Joel Osteen and In-N-Out

If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating an In-N-Out Burger, you are missing out on one of the little, artery clogging,  pleasures of life.

As for the name, it’s about as basic and simple as you could get.  You come in, get your burger, and go out.  Fast, easy, and well.. tasty.

Inside of you is hunger, outside of you are tasty burgers for your enjoyment.  You go there, get one, and satisfy your hunger. There are no burgers inside of me, so I go out, where there are burgers.  Simple. Not exactly deep theology here.. right?

Can you imagine the absurdity and utter confusion of getting that basic premise wrong?

Would it be absurd? Would it be mocked?  You would think so, but I recently saw this obvious error applauded and treated as if it was the deepest, most philosophical, life-changing truth imaginable by no lesser names than media mogul Oprah Winfrey and “christian” Pastor Joel Osteen.

Before you think I unfairly listed Osteen as “christian” (in quotes), let’s watch his latest appearance on Oprah’s “Lifeclass”:

Did you catch the quote?

“You’ll never rise any higher than you see yourself.” – Joel Osteen

Hmm.  So, how high I rise (externally/out) is based upon me (internal/in) and how I see myself (internal/in).

So the answer to the external is from within.. how I view myself, and as he states later, what words I speak about myself.

You’ve got to see this… Joel Osteen’s view, his teaching in the role of “Pastor” is that the external is determined by the internal (You, your view, your mindset, and your words).

Sounds good, and boy, does it sell.  Oprah has built a multi-billion dollar media empire. Joel Osteen “Pastors” the largest church in the United States, it’s also helped sell books like “The Secret” and spin up careers of Oprah’s other Lifeclass speakers.  But what does scripture say?  Is THIS the message of Christianity, that the internal controls the external?  That it’s IN that controls OUT?

The written word of God, inspired by God the Holy Spirit is clear.. it’s not the SOLUTION that’s in us, it’s the PROBLEM!

(I’m going to intentionally quote a LOT of scripture this week. I want the sheer weight and volume of scripture which speaks to this core issue to blow you away.  While Joel Osteen doesn’t quote a single verse, here is a mere sampling of God’s word on the issue. Read them all now, or later, but they’re here for your reference.)

1. Men are born in sin:

  • Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  • Genesis 8:21 – the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
  • Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
  • John 3:6 – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”

2. As all men have sinned, they are slaves to sin:

  • John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
  • Titus 3:3 – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
  • Galatians 4:8-9 – Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
  • Romans 6:6,16,17,19,20 – We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed… For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
  • Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

3. The heart of sin is UNABLE and UNWILLING to do good. It is, in fact, HOSTILE to God:

  • John 3:20 – “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
  • Romans 8:7-8 – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God
  • Colossians 1:21 – And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
  • Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb;
  • Ephesians 2:12-13 – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:3 – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
  • Proverbs 15:9 – The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord
  • Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (c.f. Proverbs 21:27)
  • Proverbs 28:9 – If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
  • Isaiah 64:6 – We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  • Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please [God]
  • Romans 8:7-8 – Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  • John 3:20 – “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
  • Isaiah 65:1 – “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
  • Isaiah 64:7 – There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
  • Romans 3:10-12 – “no one seeks for God.”

So, if we are born in sin, slaves to sin and hostile to God, unable to do good works… is the heart a good place to be looking?

Yes, for those in Christ, He has changed their heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  But.. where does that come from? IN or OUT?

Our righteousness? OUT! It is an external (or what some call “alien”) righteousness. Our only hope in life and death is the external/OUT righteousness of Christ!

“The first is alien righteousness, that is the righteousness of another, instilled from without.  This is the righteousness of Christ by which he justifies though faith, as it is written in I Cor. 1:30:  “whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”  In John 11:25-26, Christ himself states:  “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me…..shall never die.”  Later he adds in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  This righteousness, then, is given to men in baptism and whenever they are truly repentant.  Therefore a man can with confidence boast in Christ and say:  “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did.”  Just as a bridegroom possesses all that is his bride’s and she all that is his—for the two have all things in common because they are one flesh[Gen. 2:24]—so Christ and the church are one spirit [Eph. 5:29-32].  Thus the blessed God and Father of mercies has, according to Peter, granted to us very great and precious gifts in Christ [II Pet. 1:4].  Paul writes in II Cor. 1:3; “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

– Martin Luther

So, do you see the completely backward message of Joel Osteen? Not only is it not biblical (Did you hear a single mention of Jesus, or a single passage of scripture in his dicussion?) it’s the polar OPPOSITE of biblical Christianity.  And he’s telling unregenerate sinners (who the bible says are slaves to sin and UNABLE to please God) that they are blessed and victorious?  That’s not just incorrect, it’s rank heresy. He’s speaking peace and victory to people who in their unregenerate state are destined for hell.  Smiley face and sweet voice or not.. that’s the cruelest act I can think of a man committing, and to do it while presenting himself as a “Pastor”?  God have mercy!

