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COLUMN: Why I call Joel Osteen a false teacher

COLUMN: Why I call Joel Osteen a false teacher

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Joel Osteen recently spoke at an event in our area. I knew about the event ahead of time and took the time to listen to it on Facebook Live as it was taking place. I then read the article that was published on the front page of the Oct. 5, 2018, The Free Lance–Star.

I don’t believe in attacking other churches, but I do believe in speaking clearly about false teachers. Especially when they show up on the front page of the newspaper because they spoke at the largest church in the area.

Make no mistake, Joel Osteen is a false teacher and should not be trusted as a source of biblical teaching by Bible-believing Christians.

That raises the question “Why?” It is a serious charge to call someone a false teacher. It is a charge that I take seriously and do not throw around lightly. So why would I call Osteen a false teacher? Is that fair? Those are important questions that are worthy of an answer.

Osteen’s message is built on the power of positive thinking. If we will remove any semblance of negativity from our lives and focus only on things that are positive, then we can live lives that are victorious and successful. The clear problem with this message is that it ignores the reality of Christian persecution and suffering around the world.

I am currently preaching through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Paul was imprisoned in Rome at the time that he wrote the letter. Paul’s circumstances stunk. He thought he would probably be released eventually, but he was committed to honoring Jesus whether he lived or died. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he wrote.

Lest we think this kind of suffering for Christ was unique to Paul, he wrote to the Philippian believers, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29).

Paul told the Philippian church that the suffering they would experience was a gift from God. Their suffering would serve to strengthen their faith and trust in Jesus and to advance the gospel.

Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Jesus also said in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).

But Joel Osteen teaches that faithfulness to God and righteous living results in material blessing. Jesus makes it clear that sometimes faithfulness to God and righteous living results in persecution.

The above alone would be enough to identify Osteen as a false teacher. My greatest concern, however, is what he says specifically about the gospel message.

In the talk he gave here in Fredericksburg, Osteen spoke against churches telling people that they are guilty before God and do not measure up to His standard of perfection. He said, “You’ve gotta get away from that. God is smiling down on you right now. God is for you. He breathed life into you. I’ve learned that when you know God is for you, then you can rise higher. You can go further in life.”

That message stands in direct opposition to the message of the gospel as preached by Jesus and the apostles and preserved in the Bible. We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23). We have fallen short of God’s standard of perfection. We deserve God’s punishment for our sin (Rom. 6:23).

But God sent His Son Jesus to come to this earth, live a sinless life, and die to pay for our sin. God then raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus is seated today at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.

Our only hope is to repent of our sin and place our total trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38). It is possible for God to look at us and see righteousness instead of our sin, but it is only possible through Jesus.

Preachers and teachers like Osteen are good at what they do. He is a likable guy who says some good things. He knows how to work a crowd and has obviously been very successful from a human perspective.

Unfortunately, he has become successful by proclaiming a false message. That is why he is so dangerous.

If we fail to compare the things that Osteen says with the clear teachings of Scripture, it is easy to be deceived. The prosperity gospel sounds good to itching ears, but it is a damning heresy from which Bible-believing Christians should flee.

Adam Blosser is the senior pastor of Goshen Baptist Church in Spotsylvania.

Adam Blosser is the senior pastor of Goshen Baptist Church in Spotsylvania.

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