, according to him, the five aspects of his P.E.A.C.E. Plan are “called the kingdom of God” and are what Jesus “modeled” in His “example” of how to “live the kingdom of God.”
“Jesus modeled the solution. He modeled the kingdom of God.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)2
“The kingdom of God is wherever God is king in your life. That’s what it is. So how can I become involved? Well, fortunately we have a great example in Jesus.… While he was here on earth, Jesus did five things.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)3
“Now what is the solution to these [five giants]? Well, I could get into that in real detail, but let me just tell you in one phrase – it’s the kingdom of God.… You gotta ask yourself first what is the kingdom and how do I seek it.… The Bible tells us that the kingdom of God is what God wants to do on earth. It is God’s people doing God’s purposes on God’s planet for God’s glory. And Jesus modeled how to live the kingdom of God. He did five things. He shared the Good News and started a church, which by the way we’re all a part of. He equipped leaders … he helped the poor, he cared for the sick, and he educated the next generation. He taught the truth. He said the truth will set you free. These are the five solutions to the global giants. For the last two years I’ve had 4,500 of my members overseas in 47 countries working on what we call the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is to Plant churches, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. It’s called the kingdom of God!” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)4
“You need to understand that at the heart of the P.E.A.C.E. plan is this theme: the kingdom of God. The P.E.A.C.E. plan is just doing the 5 things Jesus did while he was here on earth … It’s just doing the 5 things Jesus did. And it is a strategy of global expansion because Jesus cares about the whole world.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)5
“Not only does God want you to see the world as he sees it and love it the way he loves it, but he wants you to do the Son’s plan, the Son’s pattern.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)6
“Now these five elements of Jesus’ ministry are the practical expression of the kingdom of God. We call it the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)7
An interfaith P.E.A.C.E. Plan that enlists “men of peace” and “houses of worship” in “all the different religions” is not doing the Son’s plan or pattern! The Lord Jesus Christ never “modeled” a Kingdom that non-Christians (non-followers of Christ) could work in without being saved. And He never “modeled” interfaith unity, which is excluded from His Kingdom.
This is not about the truth, which non-Christians do not have and therefore cannot uphold in the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. This is about relationships between those on the narrow way and those on the broad way. Relationships, the same dialectical “glue” holding purpose-driven churches together, are to be the uniting force in reaching the P.E.A.C.E. Plan’s global “target.”
“The Peace Plan, its a relationship for the global glory of God.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)8
“In every village, in every home, in every business, in every government there is a man of peace, or a woman of peace. Somebody who’s willing to work. By the way they don’t necessarily have to be Christian, either.” —Rick Warren9
In the Purpose-Driven Paradigm, not only does a person not have to be a Christian to live a purpose-driven life of “God’s purposes,” but they do not even have to be a Christian to “live the kingdom of God.” They simply need to be a man or woman “of peace” who is willing to participate in working for peace in Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
To say that “in every village, in every home, in every business, in every government there is a man of peace” is to even further twist the Lord Jesus Christ’s words in Luke 10. This global Plan has gone way beyond a Reformation that unites “the church.”
“God invites you to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse, and most significant cause in history—his kingdom.” (PDL; p. 298; emphasis added)
Yet the Lord Jesus Christ, after pointing out that His Kingdom “is not of this world” (John 18:36), said, “for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). Interfaith unity is not about the truth so is not about God’s cause or Kingdom.
Rick Warren’s article in the December 2005 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal was titled, “A Plan for Peace: Easing suffering around the world can be accomplished, one person at a time.” Although in this article he quotes Romans 10:14 regarding believing in the Lord, “the Lord” is never said to be the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, in this entire article on peace, the only time that Jesus (Who is the Prince of Peace) is mentioned is in a statement on “following the example of Jesus.”
He also tells the readers of this secular Journal:
“God is a God of hope, and it’s a hope that will not disappoint. We cannot always see the hand of God, but we can trust in the love of God.” —Rick Warren10
Only those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ can trust in the eternal hope and love of God and will not be disappointed. They alone have been saved from the eternal judgment of God’s wrath. God says in His Word that He showed the world His love on the cross (e.g., see Romans 5:8 and 1 John 4:9-10); the eternal love of God “is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (see Romans 8:39).
“The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) … how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.… And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:36, 38, 42-43)
“Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (1 Peter 1:21)
Yet more often than not, the world is not being told about Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour Who requires true faith in Him. Along with the message of Purpose, the world is being told about Jesus the “model” who wants His “example” followed in works; specifically, the works of Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Consistent with his belief that “living on purpose is the path to peace” (PDL; p. 35), this article presents his P.E.A.C.E. Plan as the solution toward improving people’s temporal life and hope on earth. His secular readers, who have a variety of understandings of “the power and presence of God,” are told:
“The Bible teaches that we will never experience a lasting peace on earth apart from the power and presence of God, but it also teaches that we can offer a taste of God’s peace to those who’ve lost all hope. We do this by following the example of Jesus. We see in Scripture that He shared God’s love, trained leaders, helped the poor, cared for the sick and taught the children.…
“It [this PEACE plan] calls for people of faith to work together to help those with no hope … What would happen if we could mobilize congregations to adopt villages where spiritual emptiness, selfish leadership, poverty, disease and ignorance keep people from experiencing the kind of life God meant for them to have?
