Category: America

Feb 04

THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL: Lessons from Daniel chapter 5

Great study from Joel Rosenberg from Daniel chapter 5 on fate of America and the coming war in the Middle East. Pray that you are found worthy of protection by our Lord in these times of trouble. Keep looking up!

“Is America in a ‘Nebuchadnezzar moment’ (where we still have an opportunity to repent and be restored), or a ‘Belshazzar moment’ (where God removes His favor from us and turns out the lights)?”

Joel C. Rosenberg, Jacksonville Pastors Conference, January 29, 2012 

 “The Pastor and the Future” — that’s what I’ve been asked to speak about tonight, and I cannot think of a more important subject to close this conference. You and I are living in one of the most dangerous moments in the history of the United States….in the history of Israel and the Middle East….in the history of the Church. Yet at this very moment when so many people are so anxious about the future, too many pastors are shying away from teaching Bible prophecy.

  • Some, because prophecy has been sensationalized in the past and they rightly resist such cheapening of God’s Holy Word.
  • Some, because they’ve never really carefully studied Bible prophecy and feel unprepared to teach it to their congregations.
  • Some, because they’ve lost sight of the power of prophecy – prophecy is an intercept from the mind of the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God….prophecies are storm warnings from the future….not to frighten us but to motivate us – to get us ready for what is coming, and to help get others ready…..prophecy is given to encourage and exhort the Church to repentance….to holiness and purity….to prayer and fasting….to sharing the Gospel and making disciples….to pastor training and church planting….prophecy tells us we are going to be shaken….why?….to wake up the Church….to wake up the nations….to wake up Israel….because the Day of the Lord is coming, and surely it is near….and God love us and He wants us to be ready.

In Luke 12:54-56, Jesus rebuked His disciples for not understanding the Word of God and not analyzing the times in which they lived….which is why it is so important that we close this conference by considering “The Pastor and the Future.” So, turn with me, if you would, to Daniel chapter 5. [Read the entire chapter]

What do we see in Daniel chapter 5?

5:1-2 – A pagan nation at the height of its power, and corruption.

5:3-4 – A pagan government and high society drunk with power and consumed with seeking pleasure of all kinds….worshipping the gods of gold and silver and all things material….what do we see in the king’s court?

  • Sexual immorality.
  • Drunkness.
  • Greed and materialism.
  • Idolatry
  • Blasphemy.
  • No care or concern for their history of sin and God’s judgment.
  • No remembrance of God’s grace and mercy for those who repent.

King Belshazzar doesn’t seem to remember or care about the testimony of his forefather, Nebuchadnezzar. Once an evil and terrible king, one of the worst in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar had then faced the judgment of God. He’d been driven out of the king’s palace, into the wilderness, driven mad and eating grass like a beast. Yet after a time, God relented. The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar a second chance, and Nebuchadnezzar repented of his horrific sins and gave his life to the One True God. What’s more, Nebuchadnezzar praised the Lord before the entire nation ofBabylon.

Nebuchadnezzar testified before his people: “At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:36-37).

5:5-6 – So God begins to shake them.

5:7-9 – A mysterious hand appears out of nowhere in the king’s court….mysterious fingers begin supernaturally writing on the wall of the king’s palace….everyone in that room could see the handwriting on the wall….they could all see the hand of God at work…..it terrified them, but it certainly got their attention…..they knew it was important, but they had no idea what is said, or what it meant….so because they were pagans they turned to the so-called “wise men” of the age, but the wise men had no answers.

  • 5:7 – King Belshazzar has two reactions:
    • A physical reaction – he gets physically ill.
    • An emotion reaction – he becomes desperate….he suddenly becomes willing to give massive wealth and power to whoever can help him understand the handwriting on the wall.

5:10-12 – Frightened, desperate, and having run out of all other options, Belshazzar turns to a man with a reputation for being completely different than they….a man described as having an “extraordinary spirit”….a man described as having “knowledge and insight”…a man “in whom is a spirit of the holy gods”…..the man, of course, was Daniel….he hadn’t been invited to the party, mind you…he wasn’t part of their culture….he wasn’t part of their religion….he wasn’t a member of the “in crowd”….and that was the point….in their fear and trembling, they were looking for someone completely different….someone who had a completely different perspective and just might be able to help them.

5:13-16 – Enter Daniel….he is brought into the upper echelons of power and wealth and offered a great reward if he can solve the mystery.

5:17-28 – Daniel doesn’t ignore or resist the king’s request….he doesn’t claim separation of Church and State….he doesn’t self-righteously declare he won’t “dirty his hands” by speaking to government leaders….but Daniel makes clear that he’s not interested in money, power or prestige….he’s not trying to be in their club….he certainly doesn’t want to be part of their pagan culture or corruption….rather, he knows he holds citizenship in another kingdom, yet he also knows that he is God’s ambassador….so he agrees to explain the hand of God to the king and his court….giving all glory and honor to the Lord, Daniel fearlessly makes known the word of the Lord, even at great risk to his own life.

Many in ministry look at Daniel with admiration and want to be like him:

  • He’s handsome (Daniel 1:4)
  • Brilliant (Daniel 1:4)
  • Wise (Daniel 1:4)
  • Sterling reputation (Daniel chapters 1 through 5)
  • Invited into the highest courts of power (the entire book of Daniel)
  • Given great accolades, wealth and authority (Daniel 2:46-49 and 5:29)

Yet let’s be clear: Daniel didn’t seek any of these things….moreover, he knew he could take no credit for these things.

That said, let’s take another look….are you really willing to be a Daniel? Consider the high price of his service to the Lord:

  • He was taken captive from his homeland (Daniel chapter 1)
  • Forcibly given a new home, new name, new diet, new education, new job in a brutal pagan empire (Daniel chapter 1)
  • Arrested, convicted, imprisoned, sentenced to death (Daniel chapter 6)
  • Yet he never faltered….he never wavered….he clung to the Lord….he knew His God….he listened to His God….he was a man of prayer….he understand the Word….he studied God’s Word diligently and carefully (chapter 9 he’s studying Jeremiah!)…..and when God told him to speak, he spoke boldly and without reservation…..he didn’t pull any punches….he did so at great risk, but with great faith and courage.
  • In Matthew 24:15, Jesus calls Daniel “the prophet”….for that is what he was.

