Ok allow me to repeat; I do not hate Joel Osteen. I don’t even disagree with everything he says or writes down. I just disagree with most “Biblical” things he says and/or writes down. Other than that, it’s all good!
I love Joel Osteen; Jesus told us that first we are to love God with all that we have, then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. In today’s cyber world where anybody is as close as the Internet, Joel Osteen is surely my neighbor. So, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I try to love Joel Osteen.
I don’t know the true state of Joel Osteen’s heart or his relationship with Jesus Christ. No one knows the inside of any person’s heart except for God Himself. He may be quite saved and in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He may be a real believer who has just gotten misguided and misdirected. I simply do not know. Based on his public pronouncements, I can say with certainty that he either totally misunderstands or intentionally misrepresents the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And it’s what he says and who he says it to that creates my issue with Joel Osteen. The who is the some 40,000 or so who attend his Lakewood Church in Houston, and the untold millions more who listen to him on radio or watch on the television. I must clarify, though; it is not so much WHAT he says but what he does not say that makes Joel Osteen dangerous to lost souls all over this world.
The following statement by Mr. Osteen was made during an Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network News a couple of years ago:
“When I grew up, the Devil was a reason why I had a headache or the Devil was the reason I got mad today. We always blamed the Devil. I think today when I say the enemy, I like to make it broader. Sometimes the enemy can be our own thoughts. We’ve trained ourselves the wrong way. Or the enemy can be our own lack of discipline. Some people preach about Hell like you’re already going there, and to me the Gospel means ‘Good News.’ I’d rather say God is a God of mercy. So I think the people already know what they’re doing wrong, and I certainly believe in Hell. But to me, when I see thousands of people before me, it just doesn’t come out of me to say, ‘You guys are terrible, and you’re going to Hell.’ I’d rather say that God is a God of mercy. You’ve got to live an obedient life, but for every mistake you’ve made, there’s mercy there, and I believe we can do better”
You see, Joel Osteen never talks about sin and he never talks about repentance. According to his thinking, we are all well aware of what we are doing wrong and we don’t need a preacher to remind us.
The problem is, we are not aware of what we are doing wrong. We may vaguely understand we are not perfect, but we simply don’t understand how serious our sin is to a perfect and Holy God. I have covered our sinful state in previous articles.
Although salvation is a free gift from God to us, it is a gift we can only receive when it is accompanied by repentance. Repentance can be defined in the Biblical sense as “a change of mind that results in a change of action.” We must agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn from it.
Is repentance necessary for salvation? Of course it is. Part of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is believing that He died to pay for our sins. If we don’t understand that our sins actually deserved payment in the form of death(Romans 6:23), then we can’t really understand Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross. The Book of Acts has numerous instances where repentance and salvation are linked together, making it clear they are a package deal.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
There you have it. Repentance is key to believing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation. Agreeing with God is a key component of repentance. We have to see our sin from God’s point of view before we can change our minds about it. As long as we think we are just fine, we will never see the need for a change of mind.
And there lies the problem with Joel Osteen’s theology in terms of the salvation of lost souls. Joel Osteen is charismatic, engaging, good looking and entertaining. Every week tens of thousands of people hear him preach and leave feeling great, feeling pumped up, and feeling ready to go back to the world and make a better life for themselves. The problem is, nobody ever leaves convicted of their sin.
Unless we understand our sinful condition, we cannot repent from it. Without repentance, we cannot exercise true believing faith in Jesus Christ. If we do not know we are lost, we will not be saved.
Pray for Joel Osteen. More importantly, pray for the countless lost souls who listen to his feel good gospel week after week. Pray that somehow, somewhere they might hear the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and come to a saving faith in Him.