It needs to be said up front that I write this article with no hostility or mean-spirited attitude. Actually, I write it with a broken heart. I have friends who are personal friends of the man in question, and I would never jeopardize that with any sort of ill-founded or intentionally misguided public slander. That said, God does not give us the option of staying away from difficult subjects, and part of preaching the “whole counsel” involves correcting error where it is found. Finally, if you start reading this article, I would ask that you finish and withhold any judgment of character until that point. If you will not read all the way through, please do not even start reading. This will be very long, but I feel that it is important.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 says, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Here we have a very interesting portion of Scripture. If you know anything at all about your Bible, you know that Timothy is a young preacher who was brought up in the ministry by Paul. The Apostle Paul discipled Timothy not only in the areas of Christian living and theology but also in the area of preaching itself.
In fact, some of the greatest admonition to be found for the preacher in all of the Word of God can be found in these two books.
Before we delve into the actual issues at hand, it will help us to understand what a “preacher of the gospel” is responsible for, what they should preach, and how they should handle the biblical text. A brief examination of the verses above will do nicely.
Verse 1: “…charge…before God…who shall judge the quick and the dead…”
Immediately, there is a heaviness and gravity associated with preaching (remember, the context is preaching as we will see in verse 2). This charge to “preach the Word” is not man-made; there should be no pressure from external forces such as friends or parents, or internal forces such as one’s desires for fame or fortune to enter into the ministry.
My preacher, Dr. Allen Barker, gives wonderful advice to those who announce to him their call to preach: “Go home and think about it for WEEKS. If you decide you can do ANYTHING else with your life, don’t be a preacher.”
This kind of advice is as sound and genuine as it comes. The life of a preacher is ONLY for those called of God. It does not mean they are more special in the sight of God, nor does it mean they have special privilege over God’s people. Just the opposite, in fact. We will see later that those appointed of God to the office of the pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc. will be judged on a more stringent scale than layman–a thought and fact that terrifies me, for one.
If you think you are going to get rich off of preaching or increase your social status, you are probably wrong (if your motivations are right). That’s not to say that God will not bless a preacher with financial and other rewards–God is good to us and He does want us to prosper! The problem enters when WE are the object of HIS ministry. Jesus and Jesus alone should be the object of any ministry conducted in His name. Period.
Verse 2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
This is the central “core” of preaching if you will. This has to do with the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It is here that we see the first bit of light shed on the problem at hand. There is no such thing as “preaching” that does not involve each of the elements mentioned in this verse.
Any message, talk, speech, presentation, or otherwise given in the name of Jesus that does NOT contain traces of those elements is NOT to be considered preaching, according to the Bible.
Let’s define the terms. Reprove, which means “to reprimand,” rebuke, “to express sharp disapproval or criticism,” and exhort, “to strongly encourage or urge (someone) to do something.” How? With ALL longsuffering (patience) and doctrine (correct teaching).
Therefore, we have the ability and the responsibility (Romans 16:17) to call out mishandling of the Scripture. If we could not do this, biblically speaking, we would be asked of the Bible to willingly subject ourselves to those who do not preach “thus saith the Lord,” but “another gospel” (Galatians 1:8).
The hope of salvation, believe it or not, is not what draws people to the gospel nor what saves them. Conviction of sin is the drawing power, and salvation is through Jesus alone. Make no mistake: A person will not get saved until they first realize they are sinful, hopeless, and lost without God.
However, this does not complicate grace. My wording it so strongly has no bearing on what that looks like to the Father. I, as a four-year-old, gave my heart to Christ. I understood that I was a sinner and needed to be saved, and I accepted Christ. I did not present a pre-school level doctoral thesis to my pastor about why I was a sinner. Christ accepted me with what I did know and taught me more as I grew in the knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18). I’m still learning today, by the way.
Verse 3: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”
This is what happens when doctrine is ignored in preaching. A time will come when, for whatever reason, a person will choose to no longer endure sound doctrine. Why? They’ve found someone who “preaches,” but leaves doctrine out of it!
