Voddie Baucham joins us today (in spirit, of course 😉) to help us discuss False Teacher of the Day #20, Joel Osteen. Joel Osteen is probably one of the most famous false teachers of our time and, for the most part, most Bible-believing Christians already understand this without reservation.
Therefore, this author finds it unnecessary to point out the obvious by trying to convince you of Joel Osteen’s heresies–namely, the self-centered Prosperity Gospel–and, instead, focus on some Scriptures and apologetics to refute it. At the end, Voddie Baucham’s commentary is extremely helpful in helping us put it together in a practical and passionate way.
The Prosperity Gospel–also known as “Health and Wealth Gospel,” “Name it and Claim it,” and “Word of Faith”–is a perversion of the biblical gospel that teaches that the primary purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection is to create material gain for those who have enough “faith.”
Adherents to this false gospel are found primarily in the charismatic movement and include prominent figures such as Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and T.D. Jakes. But the movement also includes Joel Osteen who isn’t as focused as much on the charismaticism as he is on the financial prosperity of his movement.
While Osteen’s teachings largely rely on the notion that God wants us to be wealthy, the Scriptures actually teach the opposite. Here are some examples:
Prosperity Gospel adherents always serve money, but Jesus says he wants us to instead lay up treasures in Heaven by doing the work of the Kingdom.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:19–24)
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, explains that men like Joel Osteen and other Prosperity Gospel charlatans are false teachers who are “puffed up with conceit” and that those who desire to be rich will ultimately fall into ruin and destruction.
Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:2-10)
It’s clear that material wealth and financial prosperity are not the goal of Christianity and that Christianity is not a means to that end. If God chooses to bless one person with more wealth than others, that is God’s prerogative to do so. As Christians, we are charged with being good stewards of whatever God has provided for us and to use it ultimately for the purpose of advancing His Kingdom. When we desire what God has not promised, we are ultimately worshiping ourselves–the Scriptures call this idolatry and God hates it.
Here is Voddie Baucham on Joel Osteen and the seeker-sensitive false gospel movement.