Monday, October 15, 2007

Your Weekly Dose of Gospel
...are you born again?

This is a fitting and necessary article on the heels of 60 Minutes interview with Pastor Joel Osteen that aired last evening. You can watch the entire broadcast in its entirety at Joel comes off as a very endearing and likeable man. In this interview he considers himself more of a life-coach or motivational speaker than a pastor. But what is unique and at the same time disturbing, is that he is doing this under the title of pastor within the context of local church ministry. The Scriptures define the primary duty of any pastor is not motivation or being a life-coach, but to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

To read Lakewood's simple statement of faith is to read a statement common to most evangelical churches, especially within the SBC. There is nothing unorthodox about the faith or the gospel as they outline them there. They call people to repent of their sins, to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, they recognize the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word, affirm the Trinity, etc.

But once you move beyond that statement there are noticeable red flags. The emphasis in Joel's ministry, according to his own words, is more of a focus on the self in serving God as opposed to serving God alone. He makes faith more about us than about the worship of the One Triune God. IOW, the best life now is not simply knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and worshipping Him daily (Phil. 3:6-11), but rather having a better job, a bigger home, more money, etc.

Hope is a centerpiece, key word in Joel's ministry vocabulary. It is a great word and a biblical one too. I have written about this great hope we have in Christ before here. But he uses it primarily in the temporal and not in the eternal sense. Many of us greatly desire that he was expressing this hope in its biblical context and not through a capitalistic one. One passage that clearly defines and illustrates this so powerfully is 1 Peter 1:4-7 where the Apostle says,

1Pet. 1:3-9 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."
Notice that this hope has nothing to do with our environment, personal success or comfort, things that we possess, or our station in life; but it has everything to do with the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter calls it a living hope, obtained through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the surety of that hope in our inheritance is unshakable: it is imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, reserved in heaven, and protected by the power of God. Now that’s hope beloved!

My prayer and exhortation to Joel would be to unfold your church's statement of faith into the daily the practice of your ministry, preaching, events, and writing. Make Christ glorious and the central focus of all things so much so that He eclipses any desire for the things of this world. To find your greatest worth and joy in proclaiming and living in His glory, His holiness; His gospel; His exaltation; and His worship.

IOW: It's not about us; it's all about Him. Amen?

So... is Joel preaching a false gospel? Not according to their church's statement of faith. But it is fair to say that the message he is offering believers in their walk with the Lord is not one that is entirely Christless; but one that is virtually cross-less and not in line with biblical Christianity. He is dangerously close to drifting away into "a faith" that doesn't require the gospel as being essential at all. As Michael Horton called it, "a candy-coated gospel." Pastor Joel is clearly representing a temporal hope and material promise of possessions, prominence, and promotion that is not rooted in the gospel or in God's Word. To follow Jesus in Paul's day meant the loss of all things not the increase of all things. Consider these sobering words:
"To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now." -1 Cor. 4:11-13
God is not our celestial Monty Hall, beloved, giving us door number one, door number two or door number three. He is not a divine genie that we rub to get our deepest wishes and desires. He is not someone we approach to obtain things… It is not even about me realizing or even reaching my full potentiality. It is about “denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him.” It begins with our submission to the call of the gospel and to serve Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. It is about spending time in His Word and living uprightly in obedience to that truth before Him and our neighbor.

May we all be able to say with Paul this day, "as having nothing yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:10b) because Jesus Christ is our all in all - even if we have very little in the bank or by way of material possessions. Beloved, we need to find their deepest contentment in Him and not in the comfort of this world.

With this in mind, here is this timely article by J.C. Ryle on the theme "are you born again?" What is the evidence of truly knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior? This is a must read and I heartily commend it to you.

May I encourage you to pray for Joel Osteen that his eyes would be opened to the contentment that is found in Christ alone.

In His Matchless Grace,
Phil. 3:6-11

by J. C. Ryle


Are you born again? This is one of life's most important questions. Jesus Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

It is not enough to reply, "I belong to the church; I suppose I'm a Christian." Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us—many listed in the First Epistle of John.