Out of their own lusts, the verse says, they’ll find teachers who will “scratch the itch” of their ears. That is what this verse is saying. In other words, they’ll find a preacher who leaves out sin, because they’re tired of hearing about being a sinner. They’ll leave out the Blood because it makes the gospel too “harsh and gory.”
Without the Blood, there IS NO gospel! Without repentance of sin, there is no salvation (1 John 1:9)! Do you see the dire issue at hand? A social gospel is not enough. An encouraging gospel is not enough. A “your best life now” gospel is not enough. For sinners to be saved, there MUST be recognition and repentance of sin!
Verse 4: “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Here is the result. DON’T MISS THIS. Because they have left a preacher or teacher who is presenting the gospel, their ears are turned away from the truth–the very truth that has the power to make you free (John 8:32).
They’ll be turned unto fables; in other words, they will begin to accept “any other gospel” as their truth. To those who would put someone down who is standing up for Truth–you had better make sure that the one YOU are defending is, in fact, right. Otherwise, you put yourself in danger of being drawn away.
Verse 5: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
This is the admonition given to Timothy as one who does stand up for truth. “Endure afflictions” and “make full proof of thy ministry.”
In other words, “stand up for truth no matter what the cost, so that your ministry will prove itself to be true in My (God’s) sight.”
As of this moment, we have not really discussed any specifics about the prosperity gospel or Joel Osteen (other than a slight reference to his book). But I would challenge you: If you do stop reading right here, make sure you put ANY and EVERY pastor or teacher you listen to up to the test of 2 Timothy 4:1-5. It will quickly reveal to you who is after your ears vs. who is after your heart.
Misconceptions and Misunderstandings
Lest we become “false accusers” (1 Peter 3:16), it is extremely important that when “calling someone out” on false teaching we ensure that our accusations are correct and not misguided or unfounded.
Actually, this is an area I am deeply burdened about because I see it happening all the time, and it isn’t right. You don’t get to have a field day with someone’s personal life because you think they are a false teacher. I cannot stress this enough nor be more clear.
I write this because I feel God has led me to do so and because I believe there is a STRONG Scriptural case. I will not be standing up strawmen in this piece at the expense of the accused. In fact, I think a few must be knocked down before we can get to the heart of the matter. It bothers me deeply when my brethren sacrifice their testimony on the altar of hearsay and personal attacks.
With that said, it is time to get specific. I believe there are a few accusations against Joel Osteen that are not correct (to the BEST of my knowledge), or if they are correct, are not able to be proven with Scripture. You’ll notice that wherever possible I will be inserting Scripture references to support my claims–this is not to show how I’m some great Bible scholar; rather, it is to show that I am attempting to communicate what “thus saith the Lord” on this matter rather than what “thus saith Steve.” Nobody cares what I have to say, but I have found that God often invites a listening ear.
Accusation #1: “Stealing” from His Church Members
There is a meme (picture with words overlayed) floating around on the internet with a picture of Joel Osteen’s mansion that reads something to the effect of, “A pastor with a 40 Million dollar mansion is no pastor; he is a con-man.”
This implication of this meme (evidenced by almost all of the surrounding commentary) is that Joel draws a ridiculously large salary from His church which he then used to purchase a 40 Million dollar compound. There are at least a couple of problems with this statement:
- There are no “preachers must be poor” verses in the Bible. Now, I recognize that even Jesus said, “foxes have holes….but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” (Luke 9:58). Still, plenty of pastors draw a salary today that puts them in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world. For a pastor of 300 to draw a salary of say, $60,000, would not be unusual–how much more then should a pastor of 30,000+ draw! Doctrinal issues aside, in light of sheer numbers, this would not be inconceivable. HOWEVER,
- It is fairly common knowledge that Joel Osteen does *NOT* draw a salary from his church. If he is not lying, he has made this clear on numerous occasions and others have verified. The reality is that Joel is an extremely successful author and influencer in the “motivational” world. Does this qualify him to Pastor? No. That is the point of my writing. Nevertheless, this gives no license or occasion to criticize his financial success. A man who sells books (lots and lots of books, mind you) is allowed to draw an income off of that.
