How Is That ‘Best Life Now’ Working Out For You? Joel or Jesus?
If you really love someone and want to help them, you tell them the truth. If you don’t really care about others and just want to help yourself, then you tell them a lie. Regrettably this can happen even in the pulpit. We have plenty of preachers and teachers who tell people only what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.
This indicates not only a lack of love, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The true Christian leader always proclaims the whole counsel of God, and does not cherry pick Scripture in order to please his listeners and tickle their ears. He tells it like it is, regardless of how hard the word and how unpalatable the truth.
There would be plenty of examples of those who exist simply to please men and make them feel good. Let me mention just one. Joel Osteen has the largest church in America. And that should come as no surprise, since he has made a career out of telling people exactly what they want to hear.
He of course is the author of numerous bestsellers which all have the exact same message. Here are some of them:
Your Best Life Now
Your Best Life Begins Each Morning
Become a Better You
It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God’s Favor
You Can, You Will
Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week
The Power of I Am
Think Better, Live Better
Just think happy and successful and wealthy thoughts and you will be happy and successful and wealthy. All this is Norman Vincent Peale and positive thinking on steroids. All this is identical to New Age thought which says we can script our own destiny and create our own reality. All this is Christian Science mind-over-matter mumbo jumbo.
Osteen has spent decades telling his faithful followers that they can be happy, wealthy, healthy, successful, and have anything they want. They can have a great career, a great life, a great family, a great self-image, a great bottom line, and even a great waistline.
But one simply has to go back to the Bible to see just how far off the rails all this is. Anyone reading the New Testament without rose-coloured – or Osteen-coloured – glasses on will know that a pain-free, easy-going life is nowhere promised to the disciple of Christ.
To illustrate this, let me simply offer some quotes from three sources; Osteen, Jesus and Paul. You decide who to run with here, and who to give a wide berth.
Here are some promises and claims of Osteen (all taken from his 2013 book, I Declare: Proclaiming the Promises of God Over Your Life):
He promised He will not only bring your dreams to pass but He will give you even the secret desires of your heart.
I will give birth to every promise God put in my heart.
I DECLARE God’s dream for my life is coming to pass. It will not be stopped by people, disappointments, or adversities. God has solutions to every problem I will ever face already lined up. The right people and the right breaks are in my future. I will fulfill my destiny.
I will be in the right place at the right time. People will go out of their way to be good to me. I am surrounded by God’s favor.
I am full of power, strength, and determination. Nothing I face will be too much for me. I will overcome every obstacle, outlast every challenge, and come through every difficulty better off than I was before.
I am a breakthrough person and I choose to live breakthrough minded. I am expecting God to overwhelm me with His goodness and amaze me with His favor.
I am blessed. I’m strong. I’m healthy.
I choose to live my life happy, bloom where I am planted, and let God fight my battles.
Just act like you’re blessed, talk like you’re blessed, walk like you’re blessed, think like you’re blessed, smile like you’re blessed, dress like you’re blessed.
You need to prepare for an exceeding, abundant, above-and-beyond life; a life where people go out of their way for no reason to be good to you; a life where you get promoted even though you weren’t the most qualified; a life where you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
I’m not speaking defeat into my future. I’m not speaking failure over my life. I will turn it around and speak favor into my future. I will declare, “I’m blessed. I’m strong. I’m healthy. This will be a great year.” When you do that, you are blessing your future.
Here are some promises and claims of Jesus:
Matthew 5:3-4, 10 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 10:16-18, 21-23 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles…. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
Mark 13:9-13 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Luke 6:20-23 Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
Luke 21:16-17 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me.
John 15:18-21 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
John 16:2-4 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.
John 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Here are some promises and claims of Paul:
Acts 9:15-16 But the Lord said to Ananias [concerning Saul], “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
1 Corinthians 2:2-3 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
1 Corinthians 15:30-32 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained?
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Philippians 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
Phil 1:20-21 I eagerly expectand hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Phil 3:7-8 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
1 Thessalonians 3:4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.
2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
So who do we run with here?
As should be quite evident, the New Testament nowhere guarantees a life free of hardship, difficulty, trials, opposition and persecution. It promises them over and over again. And it nowhere talks about believers seeking to be happy – it does talk a lot about believers seeking to be holy.
Sure, the NT does speak of being filled with the joy of the Lord. But such joy is the result of being in Christ, doing his will, and being obedient to him. And doing his will and being obedient usually results in great suffering, hardship, persecution and tribulation.
Let me conclude with a sobering headline making the rounds the past few days. As one write-up on this puts it: “During the year 2016, some 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith around the world, according to a new study from the Turin-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR).”