How about you?….are you clinging to Christ?….are you on you knees repeatedly throughout the day in prayer?….are you fasting?…..are you listening carefully to the voice of God?…..are you willing to teach God’s Word – all of it, including the prophecies of a future that is coming fast upon us?…..are you ready to stripped of all our worldly possessions…stripped of our identity….arrested…. convicted….imprisoned…. sentenced to death….all for being men faithful to pray and faithful to speak the Word of God in our pagan, corrupt culture? Let us not answer too quickly – let us consider the gravity of this calling in this moment…for these tests may be coming soon.

Now, what was the Lord’s message to Belshazzar via Daniel?

  • 5:18-21 — Belshazzar should have known better…he had seen the sins of his father, and God’s judgment
  • 5:22 – “Yet you…have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,” Daniel says to the king. “You have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven.”
  • 5:26 – Mene, “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.”
  • 5:27 – Tekel, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”
  • 5:28 – Peres, “Your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”
  • Why was God judging Belshazzar? Because of Belshazzar’s pride…his vanity….his insolence….his hubris….Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Yes, the God of the Bible is a God of grace and mercy and forgiveness. He gives us one opportunity after another in life here on earth to say “Yes” to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life by putting our faith in Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. But eventually there is a point of no return. There is a point in which you defy God too long….go too far….cross a line….and at that point you no longer have the opportunity to repent and receive God’s mercy. At that point, when you least expect it, you have sealed your own fate by rejecting the Most High God…by exalting yourself against the Lord, and you will stand condemned to the fires of hell for all of eternity with no way of escape.

Thus, the Scriptures are clear: Say “Yes” to Jesus Christ now, before it is too late.

  • “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (I John 5:11-12)
  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (die and go to hell forever and ever), but shall have eternal life….he who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16,18)
  • Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:28,32-33)
  • Don’t do what Belshazzar did. Don’t keep defying the Most High God. Don’t wait too long to repent and give your life to the Lord. Otherwise there will come a point of no return. You will be weighed in God’s balances and found deficient, and theKingdomofGodwill be ripped away from you and you won’t have another opportunity to be saved. The Apostle Paul put it clearly: “Now is the acceptable time [to get right with God],” he wrote. “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

5:29-31 – For some unknown reason Belshazzar kept his word to Daniel and rewarded him for his insight….and God kept His word and before the night was finished, Belshazzar was dead.

Question: Why did God write on the wall?

It was too late for that king — and that kingdom — to repent. Why, then, did God sent the message? To warn to those Babylonians who were in the room with Belshazzar, and to warn the entire nation of Babylon….and to warn us down through the centuries: Listen to the voice of God….read the Word of God….don’t harden your heart….understand the “handwriting on the wall”….understand that God is trying to wake you up….get your attention….draw you to Him….motivate you to serve Him….don’t wait too long….repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Savior while there is still time.

Today, we can see the handwriting on the wall once again….in Israel and the Middle East….and here in the United States….God is trying to get our attention….will we listen, or harden our hearts?

The Future of Israel and the Middle East

As followers of Jesus Christ, we can see the handwriting on the wall in theMiddle East. We know what it says, and we know what it means: a terrible war is coming to the epicenter. God is going to shake the people of theMiddle East. He wants them to wake up and realize their real and desperate and urgent need to receive Jesus as their Messiah, Savior and Lord. Jesus doesn’t want anyone in the epicenter to perish and go to hell. He wants them to all to be saved. 

The Good News is that more Muslims and more Jews are coming to faith in Jesus than ever before in history. But it’s not enough for the Lord. Too many people are still resisting Him. So in His mercy He will continue shaking them in hopes that they will listen and repent like Nebuchadnezzar, not rejecting Him to the very end like Belshazzar.

Will the coming war be a prophetic war (like Ezekiel 38-39, the “War of God and Magog”), or just a really terrible geopolitical war? Of that we cannot yet be certain. But clearly the most dangerous corridor in the world is between Tel Aviv and Tehran. The leaders of the free world say Iran could have the Bomb by the end of 2012. Yet the nations of the world refuse to take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian threat. But make no mistake: if Iran’s mullahs get the Bomb, they could do in six minutes what it took Adolf Hitler six years to do – kill six million Jews. Today’s Sunday New York Times magazine story suggests Israel and Iran may very well go to war in 2012.

The handwriting on the wall is clear – the question is: What will we as believers do about it?

  • Will the Church demonstrate the love and courage necessary to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Middle East with clarity and compassion before it’s too late? If we really love the people of the epicenter, that’s exactly what we should do.
  • Will the Church do everything possible to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in theMiddle East– to pray for them, to visit them, to equip them, to assist them, to stand with them, come what may? Will we help the persecuted believers in the region? Will we train the pastors and help them plant new churches? Or will we ignore them, abandon them, refuse them in their hour of need? Again, if we love them, we will serve them.
  • Time is short, and the handwriting on the wall is clear.

The Future of America

The handwriting on the wall is also clear here in theUnited States. We as followers of Jesus Christ know full well thatAmericais in grave danger — not just at risk of decline but of outright collapse.

  • We now have more than $15 trillion in debt….100% of our GDP….but we are facing $65 trillion in unfunded liabilities…..we are on the Titanic, heading for the icebergs, and too many inWashington are saying, “Speed up!” not, “Turn around!”
  • The Bible warns us not to go into debt, yet we continue to defy Him.
  • We are defying God in other areas, too.
  • 53 million abortions
  • Legalized homosexual marriage
  • A pornography industry that makes more than ABC, CBS and NBC combined.

How much longer will the Lord wait before He lets us reap what we’ve sown? Is God going to give us another chance, or is He finished with us? Is America in a “Nebuchadnezzar moment” (where we still have an opportunity to repent and be restored), or a “Belshazzar moment” (where God removes His favor from us and turns out the lights)? Honestly, I’m not certain.