These are two powerful lines of evidence that, if true, exonerate him from any accusations that stem from financially stealing from his church. If he DID draw a salary, he would still be justified in doing so–but he does not.
There are issues with Joel Osteen’s ministry, but this is not one of them. Let’s focus on what matters.
Accusation #2: Lack of Giving
There are those who would make statements like, “That 40 Million dollars would have bought a lot of poor folks food!” and such the like. Well, that is true. Except that unless there is MASSIVE tax fraud going on, Joel would be absolutely insane to NOT be giving away bukus of money.
Dave Ramsay addresses this issue (though not with respect to Joel) in his book, The Legacy Journey. He spends a great deal of time talking about how Christians tend to look down their noses at those with tons of money and ask why they are not giving to the poor instead of buying nice things.
Dave argues that the reality is these individuals are usually giving away more than the “naysayer’s” will give in a lifetime. The prosperity gospel is false, however, there is nothing wrong with financial success–and there is nothing wrong with enjoying God’s blessings!
I will stand open to correction on this. If there arises a strong case which shows that Joel is not giving in accordance with tax and income laws, then I will retract this section willingly. But at this time, I see no reason to suggest that Joel is not giving to those who are less fortunate than himself.
Accusation #3: Pure Financial Motivation
Lastly, I think we should address the notion that Joel’s motives are purely financial. I have an unusual amount of insight into this because I do know someone who is actually good friends with Joel (this is proven and not conjecture, by the way).
I will not call them out, but I will say that this individual is a good friend of his and claims to know his heart. Joel has a passion for the sick and afflicted and, this person believes, loves the Lord.
I have sympathy for those without this insight, however. If all you know of Joel is what you hear and see on television, it certainly seems logical to contend that his motives are solely financial in nature.
However, I believe I have a trustworthy source in our mutual friend, and therefore I feel confident that I can debunk this argument. He may have unsound theology; he may even purposely leave out elements of the gospel that don’t “sound good” to those who would buy his books, but I still believe his motives are more vast than just dollar signs.
Defining the Prosperity Gospel
With all of the preliminaries out of the way, we finally have a path cleared to the heart of the issue. This article is using Joel because he is one of the most prominent faces of this movement, but the real problem here goes far deeper than the shortcomings of any one person’s teachings.
Joel (and others) espouse what is affectionately known as the prosperity gospel. This is also sometimes called the “health and wealth” gospel and has some pretty deep ties to the “Word of Faith” movement.
It is one thing to “crucify” somebody for their theology, but we have no basis for doing that unless we can prove, Scripturally, that it is false.
The prosperity gospel movement, as a whole, seeks to communicate the message that you can have anything you want if you speak it into existence, and the only way you will not receive it is if you do not have enough faith.
In other words, they say that God wants you to have everything that you want (money, Learjets, mansions, perfect health, etc.). We know, of course, that this is not true. Proper biblical exegesis (extracting truth from Scripture rather reading “truth” into Scripture) teaches us that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8), and that God has a will for our lives that WE are called to conform to (Romans 12:2).
Here is what is VERY important: The only way to arrive at the prosperity gospel is to take every verse concerning faith in the Bible out of context.
Remember, anyone can make the Bible say whatever they want as long as they remove it from its original context. Let’s look at a few of the verses I have personally heard misused by the prosperity gospel (Word of Faith) movement:
- Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” This verse is used over and over, but can be so easily taken out of context! If you take this verse hyper-literally, you could contend that my tongue has the power to prolong my life or to take my life instantly. This is obviously not true. Obviously, your attitude and the way you speak contribute to your outlook on life, which is all this verse is talking about. “You have the power to control your attitude,” would be a good paraphrase. Proverbs is speaking in very practical, down-to-earth language, and is not making a theological claim here about the kind of power (in the absolute sense) the believer has.