“… we need everyone doing his or her part.… I know God uses ordinary people, just like you, to make significant contributions toward peace on earth.
“I think it all starts with God’s family.
“P stands for plant faith communities. If we’re going to share the love of God with billions of people, we must help start new faith communities around the world.”
“My prayer is that we can mobilize the health-care professionals in faith communities across our country. These professionals have knowledge, expertise and experience that can make life better for millions of people around our world.…
“[T]here are so many in our world who have no hope as they face disease and death.… they cannot get the medical help that’s desperately needed.…
“These problems are gigantic, but ordinary people of faith, working together, can chip away at the chaos and bring hope back to the hopeless.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)11
First, “God’s family” doesn’t mean what it used to. Second, interfaith unity, by its very nature, automatically changes the focus from people of the faith to “people of faith.” As previously mentioned, Rick Warren has called for “houses of worship” “in all the different religions” to minister health care and “spiritual care,” which gives people temporal hope at the expense of eternal hope. And what he admitted at the 2005 Aspen Ideas Festival further shows that it would be irrelevant to him which “faith communities” the other religions and their “men of peace” choose to plant:
“I did a demographics study in the summer of ‘79, and I discovered that the Saddleback Valley, where I live and have lived for 25 years, was the fastest growing area in Orange County, and Orange County was the fastest growing county in America in the 70’s.… It caught my attention. I thought, you know where people are moving in they probably need new houses of worships, temples, and synagogues, and churches, and stuff like that.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)12
No wonder he told active members “of any kind of religion,” “‘Great, God bless you, keep going’”!
In “Pragmatism Goes to Church,” A.W. Tozer describes today’s Christianity well:
“For the pragmatist there are no absolutes … Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience.…
“The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results.…
“The proof is that it succeeds; no one wants to argue with success.
“It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is.…
“It [‘pragmatic philosophy’] asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it.… When it discovers something that works it soon finds a text to justify it, ‘consecrates’ it to the Lord and plunges ahead. Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree. After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away. You cannot argue with success. The method works; ergo, it must be good.
“The weakness of all this is its tragic shortsightedness.… It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ.” —A.W. Tozer (Emphasis added)13
Saving Bodies at the Expense of Souls -- A Revolution
for Global Christianity
“The P.E.A.C.E. Plan will be a ‘revolution’ for global Christianity, Warren told the congregation.
“‘I stand before you confidently right now and say to you that God is going to use you to change the world,’ Warren said.… ‘I’m looking at a stadium full of people who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
“‘What will happen if the followers of Jesus say to him, ‘We are yours’?’ Warren asked. ‘What kind of spiritual awakening will occur?’” —PurposeDriven News (Emphasis added)14
First, the answer to his question, “What kind of spiritual awakening will occur?” depends on which Jesus is followed: the Lord Jesus Christ Who is hated by the world because of His absolute truth, or a counterfeit “Jesus” who is embraced by the world because of his relativism. The basis of interfaith unity is relativism, not absolute truth.
Second, “whatever it takes” will never establish God’s Kingdom for Him. It is the prideful absurdity of man that actually believes man has the power and holiness to change the world and establish God’s Kingdom on earth for Him as it is in heaven! Yet even more absurd is man’s belief that “whatever it takes” includes interfaith unity!
Almighty God is establishing His holy Kingdom Himself after His Day of the Lord judgment on a world that has shunned to do His will. Incidentally, did you notice in the previous quote what was missing from the phrase Rick Warren took from the Lord’s Prayer?
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
This phrase is in Luke’s recording of it as well:
“… Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” (Luke 11:2)
“Whatever it takes” in the P.E.A.C.E. Plan includes conforming to the world and diluting, even deleting, the Gospel of Christ in order to unite with the world in the name of purpose. This is not about either God’s will or God’s Kingdom.
“Until recently, Warren said he assumed spreading the Gospel was the most important Christian calling. When his wife, Kay, began showing him pictures of African AIDS orphans and demanding that he use Saddleback’s heft to help them, he realized he had neglected Jesus’ command to serve the poor, he said.” —The Orange County Register, 11/2/03 (Emphasis added)15
Setting the Gospel of Christ aside does not serve the poor and sick who even more urgently need the Saviour! Again, sharing “the message of Purpose” is more important than telling others about the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:
“Kay and I, and our Saddleback team, have committed to spending the rest of our lives sharing the message of Purpose and the strategy of the PEACE Plan with every corner of the world.…
“It will be a holy movement, involving all kinds of churches sharing the same purposes together, and I invite you to join us! Will you hear and obey the call of God?” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)16
A holy movement would never put physical needs above eternal needs. This is not hearing and obeying the call of God. Upside down to God’s purpose, man’s purpose is to save bodies at the expense of souls.