The good news is that God moved powerfully in this land in the early 1700s with the first “Great Awakening,” a series of amazing spiritual revivals that woke up the Church and rescuedAmerica. God moved powerfully again in the early 1800s with the “Second Great Awakening” that was even more transformative.

The question now is: Will God give us a Third Great Awakening? I don’t know, but I hope so. That’s why I’ve written the book, Implosion. But I can’t wait until June when it releases. I feel compelled to start talking about these issues now because they are so important. We need to be on our knees praying and fasting and pleading with God to have mercy on us. Yes, Washington and Wall Street and Hollywood bear much blame for the mess we’re in. But so does the Church.

There are 340,000 churches in the United States. They are all supposed to be shining cities on a hill. They are supposed to be lights in the darkness. But in too many American churches, the light is growing dim. In some churches, there is no light at all. We desperately need a revival of the Church to save this country. Nothing less will do.

Even if we elect godly, principled, wise and courageous leaders to the presidency, the Senate and the House in 2012, this won’t be enough to keep us from implosion. It’s still important, don’t get me wrong. But won’t be enough. We need a supernatural movement of God to rescue us, or this nation will collapse economically, morally and culturally. 

On Saturday, June 16th, we will host the national “Implosion” simulcast….a three-hour program for churches all across the country….I’ll teach for about an hour on these issues, and then take 2 hours of questions in a live format…we’ll talk about how much trouble we’re in, and we’ll talk more about the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening and see if there are lessons we can learn and apply to our own time….I hope you and your churches will consider joining us for this.

Conclusion

The world is fearful and confused. Millions across the globe can see the handwriting on the wall. They know something is terribly wrong. They sense something terrible is coming. But they cannot read the handwriting or understand what it means. That’s your job. That the mission of the pastor, the man of God who knows the Word of God and is charged with teaching the Word of God. It is your job to analyze these present times in the light of God’s Word, in the light of Bible prophecy, and help the Church and the pagan world understand what God is saying….before it’s too late.

Too many pastors, however, are asleep to the trend lines. They are unable – or unwilling – to see how much danger the people of the Middle East are in, and how much danger the people of the United States are in. But now is precisely the time to call the Church, and the nations, and Israel, back to the God of the Bible…..now, while we still can.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3041

Jan 18

False Prophets and False Doctrine

We need to be alert as we have prominent Christian leaders like Joel Osteen, who is pastor of the largest church in America, saying that Mormons believe the same thing Christians do in regard to Christ. This is simply not the case. And now we need to really be in prayerful consideration in regard to how we vote if in fact Mitt Romney, a senior Mormon leader – Bishop at one time, becomes the Republican nominee for president.

These two articles should help in that consideration set!

January 16, 2012 9:40 AM

Osteen: Romney “believer in Christ, like me”

Play CBS News Video

(CBS News) 

Pastor Joel Osteen, one of America’s most popular religious figures, said on “CBS This Morning” that GOP candidate Mitt Romney believes in Jesus like he does.

“What I see about Governor Romney is that he says, ‘I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, he’s raised from the dead and he’s my savior.’ I see him as being a believer in Christ, like me.”

Charlie Rose said, “That’s enough for you?”

“That’s enough for me,” Osteen said. “There’s differences in all religion. I realize Mormonism is different from Christianity, but you know what, he’s a man of faith and values. And to me, that’s strong.”

 

The Theological Differences Behind Evangelical Unease With Romney

 

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

 

Published: January 14, 2012

 

The Rev. R. Philip Roberts, the president of a Southern Baptist seminary in Kansas City, Mo., is an evangelist with a particular goal: countering Mormon beliefs.

 

Mr. Roberts has traveled throughout the United States, and to some countries abroad, preaching that Mormonism is heretical to Christianity. His message is a theological one, but theology is about to land squarely in the middle of the Republican presidential primary campaign.

 

As the Republican voting moves South, with primaries in South Carolina on Saturday and in Florida on Jan. 31, the religion of Mitt Romney, the front-runner, may be an inescapable issue in many voters’ minds. In South Carolina, where about 60 percent of Republican voters are evangelical Christians, Mr. Romney, a devout Mormon and a former bishop in the church, faces an electorate that has been exposed over the years to preachers like Mr. Roberts who teach that the Mormon faith is apostasy.

 

Many evangelicals have numerous reasons, other than religion, for objecting to Mr. Romney. But to understand just how hard it is for some to coalesce around his candidacy, it is important to understand the gravity of their theological qualms.

 

“I don’t have any concerns about Mitt Romney using his position as either a candidate or as president of the United States to push Mormonism,” said Mr. Roberts, an author of “Mormonism Unmasked” and president of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who said he had no plans to travel to South Carolina before the voting. “The concern among evangelicals is that the Mormon Church will use his position around the world as a calling card for legitimizing their church and proselytizing people.”

 

Mormons consider themselves Christians — as denoted in the church’s name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet the theological differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity are so fundamental, experts in both say, that they encompass the very understanding of God and Jesus, what counts as Scripture and what happens when people die.

 

“Mormonism is a distinctive religion,” David Campbell, a Mormon and an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in religion and politics. “It’s not the same as Presbyterianism or Methodism. But at the same time, there have been efforts on the part of the church to emphasize the commonality with other Christian faiths, and that’s a tricky balance to strike for the church.”

 

On the most fundamental issue, traditional Christians believe in the Trinity: that God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all rolled into one.

 

Mormons reject this as a non-biblical creed that emerged in the fourth and fifth centuries. They believe that God the Father and Jesus are separate physical beings, and that God has a wife whom they call Heavenly Mother.

 

It is not only evangelical Christians who object to these ideas.

 

“That’s just not Christian,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, a liberal Protestant seminary in New York City. “God and Jesus are not separate physical beings. That would be anathema. At the end of the day, all the other stuff doesn’t matter except the divinity of Jesus.”

 

The Mormon Church says that in the early 1800s, its first prophet, Joseph Smith, had revelations that restored Christianity to its true path, a course correction necessary because previous Christian churches had corrupted the faith. Smith bequeathed to his church volumes of revelations contained in scripture used only by Mormons: “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” “The Doctrine and Covenants” and “Pearl of Great Price.”