- Matthew 17:20 – “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” How about this one? Again, taken hyper-literally, you (yes, YOU) have the power to overcome the laws of physics and move a mountain–you only lack the faith to do so. Verses like this are brought up when God does not seem to be providing the healing that has been hoped for in a situation. In other words, this person just did not exercise enough faith in God that He could heal, no matter how many times this person begged God and prayed and fasted for healing. Sometimes, God says no according to HIS will–the prosperity gospel refuses to accept that notion.
- Isaiah 55:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” The gross misuse of this beautiful Scripture really saddens me. The context of this WHOLE chapter is the Atonement of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. And out of nowhere, the prosperity movement (and specifically the Word of Faith movement) claims that the healing verse here means that we are ALREADY healed (physically) of every infirmity we will ever have because of the stripes on Jesus’ back. We need only accept that healing, claim it, and have enough faith. Friends, this verse has NOTHING to do with physical healing. It has everything to do with the ultimate healing of our sinful condition that Christ purchased with his Precious Blood on a hill called Calvary.
There are many more verses we could break down, but I think you get the point. This can all be summed up in what some in the movement formally call, “positive confession.”
Again, this is the notion that if we speak something in the name of Jesus and have enough faith that it will come to pass, it simply will.
Now in case you have not directly placed your finger on it yet, we must call into attention the MAJOR problem with the prosperity gospel. It probably will not surprise you. It is bad enough to discover what all they are reading into Scripture, but it may even be worse to discover what they are leaving out.
Prosperity? How about persecution and poverty?
If you thought the problem had to do with the impossibility of lining up the prosperity gospel with two thousand years of church history and deadly persecution, you guessed it!
In this way of thinking, what on earth do you do with this verse: John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Or this one: 2 Timothy 3:12 – “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Or this one: John 15:18 – “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”
I hope you are beginning to see just how bankrupt this theology is. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, so I’ll just briefly mention the Christians who live in poverty. How about Jesus Himself, who “had not where to lay His head?” Seems like Jesus just did not have enough faith!
Now I know what some of you are thinking: “But, he is so encouraging and inspirational, and I’m blessed by him, so leave him alone!”
We’re looking at that problem next.
Do Good Intentions Justify False Teaching?
Perhaps another way to frame the question is this, “If I am blessed by Joel Osteen’s ministry, what’s the big deal?” You’re not going to like my answer at all, but please don’t tune me out: If this is your honest reaction to his ministry, then you are either (1) deceived or (2) extremely selfish.
Quite a claim, I know. But allow me to defend my position.
As plainly as I can possibly state this, Joel Osteen does not preach a salvation gospel. I’m sorry, but that is absolute fact. He may believe in it and he may be saved himself, but he does not preach that way. He preaches a “have it your way” kind of gospel.
So then, if you are blessed by his ministry, then you may be deceived into thinking that what he says is true. Sure, he says true things, but what he says about Scripture and about Jesus is almost always false. I personally don’t know how a Bible believing Christian can hear what he says and not cringe, but perhaps that is just me? Feel free to tell me where I am wrong here.
The other alternative is that you are extremely selfish–this is to say that you realize he is not preaching a salvation gospel and overlook that because you like what he has to say about YOU. What about the thousands who attend his church who are not saved because He does not preach “Christ and Him crucified?” What about the many thousands who have walked away from the Christian Faith because when God “failed” them, they stopped believing in Him?
A shallow gospel does not work, and it does not line up with the Bible.
Even if his motives are sound and he has the absolute best of intentions, he is not preaching the Bible–and to consider yourself the “pastor” of a church and not to preach the Bible is, in my opinion, a heresy of the worst kind. I don’t care how nice he is, I don’t care how big he smiles, and I don’t care how much he blesses you–be CAREFUL hitching up to a wagon that claims the Bible is true while contradicting it to make it say what he wants it to say.
The Bible and False Teachers
Interestingly enough, the Bible he claims to preach has quite a bit to say about what false teachers look like. We have already seen from the verses in 2 Timothy that no doubt, a time will come when some teachers will teach unsound doctrine to anyone willing to listen!
This begs the question, “What is unsound doctrine?” Well, the simple answer is–anything that contradicts the whole counsel of God! In other words, if it violates God’s doctrine in any way, shape, or form, it is then unsound.
