Forgotten Word Ministries

Preaching a False-Positive with a Smile

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by Mike Oppenheimer

Forty year old Joel Osteen now has one of the largest church congregations in America. This has all been done this with no formal Bible training; Osteen says he was learning the business of television. In 1981, he came home from Oral Roberts University to start the Lakewood TV ministry and  he became the television producer of his father’s program. In his Charisma interview it stated: The younger Osteen’s television-marketing talents and his dad’s preaching skills resulted eventually in the church being aired on stations nationwide and in more than 100 countries (Charisma, June 2004 article).

Joel’s father, John Osteen, was into the word faith teaching of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. In late 1998-99 he became sick. The church that was also trained in word faith philosophies began their positive confessions saying, “God has promised him that he will be preaching into his early 90's, and he is only 77 now. God gave him a vision for “Seven Years of Harvest”, and we are just beginning our 6th year of this special thrust for world evangelism. God has promised our staff that He will bring our pastor's kidneys on a platter of praise. The God who began this universe as a mighty Creator is creating what our Pastor needs in his body” (Lakewood Church prayer request Jan 19, 1999). Two weeks later, John Osteen died. On the other hand, his wife Dodie Osteen has written a book on how she was she was miraculous healed from metastatic cancer of the liver after doctors had given up hope (it is reported  that this was accomplished through medicine).

In his book Joel Osteen writes of his mother's battle with cancer: “She gets up every morning and reviews those same Scriptures on the subject of healing. She still speaks those words of faith, victory, and health over her life. She won't leave the house until she does it. Beyond that, she loves to remind “Mr. Death” that he has no hold on her life. Every time my mother passes a graveyard, she literally shouts out loud, “With long life He satisfies me and shows me His salvation!” (Osteen: “Israelites Lacked Faith--Future Robbed”—Christianity Today Posted to Spiritual Deception for May, 2005 in Thou Shalt Not Be Negative: Overly Positive Thinking and Prosperity Teaching Undermine Joel Osteen's Bestseller” reviewed by Douglas LeBlanc, 04/14/2005).

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In the 2004 Charisma article, -it stated, With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to preach for him that Sunday. Initially Joel balked at the idea and said “no.” He then relented and here are Joel’s own words concerning his preaching that day: I just got up there and told stories. I was so glad when it was over, I said, ‘I’ll never do this again in my life(Charisma, June 2004, p.44). After his father died in 1999 Joel Osteen reluctantly stepped up to become Lakewood's minister. Since then, some things have changed while other things have not. He has become Americas perfect model for the mega-church, and is now among the most known TV teachers, having gained the admiration of millions who watch him every week on television.  He cannot be categorized among the TV evangelists, nor would he want to be. Part of the reason for Lakewood Churches success is the charming style of Osteen’s personality. You will never hear a discouraging word; being positive is what his ministry is all about. He is well-dressed, very expressive in his delivery and at times has some practical wisdom.

Lakewood's services are currently seen nationally on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Satellite Networks, the ABC-Family Channel, Black Entertainment Television, and the PAX-TV Network. Thirty thousand people in meet at the18,000-seat auditorium, the former home of the Houston Rockets basketball team. Lakewood Church has grown from 8,000 to a current attendance of over 30,000 since 1999 when Joel’s father passed away and he took over. “I don't want this to sound arrogant, but I believe one day we're going to have 100,000 a weekend,” he told “Charisma” magazine in June 2004. He certainly has this planned out with a new super facility being expanded in downtown Houston. The church paid the city nearly $11.9 million up front to lease the property for 30 years. It cost $95 million to renovate the Compaq Center in Houston (606,050 square feet) that seated 16,000 to now seat 30,000.

Osteen believes he is breaking a new frontier with the sheer size of his church facility, that Lakewood will one day offer Saturday and Sunday sanctuary to 100,000 worshipers from the Houston area and worldwide.

“I do think it will allow us to go to a whole new level that people have never even dreamed of for churches," Osteen, 42, said. “We are really an example of what God has chosen for the church today in the fact of the sheer size. I think it speaks a lot for our city that one of the premier facilities is a worship center. I don't know, I just think the sky is the limit for what God's going to do.

