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The Power of the Spoken Word – Biblical or Occult Law? PART 1

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Many today in both the secular world and professing church world claim that there are universal spiritual “laws” which exist and that any person may learn to utilize, causing the spirit realm to work on their behalf. Supposedly, these “laws” will work for anyone from any walk or persuasion of life, whether Christian or non-Christian. One of the most popular and all-encompassing of these laws is what New Agers refer to as the “law of attraction.” You will hear it mentioned, however, under a variety of different terms. In the business world, you may hear it termed “the power of positive thinking” or “unlimited human potential.” In the church world, you may hear teachings such as the “word of faith,” the “fourth dimension,” or the “confession principle.” In witchcraft, it is the formula, “as above, so below” (meaning, as it is in the spiritual, so it is in the natural). And, as you may have already realized, these teachings actually go much deeper than mind science religions and philosophy. It is clear that these so-called spiritual laws originated in the occult world and came directly from Satan himself. We will discuss exactly how in more detail later.

THE LAW OF ATTRACTION?

Essentially, the “law of attraction” works by a concentrated focus upon a desire that one longs to have manifest in his life. This focus, of course, must eventually tap into the spirit realm in order to bring the desire into the physical realm. Part of this process involves the person developing a “consciousness” of belief that the benevolent “universe,” which many consider to be “god,” is bringing that desire to him. And, to ensure that his newfound faith doesn’t waver, the individual must think about, speak about, dream about, and even visualize his desire until it materializes in the physical/natural realm. According to one self-proclaimed pagan witch and supporter of the earth-goddess movement, “To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality . . . to leap beyond imagination into that space between the worlds where fantasy becomes real; to be at once animal and god . . . Spells [and magic] . . . require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection . . . To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol.”1 Oprah Winfrey has recently promoted a book entitled The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, which teaches this “law of attraction.” In it Byrne says, “Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.”2 Another important aspect of practicing this law is the belief that there is power in the words you speak. You see, the words we say are considered the tangible version of the thoughts we are thinking. Our words, therefore, have the power to create or destroy our destinies. So, in order to successfully practice this, one should confidently declare the “faith-thoughts” he has been meditating upon, even, at times, speaking about them as if they have already come to pass. Anything else is considered doubt in “god” or the “universe” (or doubt in “oneself,” since some believe that “god” and “self” are one in the same).

ALTERED CONSCIOUSNESS?

In fact, one must never speak a negative word or thought aloud because such can bring negative things into one’s life. In essence, they say, people will attract into their lives whatever things they consistently think and feel. “The law of attraction is the law of creation . . . You create your life through your thoughts.”3 And what becomes of the sin problem in this case? Well, a confession of sin would be considered a “negative confession,” so one would simply deny that there is even any sin in his life to worry about. People are led to believe that if they think about sin, they will bring more sin into their lives. Under this law, the confession and repentance of sin is eliminated! Therefore, Salvation is eliminated as well! “Science of Mind teaches that there is a favorable physical reaction, an effect, which follows a pattern of thought incorporating ideas of health, for the law of cause and effect governs everything. Similarly, it is held that right thinking will result in a greater experience of success and abundance. A successful person thinks success, and the law of mind that reacts has no other choice than to produce an effect corresponding to the causative idea.”4 It’s similar to the idea of karma, except that the action which brings the result is the person’s meditative (spiritual) thoughts. Actually, the dangerous reality of what can occur when a person repeatedly thinks and speaks the same thoughts is a state of altered consciousness. It is really a form of self-hypnosis brought about by mantra-like repetition and an obsession with one’s desired goal. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is astounding as the Bible warns us of such a practice: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do . . .” (Mat. 6:7). For example, many motivational/success tapes, lectures, and seminars start you off by helping you make your thoughts repetitive.

Altered consciousness is another subject in itself, which we may also discuss in more detail later. It may cause a person to perform certain tasks with much greater efficiency. It may also act as a defense mechanism for dealing with the uncertainties and hardships of life by giving someone an ability to simply deny a problem even exists and continue on in their state of blind confidence, hence the reason many have ended up with some serious consequences such as total bankruptcy or the loss of a marriage! Most importantly, in this case, altered consciousness is a door into the spirit realm.