 

Traditional Christians do not recognize any of those as Scripture.

 

Another big sticking point concerns the afterlife. Early Mormon apostles gave talks asserting that human beings would become like gods and inherit their own planets — language now regularly held up to ridicule by critics of Mormonism.

 

But Kathleen Flake, a Mormon who is a professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt Divinity School, explained that the planets notion had been de-emphasized in modern times in favor of a less concrete explanation: people who die embark on an “eternal progression” that allows them “to partake in God’s glory.”

 

“Mormons think of God as a parent,” she said. “God makes the world in order to give that world to his children. It’s like sending your child to Harvard — God gives his children every possible opportunity to progress towards this higher life that God possesses. When Mormons say ‘Heavenly Father,’ they mean it. It’s not a metaphor.”

 

It is the blurring of the lines between God, Jesus and human beings that is hard for evangelicals to swallow, said Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif., who has been involved in a dialogue group between evangelicals and Mormons for 12 years and has a deep understanding of theology as Mormons see it.

 

“Both Christians and Jews, on the basis of our common Scriptures, we’d all agree that God is God and we are not,” Mr. Mouw said. “There’s a huge ontological gap between the Creator and the creature. So any religious perspective that reduces that gap, you think, oh, wow, that could never be called Christian.”

 

Mormons tend to explain the doctrinal differences more gently. Lane Williams, a Mormon and a professor of communications at Brigham Young University-Idaho, a Mormon institution, said the way he understands it, “it’s not a ‘we’re right and they’re wrong’ kind of approach. But it’s as though we feel we have a broader circle of truth.

 

“My daily life tries to be about Jesus Christ,” he said. “And in that way, I don’t think I’m much different from my Protestant friends.”

 

In a Pew poll released in late November, about two-thirds of mainline Protestants and Catholics said Mormonism is Christian, compared with only about a third of white evangelicals. By contrast, 97 percent of Mormons said their religion is Christian in a different Pew poll released this month.

 

Mr. Mouw said that only a month ago he was called to Salt Lake City to mediate a theological discussion about Mormonism among four evangelical leaders who had collaborated with Mormon leaders to pass the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California. After two and a half days of discussions, the group was divided on Mormon theology, Mr. Mouw said.

 

“Two concluded that while Mormons are good people, they don’t worship the same God,” Mr. Mouw said. “Two concluded that Mormons love Jesus just as the evangelicals do, and they accepted the Mormons as brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

“That’s the split,” Mr. Mouw said, “and it’s very basic.”

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2948

Dec 10

‘Real’ Christian Churches in US Forced to Go Underground Soon?

Christian churches in America will soon be forced to go underground if they want to stay true to their beliefs and to God, a conservative broadcast commentator warned.

Longstreet, a 30-year veteran of the broadcasting business, recently explained his opinion on the Right Side News, first clarifying that only “real” Christian churches will have to do as he predicted.

“In the past three decades, or so, many of the mainline Christian churches have slipped away from their foundation on the Holy Scriptures and adopted more and more secular tenets and leftist, politically correct, philosophy until they have become only a shadow of the true followers of Christ,” he penned on Tuesday.

“In my opinion, those denominations can no longer claim to be ‘Christian’ churches simply because – they are not.”

A few years ago, the U.S. Army veteran had left his own denomination for the same reasons, seeing that it had chosen to forsake the tenets of the Bible and the Good News of the Gospel.

Though he admitted that he was in no way a “better Christian than any other follower of Christ,” he believed that many of the mainline denominations in America today were nothing more than social clubs with franchises nationwide.

“Their pastors ‘preach’ feel good ‘sermonettes’ about the environment and things like ‘social justice.’ In my opinion, that is not the mission of a church that purports to follow Christ. In fact, Christ, Himself, spelled out the mission of the church in what we refer to as The Great Commission.”

The Great Commission stated in Matthew 28:18-20 reads: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That commission from Christ is the sole reason why the church exists today, Longstreet stressed.

“To fulfill that mission the church must stand firmly upon the foundation of the Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Christ. That means insisting that the standard(s) set by Christ are, and remain, the guiding force behind everything the church does … that means pastors are compelled to preach that those things the Scripture marks as sin are duly, and publicly, noted from their pulpits as SIN. If a church is reluctant to do this, or refuses to do this, then, in my opinion, that church is not a Christian church.”

The conservative commentator lamented that in America, pastors were afraid of preaching from the Scriptures, worried about the consequences – lawsuits, slander, or even embarrassment.

“It is a very real threat, especially to the evangelical church in America,” he added. “As a result, those churches which hold true to the Gospel, now feel that they must consider meeting in secret for Bible classes, for worship services, or other Bible centric gatherings.”

Even the government in America has criminalized biblical preaching and prevented thousands of churches and clergymen from practicing their faith without threat of penalty from the authorities, he charged.

“The Christian Church, I believe will be driven underground in America, as it has been in other nations around the globe. Otherwise, it will cease to exist in this land many firmly believe was founded by Christians,” Longstreet concluded.

“As much as it pains me to say this – America is no longer a Christian nation. At least, America’s government no longer governs by men and women who base their convictions on the Judeo-Christian code of laws and beliefs.”

Kevin Lewis, associate professor of Theology and Law at Biola University, shared some of Longstreet’s concerns.

“Today, the term evangelical is diluted,” Lewis told The Christian Post. “We now have ‘Liberal-Evangelicals,’ ‘Neo-Evangelicals,’ and ‘Post-Conservative Evangelicals,’ which are simply not with the classic evangelicals on doctrinal and cultural issues.”

Though there were still many women and men faithfully serving the Lord, they were in the minority.

Nonetheless, the Biola professor saw the decline of true Christianity and growing persecution of the church as an opportunity.

“Given past salvation history, I believe we will see more lost battles. But we also know that when the enemy actually touches the church, the people of God will awaken from their happy, evangelical slumber and seek new leadership. The current leadership is simply not doing the job necessary to win; and past leadership has failed.”