The new Church facility has- eight giant video screens, 12 elevators, three escalators, two waterfalls, 241 toilets and 65 urinals and parking for more than 7,000 vehicles. The church also added a five-story wing, featuring Lakewood's television studio; classrooms for kindergarten through high school students; a chapel/auditorium for weddings, funerals and baptisms; and a cafe. Additional floors can be added as the church grows, Garrett said. (source- CHARISMA NOW - July 14, 2005 ed.)

On their website it says “In the year 2005, The Lakewood Church Central will be one of the largest ministry facilities in the country, and it will be located in the fourth largest city and the second busiest intersection in America.”

“Jesus brought the gospel into the marketplace, the village square - everywhere people gathered, and Lakewood will become the “village square” of Houston.”

When you hear the buzzwords gospel into the marketplace-  and largest ministry facilities, it should be evident what Osteen has learned and what he is promoting. This has the seeker-- friendly stamp of approval all over it.

By now it should, be obvious this article is not going to have glowing things to say about Osteen's teachings and practices.

Listen; don’t dangle people over the fires of hell. Lisa and I always kid about you know we’re going to dangle them over the fires of hell. Listen, that doesn’t draw people to God. They know what kind of life they live. They know how bad they’ve lived. What you’ve got to do is talk about the goodness of God. Listen, it’s the goodness of God that brings people to repentance. It’s the goodness of God. One thing I always appreciated about my dad is that he instilled into us a good vision of who God was. We learned about a good God.” [Sermon: What the Resurrection Means to Us As Believers]

Well, the rich young ruler did not know he was sinful, though he did know God’s commandments; he needed Jesus to tell him about the law he did not keep. Have we improved on this? Jesus Christ spoke on hell often-- would Joel Osteen (and others) dismiss this today as unnecessary or offensive? What if Jesus were here today speaking on hell? Would they ask him to keep quiet?

Did Jesus teach in this manner? In John 15:22, He said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” In John 3:18-20, He said, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

 Doesn’t sound too soft to me, and this was to a religious leader who knew better. The Bible does not shy away from addressing our sins. Sin is the greatest enemy of mankind and it does not help anyone when it is swept under the rug not to be heard of.

Amy Sims reports: “At the biggest church in the country, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, Pastor Joel Osteen preaches to some 25,000 people each week -- and sin is not on the menu. Osteen said his goal is to give people a boost for the week.” “I think for years there's been a lot of hellfire and damnation. You go to church to figure out what you're doing wrong and you leave feeling bad like you're not going to make it,” Osteen said. “We believe in focusing on the goodness of God” (Fox News, Feb. 03, 2004, as reported by Amy C. Sims)

So the message is to keep people  from feeling uncomfortable, bad or guilty by letting them know what is wrong. Compare this to the great evangelical sermons in the book of Acts and we find how off-base this is in terms of delivering gospel content. Osteen's teaching is like eating sweets with the promise of no fat. He is insistent in not condemning people in their sin so he avoids the topic purposely. I realize  he is trying to give people who are down some hope. But I don’t think God helps those who help themselves” type of message is God’s answer. Instead, people get a whole lot of word faith,- discover your potential, tickle your ears type of sermons that make one keep coming back for more. And who can’t like this young preacher with a smile a mile wide all the time? His personality is effervescent, and he has an upbeat style that connects with the people as well as a with a sense of humor. What's not to like? He’s a modern--day Norman Vincent Peale.

The Teaching

When Joel Osteen was on Bill O'Reilly’s show, he was asked if he believed whether Jesus was the way, the truth and the life, the only way to God. Osteen ignored this question, saying he doesn't get into that. That evasive answer is indicative of his broad positive approach that attracts the masses.

When interviewed by  Larry King on June 20,2005, Osteen avoided  a similar question and was non committal to Jesus being the only way. King asked Osteen where Jews or Muslims would go if they don't accept Christ. 

KING: “What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: “You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...
KING: “If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. ... I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

Osteen posted the following letter of apology letter on his Web site: “Many of you have called, written or e-mailed" (regarding his Larry King Live appearance).

"I appreciate your comments and value your words of correction and encouragement," he said. "It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and whom I serve. I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.

He then said he believes that "Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation," referencing John 14.“It wasn't until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven,” he said. 

