Generally speaking, the term "God's people" is used to refer to those who do believe in God, those who read and believe His Word, who sing songs of worship to God and songs about God's grace, songs, for example, like the song, "Amazing Grace." This is because "God's people" believe the words of Ephesians 2:8 and 9, which says that it is "by grace you have been saved," or as the King James puts it, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." But again, we hear Rick complaining that "God's people do not "do" God's Word.
It sure sounds like he is accusing the brethren... accusing them of not believing God enough. That's odd. A pastor should be expected to encourage the faithful, instead Rick makes a bold accusation to them, against them. He simply pinpoints a precise and very conclusive problem, and wouldn't you know, just like magic, he becomes the solver of that problem for you! The plan he already has packed in his pocket, should you be so wise to listen to him, is none other than his latest program for churches, called 40 Days in the Word. All you have to do is put him in charge, for a fee, and as the Saddleback ad banner says, "40 Days in the Word will transform your hearers, into doers."
The apostle Paul warned the church about those who would come to the church already established, preaching "another gospel."
Obviously distressed about those who departed from the truth, he reminded them that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, and he reminded them "even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Then he told them, Even if we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
To make sure they didn't misunderstand Paul then reiterated, "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." It's the kind of thing that makes one wonder where they should be getting their information from... God? or man?
Rick's offer is 40 Days in the Word. But while being "In the Word" sure sounds biblical, and 40 days of something positive to do with all your friends has appeal, before you trade your bible for a workbook and video of Rick, consider Paul's warning to the Galatians. Test yourself to see if you are in the faith, the faith once delivered unto all the saints, (Jude :3) Do you believe, have you believed the precious gospel of the grace of God in Christ, which comes by hearing and by "faith," or do you think that you need to purchase Rick's solution to help you and your wayward church learn the Word, Love the Word, and Live the Word, "like never before."
God's people have, all these years of history, consisted of people who were "in" God's Word. Jews gathered for hearing scriptures read and performing the sacrifices required by law. Christians too, attend church in order to hear what the Bible says, to pray,and remember God... and the sacrifice Jesus, the Lamb of God, made for our sin, upon the cross. Not only that, but the Church is known for considering the scriptures as a key instructor about God, his promises and the salvation we profess, believe and proclaim.
Whether it's a sermon, or Sunday school lesson in how God worked in the history of days past through the prophets or through the apostles, or a meeting on prophesy to speculate what the future holds for those who believe on Him today, the Bible is, in all it's various forms and translations, the very thing which resides at the church's core. So what on earth is Rick Warren talking about?
The truth is, that regardless of what Christian "church" you attend, the Bible and all it contains for our edification is the focus of our Sunday schools, mid-week services, youth groups, children's ministries and catechisms that are intended teach us the Christian faith. Also true is the fact that Christians, of every tongue and tribe and nation, believe in Jesus because they have heard of the things written down, passed on from generation to generation through time, and preserved in God's holy book. It's ironic, but if your church happens to have doubters, Rick offers to replace the old ways of doing things at your church with new ones, and your bible, he will gladly replace with his sermons, books, small group studies and individual daily devotions, all-church programs, as well as youth and children’s materials, that is, of course, for a fee.
As mentioned already, Rick's latest program is called, Forty Days in the Word; but it is more than a "program." For Rick calls it, "a campaign."
In a March 2009 interview on AGTV, with the Superintendent for the Assemblies of God churches, George Wood, Rick told the listening audience where he got the inspiring idea for his 40 Days "campaigns." He said he learned it "from the Communists, (of all people!)" Rick has talked openly about this in several interviews, even recommended the book he learned his great idea from to other pastors to read. Enlightened, Rick simply began to put the information to his own good use upon the church and strategically positioned himself to be the information hub for pastors of every and any denomination.
Like his many other campaigns, Rick calls this one, a "leadership factory." If you are inclined to greatness, rest assured, he will make a "leader" out of you, and in Rick's programs, as well as Saddleback Church, you do not even have to be a Christian to lead a group. Once you catch his vision, pull out your credit card and accept his invitation to be a member of his team, all you have to do is invite your friends and plug in a DVD where Rick does all the teaching for you; then in six weeks time, you'll be making others into "leaders" just like you.