For Lewis, the “increased slouching toward Gomorrah in the church and culture” was a reflection of poor leadership from the evangelical Protestant church.

“I think the coming attacks will produce a search for new leadership. And it will then be the time for the unapologetic, biblically centered leaders to arise and take charge, both in the church and state.”

To remain “above” ground in America, the Protestant church needs to equip and train a new generation of Christian leaders in every sector of life, from the field of medicine to law.

“The Protestant church has lost the concept of ‘vocation’ and how it applies to each believer,” Lewis explained to CP. “I think there are many people called to be ‘Christian’ lawyers, judges, politicians, police officers, soldiers, medical doctors, etc. As such, as in the past, pastors and church leaders need to seek them out and train them if we want them to lead the government and culture. It is truly that simple.”

Though the Church had done this in the past, they are not doing it now, he noted.

“I believe it is our task to equip that new generation of Christian leadership to be the true biblically centered, scholastic activist leaders God requires. To do that, we need the majority of churches to enthusiastically return to biblical Protestant orthodoxy, which views all of life as ‘Christian,’ not simply the work inside the walls of the church.”

“While the outlook may appear bleak to some apart from divine intervention, there is certainly a way to fix the problem,” Lewis encouraged.

He believes God will spare this generation if Christians take immediate, radical and biblical steps. Those steps include repentance, leadership training and activism – essentially returning to “unapologetic biblical excellence.”

“If not, our children and children’s children will face persecution in America as Christians do in the U.K. and Canada.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2812

Dec 07

Christianity is the Most Persecuted Religion

Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”

By Milena Faustova – “Christian believers all over the world have found themselves in jeopardy amid massive attacks on Christians and Christianity in the Middle East, North and South Africa and South East Asia. Unless appropriate measures are taken, the Christian civilization will vanish completely, warn the participants in the International Conference on the Freedom of Religion and Discrimination against Christians, which is currently under way in Moscow. The religious forum has brought together representatives of Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic communities and religious experts from Russia and countries of the near and far abroad.

About 100 million Christians worldwide are suffering persecution and thousands die in religious conflicts. The biggest number of persecutions against Christians is taking place in the countries of Africa and the Middle East, said Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s Foreign Relations Department:

‘In Libya, Christians have been leaving the country en masse following the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime and the coming to power of the National Transitional Council. According to the Open Doors human rights watchdog, 75 percent of Christians have left Libya. Tunisia’s government advocated the principle of religious tolerance before the revolution. Right after the revolution, Christians in Tunisia began to come under frequent attacks and a number of Christian churches were seized and turned into mosques.’

Anti-Christian sentiment has become strong in Egypt, which reports new victims among Christians regularly, and in Iraq. Christian believers come under fierce attacks in Algeria, Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines…

The mounting anti-Christian moods were also evoked by a greater role of Islamic radicalism, aggressive missionary work by representatives of different non-Christian sects, and distortions of Christian teachings.”

We will be persecuted for our faith even here in America. It may or may not physical violence but I am attaching a second story out of New York City that sets the precedent that we can no longer have churches renting schools to hold service in! Keep praying and keep looking up!

Court: NYC Can Ban Churches From School Buildings

Dec 5, 2011

By Todd Starnes/TWITTER

The Supreme Court has rejected an evangelical church’s plea to overturn New York City’s ban on renting public schools for religious worship services. That means the city now has a green light to begin evicting congregations who pay rent to use public school buildings for church services.

“The Department was quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice,” said Jane Gordon, senior counsel for the New York City Law Dept. “”The Court of Appeals correctly upheld the Department of Education’s policy not to allow the City’s public schools to be used as houses of worship.  This case has been litigated for 16 years, and we’re gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear it.  We view this as a victory for the City’s school children and their families.”

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the city’s policy.

The court case involved the Bronx Household of Faith – a church that paid weekly rent to hold worship services at a public school since 2002. The church, along with five dozen other congregations, was allowed to continue worshipping at public schools pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

It’s a sad day for religious liberty,” said Jordan Lorence, the church’s attorney and senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. “Churches and religious other groups should be allowed to meet in public buildings on the same terms as other community groups and they’re being denied that in New York City.”

Churches will have to vacate public schools on Feb. 12, 2012.

“What’s odd about this is that of the top 50 school districts in the nation, New York City is the only school district that has a policy banning worship services,” he told Fox News & Commentary. “It does not show respect for religious liberty.”

The immediate impact means dozens of Christian churches will have to find a new place to hold services.

“A lot of churches are going to be homeless,” said George Russ, executive director of the New York Metropolitan Baptist Association. He said about seven of the 220 Southern Baptist churches in the city will be impacted by the decision.

Russ said churches will be scrambling to rent hotel space, banquet halls and movie theatres.

“It’s going to be a lot more money,” he said.

“The odd thing is these guys have blessed the schools they’ve been in,” Russ said. “They all have good relationships with the schools they’ve been in. They’ve purchased furniture for the teacher’s lounge they’ve given video equipment to the schools. They’ve done so many thank-you kinds of projects.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that allowing churches to use schools resulted in an “unintended bias in favor of Christian religions” – since most Christian churches worship on Sunday. 

“Jews and Muslims generally cannot use school facilities for their services because the facilities are often unavailable on the days that their religions principally prescribe for services,” Judge Pierre Leval declared. “At least one request(ed) to hold Jewish services (in a school building used for Christian services on Sundays) was denied because the building was unavailable on Saturdays. This contributes to a perception of public schools as Christian churches, but not synagogues or mosques.” 

Judge Leval also took issue with the evangelical church’s membership. “Bronx Household acknowledges that it excludes persons not baptized, as well as persons who have been excommunicated or who advocate the Islamic religion, from full participation in its services.” Leval wrote. 

But it all boiled down to a key point, the judges decided. “In the end, we think the board could have reasonably concluded that what the public would see, were the Board not to exclude religious worship services, is public schools, which serve on Sundays as state-sponsored Christian churches,” Leval wrote. 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2790

Oct 27

The Church in America: Do We actually Get It?