Try telling these believers, or their families and friends who are still alive, about having your best life now. Try telling them if they just think happy and positive thoughts they can be winners and grinners every day. Try telling them if they just had more faith and put aside all negative thinking, they too could be wealthy and successful and obtain all their dreams.
I have said it before and I will say it again: the health and wealth gospel in general, and the bubble gum theology being pushed by folks like Osteen, are leading millions of people astray. Indeed, they are leading millions of people to a lost eternity.
We can either run with Jesus and Paul, or we can run with folks like Osteen. I know which ones I will be sticking with.
13 Replies to “How Is That ‘Best Life Now’ Working Out For You? Joel or Jesus?”
I met Joel Osteens’ father in the early ’70s. The Pentecostal father sounded nothing like his son. Maybe Joel is ashamed of his country background. The heart is deceitful above all things.
Totally agree with you Bill, thank you for this piece, Lately I have been very saddened by the way worship of our Holy, Heavenly Father who is all righteousness and truth particularly about the songs we are made to sing as they are all about “I”, the Gospel especially the verses you quote so well above are all about “Jesus”, his love for us in his sacrifice on the cross as well as all those other revelations from God’s Holy Word that you raise, it was all to make us a Holy chosen people. set apart to do his will not our own! For instance…
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,  Psalm 86. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Show me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me. Isaiah 60:21. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:31. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s…. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Revelation 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
…and to enjoy him forever.  Psalm 16:5-11. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 144:15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Isaiah 12:2. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Luke 2:10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Revelation 21:3-4. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
– Westminster Shorter Catechism
A lot of sermons I have heard in one particular church are what MICHAEL HORTON in his book CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY describes as being therapeutic moralistic deism. The sermons I have heard calling people to repentance and pointing to CHRIST as Lord and Saviour have been preached by young men – one a Anglican Vicar the other a Catholic priest. If the Seeker church where I heard feel good sermons does not want to upset people…..no let them be upset on Judgement Day.
The title of the book “The Power of I Am” by Joel Osteen should make any follower of Jesus appalled at the blasphemy. To replace the name of God, the Great I AM, with a title stating that our power is “I Am” statements naming and claiming our desires, is so incredibly abhorrent. As the book title implies and his other statements show, his is a false religion where people are encouraged to emulate him and become their own idol – like many other false religions of our time.
Yes it is a real worry Kirsten.
Interesting how many times the word “I” appears. It seems to me that self is on the throne in this man’s heart and not God.
Yes quite right Allison.
The converse of “the power of positive thinking” is the huge guilt trip when things in the “positive thinker’s” life go seriously and unavoidably “pear-shaped”: He or she begins to think their visualisation techniques for a personal golden age have not been practised religiously enough – their “faith” is somehow deficient.
Worse still, they may, like Hitler, when things went bad for his dreams for Lebensraum in the Soviet Union turned into a rout during the 1942/43 winter, simply refuse to believe that the bad things are actually happening.
“Self-empowerment” and “the will to power” have more to do with what happened to our miserably deluded first parents on their last day in Paradise, than with the true Via Dolorosa that leads to the real Paradise Regained. The real “best life” is not about turning stones into bread, or death-defying leaps of faith. Nor is it about touching Satan’s feet in homage for the sake of gaining the whole world, only to lose one’s soul in the process.
Thanks John. Perfectly correct. Indeed, your 167 words nicely serve as a very useful summary for the 186,000 words I used on my thesis on the Health and Wealth Gospel. Good job!
Speaking of getting into trouble for being Christian…
Gospel singer Kim Burrell finds herself getting shunned for…taking a biblical stance against homosexuality:
To her credit, Kim seems to be standing by the biblical stance thus far. But that means facing a tremendous amount of hostility and backlash right now:
Meanwhile if you have the stomach for it, here are some weirdo responses to Kim:
Joel Osteen seems to me to be a motivational speaker, for a shallow American ‘Christian’ congregation that follows him. I’ve never heard him tackle confronting subjects, like islam, or homosexual marriage, evolution, abortion, etc. Maybe when he is not televising he hopefully does a better job of things. On the plus side, he does say that you must repent of your sins and has a cache of good christian jokes. Altogether I find him to be an enigma.
Thanks Gerald. I must say I have never heard him or read him say anything about repenting of sins. And I am not sure if Jesus or Paul would include “a cache of good christian jokes” in a list of gospel truth requirements!
Sadly one day Osteen’s world will come crashing down and then and only then will he realise that to be a Christian one must pick up his / her Cross daily and follow Jesus.
Unfortunately he is spreading something other than the teachings of Jesus Christ and people are being led astray.