01 February 2013

Rick Warren: "We Must Build Bridges of Friendship and Love" So Jesus Can Walk Across

*This article originally appears here at Christian Research Network.

The commission of the Christian is to spread the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to share with others all that He has commanded (Matt. 28:19–20). The Christian knows that only faith in Jesus Christ can save a soul, and he seeks to share that Word of truth with whomever he may, whether friend or enemy. After all, by what means is it that a man comes to a saving knowledge of the great Savior?
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)
How, then, must this 'word of Christ' be shared? Must it be a laborious process, through weeks and months of cultivating a relationship with a person before boldly proclaiming to them the truth? Or is it possible that a person—one greatly hostile to Christ and to Christians—might hear the Word preached by a stranger and be drawn by the Holy Spirit and be saved? What must the Christian accomplish before Christ's saving work can begin in the heart of the unregenerate?

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, provides a curious opinion on the matter.
In a Christian Post article addressing and refuting claims that Warren advocates "Chrislam," the following quote is shared by the megachurch pastor:
You cannot win your enemies to Christ; only your friends, so we must build bridges of friendship and love to those who believe differently so Jesus can walk across that bridge into their hearts. (Source)
Is this true? Is it the duty of the Christian to "build bridges of friendship and love...so Jesus can walk across that bridge into" the heart of the unsaved person? Scripture knows of no such concept. Of course, this is not to say that the Christian does not seek to be friendly and demonstrate Christ's love to others. Believers are to be upstanding, so that those in society have no reason to speak ill of them (1 Pet. 2:12; 1 Tim. 3:7). If the Christian is to be reviled, let him be reviled for doing good and for preaching the Gospel (1 Pet. 2:20). The fact remains, however, that Jesus Christ does not need a bridge of emotions to be built so that He finally will be able to walk across that theoretical bridge and into the heart of the unsaved.

What, then, does Scripture say on the matter? It seems logical to turn to the Pastoral Epistles in order to address this claim made by Pastor Warren. In writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, the Apostle Paul exhorted the young pastor thusly:
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Tim. 4:13)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4:1–2)
And what wise counsel did the Apostle offer to Titus?
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
It seems quite interesting that nowhere does Paul instruct Timothy or Titus to build bridges so that Jesus finally will be able to save a person. In fact, Paul urges Timothy to continue in teaching sound doctrine even when it is unpopular, which most assuredly indicates that the preaching of the Word will at times be met with opposition. Yet the words of the Apostle are to "preach the Word." Why would Paul have so exhorted these young pastors to continue to preach the Word, and to make the teaching and the sharing of God's Word their priority? Romans 10 again comes to mind:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:17)
It is by the preaching of the Word that men are saved. As God's truth is proclaimed, and as the Gospel is announced with clear authority, the Holy Spirit draws those whom the Father has chosen (John 6:44, 63). It is the power of the Holy Spirit that will bring men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. While a bridge of "friendship and love" may be appealing and nice to have, it is not necessary. God is quite able and faithful to save without such a contraption. Consider this short account:
Testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall, [Charles] Spurgeon shouted, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result. (Source)
There may not always be time to build a bridge of friendship and love with a person before sharing with him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The life of a man could be taken from him at any moment. That is why today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2), and that is why the Christian can be thankful that Jesus does not need a man-made bridge of emotions to save a person, He only desires faithfulness in proclaiming His Word. God will do the rest, for the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Further Reading
Women Elders: the World vs. the Word
Ignorance of the Bible is the Root of All Error
As Interest in Spiritual Directors Grows, Christians Must Be Wary and Armed with Truth

4 comments:

  1. I read that quote from Warren to my wife and she immediately said, "Yeah.....Jesus needs us to do all of that, doesn't He? He can't do it without us."

    Why can't the so-called "leaders" of the "professing church" understand that profound truth found in those 2 short sentences?

    Pride is a terrible thing.......

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  2. Wow.. what a direct contrast to James 4:4
    "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

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  3. The premise RW puts forth, "You can not win your enemies to Christ" is faulty and not to be found in Scripture. No where are we instructed to win souls to Christ whether friend or foe. We are instructed to preach the Word as you have so aptly stated here, Erin. 1 Cor 1:21 says that it is "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (KJV). Would RW seek to change the Word to read: "it pleased God by the intelligent work of my servants to build a bridge to their lost neighbor so that they may accept Me into their heart" (or some other such nonsense)? This is precisely what we are expected to believe according to RW.

    As his premise is wrong, so is his conclusion. Friendship and love by a fellow human never saved anyone. Could it be that this bridge building thing is just a ruse to relieve the guilt for all the 'failures' we attribute to ourselves for not having been a part in the 'winning' of souls to Christ? Again, 'winning souls' is not the task or responsibility of the believer, preaching the Word is. RW's mishandling (purpose drivenly) of the Word never produces good fruit. Rather, it plays in the minds of the biblically illiterate causing them to continue in their ignorance of the Word and to continue to believe the drivel that comes from the mouth of RW and others. By doing so, they place themselves in the eternally dangerous position of being one those spoken of by our Lord in Matt. 7:21-23. Hence the comment by Dave S above. "Jesus needs us to do all of that, doesn't He? He can't do it without us." What a horrible burden is placed on the man who believes this nonsense (is a person's eternal destiny in my hands? that is the exact outcome of this statement). Why can't the so-called "leaders" of the "professing church" understand that profound truth found in these two short sentences: "...it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" and "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" 1 Cor. 1:18. You are right, Dave, "pride is a terrible thing." It is the root cause of all unbelief. It keeps men from repenting and believing the Gospel, and is the unpurchased ticket for entry into hell-we were born with that ticket in our heart and only the power of regenerating grace of God will keep us from using it.

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  4. I thought Jesus already built the bridge at the cross-The Gospel...

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