The non-returnable, "40 Days in the Word Campaign Preview Kit" contains "samples" of all the materials your church members and small groups will use if they participate in this campaign and it is a mere $159.00, (unless of course, you get the current "coupon" sale deal of $79.99.) You will simply add to this sample kit as time goes by, purchasing additional videos, workbooks and sermons from Pastor Rick's pastors.com website or Saddleback Resources, if needed. The larger portion of the total cost of the program, will of course, be the consumable workbooks paid for by the individual members of your churches community, as directed by their pastors to do, and of course, once your church members align successfully with Rick, they will probably continue doing church like never before as well. The Campaign Success Guide for Leaders, pg 34, says after you finish this six week program, you'll then be ready to order the next curriculum.
So Christian believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, what book will you be using to read from in church this week? Will the sermons be something from God's word and inspired by the Holy Spirit or will you be preached from the pulpit a sermon preached previously by Rick or watch a sermons via Saddleback simulcast from Orange County California? More importantly, do you believe the gospel that the Bible contains and teaches clearly, particularly as it has been recorded by eyewitnesses to the majesty of God, or are you a doubter... one easily tossed to and fro by every wave and wind of doctrine that blows your way? Can you be persuaded to replace your bible, weekly sermons and church Sunday school lessons with the shrewdly marketed products from this man?
And what does Rick Warren teach? It is the gospel truth about God's promises and His Son Jesus Christ, or is it another gospel, (one that really is no gospel at all?) Will you be like a noble Berean and search the scriptures daily to see if what someone tells you is really true? Some, it seems will, like the Galatians be quick to fall away from the one who calls us into grace but others will hold fast to what is true and contend for the faith once delivers to all the saints.
Christian remember, Jesus prayed for you and for me.
John Chapter 17 Jesus's prayer:
"...For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them."
Rick Warren routinely teaches "God's People" using lots of his own "words" but repeatedly fails to teach and preach "the Gospel" as it is clearly presented in God's Word.
Remember those Bereans of ancient days who received the word of God as preached by Paul and the other apostles. We are told that they received the word of God he preached with, "all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11)
James tells us clearly (verses 18, or even 24) that "faith without works is dead," and we who believe God's word would do well to heed what the Word rightly says.
Test yourselves; Are you a respecter of persons? When someone is claimed and hailed as important or influential, looked up to as rich and famous, even labeled one of "100 Most Influential People in the World,"or one of the top "15 People Who Make America Great, will that impress you? Will that make the person more important to you than the person riding next to you on the city bus?
Are you partial to yourselves, to your own likes and dislikes when it comes to things like music, hair-length, jewelry, or fashionable dress? And, what do you defend in public, the brethren of the Lord, or evil doers and to what end? And, are you ashamed to admit belief in fundamental Bible truths and teachings on subjects like hell and that there is salvation in no other name but Jesus Christ? Do you labor to tell sinners that they need to find their purpose or work to make disciples who repent of sin and believe on Jesus Christ?
James is right. Faith professed, is just professed faith; and faith for faith's sake, faith that has no roots and shows no fruit of the faithful, is simply, dead. But the good news is, a little is a lot. When it comes to faith, all you need is faith the size of the grain of a mustard seed. (Matthew 17:20)
If you profess to believe in Jesus and in God's Word, but do grasp on to what it means with your mind and with your heart, you are vulnerable to deception. If you know it, but ignore what Jesus and the apostles taught, did and said, it is highly likely, that much like those foolish and "bewitched" Galatians, you too, will soon be marching to the tune of a different drum, or be under the spell of some highfaluting "pied" piper. It's possible too that like Rick Warren says, if you don't "really" believe God's Word, you'll find yourself following some outspoken preacher/teacher who makes bold claims that there is a "problem," in your "unhealthy" little church, (and only he and his wisdom about churches and the Bible, can begin to fix.)
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."