Notice – 1 Timothy 6:3-5 – “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
It is no surprise that just a few verses later we find, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10).
This is the devasting blow to the prosperity gospel.
Notice Exodus 20:3, one of the Ten Commandments – “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]If pursuing God is simply your means of achieving the life you want, it is not the God of the Bible that you worship.[/clickandtweet]
I love Paul’s words in Galatians 6:14 – “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” There is NOTHING in which to glory but in Jesus Christ Himself, and therefore the Creator God.
Does the Bible Condemn Motivational Speech?
One of Joel’s claims is that is simply his calling and conviction to provide encouragement and help broken people, and that may be true and should be commended!
So the question is that IF Joel Osteen’s ministry is encouraging people in a motivational way and giving them resources for helping them put their lives back together, is that wrong according to the Bible?
This is an interesting question, and as a person who actually enjoys reading what some would consider “self-help” books, it is a question that I must answer in spite of what I would like to be true! So then, there are a few elements in play here that must be uncovered in order to understand the Bible’s position. The reason is that the Bible does not explicitly say “thou shalt not read self-help books.”
It also doesn’t say “thou shalt not do drugs,” but we could make a pretty sound case from the Bible that drugs are indeed to be condemned.
Let’s list out a few truth claims that we can measure against the Scriptures to then use to build a logical argument either for or against the thrust of Joel’s ministry:
- Joel pastors a church.
- As a pastor, Joel has Scriptural instructions to adhere to.
- Joel authors books.
- Joel represents God in the public sphere.
- There is no individual in the Bible whose ministry pattern matches Joel’s.
So listed above are five things that absolutely true about both Joel and the Bible. The question is then, do these arguments when considered in light of one another, support the type of ministry that Joel has? We’ll look at that and then I’ll close this section out with a brief illustration.
Joel pastors a church, and as a pastor, Joel has Scriptural instructions to adhere to. Many know that Joel took over his church after his father’s passing. Joel had grown up in the ministry but never considered himself to be a pastor. The problem is that he IS pastoring. Whether or not he sees himself as a pastor is irrelevant to the fact that he pastors what claims to be a New Testament church. Therefore, Joel must adhere to the instructions set forth for a pastor, which I believe he does not as evidenced by the qualifications found in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (keep in mind these are not qualifications for the office of the pastor–those are found elsewhere and do not necessarily concern doctrine. This is concerning whether he is preaching what the Bible claims a preacher should preach).
Joel authors books and represents God in the public sphere. Joel authoring books is just fine. And I would concede that in those books, Joel is free to write whatever he wants! The problem is that as a preacher, his authorship is representative of God. Therefore, he must adhere in his writings and teachings to explicitly what the Bible says, as he acknowledges that It is his ultimate authority.
There is no individual in the Bible whose ministry pattern matches Joel’s. Lastly, there does not seem to be any Scriptural support for a ministry that is based solely on encouraging the downtrodden and helping rebuild broken lives. In fact, only Jesus Himself can actually do this (Acts 4:12)! Therefore, I see no validation for a “motivational speaking ministry.”
That said–the Bible does not seem to explicitly condemn motivational speech, per se. And even reading self-help books could be questionable, because the Bible teaches that we can not even begin to understand knowledge without fear (reverence) of the Lord. This is why whenever I try to read a “self-help” book, I look for one with a Christian perspective. One called, “Dear Lord, Tell me What to Do” by Dr. Raymond barber is a great example. This book uses the Bible as THE source of information to answer the problems presented in the book.
One could claim that Joel’s books are permissible by that standard, but since we have made a clear judgment that Joel’s position is not actually supported Scripturally, this would also be in error.
One more thing I want to point out: we are not talking legalistically here. Reading self-help books and listening to motivational speakers is not a salvation issue, but it is an issue of standing on God’s Word as the ultimate authority and doing what God says to do. That, my friends, matters a great deal. The command is to “do ALL to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
I promised an illustration: There is a man who claims that he has the “ministry of criticism.” No, I am not making this up. Do you see how ridiculous this sounds? God would never ordain such a ministry. However, reproving and rebuking are valid instructions for a preacher! The problem is this person is leaving out the “whole counsel.” This is just the flip side of what Joel is doing. He is leaving off the “critical” aspects of Christianity and preaching on the one’s that sound good! Neither position is Scriptural.