CONFESSION?

The “Word of Faith” teachers are probably the most recognized in the church world for believing in and practicing this heretical, and formally esoteric, doctrine. You see, until the recent past, formulas such as this were kept hidden from the general public because they would have been identified as sorcery and witchcraft, and the laws of the land would have punished the practice. So, members of such cults and societies were sworn to secrecy. Times are certainly different now; if anything, our society celebrates witchcraft, often believing that there are “good” or redeeming aspects to the practice. But, remember the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden? Man wanted to be like God. Man wanted the “knowledge” that would enable him to operate in the spiritual realm. God, however, told Adam and Eve not to eat from any of the tree, whether the so-called “good side” or the “bad side.” God knew the entire tree was evil, and partaking of it eventually brought about the entire fall of man! Today, the church has fallen so far into darkness that she cannot recognize divination when it is practiced right within her own walls. Those who practice “Word of Faith” are functioning by the same occult “law of attraction,” while thinking they have discovered the key to victorious Christian living. They use the “confession” principle, by their definition, meaning that when one confesses a verse of Scripture or a promise from the Lord, the forces of good (God or angels) are released on his behalf. They believe that confessing the words of Scripture activate the Lord’s supernatural Power. “Christ and the Cross are completely ignored, with the avenue of success being ensconced in the proper Scriptures being chosen and properly confessed.”5

WITCHCRAFT

You see, teachers inside the professing church will incorporate Scriptures whereas secular society simply uses whatever else they may hold sacred and/or believe to possess great wisdom. However, the practical application and overall philosophy is exactly the same! It is nothing less than practical magic. Popular preacher, Joel Osteen, says “Your circumstances will line up with your words.” “Words are like seeds, they have creative power . . . The more you talk about it the more you call it in . . . You can use your words to bless your life or curse your life.”6 Joel Osteen was influenced by the “Word of Faith” teachings of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Osteen also stated in his best-selling book, Your Best Life Now, “We have to conceive it on the inside before we’re ever going to receive it on the outside. If you don’t think you can have something good, then you never will. The barrier is in your mind. It’s not God’s lack of resources or your lack of talent that prevents you from prospering. Your own wrong thinking can keep you from God’s best.”7 A non-charismatic version of “Word of Faith” teaching may be more along the lines of Robert Schuller’s “positive thinking” gospel. Christians must realize that it is not automatically a noble deed in the eyes of God to believe the positive.

Righteousness strives to know what is true, whether positive or negative. Not one of these so called “spiritual laws” or teachings is found in Scripture! God has already given us the law through which His Power (which is the Power of the Holy Spirit) works: “For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the Law of Sin and Death” (Rom. 8:2). The Holy Spirit works only through the shed Blood of Christ! Instead, what these men have done is ignore the true Source of Power, which is the Cross, and literally transformed the Bible into a witch’s book of spells. The Wikipedia on-line dictionary defines a spell as “A word or formula believed to have magic power.” “Word of Faith” even goes so far as to admit that the unredeemed can tap into these laws if they follow the right rules. But, make no mistake, the Lord does not function through magic! It completely ignores His Sovereign Will for a person’s life as the individual attempts to operate within particular “laws” to bring about what he desires for his own life.

Attempting to operate outside the Will of God and/or rebelling against His Will is witchcraft, pure and simple! “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft . . .” (I Sam. 15:23).