It seems to me that it wasn’t until people complained that he even looked to the transcript. This is disappointing. I think there is no doubt, based on what he said to Larry King, that this is what he believes. Making this more puzzling is his avoidance to clearly state that Christ died for our sins, and without  believing the GOSPEL we cannot have a personal relationship with God.

Over six months ago on Lakewood's website, I found no statement of who Jesus is or the crucial doctrine of the Trinity (or other subsequent doctrines.) Here’s is their statement of faith: “WE BELIEVE ... The Bible is the inspired and only infallible and authoritative Word of God. Salvation has been provided and is available for people through Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we can die to our sinful nature and be born again to a new life of purity and power.”  This would be acceptable in almost any type of church;  it is very generic.  

Today, the statement has been changed to read:  WE BELIEVE… in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as Savior of the world.”

WE BELIEVE…Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.” (

I'm glad to see this update posted. I'm sure it would be beneficial to preach it openly as most preachers of the gospel have done throughout the centuries.

Osteen also writes: “We minister the Word of God. The proclamation of the Gospel comes after individuals have opened their hearts to God and turned from themselves to others. Only then are they truly ready to hear and benefit fully from the Word of the Lord.”

How can this be possible when sin is not the centerpiece of his sermon, how could they know why they need the gospel if it is not concentrated on? This has become typical of the new paradigm churches that just ask people to accept Jesus in their heart without any Biblical basis for understanding why God became man and died for our sin.  Doesn't the Bible present God's act of love on the cross as the means of turning the people to God?  I can only wonder if Osteen has an understanding of the cross being central to the gospel message.

The younger set, according to Osteen are attracted to a church setting with “the best lighting and the best sound system,” a youth ministry program that attracts hundreds, and where every service kicks off with 30 minutes of upbeat contemporary music - not hymns played by a live band. “It's not a churchy feel,” Osteen, 40, said. “We don't have crosses up there. We believe in all that, but I like to take the barriers down that have kept people from coming.”

This should make any Christian pause and consider whether Osteen is   coming from a Biblical or even evangelical perspective. The cross is an offense to the sinner who is trying to be accepted by God based on his good works, which the Bible says throughout the New Testament. Joel Osteen has transformed his church into more of a blend of Robert Schuller's seeker-- friendly model, along with a Norman Vincent Peale positive atmosphere mixed in. He has adopted a number of venues that are successful in the neo-evangelical churches today. He has figured out a way to give the people what they want to hear, such that many are attracted to his message. He has gathered an itching ears congregation that bars no one. Osteen’s answer for this is ‘Make church relevant.’  ‘Give them something to be able to take away. I find today people are not looking for theology. There’s a place for it, [But] in your everyday life you need to know how to live” (Charisma, June 2004, pp. 44-45).

They're not looking for God either, so should we neglect teaching them what they really need to hear? Osteen does have a theology even though he claims he is not delivering any. His perfect delivery is very appealing and captivates people who listen to him. He gives feelings of warmth and comfort. He so friendly you are immediately charmed by his soft spoken and syrupy words. But do not let that persuade you to relax- there is more to all this than the atmosphere and presentation.

OPENING: At Lakewood Church, we believe in new beginnings. Lakewood is a place of unlimited possibilities where your need is our greatest concern. Your life if full of potential. And this moment can determine your destiny. Join us this Sunday. At Lakewood Church, we're here for you! We believe in new beginnings! We believe in you! (Applause from audience) (Joel Osteen Sermon #VL_005 - 3/26/00 from Website).

According to his line of thinking, the favor of God is for you- you can have it all now. The focus of the message is on you, and who does not want to hear how they can have more in life? This is human potential in a well-wrapped Christian package. It’s a “believe in yourself ”message that ignores the teaching of genuine faith in God and man's need of correction. One needs to listen carefully to Osteen's construct in his sermons and hear the “I’s,” the “you’s” and other key phrases used that focus on man, not God. It's not how often he uses the Bible, but how he uses it. If Jesus is so important wouldn’t he want to talk about him to his 30,000- member congregation and tell them all the counsel of God? Osteen does occasionally speak of Jesus, and some Scripture are sprinkled throughout his messages. But one needs to pay attention to the focus and intent of  the message.