I am attaching an article from Dr. Al Mohler concerning Joel Osteen, who pastors the largest church in America, who during a recent interview has stated that Mormonism is another form of Christianity.

This is disturbing to say the least. I believe it shows the decline in the church in this country around remaining firm in our beliefs. We lack a basic understanding of what are the core tenants of our faith! Ebnjoy and keep looking up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Joel Osteen Not Know, or Does He Not Care?

 

By Dr. Albert Mohler
AlbertMohler.com

Here we go again. Joel Osteen is in the news once again, this time for saying that Mormonism is just another form of Christianity. Osteen, pastor of “America’s largest church,” as the media repeat over and over, was speaking to The Washington Times in an interview that covered a variety of issues. It was the quintessential Joel on display.

Speaking to the newspaper on Monday, Osteen said, “I see faith in America at an all-time high.” His comments came just as a major research project detailed a significant loss of vitality in America’s Christian congregations. That loss of vitality can be traced, among other things, to a loss of theological and biblical conviction. Joel, of course, is proof positive that you can build a crowd without building a church. He is not inclined to deal in much theological conviction.

In the interview, he distilled his message in these words:

“Part of our core message is that seasons change, and when you believe, if you don’t get bitter, and you don’t get discouraged, you may not change overnight, but you can get peace.”

He also told the newspaper:

“People need to be reminded that every day is a gift from God, and bloom where you’re planted and be happy where you are, and to make that choice to get up every day and be grateful.”

That message includes some truth, of course – but it doesn’t even come close to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hell will be filled with people who bloomed where they were planted.

On Mormonism, Joel said:

“I believe that [Mormons] are Christians . . . . I don’t know if it’s the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with. But you know what, I know Mormons. I hear Mitt Romney – and I’ve never met him – but I hear him say, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God,’ ‘I believe he’s my savior,’ and that’s one of the core issues.”

“I’m sure there are other issues that we don’t agree on. But you know, I can say that the Baptists and the Methodists and the Catholics don’t all agree on everything. So that would be my take on it.”

Osteen just stated his belief that Mormons are Christians. He then expressed the thought that Mormonism “might not be the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with,” but he affirmed Mormon statements that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is Savior.

Evaluating Osteen’s boyhood understanding of Christianity would be a project unto itself, given the shifting theology of his preacher father, the late John Osteen.

The main point of concern in Joel’s latest comment is the lack of any biblical standard of judgment and the total abdication of theological responsibility. He relegates doctrinal disagreements between Christians and Mormons to the status of theological debates between Protestant denominations and then includes Roman Catholicism. There are plenty of issues there, and the issues are not the same when comparing Baptists to Methodists, on the one hand, and Protestants and Roman Catholics, on the other. Comparing any form of Trinitarian orthodoxy with Mormonism is another class of question altogether.

Joel reminded the paper’s staff that he has never attended seminary. This is true, of course, but there are thousands of preachers who never had the opportunity to attend seminary who have a sufficient grasp of and commitment to biblical truth that would prevent such carelessness.

By now, it is clear that Joel Osteen’s carelessness is deliberate and calculated. This is not the first time that he has encountered the question of Mormonism. Back in 2007, he told Chris Wallace of FOX News that Mormons are indeed Christians:

“Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that’s what I believe, so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.”

The little details of it? Mormonism does not differ from historic biblical Christianity in “little details,” and a faithful Mormon would be the first to point this out. Mormonism begins with a plurality of gods, not with the monotheism of the Bible. Jesus Christ is an exalted man – not the incarnate Word. The list of categorical doctrinal differences continues throughout the entire belief system.

The very essence of Mormonism is the claim that historic Christianity is fundamentally in error, and that true Christianity did not exist on earth from the time of the Apostles until Joseph Smith. Mormonism can hardly be charged with hiding their movement’s teachings – the Book of Mormon and the other fundamental texts of the Latter Day Saints are published in plain sight.

In a remarkable exchange with Chris Wallace, Osteen muddied the waters further:

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know.

Here we face a fundamental dilemma. When Joel Osteen hears a summary of Mormon belief that mentions God assuming “the shape of a man,” does he lack the theological discernment to hear how that differs from biblical Christianity, or does it not concern him? In other words, does Joel not know, or does Joel not care?

In the end, we have to conclude that he does not care enough to know, and that is the greater tragedy for a Christian minister. He doesn’t “get hung up” on doctrinal issues, nor has he “really studied them or thought about them.” His own words indict him.

The Latter Day Saints include some of the most wonderful and kind people we will ever meet. They put a great emphasis on character and on the moral values of our common concern. They talk freely and passionately about their own beliefs, including their beliefs concerning Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they put action behind their commitments, sending their young people on missions and fueling a worldwide movement that remains one of the fastest-growing on the planet.

But their beliefs concerning Jesus Christ are not those of historic Christianity, and their understanding of salvation differs radically from the message of the New Testament. It is the responsibility of every Christian, much less every Christian minister, to know this.

Joel Osteen told The Washington Times that he is constantly “looking for new ways to influence the culture.” Our culture admires those with low theological commitment and high emphasis on attitude. In Joel Osteen’s case, it is the secular culture that has influenced the minister, and not the minister that is influencing the culture.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2640

Aug 05

Be Prepared

While it can mean many things to be prepared, this article I am attaching is talking about being prepared for a collapse of our and the world’s economy. While believers in Christ will be Raptured out beofre the Tribulation it does not mean that we will not experience tough times while we are still here occupying for our Lord.

So get your spiritual house in order, get your phyiscal house in order and be prepared. Do not be found like the 5 follosih virgins in Matthew 25 unprepared.

Enjoy the article. Keep looking up!

Like Chickens Running With Their Heads Cut Of1

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1818

Jul 14

Gay Marriage: The Divisive Issue of our Times

With the recent passing of the same sex civil marriage equality act in New York state we are about to see the country and even Christianity divide over this issue. This is the issue of our times. This is the issue that will define whether America is the Lord’s or has gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Read this story to see if you would have the courage that this fellow sister in Christ had:

As gay New Yorkers gear up for the Marriage Equality Act to become law on Sunday July 24–when state’s clerk offices will remain open so couples don’t have to wait “one day longer than they have to”– at least one New York state clerk has resigned her position rather than sign her name to a same-sex marriage license, Reuters reports.