First of all, John wrote: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (I John 3:9). "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not" (5:18).
A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it. Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become a horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying (I John 1:8). But he can say that he hates sin and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appealing in both his words and his actions. He knows that "in many things we offend all" (James 3:2). But he can truly say, in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Second, John wrote: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (I John 5:1).
A man who is born again, or regenerated, believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all. In himself he sees nothing but unworthiness. But he has full confidence in Christ, and trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven. He believes that, because he has accepted Christ's finished work and death on the cross, he is considered righteous in God's sight, and he may look forward to death and judgment without alarm.

He may have fears and doubts. He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all. But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say. Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church, and listen to his reply. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Third, John wrote: "Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him" (I John 2:29).
The man who is born again, or regenerated, is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God's will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Saviour and to prove himself to be Christ's friend by doing whatever He commands. He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.

Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether or not he is a Christian at all, he will be able to say with John Newton, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am." What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fourth, John wrote: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (I John 3:14).
A man who is born again has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers. He is never so much at home as when he is in their company.

He feels they are all members of the same family. They are his fellow soldiers, fighting against the same enemy. They are his fellow travelers, journeying along the same road. He understands them, and they understand him. They may be very different from himself in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father's sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Fifth, John wrote: "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John 5:4).
A man who is born again does not use the world's opinion as his standard of right and wrong. He does not mind going against the world's ways, ideas and customs. What men think or say no longer concerns him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people. To him they seem foolish and unworthy of an immortal being.

He loves God's praise more than man's praise. He fears offending God more than offending man. It is unimportant to him whether he is blamed or praised; his first aim is to please God. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

Sixth, John wrote: "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself' (I John 5:18).
A man who is born again is careful of his own soul. He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart and that evil is more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable.

He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy country—to wear his armor continually and to be prepared for temptation. He is diligent to be watchful, humble, prayerful man. What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

These are the six great marks of a born again Christian.

There is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks in different people. In some they are faint and hardly noticeable. In others they are bold, plain and unmistakable, so anyone may read them. Some of these marks are more visible than others in each individual. Seldom are all equally evident in any one person.

But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God.

How should we react to these things? We can logically come to only one conclusion—only those who are born again have these six characteristics, and those who do not have these marks are not born again. This seems to be the conclusion to which the apostle intended us to come. Do you have these characteristics? Are you born again?


Bhedr said...

I'm thankful you are out there Steve. It is good for the believer to look to 1 John for our true hope. Dear Heavenly Father Wake us all up in the name of Jesus

It is good that you stay awake bro Steve. Keep a soft heart of grace in the midst of it all as Jude calls us to keep ourselves in the Love of God as we earnestly contend. I know that you are. Just want to always encourage and remind you to.

Love in Christ,


SJ Camp said...

Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. When issues like this face us, we need to be longsuffering with each other and at the same time hold each other to the standard of God's Word. Such is the case with Joel.

I know that a lot of bloggers today are quick to pull the heresy trigger on this man; but that is a very weighty thing to declare and we should all be careful and circumspect with our words and pronouncements.

I hope people here will join me in prayer for this brother that he will grow in the Word of God and sound doctrine and avoid the teachings that tickle the ear rather than mature the life (cp, Eph. 4:14-16).

I appreciate you brother and thank you again for your kind words.

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,

Phil. 1:6

cyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cyd said...

"Notice that this hope has nothing to do with our environment, personal success or comfort, things that we possess, or our station in life; but it has everything to do with the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter calls it a living hope, obtained through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Dear Steve,
This is a great quote. What a wonderful hope we have in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ alone!

Thank you for this fair and balanced post; the lack of hasty, cutthroat judgments that I've seen elsewhere on this issue is very refreshing. We need to pray for Joel, that he will focus his teaching on a Cross centered life, rather than a man centered one.



Bhedr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bhedr said...