While some have confessions of faith from the creeds, Osteen instead leads people into a positive affirmation about the Bible. In his congregational confession which precedes each sermon, he says: “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do. Today I’ll be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive, I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible ever-living seed of the Word of God. I will never be the same. Never. Never. Never. I’ll never be the same, in Jesus name.”  Congregants repeat each phrase after him and are convinced by their group confession before he speaks of what will take place. This is not faith.

On Osteen's Web site it says -The Power of Words-“Your words affect your future. Speaking God's Word over your life can help you to live the life of victory that God has in store for you.”

Again, this reinforces positive confession where words have to be said out loud daily for good things to happen.

In Diana Keough’s Dec. 15, 2004 interview from-, she asked about his New York Times #1 bestseller Your Best Life:7 steps to Living Your Full Potential.  Joel Osteen stated: “The main reason I decided to write it was to help people enjoy their life and to realize God has a good plan. I wanted people to see that you can be happy today --- that you can bloom where you're planted and enjoy your life right now.”

FR: How would you address your critics?

Joel Osteen: “Some people say, “Well, it's all so positive.” My thing is this: the Bible says it's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. That's right out of the Bible.

I just don't believe in condemning people and being judgmental. Yes, there's a way of condemning people and knocking them down and getting them to feel bad. That maybe can turn some people around, but I believe in just speaking the truth and letting them know they have good things in store. Some people don't like it when you're positive. However, we've seen thousands and thousands of lives changed, so I try not to focus on that
.” (Interview Diana Keough, contributing writer to  (December 15, 2004 Joel Osteen, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller YOUR BEST LIFE NOW: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.)

In another sermon Osteen said “the Bible says that we can grow in favor,” said Osteen in his sermon “Increasing in Favor” “I believe one of the main ways that we grow in favor is by declaring it. It’s not enough to just read it it’s not enough to just believe it. You’ve got to speak it out. Your words have creative power. And one of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. And there is a divine connection between you declaring God’s favor and you seeing God’s favor manifest in your life…You’ve got to give life to your faith by speaking it out.” (RealAudio at 

Osteen writes in his book that the Israelites’ “lack of faith and their lack of self-esteem robbed them of the fruitful future God had in store for them.” 

The Bible only mentions a lack of faith (Heb. 4:2; 11:6); it has nothing to say about the psychological concept of self-esteem.

There’s power in what you visualize,” Osteen said in   Nov.16,2004 sermon “take a few moments each day to visualize things you want in your life so God can bring them to pass He then tells a story about a coach and his team “Close your eyes and envision winning the game”, “they produced exactly what they saw.”  

Visualizing is an occult technique that brings you immediately into the spirit realm that we are not to be involved with. This has been popularized by David Cho from Korea.

Osteens first book, “Your Best Life Now has reached No. 1, has become a competitor  to Rick Warren's popular “The Purpose-Driven Life.

What does this book say? In the first chapter, it sets the premise of believe it, see it and receive it: “As long as you can’t imagine it, as long as you can’t see it, then it is not going to happen for you. The man correctly realized that his own thoughts and attitudes were condemning him to mediocrity. He determined then and there to start believing better of himself, and believing better of God.

It’s the same way with us. We have to conceive it on the inside before we’re ever going to receive it on the outside. If you don’t think you can have something good, then you never will. The barrier is in your mind. It’s not God’s lack of resources or your lack of talent that prevents you from prospering. Your own wrong thinking can keep you from God’s best. ”

You must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it.” (from, Your Best Life Now, CHAPTER 1, Enlarging Your Vision”)

This is like the creative visualization that occultists practice, and has no correspondence with Biblical faith that trusts in God and allows God to bring forth what each of us need as individuals.

If this is true, then where is faith in God? What Osteen is distributing is the same package of positive confession with a new wrapper.

Joel Osteen is discussing vision and says to Joyce Meyer “If you don’t have it on the inside it wont’ come to pass on the outside” (LeSea broadcasting Joyce Meyer, July19, 2007)

He wants to fill your life with “new wine,” but are you willing to get rid of your old wineskins? Will you start thinking bigger? Will you enlarge your vision and get rid of those old negative mind-sets that hold you back? (Ibid.) This is real bad interpretation and application of what Jesus was conveying to those practicing Judaism of His day. It was actually about the new covenant he would bring; he was not going to repair the old, continuing their religious practices under Moses. 

