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Tripe, Trash and Terrible Theology

Pastor Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, was interviewed on the Hannity and Colmes Show on December 3 of this year. In the course of the interview, Alan Colmes asked Pastor Warren “If you don’t accept Jesus, if you’re not someone who goes that route religiously, can you find your way to heaven?” After some chatter back and forth, Pastor Warren had this to say, “I’d say give him a 60 day trial. Give Him a trial. See if he’ll change your life. I dare you to try trusting Jesus for 60 days. Or your money guaranteed back.” If you want to see it for yourself, you can find the video and transcript at the Hannity and Colmes website. How can any man claiming to be an evangelical, Bible believing pastor make a statement like that? The suggestion that Jesus is available for a free trial is absurd and unBiblical to the extreme.

The idea of a free trial is ludicrous. What exactly are we trying out? Are we make the offer to the last that Christ will make their life better in less than 60 days? Are we suggesting that Jesus will give them feelings of peace and joy within two months? Are we offering a great way to get better health, that a free 60 day trial of Jesus will heal all their diseases? What Jesus promises to those who come to Him has no time frame involved, and it cannot packed into some foolish two month trial package. The gospel message is a message of eternal salvation, that we are forever forgiven of our sin and unendingly placed into a right relationship with God. The gospel message has nothing to do with health, feelings or prosperity. The gospel message has everything to do with our relationship with God. The unsaved man cannot understand that, andthe carnal Christian is blinded to the realization of that. How can we suggest that a man expirementing with Jesus is going to realize the blessings and benefits of being in right fellowship with God? This idea totally misses the point of the gospel.

Most importantly, the notion of a free trial of Christ does not square with anything Jesus said about being His disciple. Christ used terms that demanded commitment and complete dedication. In Mark 10 a rich young man comes to Christ seeking eternal life. Christ’s ultimate response is, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” That doesn’t sound like a money back guarantee to me. That sounds like Christ is demanding we give up everything to follow Him. In Luke 9 several individuals come to Christ and express a desire to follow Him, and each time Christ challenged their commitment, discouraging any one from trivially following Him. The last statement He makes in that section is, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Does that sound like Christ was making trial offers of Himself? Earlier in the same chapter, we see the high cost of following Christ as He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” The call of Christ is one of total commitment and total abandonment. We cannot offer some foolish, wimpy notion of Christ that suggests He is willing to settle for anything less than all of you. In Luke 14 Christ tells the multitudes the cost of following him, and then He uses the examples of a man building a tower and of a king going to war to show the great necessity of looking ahead to count the cost. We cannot undermine the gospel by hiding the cost of Christ. We must show people what Christ demands of His followers so that they may know what is at stake with Christ. He does not offer a 60 day free trial, He demands a total sacrifice of ourselves to Him.