“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:26-29)
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?… (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:24-25, 32-33)
The Lord Jesus Christ tells us to seek first the true Kingdom of God and His righteousness because receiving His righteousness imputed to us through faith is the only way to enter His Kingdom. Then God becomes our Father and meets our physical needs (see Matthew 6:25-33). Yet this, too, has been turned upside down. Today’s Christianity has rewritten Matthew 6:33 to say, “But seek ye first to serve the world, and its temporal needs; and the kingdom of God shall be added unto them.”
Nothing is more important than giving people the Gospel of Christ with their physical care. If they believe, they can then have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He alone has the power to give them God’s saving love (salvation) and meet all their physical needs as well. The Saviour Himself said:
“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18)
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:4-5)
Through interfaith unity, people may get physical care that improves the quality of their life on earth. But they will only be given “spiritual care” that will result in far worse suffering than poverty and AIDS -- an eternity of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the lake of fire (e.g., see Matthew 13:49-50 and Revelation 20:10, 14-15). This is not showing compassion on the sick and dying!
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25 & 14:12)
“In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28)
In spite of interfaith efforts, people are still going to die. Perhaps happier and healthier, but they will still die. It is very important to feed and help the poor and sick, but food and medicine will do no good whatsoever in an eternity of fire. Interfaith unity is not the answer in striving for mercy and peace in the world. It is destructive and only seemingly “works,” temporarily. With God, neither mercy and truth nor righteousness and peace are separated from each other, and they, in turn, are not found apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10)
People are so focused on this temporal life that even in Jesus’ day they didn’t want to see that physical needs are secondary to the primary spiritual need of salvation. Those who had their physical needs met first wanted to make Jesus King by force. But when He tried to meet their spiritual need, they weren’t interested and walked away from Him. They only wanted what He could do for them physically; they didn’t care about His words, which are life. (See John 6.) When these people departed from walking with Him and being His disciples (John 6:66), Jesus asked His faithful twelve if they were going to leave, too. Peter answered Him:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69)
Peter responded with strong conviction because he believed what Jesus had told him:
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)
As truth continues to be sacrificed on the altar of unity, the broad way’s relativism and pragmatism have inevitably become the prevailing “new way of thinking and acting.” In the name of purpose, today’s Christianity is transforming into the image of the world. This is indeed “a ‘revolution’ for global Christianity.”
“We’ve had a Reformation; what we need now is a transformation.” —Rick Warren17
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Return to Chapter 12 Proceed to Chapter 14
1. Rick Warren, speaker at the Baptist World Centenary Congress -- “Cleansing Water,” July 30, 2005, transcribed from Congress Internet Video Streaming, http://www.bwacongress2005.org.uk/feature.asp?id=832#.
3. Rick Warren, Saddleback’s 25th Anniversary Celebration at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, April 17th, 2005, transcribed from http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/home/anniversary_celebration.asp.
4. Rick Warren, Global Day of Prayer Dallas, TX, Part 8 of 10, May 15, 2005, transcribed from Global Day of Prayer Streaming & Downloadable Video Resources, American Bible Society, http://www.gdopvideo.com.
5. Rick Warren, Saddleback’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, April 17th, 2005, transcribed from http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/home/anniversary_celebration.asp.
6. Rick Warren, speaker at the Baptist World Centenary Congress -- “Cleansing Water,” July 30, 2005, transcribed from http://www.bwacongress2005.org.uk/feature.asp?id=832#.
8. As quoted in “Rick Warren enters 26th year of ministry with new vision: ‘Purpose’ pastor unveils global Peace Plan” by Christina M. Testa, Christian Examiner, May 2005, http://www.christianexaminer.com/Articles/Articles%20May05/Art_May05_02.html.
9. Rick Warren, Saddleback’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, April 17th, 2005, transcribed from http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/home/anniversary_celebration.asp.
10. “A Plan for Peace” by Rick Warren, Ladies’ Home Journal, December 2005 issue, p. 26.
11. Ibid., pp. 26, 28.
12. Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.901097/k.C0C7/Agenda.htm. Transcribed from the audio available at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
13. “Pragmatism Goes to Church” by A.W. Tozer, The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book Two, Compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe, (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, 1980), pp. 254-256.
14. “P.E.A.C.E. Plan a worldwide revolution, Warren tells Angel Stadium crowd” by Mark Kelly, PurposeDriven News, http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/AboutUs/PDintheNews/Archives/25th_Celebration.htm.
15. “Pastor: Mission possible // Saddleback Church leader has assignment for his congregation, if they care enough to accept it” by Jim Hinch, The Orange County Register, November 2, 2003, (available through the archives of http://www.ocregister.com).
16. “The task before us is enormous, but God is equipping us” by Rick Warren, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=200&artid=8139&expand=1.
17. As quoted in “Rick Warren: Global Baptists ‘are all in this together’” by Trennis Henderson, Western Recorder, Baptist Congress Today, July 30, 2005, http://www.bwanet.org/Congress/congresstoday29f.htm.
Copyright © 2006 Tamara Hartzell. All rights reserved.