Osteen is a word faith teacher, and word faith is not Christian teaching but a distortion of Scripture “Many of you today know this, you believe it down here in your heart.  But the reason that you're not experiencing as much as you should is because you're not declaring it.  You've got to give life to your faith by speaking it outYour words have creative power.  When you go around saying, 'I have favor, people want to be good to me and supernatural doors are opening.'  When you make those declarations of faith, you are charging the atmosphere.  And your own words can help to bring it to pass.  That is why we should get into the habit of every day consistently speaking God's favor over our lives” (Joel Osteen, “Experiencing More Of God's Favor,” Tape # 212, Daystar, July 10, 2004)

Here’s how he explains it “You can cancel out God's plan by speaking negative words.  God works by laws” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

This is what Kenneth Copeland and the word faith movement is about, and it is wrong

Your circumstances will line up with your words.” “Words are like seeds, they have creative power.” “The more you talk about it the more you call it in.” “Your words will give life to what you are saying.” “You can change your world by simply changing your words.” “You can use your words to bless your life or curse your life” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

This is no different than the New Age movement's teachings on decreeing.

With mantra-like consistency, Osteen promotes the prosperity formula:  “In the time of need, sow a seed.” He tells people to do good to others as “sowing a seed for as blessing.” (Feb.25,2005)

Start calling in victory.  Start calling in divine health.  Start calling in abundance.  You can prophesize your future.” “If you wanna know where you'll be five years from now listen to what you are saying.” “Our words will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” “With our words we can predict our future. We can prophesize our future” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

Again we have a New Age teaching telling us we can change reality by our words of  affirmations and decreeing.

Joel, that sounds like wishful thinking.  No, that's using your words to create what you need” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

Why did God take away the voice of Zacharias (Luke 1:11-20)?  Because God knew his [Zacharias] negative words would cancel out His [God] plan.” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

I need to show how silly this all is. Zacharias was judged by the angel because of his disbelief in the message- not because of what he would say later. Can anything man says cancel what God ordains?

Any of this could easily have been said by Kenneth Copeland or other word faith teachers--You know, it's wonderful to know that faith is a power and a force. And I'm starting a series of messages today to help you understand faith in God. Bible faith. Because you see, when you realize that God works by faith, then you'll know how important it is. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Impossible. So, if it's impossible for us to please God without faith, we ought to understand what faith is.” (John Osteen, Sermon, “Developing Miracle Working Faith,” FA- 006)

This is not surprising, since his dad (John) referred to Copland in positive way. “I like the story Brother Kenneth Copeland told. He's a pilot.. “ (John Osteen, Sermon, “Faith to Change the World,” FA-005) “You know, that story that Kenneth Copeland tells in one of his books about the bull fighter.” (John Osteen, sermon, “The People Who Know Their God Part 1,” PEO-001)

You may have sickness in your body, you need to call in health.  You may be in debt, you need to boldly say that you are the head and not the tail” (Joel Osteen, “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223. Daystar Television, May 2, 2004)

This again is word faith theology. That what you speak, you can have. Nowhere in the New Testament is the church taught this. The teaching that we are the “head and not the tail” is also misapplied by word faith teachers who do not keep the context of when it was said and to whom. Instead, they rush through the Bible and pick out what they can positively confess.

This was a promise to the nation of Israel under Moses' covenant found in Deut. 28:13: “And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” If they do not obey…Deut. 28:43-44: “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. “He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

I think a more appropriate application would be more like Isa. 9:15-16: “The elder and honorable, he is the head; the prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed”

Faith and fear as a force comes right out of the word faith camp from people like Kenneth Copeland and his disciple Creflo Dollar. Osteen says, “Fear is a force just like faith is a force.  If you give into fear and start to dwell on that junk and start to act on it, that fear can actually bring things to pass just like faith can bring things to pass.  Job said, 'the thing I greatly feared came upon me.'  Fear is a force just like faith is a force.  If you give into fear and start to dwell on that junk and start to act on it, that fear can actually bring things to pass just like faith can bring things to pass.  Job said, 'the thing I greatly feared came upon me.” (Joel Osteen, Sermon, VL-007, April 30, 2000, Sermon on Website, May 2004)

To misuse Job, whom God said was a righteous man, a man whom God used to challenge Satan (Job.1: 8) shows immaturity in understanding Scripture. Job is expressing something he had in his heart, that he would die in such agony when he said, “Who long for death, but it does not come” (Job 3:21). Not confessing it and it came to pass. We should stay far away from people who cannot understand the mechanics of standing up for God and doing what is right, and the spiritual warfare the ensues from it. (Job.1:1, 8-10 2:4-7).