There are two other considerations about motivational speaking/teaching:
- When taken too far, motivationalism becomes false hope. Remember, Jesus not only warned us but PROMISED us that we would have troubles and tribulations. It is in error to motivate someone past the point of believing that what Jesus said would happen will not.
- When taken too far, motivationalism cheapens grace. We must never neglect Christ’s sacrifice. If we fail to preach against sin, we fail to even make logical sense of Christ sacrificing Himself. The very premise of the necessity for the gospel is bent on the fact that without Christ, we are nothing. Leave out the reason for needing Him, and you’ve completely left out the gospel.
The final points deal much less with why Joel’s theology is flawed, but rather with what that could mean for him and should mean for you.
Teachers are Judged More Harshly
Jesus Who? There is a popular Larry King interview featuring Joel where he was explicitly asked if Jesus was the only way to heaven. Joel’s response? “Well, I tend to let God be the judge of those things.” (paraphrased). Here’s the problem: He’s KIND OF right!…but not quite.
Joel absolutely believes that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but if someone else doesn’t believe that, it is not Joel’s job to judge. This is true! I agree entirely with his statement. BUT, that still does not change the objective truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
In other words, Joel presented his answer in a very relativistic (true for me/not true for you) fashion because he doesn’t seem to want to have to discuss the notion of hell.
I don’t believe I have to defend this theologically, but rather it is important to note what the Bible says about those in positions of Christian leadership and authority.
James 3:1 says, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” Here is what this means: If you preach and teach the gospel, you will be held accountable for everything you say on an even stricter level than those who simply hear and do the Word.
If you have any reverential fear of the Lord at all, you should approach everything you do and say in his name with absolute humility and accuracy. Which brings me to my next thought:
“Is that really in the Bible?” It caused quite an uproar when Victoria, Joel’s wife made the statement: “…Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy…” You know what God wants? Glory! God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). If you put HIM FIRST, happiness will follow. You cannot be truly happy in the ultimate sense apart from knowing God. Nevertheless, what God wants is not our happiness, but HIS glory to be revealed in us.
In my opinion, it is a bad idea to make statements that so incorrectly represent the God you claim to preach and teach.
It is because of this point I even wrestled with writing this. God forbid that I would say one thing against His Infallible Word. Have I done so in the past? I’m sure. Not willingly, and I believe God knows my heart on that. We all make mistakes, and we serve a gracious God! But one day, prosperity gospel preachers will answer to God for their gross mishandling of His Holy Writ, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
The Right Biblical Response: Warn and Pray
So, what do we do about it?
It is going to take more than a couple of “naysayers” like you and me to convince Joel and others in this movement that they are in deep and dangerous theological error.
But we can influence those around us.
We have every right to take a Bible and confront someone who goes along with what false teachers of any stripe have to say, and show them what “thus saith the Lord.”
And, perhaps the very best thing we can do is pray. Should we pray for Osteen and others to change? Maybe–but I think God is in control of that situation. I believe we should focus our prayer on those who have decided to turn away from the gospel because this false teaching has given them a misguided hope. We should focus it on those who want to believe in a real Jesus and a real God who can do real things for them but are being blinded by trying to conjure up their human desires in a spiritual “experience” of some kind.
When Jesus truly comes in, He changes your very desires themselves. You will know that He has entered in because in your Spirit, you will want to do only what pleases Him, and you will feel terrible conviction when you know you have failed Him. And, you will fail Him.
But to quote one of my favorite preachers and songwriters, Dr. Craig Edwards, “Though I’ve failed the Lord, He has never failed me!”
Thanks for your time reading what I hope is a thoughtful and informative article about an issue we should all have a deep burden for. God bless you, and don’t forget to pray for those still ensnared by sin, and believing fully they are going to heaven.
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!