Amen Steve. I was deeply grieved when I watched the CBS interview. I was greatly blessed and encouraged once by one of his fathers specials so I know that Joel has probably gotten truth in his heart from his childhood. I dont know a whole lot about the family but this is troubling here. May God wake Him up and call Him away from leading others into a way that seemeth right. We all get willy nilly from time to time, but a child of God must repent and remember his first love and never take away the purpose of the cross and the cheif end of man which is not to make men happy as a prime product but to awaken Him to the realization that he is to glorify and and enjoy Him forever as His purpose for being redeemed and joy will flow as a by product in the worst of circumstances and that generally God has to strip us from all we have in order to get us to see this, but not always. However teachers today are teaching that the more blessed and successful you are the more you will see how much he loves you. It was the exact opposite as God revealed Himself to the apostles. None of them were successful in this present evil age, but they all had to drink from the bitter cup of the fellowship of his sufferings and like Peter were taken where they did not want to go, but only where their souls could ever learn of how they were made free in Him. I hope you all take time to watch the video I posted. The apostle Paul wished Himself cursed for his countrymen. How is one taken there. The video walks us through this. It is long but well worth the watch. Do you want to go where Paul desired? He went to Jerusalem knowing he would be bound in fetters and ignored as even the Holy Spirit Himself warned Him. It is a hard prayer to pray. Oh Lord please wake us up and may we see thine anquish for others in the love of thy Namesake alone and may we repent if we do not see this and follow after thee with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We cannot take ourselves there. Only you can for you never tried to climb the ladder of success while you were here, but instead yeilded up all of those rights as God Himself and in the New Covanent now call us to follow you with this same mind that was in you so how can the reverse be a true message? Oh Lord help us see and call us away from the Old Covanents conditions that you made with Israel as they stingily tried to embrace your covanent that brings death and condemnation to us. Living eternal invisible God. Wake us up to thy truth in the precious name of Jesus.

God bless

Terry Rayburn said...

When I became a Christian back in the 1970's, we used to speak of the approaching "last days".

We used to speak of an advancing apostasy that would culminate in the return of the Lord.

We sang "It Won't Be Long", and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", and "Just as the lightning comes from the East, and flashes even to the shall the coming of the Son of Man be...put on your Sunday best."

We could actually see the spritual decline of "the end times".

We've stopped seeing it, even as the decline is actually accelerating. We've gotten theologically sophisticated and forgotten the Book of Daniel and Revelation, and we've allegorized Matthew 24.

We've said, "Heck, maybe Jesus won't return for hundreds or thousands of years," and so we've capitulated to the Dominionists whose goal is to build the Kingdom on Earth (for Jesus, of course).

We've stopped saying, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord," and replaced it with power PACS of Christian Right dominionism and Christian Left socialism.

We used to quote Matt. 24:11, "And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many."

Now we hardly know a false prophet when he bites us.

We "expect" false teaching from a Joel Osteen. But we're silent when "good guy" Michael Horton (whom you quote about the "candy-coated gospel"), has vampire author Anne Rice on his radio show to talk about how she's returned to her Roman Catholic religion, with no word of correction or warning from Horton (July 8, 2007 White Horse Inn).

We're silent when "good guy" R.C. Sproul puffs Thomas Aquinas as a worthy teacher to study, and pollutes his Tabletalk magazine with neo-legalist Federal Vision types like Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins and Steve Schlissel.

We're silent when "good guy" Tullian Tchividjian blogs that his favorite all-time book is by Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft, one of the large number of Protestant teachers who have returned to Rome, again without any warning of a false teacher (Oct. 11, 2007 blog).

Even as recently as 1994, we cared that prominent "good guys" like J.I. Packer and Chuck Colson signed the Evangelicals and Catholics Together creed. But 13 years later, who cares?

We demean the TBN Apostolic Prophetic types, and then partner with them in schools, institutes, ministries, conferences, and "events" like "The Call" right here in Nashville this Summer (only after "cleansing" the water demons out of the Cumberland River, of course).

We speak of Sola Scriptura, and then we put our favorite theologians on a pedestal so high we can't see when they err, which they do more often each year, as the decline continues.

The blind are truly leading the blind, and they are heading for ditches that we don't even know about yet, because of our own blindness.