Osteen knows what he is saying and where it originates from “And sometimes in the faith movement or in the Full Gospel movement, we hit a sticking point. We get God’s promises in our heart.  We pray God’s word.  We believe God’s word and then we sit back and we cross our arms and fold our legs.” (Joel Osteen, Sermon, “Do All You Can to Make Your Dreams Come True,” May 2, 1999).

Again from Osteen's interview with Diana Keough, contributing writer to

BRC: The way that you laid out the book also, it wasn't until Chapter 23 or 24 that you started talking about going through trials and suffering. So many of my friends who are believers suffer, and you must realize there's a tremendous amount of pain in the pews. Where does suffering fit into all of this, and are those people who are suffering just not asking enough of God's favor?

Joel Osteen: There's a chapter in there on how God enlarges us in our times of distress. I think I used that scripture in there. God is in control of our lives, and he uses the tough times to strengthen us and give us character. There's a section in there on trusting God's timing. You can't just pray and snap your fingers and believe your problems are going to go away. God allows things to happen in our lives and I think I have a balanced approach that you can't fight against everything.” (Interview Diana Keough, contributing writer to, December 15, 2004 Joel Osteen, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller YOUR BEST LIFE NOW: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.)

Consider this statement in the interview “You can't just pray and snap your fingers and believe your problems are going to go away,” and compare it toOsteen's other statements that represent his true position i.e.-- speaking will change your reality. This man is confused on what he believes. Which is it? I think the majority of his statements speak for themselves.

What Jesus Is Being Preached?

All these teachings add up to a non--biblical framework. Osteen is speaking from. But the most horrendous and most dangerous is the teaching of Jesus being taken captive in Hell by Satan. Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyers and many other popular TV ministers all hold to this heresy. And so does Joel Osteen-

He accepts the word faith heresy “The Bible indicates that for three days, Jesus went into the very depths of hell.  Right into the enemy's own territory.  And He did battle with Satan face to face.  Can you imagine what a show down that was?” (Joel Osteen, sermon, CS-002 - April 23, 2000)

Let's look at a good portion of the sermon, so we'll know this  quote was not taken out of context.

And the third thing, because of all of what Jesus accomplished in the Resurrection; you and I have power and authority over the devil and demon forces. I can imagine when Jesus bowed His head and died on that cross, that Satan and all those demons they gathered in hell for a great victory celebration. I can imagine it looked something like the victory party in the locker room after the Super Bowl. You can see them giving high five's and jumping around, shouting with great excitement, We did it! We did it! I told you we could defeat Him! Now we're in control. Now we can do whatever we want. And can't you hear Satan laugh sarcastically and say to his demons, Aren't you glad you followed me now? Aren't you glad you revolted out of the heavens? I told you it'd be worth it.'

“Can't you see Jesus looking right into Satan's eyes and saying, “Satan, I hate to spoil your victory party, but I think you're celebrating a little bit too soon”? You may have knocked me down, but you sure didn't knock me out. And it's not over until I say it's over. Satan says, Listen, Jesus, you're on my turf now. You don't have a chance down here. You're surrounded by my demons. We're going to tear you apart. And Jesus just smiles and says, “Go ahead, Satan, make my day!” (Congregation applauds) Jesus says, “Look, Satan, I'm down here to take care of business. I'm ready to do battle. I don't want to be here any longer than I have to be because it stinks down here.

The Bible indicates that for three days, Jesus went into the very depths of hell. Right into the enemy's own territory. And He did battle with Satan face to face. Can you imagine what a show down that was? It was good vs. evil. Right vs. wrong. Holiness vs. filth. Here are the two most powerful forces in the universe have come together to do battle for the first time in history. But thank God. The Bible says, “Satan was no match for our Champion”. This was no contest. (Congregation applauds).