Laura Fotusky submitted a letter of resignation to the town board in Barker, a small town north of Binghamton, on Monday, saying her religious beliefs prevented her from marrying gay couples. New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms obtained a copy of the letter:

“To the Town of Barker Board, Supervisor Dilworth, Attorney Lewis and the Town Residents,”

“I have been in contact with Jason McGuire from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, our Town Attorney, Richard Lewis, and a Constitutional Lawyer regarding the Marriage Equality Act that was passed June 24, 2011. There was no protection provided in the legislation for Town Clerks who are unable to sign these marriage licenses due to personal religious convictions, even though our US Constitution supports freedom of religion.”

“I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

“The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God. Deuteronomy 10:12 says, ‘…What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.’”

“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.”

“It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve the Town as Barker Town Clerk.”

State senators put language in the Marriage Equality Act that protected religious organizations from prosecution if they refused to marry same-sex couples. Some, however, think these protections need to be extended to non-religious people, such as photographers, wedding planners and others who refuse to be involved with a gay marriage.

Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director at New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “It is unfortunate that when state senators were busy protecting liberal special interests and padding their campaign accounts, that they failed to protect good people of faith.”

Governor Cuomo responded to the news Tuesday saying simply, “The law is the law, when you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose,” The New York Daily News reports. He added, “You don’t get to say, ‘I like this law and I’ll enforce this law, or I don’t like this law and I won’t enforce this law’ — you can’t do that. So if you can’t enforce the law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.”

Fotusky will step down from her position on July 21.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1757

Apr 29

Doctrine: It is Important, It May save your Soul

Here is another story of why the real church of Jesus Christ needs to stand up and be counted and heard. Especially when doctrinal truths are being watered down in the church. We have this story out of Toledo, Ohio where a Methodist church is openly promoting a gay agenda and saying that God loves everyone and that He would not have made people born this way if gay marriage or relationships were not okay.

They have even gotten very bold and have started a marketing campaign in Toledo to promote that “Being Gay is a Gift from God”. This is heresy and blasphemy and there is no other way to say it. It is time for the true church of Jesus to not sit back and continue to go about their business as if everything in the world is okay. It is not, we are moving quickly towards the Lord’s return and He is not coming back for a group in His church that is doing what this church is doing.

It is time to wake up people! I am attaching the story so you can read it for yourself. Keep looking up!

Being gay is a gift from God, asserts one church in Ohio

Central United Methodist Church launched a campaign this week, advertising “Being Gay Is a Gift From God.”

That’s the message that Central United Methodist Church is spreading throughout their community via a digital billboard, launched on Monday.

This “simple statement,” the church announced, is “intended to be a gift to those who have experienced hurt and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

“The Church seeks nothing less than the healing of the world, and Central UMC wants to offer words and acts of healing to those hurt and marginalized,” the website states.

Jeff Buchanan, the director of Exodus Church Equipping & Student Ministries, agrees that the Church must display love and compassion for those in the LGBT community. But he opposes the message that CUMC is sending through their “Being Gay is a Gift from God” campaign.

“Why would God bestow this ‘gift’ only to condemn it throughout the Bible? This would seemingly contradict His character as a God who is loving and just.”

The Toledo church’s controversial billboard ad is directly connected to a long month-long sermon series by its new pastor, Bill Barnard. The church is hoping that the ad will move the public towards tolerance, reported ABC 13, and not perpetuate anti-gay attitudes and behaviors, which were harming the LGBT community.

The purposes of their recently launched campaign are threefold: to offer welcome to all persons who are gay; to challenge the larger Church to fully accept persons who are gay into the life of the Church; and to call on all people to bring all the gifts of who they are to God.

“By welcoming and living in community with faithful Christians who happen to be gay, we have come to understand that being gay is part of who God made them to be,” CUMC proclaims on their site. “And by gay Christians bringing all that they are to God, the body of Christ has been strengthened.”

“In fact, we would experience the body of Christ as incomplete without LGBT persons.”

Barnard told ABC, “We really believe that being gay is a gift from God, and it’s not anything that anyone has to apologize for or be ashamed about. So that’s how [the campaign] came to be.”

Believing sexuality to be a “good gift from God” – or as they declared yet another way in God’s infinite diversity – CUMC defines sin as denying who God created them to be.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence is that people are born with their sexual orientation, that it is not a choice,” the church contends. “Fully accepting one’s sexual orientation and identity is key to leading a normal and healthy life.

“Forcing people to act against their God-given sexual orientation will lead to disordered lives. Allowing people to act in accordance with their God-given sexual orientation leads to reconciliation.”

While deeming the marginalization of LGBT persons as “unjustified” – mentioning that Jesus did not speak directly regarding homosexuality – the Toledo church recognizes that the Church today continues to be divided over interpretation of Scripture related to homosexuality.

Just two months ago, 33 retired United Methodist bishops urged the denomination to remove its ban on homosexual clergy, prolonging the undying debate within the church body.

CUMC hopes to unify believers by focusing more on “things that [they] agree on, such as kindness, justice, and humility,” instead of contributing to hate and discrimination, which they believe leads not to reconciliation, but to self-destructive practices within the LGBT community.

“Holding people responsible for matters in which they have no control is irrational and immoral,” the church declares. “We believe that both those within and without the Church are hungry for dialogue about homosexuality that reflects compassion and humility rather than intolerance and strife.”

Buchanan contends that CUMC’s message “tells people that the only option they have is a gay identity.”

But “people need to understand that thousands of men and women have found there is another way and have found freedom from homosexuality through the power of Christ,” he says.

Even if there was conclusive evidence supporting the theory that people were “born this way,” Buchanan stresses that Christians were called to be “born again.”

“While we may not choose our desires, we do have the ability and responsibility to choose whether or not we act on those desires. Our goal should be living a life that is congruent with Scripture,” he says.

