The contrast between the real gospel and a false gospel could not be greater:
The Apostle Paul told us what he thought about those who preach another gospel, and not the real gospel. In Galatians 1:8 he gives us a very stern word on this: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”
And in 2 Cor 11:3-4 he says this: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
What we preach matters – big time. And when we preach a sub-biblical or anti-biblical gospel, it clearly shows. It is another gospel, one that comes not from God but from the devil. Being a false gospel, it leads people away from God, and not to him.
And sadly, often those who preach another gospel – a false gospel – are the ones with the largest followings. Those however who faithfully proclaim the true, biblical gospel, may often have much smaller congregations or followings. People prefer having their ears tickled than in hearing and obeying God’s truth.
An excellent example of these two types of gospels was found on the Fox News television network over the past few days. I just happened to see each one as they aired. One was a powerful and faithful gospel presentation, and the other was just another bogus gospel message being shared – a gospel of self.
Let me begin with the latter. If this famous preacher just once in a while proclaimed such messages, it would be amiss of me to single him out. But every single time I have heard him speak, and every time I have looked at one of his books, it is always the SAME message.
I refer to Joel Osteen and his gospel devoted exclusively to self. His message for years has been the same old baloney: Jesus exists to make you happy, to help you lose weight, to give you lots of money, and to offer you the best careers, houses, cars and goodies in life.
Jesus is your celestial butler who exists solely to cater for your every want and desire. Want a better self-image? Just ask Jesus. Want a huge bank account? Just ask Jesus. Want to live in the fanciest suburbs in your town? Just ask Jesus. Focus on the positive, forget about the negative, and there you go – you can have anything you want. See this earlier article on him for more details: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/09/04/the-osteens-and-another-gospel/
So there he was on Fox News in a brief interview, being asked how we should deal with coronavirus. It was the same old foolish spiel he has been pushing for years: just think happy thoughts, smile, and have a positive attitude! It was simply mind over matter New Age mumbo jumbo. No wonder one meme making the rounds says that he has tested negative for biblical Christianity.
Indeed, secularist Elton John appeared after him and said the same sort of nonsense: Just be nice to others and reject the negative thoughts! Um, neither one gave us the gospel. What an absolute waste in sharing biblical truth Joel. What a lost opportunity to share God’s Word to a needy world desperate to hear biblical Christianity.
Just as in all his books and sermons, you will hear nothing about sin, and the justice and holiness of God, the wrath of God, the need for repentance, the need to say no to self, the need to pick up your cross and follow him. Just the opposite: the gospel is all about YOU and ME. Here is the Osteen link: https://video.foxnews.com/v/6145547870001#sp=show-clips
But in complete and utter contrast, Franklin Graham was also on Fox the day before. He too was asked about how we should be living in the light of this crisis. Although he was specifically asked to talk about the emergency field hospital he and his Samaritan’s Purse team were setting up in New York City, his overwhelming emphasis was on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was amazing to hear: in almost every sentence he just could not help talking about Jesus, talking about the gospel, and talking about how we need the Lord Jesus Christ to deal with our sin problem. His message was always and only the biblical gospel of Christ.
All that Joel could do was give us his tired and useless humanistic, self-help, feel good mush, centred fully on self and our wants. In stark contrast Graham was 100 per cent committed to lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole remedy to all our problems, including this time of crisis. Here is the Graham link: https://video.foxnews.com/v/6145541183001#sp=show-clips
Given that I saw both of these short clips within a day or so of each other, I was just gobsmacked at how completely different they were. One was a life-giving and life-changing message of biblical Christianity at its very finest. It was God-fearing, Christ-honouring, and fully Scriptural in every way.
The other was something any secular self-help guru or New Age huckster could have shared. It offered nothing of real value. It was not life-changing nor Spirit-inspired. It was saccharine sweet fluff that any pagan could have run with. It was clearly, as the Apostle Paul warned about, another gospel. And we are to have nothing to do with these false gospels.
In closing, let me encourage you to pray for these two men. Pray for Osteen. With the biggest church in America, he obviously tells people just what they want to hear. But pray that he gets a vision of Jesus Christ and the biblical gospel, and starts sharing that message instead. Pray that he starts telling people what they NEED to hear. Sure, he may lose the majority of his congregation if he does, but for those who stay they will be given saving words of life.
And pray for Graham that he continues to fearlessly and unashamedly proclaim the biblical gospel at every opportunity. And pray for the tremendous work of Samaritan’s Purse. This is an utterly crucial ministry which has helped so many people. See more about it here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/
Lest the many devoted fans of Osteen think I am way out of line here, let me close with the passage I opened with: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”