The Word of God:
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. [Mt 6:10]
If only we could count the number of times that a person to whom we were teaching the Word abruptly ended the Bible study by exclaiming, “Well, that’s your interpretation!” No, it’s the Word of God, and you simply choose not to believe. We can at least be honest even if not politically correct. Did you know that the LORD is not PC?
To a degree, though, we are all defined by our interpretive bias. That is why there are denominations of Christianity. Where you attend “church” does not necessarily bind you to their doctrinal identity for it often is the case that we attend the “church” of our fathers. If grandfather was a Baptist, and his father was a Baptist does that make you a Baptist? Only by tradition, or until a friend takes you to their “church” one Sunday, and you decide that you are more comfortable there.
A man we know was raised by parents who were Catholic and Methodist. When the man moved out of his father’s house he joined a local congregation of the Church of Christ (not Latter Day Saints). Well, the parents were distraught as if their son had joined a “cult”. There certainly are jealousies within the body of Christ that are divisive at most, and Satanic at least.
You might have joined a particular denomination because you agree with its theology. We heard of a pastor whose “church” was dying because its members were uncomfortable with his fire and brimstone manner of teaching. However, in a short while, the congregation was filling the pews, and every week there was standing room only to hear this man preach. When asked what caused the upsurge in attendance the pastor replied, “I just quit talking about sin.” The lesson, then, is to tell people what they want to hear. Your congregation will grow so large that you’ll need to move into an arena in Houston to accommodate the overflow capacity of folks who come every week to hear a motivational pep talk but very little, if any, theology. (Are you listening, Lakewood?)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. [2Tim 4:3]
Another pastor noted that his “church” is empty whenever he preaches about repentance, but when the sermon is about blessings people fill the balcony. The problem is that we don’t want to conform to the Word of God, but want the Word to conform to our human sensibilities. Why, it’s not fair that God made Israel wander through the desert forty years; God was cruel to allow the suffering of Job; the LORD should have destroyed Satan; and Jesus didn’t say homosexuality was a sin.
And do not be conformed to this world (or your ways), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Ro 12:2]
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. [Is 55:8]
Some of you may have noticed our passing reference to Joel Osteen. We admit that, well, let’s go to the files from Osteen’s June 20, 2005 interview on Larry King:
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 will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. 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.
King gave Osteen several opportunities to clarify his statement to which Osteen simply replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”
When a caller quoted John 14:6 (scroll over verse to read text), Osteen simply repeated that it wasn’t his thing to condemn people. Does Osteen really mean to suggest that Christ was wrong when He said that He was the only way to the Father? So Buddha can lead us to the great I Am?
What is Osteen’s thing? Obviously, to tickle their ears with a feel-good message. New-ageism has crept into the “church” obscuring the Word of God with the motivational mantra of the 1980’s-90’s which elevates the will of the person over the will of God.
Forgive our analogy, but YHWH has become a servant of our needs sort of like an ATM that dispenses miracles upon request. Osteen, and others, pound this theme every week: You will get that job. You will get that promotion. You will get that degree. You will, well, there’s really nothing you won’t get including physical healing if you simply name it and claim it in the name of Jesus. It’s a ‘what’s in it for me’ religion that is scripturally unsound and untrue, and leads many disillusioned people to fall away from the faith when God doesn’t come through.
We were about to admit that listening to Osteen even makes us feel good, but then the sugar rush wears off and we crave something of substance like the bread of life (Jn 6:35). We’re not picking on Joel Osteen in particular for there are many others who preach a questionable Gospel. We listened to Joyce Meyer one week sermonizing on her book Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits, and she preached for several days on how to quit smoking with nary a single Biblical reference. That is all fine and well if you are speaking at a self-help seminar to an audience who want to kick their nicotine addiction, but imagine if the Apostle Paul had traveled through Asia promoting his books instead of doing the LORD’s work spreading the Gospel. How would that glorify God?
[We are very sympathetic to Meyer’s story, and recognize the positive outreach of her ministry; but any who are called of God must use their talents to glorify Him and not promote themselves.]
We have written on this theme before, and intended to write an article on eschatology with an emphasis on the double-fulfillment of prophecy, but the Holy Spirit took us in a whole other direction. Be discerning when you watch the preachers and teachers on Christian television. For example, when you hear Creflo Dollar say that being poor is a sin you will be wise enough to compare his Prosperity Gospel with the Word of God and know that he is a false teacher.
Be aware that so-called Christian television is populated with Word of Faith preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts and—until his recent denunciation—T.D. Jakes who said, “We were wrong to teach the Prosperity Gospel.” We commend Jakes, and Jim Bakker, for renouncing a false gospel.
Sha’uwl (Apostle Paul) warned Titus of these deceiving teachers who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain (Titus 1:11). Families are drained both of their faith and their purse by the vain appeals of these false teachers. Various Bible commentators agree that these deceivers (even in Paul’s day) teach popular doctrines that are not necessarily scriptural:
That is, they inculcate such doctrines as will make themselves popular, and as will give them access to the confidence of the people. They make it their first object to acquire influence as ministers of religion, and then abuse that in order to obtain money from the people. This they would doubtless do under many pretenses; such as that it was needful for the support of the gospel, or for the relief of the poor, or perhaps for the assistance of distant Christians in persecution. No people can be too vigilant in regard to pretended religious teachers; and while it is undoubtedly their duty to contribute liberally for the support of the gospel, and the promotion of every good cause, it is no less their duty to examine with care every proposed object of benevolence. [Barnes]
In other words, there are ministers of God who are simply in it for the money. If your teacher spends more time soliciting than preaching you may want to reconsider your fellowship with that ministry.
Be assured that Messiah Gate will never ask you for money. God will provide, and His will be done.
[Editor’s Note: As I was editing this article, Friar Cedric Pisegna was preaching in the background on the Church Channel. The Friar was recommending that we place spiritual value on the symbol of the cross; to wear it around our necks; hold it in our hands; and meditate on its power. Sounds like idol worship. Isn’t that why King Hezekiah destroyed the rod (bronze serpent) of Moses because it had become a symbol of idol worship (2Ki 18:4)? Be mindful our Catholic brethren!]
Suggested Reading: Let Us Reason: Creflo Dollar
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