Thursday, May 22, 2008

# 250: A Brilliant Deceit

Since the majority of this blog is dedicated to exposing the schemes of many silver-tongued preachers, in simple words, this post will articulate their methods and bottom line. There are more than a few preachers who are skilled in the art of brilliant deceit. They preach what their audience desires to hear, in a way that always includes in their equation God, Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. They do this seductive preaching with such eloquent words, that it would take those who are thoroughly versed in the New Testament Scriptures to quickly realize their evil, self-centered motives. They may start their words with something like this: “God has great things in store for all of you; He wants the very best for you.” Usually their complete message is optimistic, positive and uplifting: words that are pleasant to listen to.

There are several problems with that type of preaching: It is, from beginning to end, a deceptive form of Christianity since it does not include many portions of Scripture that are not seemingly pleasant to listen to, which pertain to how we must fulfill our duties as disciples of Christ. These hard-edged, sometimes outwardly repulsive verses must be made known. Philemon 1:6. "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of all the good things we have in Christ." When those are not active in sharing their faith, the reason may be that they are caught in ". . . the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2nd Timothy 2:26.

All New Testament verses can be summed up in two imperative principles: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, which will always be displayed by our active obedience to all New Testament teachings; and the second is like it: to actively love those in need as we love ourselves. There is nothing easy about listening to those commands when they are forcefully exhorted.

If we wholeheartedly obey those two commands, that would be solid confirmation of the genuineness of our Salvation; but if we just say we obey them but do not act on them, that is evidence that our faith may be nothing but a bunch of lovely—but empty—spiritual words.

The motive behind some churches not preaching this type of Biblical message is that many, if not most, of the laity won’t tolerate words that are not easy to digest, and eventually will go elsewhere. What preacher doesn’t want a big following? A large church membership means greater esteem and a fatter collection basket. And what church leader doesn’t desire to be distinguished, along with a coffer that is always overflowing? It really is that simple.

The champion of this pleasantly deceptive message is none other than Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He boasts about 30 thousand members. That is the largest membership of any church in this country. When preaching, he is pleasant to listen to. In fact, Joel Osteen has it all. He has the appearance of an angel of God and the perpetual smile only a loving mother can have for her baby; he presents a flawless sermon, and without notes; has the composure of a head of state, the words of a skilled lawyer, a message that even heathens can accept without changing their moral values, and the memory of any electronic recorder. No doubt, he is a whiz kid. If anyone desires to listen to his sermons, click on . I am certain you can find out what time and channel he is on TV in your area.

All the above are a big plus for any preacher. The big problem is that the contents of his messages are, as mentioned above, lacking in the most essential teaching of all: faithfully obeying all that is taught in the New Testament.

The main thrust of all his messages is for some kind of self-betterment. His latest book is titled "Become a Better You." For instance, God wants you to have all the best things this world can offer; God desires for you to climb the ladder of success; you will be able to afford the home of your dreams; find a perfect mate; have loving and obedient children; and have all the lucky breaks in life. This list can go on and on. The greater harm this type of easy-to-listen-to preaching does, other than cheat listeners of eternal life, is that his lovely words become a paradigm for other clergymen who desire popularity rather than a desire to tell the whole truth. 1st Timothy 6:3-5. “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing . . . who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."

There are many, many verses in the New Testament that teach us not to love the world or anything in the world. I will quote only two: 1st John 2:15-17. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has or does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." James 4:4. "You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." These type of Biblical verses—and there are many—are completely disregarded by Osteen and many other prosperity-oriented churches. As the New Testament dictates many, many times, God wants us to prosper spiritually, not materially, as the people of this ungodly world desire.

This is what God desires for all disciples of Jesus Christ: to actively continue the cause of what He started. Matthew 28:19-20. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This verse like many others is cut and dried. Continuing the cause of Christ must come before our own welfare. That command is not easy to listen to or apply. Philippians 2:3-5. "Do nothing out of selfish ambitions or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

To Sunday-morning “christians,” this next verse, most likely, is the most repulsive and disregarded verse in the New Testament: Luke 14: 26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he can not be my disciple." What does Osteen do with verses like this? He must cut them out.

If Osteen preached that type of message, his many followers would drop him like a hot potato and go to some other church that has a pleasant, soothing message which makes them feel good about themselves.

Osteen is exactly the type of talented person Satan, the great deceiver, has been waiting for many years to come on the scene to preach his popular message of worldly self-betterment in the name of Jesus Christ. This evil man dressed in saintly garb is doing more damage to the cause of Jesus Christ than can be calculated, since his weekly 30-minute program is aired throughout the world by means of 30-some satellites owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a wealth and prosperity proponent.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that there are many
"churches" that preach what the people
want to hear. Others have been driven
away from the church by the other extreme
of making them feel bad about wrong choices
in life such as divorce. All churches are at
risk of going down an un-Christain path
because there are humans involved.
Some sins of the church in the past surely
were as a result of the temptation of control
and power. Some folks say they can reach
and follow God without a church, but I think
this is hard to do, we need the support and be
challenged to be become better Christians.

The mark of a Christian Church should be
one the follows scripture, challenges it's
members to reflect, repent for one's sins
privately to God in a non-threating way. The
world wide Web has provided us a way to have
church without being there physically.
I would suggest folks check out my MegaChurch:
follow the Watch & Listen link

I was raised Roman Catholic and fell into
the rut that pretty much all you had to
do to get into heaven is try to be a good
person and attend mass every Sunday. We
moved away from that local church when
they had nothing to offer for our youth
and upon reflection unchallenging sermons.

JC said...

Anonymous thanks for your comment. I agree with most of what you said. Concerning me checking out Timberline Church, I am familiar with Pastor Dary, etc. and what is preached, material prosperity, that does not conform with how I read the New Testament on that subject. Again, thanks for your comment. If you want to comment further on what else they preach, leave another comment. jc