“Jesus crushed Satan's head with His foot. He bruised his head. And He once and for all, forever defeated and dethroned and demoralized our enemy. One translation says, “He paralyzed him and rendered him powerless”. But thank God. He didn't even stop there. He went over and ripped the keys of death and hell out of Satan's hands. And He grabbed Satan by the nap of his neck and He began to slowly drag him down through the corridors of Hell. All beat up and bruised because He wanted to make sure that every single demon saw very clearly that Jesus was indeed the undisputed Champion of all time! Amen?” (Joel Osteen, Sermon, CS-002 - April 23, 2000,  posted on the Web site, May 2004)

“Imagine” is right, because this is not what happened. How can we know? The Bible tells us so. For this heresy we need to take the time to explain the biblical position so no one is left thinking that what Osteen has done does not affect the gospel, this same gospel that Satan hates and wants to corrupt. Osteen does not come out and say what others do- Jesus became sin on the cross but the implication is evident by his going to hell under Satan’s jurisdiction. Hebrews 9:14 tells us that he offered himself “without blemish to God.” Paul wrote of Christ’s “offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5:2). Sin is not a beautiful aroma to God.

Jesus went into Hades, where the faithful were, not hell, where the wicked are punished. The word of faith teacher’s do not believe in His victory the on the cross, but instead teach it was not completed on the cross but in a battle in hell with the devil. This imaginative battle actually brings destruction to the gospel where Jesus REALLY conquered Satan and crushed Satan's head on the cross, not in hell. Colossians 2:15 says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it.” This victory happened on the cross (v.14), so what is Christ doing suffering in hell by these same principalities and powers, as claimed? This doctrine is dangerous and affects many others. If Jesus went to hell, then Jesus did not speak the truth buy saying IT IS FINISHED. The death of Christ on the cross is then insufficient, not having the power by itself to save anyone. Thus, Paul could not have preached Christ was crucified for salvation..

Neither does Scripture say “Jesus took the keys of hell and death from Satan.” This again is a false word faith teaching. Neither did Satan steal the keys from Adam as the word faith teachers espouse, because Adam did not have them.
Here’s what the Scripture says in Rev. 1:18: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Where does it say he took them? He possessed them. Again, the word faith preachers go beyond what is written with their imagination and make this up. This is a great Bible myth. In Rev. 1:18 the word is Hades, not hell; the key is the emblem of power and authority. Christ can both save and destroy, can both kill and make alive; similarly Jesus said in john 10:18 that no man takes His life from him, He lays it down himself. Death is still under His dominion, and He can recall the dead whenever He pleases. He is the resurrection and the life.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that “Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again.” There are no details like the name it and claim preachers have added with their fertile imaginations. It may make for good story-telling, but to cheer at this shows complete Biblical ignorance. Jesus said on the cross before He died, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit” (Matthew 27:50; John 19:30). If He landed in hell under Satan, then who is His Father in whom He committed his Spirit to? This is not a good picture; it mocks the most sacred time of Jesus' ministry, the very purpose for which the Son of God came to earth. 

Today’s Preaching of Help

Jesus said, of the ministry of the Helper: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: “Of sin, because they do not believe in Me, “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; and “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:7-11). This what the Holy Spirit speaks through any true minister who is focusing on the unsaved: sin, righteousness and judgment.

Paul wrote to young Timothy, who was going to be the pastor to the church in Ephesus, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:1-4).

Timothy is charged by Paul to teach these certain elements along with the Gospel and any good minister would do the same. So this is the question that needs to be answered.

Most have not listened carefully or long enough to hear Osteen's heresy by Osteen. But give him time and those word faith statements will become apparent. In my opinion, if you have listened often enough you have heard nearly all the subject matter he conveys. He says the same type of message in different ways, or maybe it's his voice and delivery that makes it all sound the same. At best, one gets milk from him; at worst they get positive thinking and word faith heresies. A pastor is called to feed the flock the whole counsel of God- from Genesis to Revelation. Unfortunately, people will interpret his soft-spoken manner as exhibiting a Christ-like spirit and ignore the non-Biblical content expressed, which has been traded in for a motivational spiritual pep talk. Again his fantasy of Jesus going to hell and being under the power of Satan is no small teaching to ignore. It deals with the gospel itself, the nature of Jesus, which does not qualify him as a good teacher or minister by any Biblical standard. It is another gospel.

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