“Genesis describes the fall of man and the permanent effects that sin has on us spiritually, mentally, and physically. Just because something may be inherent does not mean it was intended.”

Despite the outcry of many from the Christian community against CUMC’s campaign, Barnard continues to proclaim that homosexuality is a “gift” and has people come and remain just “as they are.”

Working to accept persons who are gay into the full life of the Church, CUMC is a founding member of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which is the United Methodist movement for gay equality in the denomination.

Two of the volunteer staff members at their church, including the music director and lead team chair, live with their partners and have served the church for over seven years.

Grieved over the misinterpretation of Scripture and false teaching that is being promoted by CUMC and many other churches like them, Buchanan encourages churches to deliver the message of Christ with love and grace, but also with accuracy and uncompromised truth.

“We must always remember that authentic love is built upon a foundation of grace and truth.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1543

Nov 11

Apostasy in the Church even in America

Joel Osteen pastors the largest church in America located in Houston, Texas. He is a highly published author of three books and in the last year has been selling out appearances all over the US in places like Yankee Stadium in New York and in LA at Dodger Stadium.

But if you ever really listen to him preach or watch one of his sermons from Lakewood Church on TV you will hear a Gospel preached that you may never have heard before. It is a gospel of prosperity, a gospel of positivity, a gospel that never emanated from Jesus.

He may not even mention Jesus all that much. His teaching is flat out apostasy and is leading the church of Jesus down a path towards destruction. He is a New Ager. Read the attached commentary on Mr. Osteen and you draw your own conclusions.

Keep looking up from your redemtioon draws near!

Joel Osteen’s New Age Life Now?

By Brannon Howse
Worldview Weekend

“Whatever you conceive you can achieve.”

With this favorite karma-changing promise, New Agers believe you need only use the “unlimited” power and consciousness of your mind to bring about all your dreams, desires and wishes.

Cloaked in a “Christian” package, Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, bears an uncomfortable and dangerous similarity to this most popular of New Age claims. Sample a few of the Osteen versions:

  • “You will produce what you’re continually seeing in your mind. If you foster an image of defeat and failure, then you’re going to live that kind of life. But if you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.” (page 5)
  • “You must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it.” (page 6)
  • “You must look through your ‘eyes of faith’ and start seeing yourself as happy, healthy and whole.” (page 15)
  • “What you will receive is directly connected to how you believe.” (page 22)
  • “We receive what we believe.” (page 72)
  • “Learn how to conceive. Keep the image of what you want to become in front of you. You’re going to become what you believe.” (page 81)

Osteen now travels the country, packing out stadiums with his happy-talk. But I’d like to see Osteen pay a visit to China, preach his “your best life now” drivel, and see how Christians there respond. Let Osteen look into the eyes of Pastor Lei who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten for preaching the Word of God in his church – a church not licensed by the Chinese government. How would the American’s best life work out for Pastor Lei and his congregation? Perhaps their jail time for the Gospel would give them time to assess Rev. Osteen’s claims.

Have these and countless other persecuted Christians been beaten, jailed and murdered because they “received what they believed,” or did these terrible things happen to them because they did not “develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness”?

Were eleven of Jesus’ disciples martyred because, “they received what they believed”? Were the disciples living under a “curse of poverty and defeat” as Osteen says of so many? Here’s a role call of questions I’d like to ask Mr. Osteen. Why is it, Joel, that:

  • Paul and Matthew were beheaded?
  • Barnabas was burned to death?
  • Mark was dragged to death?
  • James, the less, was clubbed to death?
  • Peter, Philip, and Andrew were crucified?
  • Thomas was speared to death?
  • Luke was hung by the neck until dead?
  • Stephen was stoned?

How would these disciples take to the best-life message?

Yes, I know. Joel’s promises sound so much better to American ears than all those warnings of Jesus about being hated by most people for His sake. But it remains that in large measure, Joel’s offering can be described as nothing less than blasphemy. On page 36, he claims, “God has a big dream for your life.” On page 56:

“God sees you as a champion. He believes in you even more than you believe in yourself!”

And on page 110:

“God has confidence in you.”

Osteen does not provide a single Bible verse to back up these statements…because there are none. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that God believes or has confidence in us. He loves us, but does not believe in us. On the contrary, He knows all too well how unbelievably fickle and untrustworthy we humans actually are. It’s not like Joel describes on page 57:

“Believe it or not, that is how God sees you, too. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful, overcoming person.”

Furthermore, God does not define our success in materialistic terms as Joel does. God is interested in our obedience above all. On page 63, Joel writes:

As long as you are pressing forward, you can hold your head up high, knowing that you are a “work in progress,” and God is in the process of changing you. He’s looking at your last two good moves.

Joel, where in the Bible do you read that God is not looking at our last two bad moves but our last two good moves? Isaiah 64:6 says that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags or wickedness to God because He is so holy. Even if God did look at our last two good moves, He would still see filthy rags.

Or how about this Osteen gospel gem from page 95:

“Be the best you can be, then you can feel good about yourself.”

Where in the Bible do we find this teaching? What if your best is getting drunk just once a week instead of twice a week? Should you still feel good about yourself?

But wait. I’ve saved Joel’s most outrageous statement for last (drum roll please). On page 144, Joel elevates us to the heavenlies by pointing out that “You may even need to forgive God.”

Whoa! And exactly what would we be forgiving God for? As I recall, forgiveness is for sins – or at least mistakes. But which of those has God made? Not a one according to any Bible I’ve ever read.

Oswald Chambers offers a perspective on the kind of thing the Osteens of the world do to Christians:

“Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”

Hebrews 13:9instructs us to not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings (deflected from the center) but sadly, that is exactly what is happening for many at the hand of Joel Osteen.

Instead of pursuing our best life now, we should pursue the things of the Lord so we can have our best life later. I fear that for many who follow Joel’s false teaching, this life is the best they will get. The false gospel proclaimed by Joel Osteen and accepted as truth by millions may allow many to achieve what they can conceive of the things in this world, but true to Jesus’ promise, they may lose their souls in the pursuit.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1082