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- Eternal Purpose: “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren (Book Summary)
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Books on living the Christian life are a dime a dozen. The shelves of Christian bookstores bow under the weight of myriad titles promising freedom from bondage, secrets of debt free living, keys to loving other people, and a whole host of other practical matters.
Pastors are giving it two thumbs up from the pulpit, quoting it at length and encouraging Bible study groups to read it together. If any Christian book has been wildly popular among both evangelical circles and the culture at large, this is it.
The question is broad enough to address both believer and unbeliever alike, which may in part explain the width of its appeal. His goal is to prepare the reader to answer the two questions God will pose to him on the last day: What did you do with Jesus, and what did you do with what God gave you p34? The answer is by worshiping Him, loving other believers, becoming like Christ, serving others with our gifts, and telling others about Him pp The remaining five sections flesh out these ideas respectively.
The most useful summary is given by Warren himself on p, working from the Great Commandment Matt and the Great Commission Matt Worship is not about what pleases us, but about what makes God smile. God smiles when we love, trust, obey, and praise Him, and when we use our abilities for His glory pp Fellowship is symbolized by baptism, and designed to teach us how to love pp Real fellowship is characterized by authenticity, mutuality, sympathy, and mercy p But cultivating this kind of community takes honesty, humility, courtesy, confidentiality, and frequency pp It also takes an ability to restore broken relationships and protect the unity of the church pp Ministry is our service to believers see p It is not an optional extra of the Christian life p , and it is in large part what gives our lives meaning and significance pp, Evangelism is our service to unbelievers p But failing to do so will mean wasting your life p Personal evangelism, then, is to be accomplished by sharing your life message, which includes your testimony, your life lessons, your godly passions, and the good news pp ; and it should be accompanied by an increasingly global concern for the unsaved, which is ideally caught by going on a short term missions trip p Balancing these five purposes is the key to persevering and succeeding in the Christian life.
To achieve that balance, we need to discuss these ideas with others, record our life lessons through the discipline of journaling, and write out a specific life purpose statement that includes each of these five biblical purposes pp Warren gives even the careful Christian reader a lot to agree with. First, he combats the self-centeredness and wrong individualism characteristic of Americans today.
Second, Warren is careful to maintain the authority of Scripture. He explains at the very outset that discerning our purpose in life should come from revelation rather than speculation pp So many divisions in the local church today would be mended if this truth were more widely expounded! They look for a feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped.
And finally, Warren is great on the nature and necessity of servant-hood in mature believers pp There is no greater epitaph than that statement! My prayer is that people will be able to say that about me when I die.
It is also my prayer that people will say it about you, too.
That is why I wrote this book for you. This phrase is the ultimate definition of a life well lived. The motivating verse is misinterpreted as a moralism.
Warren seems to address his book to both believers and unbelievers alike.
Eternal Purpose: “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren (Book Summary)
The cart seems to be in front of the horse. What we want to see at this pivot, then, is a clear articulation of both the Gospel and the saving response to it repentance and belief so that the unbeliever does not continue reading under the moralistic assumption that being a good boy by carrying out these five purposes is what will save him from the power and penalty of his sin.
But repentance is tepidly presented in the following terms.
This is all true, of course. But there is no mention of either sin or repentance here. True, Warren does require change. But biblical repentance is always and self-consciously a turning away specifically from sin , not just from amoral priorities or value neutral relationships.
Still no repentance. That is not all — you need to repent as well. Indeed, there has been no explanation of why the unbeliever would even need forgiveness. He is still left asking the fundamental questions of the Gospel.
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren - Animated Book Review
Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross for me?
The purpose of life book by rick warren
Do I really deserve death for my sins? How could Jesus die the death that I deserved? The Gospel has not yet been defined biblically. Receive his forgiveness for your sins.
Here sin and forgiveness are verbally mentioned, which is great; but there still has been no clear explanation of who Jesus is, nor of why our unrepentant sin offends God and makes relationship with him impossible i. He told them Jesus died for them!
