The Jesus Who Stood At A Fork In The Road

Jesus in The Purpose-Driven® Life by Rick Warren
By David Sheldon
The Purpose Driven Life Contemporary man employs words which have become so familiar that little attention is given to the impregnated meaning. Most have become sloppy in both reading and thinking. For example, take the name "Jesus". What an incredible Person has this name! The Bible is filled with the wonder and glory of this One whom the angels said was to be named "Jesus" because He would "save His people from their sins." The Scriptures not only use the name but infuse it with God's meaning .

In II Corinthians 11:4, Paul warns about the possibility of a "different Jesus" (as well as a "different spirit" and a "different gospel"). The use of this phrase "a different Jesus" is quite foreign to many within the visible church. So, what do we make of this and how important is it? The idea is that the name could be impregnated with a different meaning than that of the real Jesus. Thus, it would not represent the One so named. When a "different Jesus" is presented, it is by means of a "different spirit." And, when a "different gospel" is preached, taught, or received, it leads to a "different Jesus." Paul speaks about the receiving of a different Jesus or the preaching of a different gospel in both II Corinthians and Galatians. It was extremely important to him! and ultimately comes down to salvation via the truth of the gospel or being deceived and lost. Also, the apostolic church took this very seriously as did those in the first few hundred years of the churches existence. There were a number of church councils held to settle doctrinal issues.

In The Purpose-Driven® Life on page 57 we read: "Jesus stood at a fork in the road. Would he fulfill his purpose and bring glory to God, or would he shrink back and live a comfortable, self-centered life?" This statement ultimately deals with how one views the Person and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We want to make sure we have the right person since, on the next page, we are invited to believe and receive this Jesus and become part of the family of God. {The issue is compounded by the fact that his next statement is: "You face the same choice." He has identified Jesus as a potential sinner and elevated fallen man as if he could make decisions in the same way as Jesus.} However, the early church councils defined Jesus in terms of His "essence" as the "Hypostatic Union." (See Council of Chalcedon) Simply put: Jesus was and is only One Person, and is 100% God and 100% Man as to His two natures. The issues they were dealing with had to do with the fact that: some denied His incarnation, some denied His humanity, and some denied His divinity. The issue is not would Jesus shrink back and live a self-centered life, but could the real Jesus shrink back. Could Jesus (One Person, 100% God, 100% Man,) actually live a "self-centered life?" Now, I am making an assumption here. When I read this statement in the customary use of language and within context, it seems Warren is saying that Jesus could have either obeyed or not obeyed God the Father and, thus, sin (live a self-centered life). Was it possible for Jesus to be conflicted like this in His person and, thus, sin? {Particular church heresies which relate to Jesus having a dual personality are found in "Nestorianism" and "Sorinthianism.")

What is the problem with Warren saying, "Jesus came to a fork in the road"? First, this implies that Jesus had two options in front of him which he knew of. He could A) Obey and fulfill his God given role or B) Disobey and live a self-centered life. From where did Jesus' thought to disobey God come since there is no external tempter in the statement? (Or, from where did the thought come in Warren's mind to view Jesus like this?) Fallen man is tempted from within because we have a sin nature! How could Jesus be "conflicted" in deciding whether to obey or sin as noted in the statement? Do you see how this issue ultimately deals with whether or not Jesus is incarnate deity!

So, how should we look at Jesus' incarnation and temptations? First, the temptations of Jesus proved that He could not sin because He did not. It would be like "testing" an item that we have manufactured to prove that it meets all specifications. We test it to prove that it meets the test not to prove that it will fail. (Remember, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil, He did not choose to test Himself.)Jesus was tested to prove that He is the One Person, the God-Man, who could not sin as such because He is God! It is not that the "man" part of Him was tested while the "God" part of Him took a back seat, twiddling His thumbs, wondering if He would succeed. If we said it like that it would seem utter folly. It is that the One Person, in all deity, was tested! Another way to put it: If Jesus would have sinned, it would have proven not that He was a man but that He was not God incarnate! When He was tested He was always, always tested from outside Himself! He was never, never tested from internal conflict as to whether He would obey or sin! Yet we know Jesus, the eternal Son of God, identified with us in His incarnation (see Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 4:14-5:10).

  1. He went through the same types of conditions and circumstances of human life that we do.
  2. He did this in perfect obedience without sin and its' suffering consequences.
  3. He did this as God, the Son. He, being God, took upon Himself humanity without setting aside His deity, but, rather, setting aside His divine prerogatives as such.

Because He did all 3 of the above, He could bear our sins at Calvary as the perfect Lamb of God for sin and also as our perfect High Priest!

Jesus was "conflicted" as He contemplated the painful consequence He would suffer in obedience He carried out as the God-man upon Calvary. The horrible consequences for sin that Jesus bore can not possibly be looked upon or understood. Some think this is why there was darkness over the scene at Calvary. The horror was not the excruciating physical pain inflicted by men which is glorified in "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson. Rather, the horror was that He would bear the wrath of God for our sins and He knew it before the fact! He knew that the suffering in His own flesh of the wrath of God would be incredibly horrible. Please take careful note of this point: Rick Warren diverts our attention from the horror of our sins before a Holy God and the consequences our sin had for Jesus (which is never clearly articulated) to the concept that Jesus was "conflicted" and could have sinned!

The efficiency for salvation in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary is based upon the nature of the One who was crucified there on our behalf. Make no mistake. He is fully God. He is fully man. He is the One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God who bore the wrath of God for sin. His shed blood was the perfect sacrifice for sin because it was HIS shed blood. The purchase price for our redemption is an already accomplished fact as evidenced by Jesus' statement upon the cross when He said, "It is finished." It had God's "seal of approval" when He raised Christ from the dead!

It is one thing to employ the words: Jesus, sin, forgiveness, etc. in a book. It is quite another thing to bring people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ by delivering the "gospel message" no matter the medium. Warren uses the words; Jesus, sin, forgiveness, believe, (not repentance that I could find), but the meanings are couched in misrepresentations of the very nature of this One and why He had to be crucified. Thus, the point is bypassed along with the ministry of the Holy Spirit who "convinces the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment"? After all and ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament Gospel is made known by the effective presentation of the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Be careful that you have not been mesmerized to "quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity" rather than be convinced by the Holy Spirit of your desperate need of the true Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and repent of your sin and believe in Him.

More PDL reviews available:
40 Days That Start with a Different Gospel - By David Sheldon
A Purpose-Shaped Worldview (A Critique of chapters 1-7) - By David Sheldon
God's Wisdom – Christ Crucified! (Versus the "wisdom" on pages 20 & 21) - By David Sheldon

Scripture quotation taken from the NASB (where noted)
Copyright ©, 2004, David Sheldon. Updated 2010 by Kerri Sheldon.
Can be copied in its entirety for personal use or to be distributed, but not for profit.

Theological Studies
Contemporary Concerns
Deception in the Visible Church