False teacher much?

So, the takeaway here is this:  Get the In-N-Out right, your only hope is OUT, through the external/alien righteousness of Jesus Christ through faith in Him for the forgiveness of sins.

Marc

Physician misdiagnoses dying patients, patients say “He’s great!”

A well known physician recently misdiagnosed hundreds (perhaps thousands) of those under his care over the last several years.  Each of the patients suffer from a disease which is fatal in 100% of cases without prescription of a well known and 100% effective treatment.  And yet the Doctor is completely unapologetic and his patients fawn over him.  His practice is bursting at the seams and he is writing books and lecturing other physicians on his methodology.  Relatively few of his patients seek the proper disgnosis and treatment, even after being informed of their predicament.

How do you feel about that physician? How negligent is he? Is he qualified to treat patients? Is he responsible for their death?

The physician reported that he’s “not really into medical terms, and doesn’t want to weigh his patients down with treatment theories and talk about illness.”   “People know that they’re sick, they don’t need me telling them what’s wrong with them.  I just try to love on them and help them see the best in themselves.  If they’re trying to feel better and get healthy, I think that’s really what’s important in the end.  My patients have told me, and I believe them, that they know they’re sick and have made a decision to get well, so they’re just beginning their wellness journey by living each day trying to be as healthy as they can. It’s not really my place to say one treatment is better than the other, I’m just not into that. I prefer to just love on my patients and encourage them to get better.”

Wait, what? No, “Doctor”, they’re dying from their affliction. Every single one of them. And instead of telling them what the medical journals clearly state, and showing them the 100% effective treatment for their malady, you’re coddling them into the grave.  You’re a lunatic and their blood is on your hands. Any judge would certainly find you guilty of your negligence.

What if I told you the malady was sin, that all men are guilty before God, and that the only remedy is to understand the gravity of that malady, repent and believe on Christ.  Any other diagnosis, any other ‘treatment’, no matter how you ‘feel’ about it, is fatal.  There are no exceptions here.

Diagnosis:

The ‘disease’ (sin) is well described in scripture:

1. Sin isn’t only something you do it’s a state of being. You aren’t a sinner because you sin, you sin because you are a sinner.  Whether you believe you are born in sin (Psalm 51:5) or you believe that we are condemned only by acts of sin is irrelevant in light of  Romans 3:23

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:22-23 ESV)

2. 100% of humanity (yes, that includes you) are condemned by sin. That’s the malady, the illness, the disease, the curse. You have tested SIN-positive. Scripture is clear on that.

Prognosis:

100% fatal:

1. Everyone is sinful both by nature and by action (Romans 3:23), so what’s the prognosis, Doctor?

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

(Romans 5:12 ESV)

For the wages of sin is death
(Romans 6:23 ESV)

That’s as serious as serious gets. You’ve tested SIN-positive. No doubt about it. And, you’re going to die. But it’s far worse than even that; Your sin isn’t simply an illness, it’s an affront, a challenge, a rebellion against a just and holy God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Ephesians 5:6

 

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Romans 1:18

How do we get this wrong?

1. Presenting sin as “making mistakes” or “falling short of God’s best for you”.  Let me put this as bluntly as I can. That type of preaching is cowardice.  It’s born out of fear that we’ll offend people by telling them they stand under the just wrath of God.  Sin is far, far more serious that “missing out on God’s best for your life.”  What drivel. That’s like saying terminal cancer is missing out on trips to Disney World.  You’re guilty, and that guilt will result in God’s wrath being poured out on you.  I know, that message isn’t popular or PC. It’s so “old school”.  But it’s the only message we’ve been given.  To water this down is to misdiagnose the illness and send people on their way without feeling the weight of their condemnation.

2. By presenting sin simply as “things we do wrong” that we need to stop doing.  This is pure law, and it focuses us on our own behaviors.  Sin isn’t something I just “do”, it’s something I am, it’s in every fibre of my being.  I need a rebirth, not a remodel.  By confusing this message, we saddle people with “do better” instead of repentance.

The Treatment:

(Please understand that I’m not flippantly labeling Christ as a “treatment”, I’m simply using an illustration here. I also understand that the limitations of this analogy could be viewed as Pelagian. That is not my intent. The bible clearly states that regeneration precedes faith; that God opens our eyes to the nature of our sin and His holiness, which allows us to respond in faith.)