What else do you want him to do, sit the non-Christian down in a seminary class before he can be converted? After all, no one really understands the full implications of deciding to follow Christ the moment they repent and believe.
Yet the person and work of Jesus Christ are the very objects in which the unbeliever is to place his faith. Saving faith is not blind.
Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations!
Welcome to the family of God! The rest of the book, then, assumes that the unbelieving reader prayed the prayer, and that praying the prayer ensures that the reader is now a bona fide Christian.
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Even if the Gospel and its required response had been sufficiently explained, the unbeliever is now told that his internal assurance of salvation and the affirmation of his conversion by others are dependent on the mere sincerity of his prayer.
But we are never told in Scripture that if we pray a prayer once, we should feel assured of our own salvation this is not what 1John teaches. We will know others, and ourselves, by our fruits Matt ; 1John ; James ; 2Peter Genuine conversion is only discerned by the fruit that true repentance bears over time. He has not heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. He has not heard how to respond savingly to that Gospel by the graces of repentance from sin and trust in Christ.
Warren tells the unbeliever how he should live, but does not clearly tell him what he should do to be saved or where he can find the power to live such a life. Such ambiguity obscures the Gospel of grace and confuses unbelievers as to what it means to be a Christian.
A prayer — even a sincere one — may or may not be evidence of the saving faith James writes of in James 2. Warren is certainly right in fully intending to share the gospel before he begins to expound the purposes of the Christian life.
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But encouraging assurance of salvation where there is not even the bud, much less the fruit, of repentance is one of the biggest problems in American evangelicalism today. The purposes that Warren propagates are solidly biblical purposes, and every Christian should be concerned with them. The problem is that they become moralisms in the absence of a clear Gospel presentation. Because the Gospel presentation is cloudy, conversion is easily confused with living on purpose.
It is righteousness by works. Even prior to his Gospel presentation, Warren confuses the idea of living on purpose with the reality of conversion. But surely the greatest tragedy is neither death nor life without purpose, but both life and death without responding to the Gospel in repentance and belief. Quit playing word games and get on with fulfilling the Great Commission!
People do it every day. They read their Bibles, sing songs at church with a tear in their eye, give to the missions fund, maybe even share their faith at work and go on a short term missions trip, all the while harboring and hiding years of unrepentant sin under the floorboards of their hearts.
This is certainly a more accurate picture of repentance, though still lacking the specific connection with sin. Yet is repentance only supposed to happen after conversion? No, repentance is part and parcel of conversion, which means that calling unbelievers to it is fundamental to preaching the Gospel of Christ accurately Mark The Christian pastor is therefore on dangerous ground to follow Warren in waiting to clearly call people to repentance from sin until after he has convinced them that they have been converted without it.
When we delay the call for repentance, we confuse the meaning of both evangelism and conversion, unwittingly deceiving people that they have either shared the Gospel faithfully without requiring repentance, or that they have responded to the Gospel savingly without rendering it. This sounds great, and I agree that God does not look at mere outward appearances, but that our affections and attitudes matter to Him.
But the integrity or sincerity of my desire to please God is not fundamentally what God looks at as saving — otherwise salvation would not be wholly of grace, as Warren would wholeheartedly agree, and millions of devout Muslims would be on their way to heaven, which Warren would wholeheartedly deny.
A person can have a deep desire to please God, but without repentance from sin and belief in Jesus Christ alone as the one who has paid the penalty for that sin, no one is converted. Also, sometimes when God looks at my heart, He sees sin — pride, covetousness, bitterness, anger, lust — the whole nine yards, even though I am a Christian.
The elements of my old nature are all still there inside me, even though I am sad and sometimes embarrassed to admit it, and even though God has dealt the decisive blow to my old nature in the death and resurrection of Christ. What does God think of me then? What God looks at in my heart cannot be only my desires. If that were the case, it would be impossible for anyone to be saved.
But praise God, what He looks at is the righteousness of his own perfect Son, which He credited to my account by grace through faith so that I can be acquitted before the bar of His unbending justice 2Cor That is what it means to be converted. The definition assumes that purpose has power to drive the believer forward in the Christian life.