And nearly every teacher is "uncorrectable". You can try to change someone's mind, but my observation is that 90% of the time, when a mind is changed, it's for the worse.

None of the above is pessimism (a distorted negative view of reality).

It's simple Biblical reality, and it's a warning that only Christ is winning the only battle that counts -- He is building His church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

He is bringing glory to the Father in the midst of a rapid spiritual decline that is seldom noticed, ironically because of the rapid spiritual decline itself.

It's a time (of course it always has been) for true believers to draw near to Christ, to commune with Him, and to encourage one another in Truth, inerrant Bibles opened.

Call me an old-timer, but I'm watching the Eastern sky again.


Only Look said...


I can remember being in the bitter cold mountains in Bridgeport California so cold one night that I wanted to cry for my feet aching. We Marines huddled together that night only having a poncho liner to cover ourselves from our packs. No sleeping backs for the light and quick training ahead of us. Oh but that bitter dark cold night...I will never forget it. We huddled together to get warmth from one another. Your another one of those men Terry where I hear the truth eminating from you from the Spirits power and I am gently warmed in this bitter cold night of loneliness where the enemy waits on all corners.

Only Look said...


>We've stopped seeing it, even as the decline is actually accelerating.<


Michele Rayburn said...

Following up with what Terry was saying...

Years ago, I remember how we used to sing at church:

"Soon and very soon we are going to see the King,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah. We are going to see the King..."

Now we have Pastors who call themselves "Apostles, and are not", who want to bring the Kingdom to Earth, whose song for special music should be:

"If I ruled the world,
every day would be the
first day of spring..."

Revelation 2:2 says "And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars...".

I watched the video from 60 Minutes with Joel Osteen. I heard the congregation chanting, "Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain".

It reminded me of the Latter Rain Movement, which was largely the root from which most modern Charismatic groups evolved.

So, now we have Reformed Charismatics, Southern Baptist Charismatics, and so on.

But now we have gone a step further, and are abandoning the need for salvation at all. "Just As I Am" takes on a new meaning, as people are coming to these "meetings" just as they are, and staying that way.

In the 60 Minutes video, a kindly old man said to Joel Osteen, "I'm Jewish and she [his wife?] is Roman Catholic...". There was no mention that Joel's ministry brought either of them, or anyone else for that matter, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

There are 4 major Movements that are redefining the Christian faith in our country:

1) The Church Growth Movement. Rick Warren is a well-known advocate and leader. Joel Osteen definitely fits in here. The question is what are we growing?

2) The Emerging Church Movement. They don't believe in absolute truth, deny or deemphasize the need of theology and reduce Christianity to experiential encounters with Jesus.*

(Steve has covered this Movement extensively on his blog, and I want to thank him for that because as a result he has made me become aware of this and other Movements.)

3) The New Perspective on Paul (NPP). Also known as Federal Vision or Auburn Ave. Theology. This neo-legalistic heretical Movement denies biblical Justification by faith, in favor of "justification" by faith and works.


4) The New Apostolic Reformation Movement (NAR). This group emerged out of the Prophetic Movement, especially the now infamous Kansas City Prophets, and has a faulty understanding of Ephesians 4:11. Referred to as the Five-fold ministry, they believe that God’s original foundation of Apostles and Prophets is an ongoing requirement for the Church…*

NAR is a major part of the aberrant Dominionist Movement, which marvels at how Christians are not resisting their teachings, including their goal of eventually
having these so-called Apostles placed in all the churches.

*See "Troublesome Movements In The 21st Century", by Craig Branch (Areopagus Journal’s latest issue ).
Thanks to James White for posting this information on his blog on Sept. 1, 2007.

The New Apostolic Reformation is going virtually undetected in the Churches, and is instead being unwittingly embraced because of its covert nature.

Senator Barak Obama spoke at Redemption World Outreach Center, an Apostolic church in Greenville, SC on Oct. 7, where he said, in keeping with their theology, "I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth." That story lasted about 5 minutes, before the News Media buried it. So, you may not have heard about it.

