“I like to start with something funny.”
As I heard these words from the T.V., I thought I came across Comedy Central, when it dawned on me that I do not have cable. (Yes, you heard correctly)
Then the voice from the T.V. continued, as the crowd synchronistically repeated the same words in a very robotic, cult-like fashion.
“Hold up your Bible. Say it like you mean it. 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 will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus’ name.”
I thought to myself, “Great, some Bible preaching and teaching.”
But again I was mistaken. Though the speaker said, “Today I will be taught the Word of God.”, he did not teach the Word of God. Not once during his message did he say,
“Look at verse _______.”
“ Turn in your Bibles to _______.”
“Our text teaches us _______.”
Rather, he taught some stories with feel good messages about self.
This was none other than Joel Osteen. But of course. Did you expect anything else?
A few years ago I was at a visiting church preaching from 2 Timothy about the biblical qualities of a pastor. In my intro I referred to Joel Osteen as a negative example of biblical pastoral qualities. At the end of the service, the pastor, a friend of mine, told me that the man sitting in the front happened to be a Joel Osteen fan. I told my pastor friend I was glad because that man needed to hear me expose Joel Osteen for his true colors.
Why does Joel Osteen have such a cultish influence?
1) Because he feeds the ego.
Osteen preaches NOT the Holy Trinity, but the unholy trinity, me, myself and I.
Who doesn’t want to read his books “I Declare”(http://www.nocompromiseradio.com/2014/03/12/who-declares/) or his most recent “You Can, You Will.” when they stroke your pride and exalt self? Last time I checked, I believe Jesus talked about denying self!
This is the overflow of a man-centered theology, which is really an oxymoron because the term “theology” means the study of God. Theology by definition is God-centered. There is nothing God-centered about Osteen’s message.
2) Because he scratches itching ears.
In his swan song, his death being imminent(2 Timothy 4:6), the apostle Paul warned Timothy that “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth…”(2 Tim. 4:3-4).
3) Because he covers up the heart.
What do I mean by that? Rather than exposing the heart’s true condition, he covers it up. The Bible teaches that the reason man is so corrupt and so deeply depraved is because of the heart’s condition. Both the prophets and Jesus reveal the heart’s true condition.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?”
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person”
Matthew 15:18-20 (emphasis added)
Because of the heart’s true condition, what the heart needs is a spiritual surgery performed by God Himself.
Imagine for a moment with me. You tune into Joel Osteen on T.V. The first words that you hear him begin his message with are the following.
“Today, I want to talk to you about the Heart. The heart is deceitful above all things! What comes out of the heart defiles a person.”
Now that wouldn’t sell because it does not feed the ego neither does it scratch those itching ears.
When you feed the ego rather than exalt the Lord, when you scratch itching ears that do not want to hear the truth and when you cover up the heart when the Word of God exposes it, then you are having a cult-like influence.