If he was not the most popular preacher in America, with the largest church and the most followers, I would likely not be writing much about Joel Osteen. But because he is, it is imperative that I do discuss the man and his message, especially if it may well be leading millions of people to hell.
Yes you heard me right. A gospel devoted exclusively to self and to selfishness will send no one to heaven. And that is Osteen’s bread and butter. Thus a man who influences millions of people every day around the world needs to be assessed carefully in the light of Scripture.
And that I have done many times before. One simply has to read his books or hear his “preaching” to see that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is entirely absent – replaced by a therapeutic, feel-good, man-exalting, self-flattering, saccharine sweet load of baloney. See here, for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/05/18/will-the-real-gospel-please-stand-up/
His whole message can be summed up in one word: me. It is all about me. What can I get out of all this? Can I get rich, successful, happy, and satisfied? His gospel is the gospel of self: self-fulfilment, self-improvement, self-satisfaction and self-deification.
The biblical gospel is of course completely the opposite: it is about self-denial, self-sacrifice and self-abnegation. Jesus made this perfectly clear time and time again. As but one example, consider Matthew 16:24-26:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Yet Osteen and other TV preachers think this is a lousy message, and needs to be improved upon. Instead of telling people to deny self, they tell people to gorge on self, exalt self, live for self, and glorify self. There is only one source for that message, and it is not coming from God. Hell of course is completely filled with people who put self first.
Yet incredibly so many undiscerning, biblically illiterate, and compromised Christians slavishly follow everything this charlatan says and does. So let me offer several more vignettes about this man. All of them are a major worry, and can be added to the growing list of reasons why we should avoid him like the plague.
Martin Luther is purported to have said that we dare not avoid the most important of battles, but instead give them our utmost attention: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
When the very truth of God is especially being attacked and challenged, Christians have a sacred obligation to stand in the gap and take on the opponents. Perhaps nowhere is God and his word more under attack today than by the militant homosexual lobby.
They are doing all they can to not only smash God’s institutions of marriage and family, but to destroy the church itself. Yet we have frauds like Osteen refusing to raise a finger about this, or to say a word about it. As he said in a recent interview:
HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill asked whether gay marriage is against the fundamental “rules” of Christianity.
“It would be, but I don’t really focus on a lot of those things,” Osteen said. “I try to stay in my lane of what I feel called to do. [Gay marriage] does come up in interviews and things, but that’s not my core message.”
What his message does include, Osteen said, is advising his congregation on how to let go of the past, raise good children and achieve their dreams. He added that the sexuality of gays and lesbians is one of the “issues” faced by many different types of people in his church.
“Everybody’s welcome, but my take on it is it’s easy to make one issue – to become known for that or to let it sidetrack your message,” he said. “If you look at our congregation … including myself, we all have issues. Everybody’s on a journey.”
Of course he does not want to focus on such things. He does not want to make any of his flock feel uncomfortable. He does not want to rock the boat. He wants the masses to keep pouring in, and just as vitally, he wants the money to keep pouring in. To actually take a biblical stance on an important issue like this would just not do.
Above all Osteen wants the masses to be happy, to be content, to be self-satisfied. He does not in any way want them upset or disturbed or agitated. That is why he does not talk about crucial issues like homosexuality. Then again, that is why he does not talk about sin. That is why he does not talk about judgment to come.
That is why he does not talk about the wrath of God. That is why he does not talk about repentance. That is why he does not talk about hell. That is why he does not talk about the cross. He would never want to get any of his folks in any way uncomfortable. So he will avoid all controversial topics – even clear biblical ones – even though they are vitally important issues.
Also, consider this recent episode: Osteen is now charging up to $850 just for the privilege of hearing him! I kid you not. We used to speak about the sin of simony: making a profit out of sacred things; charging for the gospel. Well, folks like Osteen have raised this to an art form – and millions of gullible and duped believers are falling for it.
I don’t think that even mega rock stars charge this much. Just imagine Whitefield preaching to 20,000 or 30,000 folks in the open air, but charging for tickets along the way! Worse yet, imagine Jesus or Paul or Peter or the early Christians actually charging people money before they could hear the life-giving words of the gospel.
This is greed and avarice compounded, and the worst bit is, it is being done in God’s name. And so many believers are lapping it up. Biblical discernment is at an all-time low today, and the church of Jesus Christ is simply becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.
No wonder we are losing. When a self-help guru no different from someone like Tony Roberts can get away with pretending to be a minister of the gospel on such a massive scale, then the church in the West is all but gone. Why am I reminded of the frauds in the Old Testament which the prophets railed and warned against?
Yet, “my people love it this way” was their only response (Jeremiah 5:31). The same today tragically. But I guess all this money is needed to fund an ever-expanding empire. When you are intent on having the biggest and the best on the planet, this takes big bickies. Indeed, you know you are talking megabucks when you start owning your own satellite radio channel.
As one recent news item states, “Joel Osteen is preaching in Yankee Stadium this Saturday. His sermon will be aired on his personal SiriusXM satellite radio channel, which begins operations this week. The channel will feature live call-in shows hosted by Osteen and his wife, as well as rebroadcasts of his past sermons. He preaches to 40,000 each week in his Houston church. His 2,650,000 Twitter followers include Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, and Oprah Winfrey.”
Um, simply looking at his fan base tells you all you need to know about his message. When degenerate and immoral celebs, homosexuals and New Agers all love your stuff, you know we have an apostate preaching a reprobate gospel big time.
And all on his own satellite network! Welcome to the Global Kingdom of Self, where you can have everything, be as rich as you want, never think an unhappy thought, and even lose weight for Jesus! This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ has degenerated to in America and the West. ‘And my people love it this way!’
When someone like Whitefield preached to massive crowds, he had no Yankee Stadium, no satellite network, no TV coverage, no PA system, no cover charges – nothing. He relied on a few simple but imperative things: the power of the Holy Ghost, and the Word of God. And with that countless souls were powerfully convicted of their sins, biblically repented, and were swept into the Kingdom of God.
And all this resulted in Great Awakenings which influenced the course of nations. Yet here we have a money-hungry imposter preaching to the masses, telling them exactly what they want to hear – that they can remain just as they are, stay comfortable in their self-centred lives, and just keep on with business as usual. As I say, millions may end up in hell because of such abominable heresy.
Can I respectfully submit the following: when and if an antichrist appears on the world stage, I imagine he will not be unlike all this. He will fill sports stadiums with masses of gullible groupies. He will mesmerise the crowds and promise them everything that they want.
And these followers, intoxicated on the demonic gospel of self, will basically worship the guy. And they will actually think they are doing God a favour when they put his genuine servants to death (John 16:2). Things are moving along so very nicely for all this to soon happen.
God please, have mercy on us, and rid us of this diabolical religiosity and our man-pleasing gospels that are sending millions to a lost eternity.