As Terry and I drive along the highway, we see more and more billboards advertising churches with Pastors, and sometimes their wives, who are called "Apostle and/or Prophet (or Prophetess) So-and-So", and so on. It's "in our face" and yet "beneath the radar" at the same time.

Some kind of spiritual blindness has come over the Church. With the well-meaning desire to "just get along" and set aside our doctrinal differences, we have also set aside the Great Commission for the "Apostolic Mandate", and have all but abandoned that "mean old theology" in favor of ecumenicalism.

We have "thrown out the baby with the bath water". We have lost our discernment. Jesus asked, "...when the Son of Man comes will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

The authentic prophetic words of Peter are coming to pass where he says in 2 Peter 3:4:

"Scoffers will come in the last days...saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?...all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'"

So, you could almost hear them say, "Instead of waiting any longer, let's help Jesus out, and have the 'Kingdom Now'. Let's bring the Kingdom to Earth." Some believe this with good intentions, because they want to hasten Christ's return. But some are doing this to amass power for themselves and for the Church. But both are wrong.

In His Love,

The Seeking Disciple said...

Good post Steve. I believe there is so much danger now facing the Church from the likes of men such as Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. While these men believe they are serving God and helping people become strong disciples, I believe their brand of Christianity fails when placed under the eyes of Scripture.

Sadly, too often we lump people together in one group. For example, many godly charismatics dislike the theology and teachings coming from Osteen (and his late father). Many evangelicals also dislike the teachings of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels. I would only pray that the voices of those who oppose them would rise up.

May God help us all to have a discerning heart for His truth in these last days (Matthew 24:4,5).

Shawn L said...


I am not certain I totally agree with you. I do believe we should firmly call him to repentence. I know that as a shepherd he needs to be firmly called to repent and teach the gospel. I do agree with Terry. I believe what he is teaching is heresy.

I do agree many of us should encourage him to repent and stop teaching heresy.

I believe the most loving thing we could do is call this man to repentence. I know in my own life when I have been called firmly to repentence by a brother in the faith, it has helped me out so much. God truly needs us to be passionate about our shepherds and elders who are not leading astray believers to keep them from putting their faith in Christ alone.

Shawn L said...


I have had quite a few opportunities online to share the gospel with Hindus via email (American and Indian), and I recall the conversation with a Hindu women who believed that what Joel was preaching was a great gospel presentation. I have a deep love for the Indian people and wish more and more would come to faith in Christ. She definitely gravitated to his gospel, and was repulsed by the gospel message that I preached to her.

I personally can't understand if the aroma that we are proclaiming tends to encourage more and more lost people to find your gospel message palitable without repenting. The gospel is truly for these Hindus, but truly preaching Christ would definitely have an effect that would either drive them to the Savior or they will not want anything to do with the gospel.

I am so concerned with a gospel message that truly has not called people to repentence and the gospel. I am always thinking on judgment day how I want to stand before God to hear him say "Well Done good and faithful servant.". I truly can't do this if all of those damned have heard our message without the gospel being preached. I can't imagine that Christ being preached without the gospel being in tact.

May we call our leaders to remember they need to repent or leave the ministry if their gospel message encourages Hindus to continue in the path of destruction.

In Christ,

Only Look said...

I just wanted to post a note concerning the linked video in this thread:

I just wanted to add a little caveat. At the end of the video the speaker does of course preach an extremity as we know that we will not go to hell for trusting in Christ. Jesus did use extreme word pictures like plucking your eye out for not entering hell and other word pictures. In a sense this is what I saw this preacher doing and in truth the apostle Paul wished himself accursed for the sake of his brethren and to truly understand the compassion of Christ we do indeed need to look through the scope of working for His namesake alone for it is God alone who has suffered and He alone that truly has compassion as it is He alone who is the Shepherd who weeps seeing the people scattered as sheep having no Shepherd. The whole point of this video which is so tremendously powerful is getting our eyes off of humanistic sympathies that always lead us away from acceptance of stone cold truth and to me this is why the video is so powerful. Ultimately you can serve Christ will all of your heart all of your life and without personally trusting in Christ you still deserve to be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Accepting this truth helps one understand what trusting in Christ alone means; trusting in His death, burial and resurrection alone in finding life alone in Him, for if we do not understand what mercy is then we are not on the path to understanding grace in all of her beauty and scope. This is why I find this video to be so powerful and useful in helping Christians see how far off track the Church is getting in using God as a means to an end.