To “get well” you must first admit that you are sick and in need of a physician.  No amount of positive thinking, or “living well” is going to solve your fatal disease.  You are saved by treatment.  While we are clearly called to have faith, it is not our faith which saves us.  Faith in your faith is not the same as faith in Christ.  We are saved by Christ through faith.  It is Christ who saves, not our faith.

1. Repentance and Faith:

Repentance is more than just “changing directions”, it’s more than just “feeling bad” that you’ve sinned. In Acts 2, after Peter blasts the crowd with a clear presentation of the gospel, and their sin, they respond.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 2:37-38 ESV)

Note that they were first brought low with the weight of their sin. They got it.  They were “cut to the heart”. Peter then told them to repent.  While being “cut to the heart” and understanding their sin was crucial, it was not in itself, repentance.

I love how John Piper handles this:

“Repentance is not just regret. They had already been cut to the heart (v. 3). And now Peter says, “Repent!” So repentance is more than feeling sorry. It means following through on that conviction and turning around—changing your mind and your heart so that you are no longer at odds with God but in sync with God. Jesus spoke to Paul in Acts 26:18 about this “turning” that leads to forgiveness and gave Paul his commission with these words, “I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins.” There it is. That is repentance: turning from darkness to light and from Satan to God. It is a reversal of the direction of your life—toward God.”

In other words, “Repentance means first of all, to acknowledge our sins, to be truly sorry for them. This “godly sorrow” comes from the Holy Spirit convicting us with God’s law.

But the Bible also uses the work of repentance in a broader sense to include faith in Jesus our Savior. This faith is produced by the Holy Spirit, who convinces us through the Gospel that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus, who lived, died and rose again for us.

Put those two concepts together and you have repentance in its fullest sense. (Jesus told His disciples in Luke 24:47 that repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations.)

According to the Bible, those who are truly sorry for their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior also want to turn away from their sins, intending with the help of the Holy Spirit not to keep on living a life of sin. If we want to keep on sinning, we need to ask ourselves if we have really repented. However, we are weak human beings and although we do not want to commit the same sins again and again, we may sometimes fall into sin out of weakness.

Whenever we sin, we know (as John says) that “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins” for the sake of Jesus our Savior (1 John 1:9). If repentance becomes a “game” with God and we don’t really want or intend to stop committing a certain sin (say stealing), and we go on stealing, living always in that sin of stealing, then we place ourselves in grave spiritual danger. We need to ask that God the Holy Spirit to give us the power to stop committing that sin and trust Him to help us fight against it.

Worldly sorrow is the kind of sorrow Judas Iscariot had, which caused him to commit suicide. It was a self-centered remorse and despair that wrongly concluded that all was lost in this life, that there was no hope, that there was nothing God could do. Second Cor. 7:10 says that this kind of sorrow brings death. But godly sorrow is true sorrow over sin accompanied by trust in Jesus for forgiveness. This is the kind of sorrow Peter had after he denied Jesus, and King David had after he committed adultery and murder (Psalm 51). Godly sorrow leads to life and salvation, because it includes faith in Jesus Christ.

As you can see, the Bible clearly states the diagnosis (sin), the extent (complete), the prognosis (100% fatality), and the treatment (repentance and faith in the atoning work of Christ).  To loop back to the medical analogy we used earlier, if your “Doctor” misses these steps, he’s guilty of malpractice.  I don’t care how big your megachurch is, how well he speaks, how many books he’s written, how awesome the music and kids programs are, if you didn’t hear the categories of sin, repentance, and faith in Christ through the gospel, you got something else.

You likely heard the purpose-driven gospel which states the problem as: “Missing out on the great plan God has for your life.”

The solution is to: “Make a decision for Christ” and “begin to live out the dream he has for you”.  You’ll hear a great deal about steps you must take, which include “Stepping out in faith”.

The problem?  You can have thousands of people make a decision for a better life, to “birth” the dream god has for them, and to “change the world”…. and not a one of them has been brought to repentance for their sins and trusted Christ’s atoning work for them.

Yes, the smiling, relevant preacher has negligently misdiagnosed the problem, and those people have not come to salvation in Christ.  Call them “decisions for Christ” if you like, but if they haven’t been “cut to the heart” over their sins against God, what are they making their “decision” for? Their better life? Better family? To begin to discover the “greatness inside of them”?  Maybe, who knows, but it’s not the biblical gospel, which is the only gospel which leads to salvation.   God have mercy on the modern church. The impending judgement and wrath of God will be poured out on those who have not repented and believed on Christ and we’re not warning them. Instead, they’re being told that the problem to be solved is not living their “best life now.”  Our hearts should be breaking over this. Pray that people who have “made decisions” in seeker-driven churches come to hear the gospel of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

Marc