The point should be accepted then that Paul in all of his Holy anguish wished himself cut off from Christ for His Namesake by loving His brethren. That love had to come through the scope of him understanding a slice of Jesus' struggle in the garden of Gethsemane. If we even ask Christ to reveal a thimbleful of watching with Him in prayer in His anguish then we will begin to discover more and more the sanctity with which He loves His Bride and how Jealous He is for her.

We must understand also that while one may find themselves in anguish with Him at times, he may be so overwhelmed by grief that he despairs, but he must always rest in the knowledge that though the apostle Paul came to the point of wishing himself cut off, he also knew by witness of his writ in the preceding chapter that this was an impossibility as he was complete in the finished work of Christ. A work that is irreversable. So we have this same hope in Him if we have trusted in Him alone. Ironically it is the one who understands that he is most hell deserving that is best able to lean on the finished work of Christ and say that nothing is able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus as Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What joy and peace we have in the face of horror and death. Just the other day I heard Dr Erwin Lutzer say that it was when John Newton said, "God has every right to laugh at my calamity!" that he was soundly converted. So much greater is the grace we receive than the Hell we deserve.

Only Look said...

Good thoughts Shawn, but I still think a more cautious Steve is a matured Steve and one who has spent much time with God on this. He may know the family as well and more than we know. Remember how some of the prophets got off tract and were chastened later and even died because of it. I think Joel needs to be warned as a child of God. Remember what happened to Jim Bakker and others in the past. It is most unfortunate but this is what he does to His children when the begin to err from the truth. If they never receive chastening over this from God and continue unashamedly in it without coming to balance later then we must treat them as illegitimate children. The Bible tells us so. However if you remember, Joel once responded to caution from Steve. Not even Billy Graham ever did that. So I pray for both Steve and Joel. It would be a powerful testimony if Joel willingly later admits to some of this error and becomes a better student of Scripture asking forgiveness for misleading some in the Health, wealth and prosperity gospel and better balancing himself in the justice of God understanding that man swings on a pendulum between pride and despair and so we must provoke with the law and judgment as well as call men to accept grace. I believe Joel needs to balance himself. He will lose some of his people if he does, but I bet some would stay and the whole country would better take notice. Even Bill O'reilly has called him on this. The world knows as did this interviewer. Lets just pray that Joel wakes up and counts the cost like queen Esther had to and had to realize that she could not go on ignoring the plight of her people in the comforts of her throne. If Joel never listens then sharp rebuke may be needed later. However their may come a time...perish the thought...of some scandal be it large or small and perhaps a dear brother like Steve may be there to offer comfort. Its so hard to tell how God works, but I do hope Joel is a brother.

Shawn L said...


That sounds like good wisdom and probably a good idea. Thanks Brian. I know a sharp rebuke from a close believer in the Lord has helped me the most many times, but other times it has been confusing. It sounds like alot of believers I have know remember a sharp rebuke in the Lord truly helped them so much.

I know that the prosperity Gospel is definitely leading many in a path to hell.

As my pastor John Swanson said in 2003 "If you do not seek God because you believe him to be supremely valuable, then you are a hypocrite. To seek God for any reason other than his own glory as Creator, Lord and Savior is to be hypocrite. It is the reason that the health and wealth gospel is not simply a deficient view of the gospel but actually "another gospel" and will lead people to
hell. They are telling people to seek God in order to become healthy and wealthy. There is even a way of presenting the gospel as the solution to
your sin problem, so you can be forgiven and escape hell which is
misleading. Christ died to bring us to God, not just so we can escape hell. As you well know, Satan doesn't want to go to hell and he'd love to go to heaven if God weren't there. "