THE NEW THOUGHT MOVEMENT

In The Secret, Byrne “introduces Prentice Mulford (1834-1891) as ‘one of the earliest writers and founders of the New Thought movement’ . . . This quote from Thoughts are Things summarizes his ‘mental and spiritual laws’: ‘. . . In the future some people will draw so much of the higher quality of thought to them, that by it they will accomplish what some would call miracles. In this capacity . . . lies the secret of what has been called ‘magic.’ During the 20th century, such thinking inspired ‘positive thinking’ gurus like Norman Vincent Peale who, in turn, converted Robert Schuller and countless other leaders who are now pastoring churches or marketing the deception through church-related programs around the world. John Maxwell and other global change agents demonstrate the subtle influence of this feel-good, self-empowering ideology.”8 This is exactly the same teaching that motivational trainers like Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, have been saying for years. Hill teaches that “whatever can be conceived in one’s mind can be obtained. He teaches that the desired thing should be visualized in one’s mind, and done so repeatedly.”9 Hill also states: “Christianity is the single greatest force which influences the minds of men . . . it is because of faith.” “Faith is the head chemist of the mind. When faith is blended with the vibration of thought, the subconscious mind instantly picks up the vibration, translates it into the spiritual equivalent, and transmits it to Infinite Intelligence, as in the case of prayer.”10 Another promoter of this law is Yonggi Cho, “pastor” of probably the largest church in South Korea. His term for the power source reached through this universal law is the fourth dimension. “The fourth dimension is the Holy Spirit . . . Men, by exploring their spiritual sphere of the fourth dimension through the development of concentrated visions and dreams in their imaginations, can brood over and incubate the third dimension, influencing and changing it.”11 Norman Vincent Peale was another major proponent. “Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology which became known as Christian Psychology . . . Peale said, ‘through prayer you . . . make use of the great factor within yourself, the deep subconscious mind . . . [which Jesus called] the kingdom of God within you . . . Positive thinking is just another term for faith.” He also wrote, “Your unconscious mind . . . [has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.”12 Peale even said this concerning occultic automatic writing: “It little matters if these writings come from Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus of Jane [co-author Jane Palzere], they are all the same consciousness and that consciousness is God. I am a part of God, and Jane [is] part of that same God.”13

BIBLICAL FAITH IS NOT MAGIC

So, now not only do we have the words of Scripture being used as magical spells, we have Faith itself being defined as a magic power. Faith is not magic! Yes, God does send His Power as a result of proper Faith, but Faith is not the Power of God in and of itself. Neither does “speaking words of faith” exercise the Power of God. God exercises His own Power. No human can direct or command the Power of God. Humans only receive what the Lord sovereignly supplies. Also, Faith is not the power of the mind, nor an attitude of mind over matter. Faith is trust and rest, specifically in the Work Jesus did at Calvary! Jesus addressed all our problems there. That is what the Lord wants us to believe in, trust in, and rest in. True Faith is not an exercise of speaking certain words or thinking certain thoughts. It is an assurance of Christ in one’s heart, knowing that because He has paid the price, He will work out everything for our good in His perfect Way and Time. This is the perfect Peace of Christ! “Great peace have they which love Your law: and nothing shall offend them” (Ps. 119:165). When Jesus said to the woman with an issue of blood that her Faith had made her whole, He meant that because she now had the correct Object of Faith (Christ and Him Crucified) that she had all she needed to be whole (Mk. 5:25-34). Jesus did not commend the woman for her positive confession or positive thinking. He commended her for her complete and utter trust that her Source of healing was in Him! It was proper Faith that made the woman whole, not proper confession!

1 (Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. p. 62)
2 (Rhonda Byrne, The Secret p.43)
3 (Ibid p.15)
4 (from Visions Center of Religious Science website: http://www.visions-center.com/)
5 (Jimmy Swaggart. False Doctrine Study Guide p.137)
6 (Joel Osteen. “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223 May 2, 2004)
7 (Joel Osteen. Your Best Life Now, ch.1 ‘Enlarging Your Vision’) (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac29.htm)
8 (Berit Kjos. A New Mask for An Ancient Secret.) (http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/007/secret.htm#1)
9 (Jimmy Swaggart. False Doctrine Study Guide p.133)
10(Ibid p.49)
11(Ibid p.45)
12(http://normanvincentpeale.wwwhubs.com/)
13(http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/guidepo/mag.htm)

August’s issue of The Evangelist.

http://imablogger.net/2008/07/22/the-power-of-the-spoken-word-biblical-or-occult-law/

PART 2 is here –>>https://how2becomeachristian.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/the-power-of-the-spoken-word-biblical-or-occult-law-part-2/

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The Leaven of Lakewood

“‘I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I believe one day we’re going to have 100,000 a weekend,” says Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston .’”[1]

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 The Kudos

I want to begin this article by giving credit where credit is due.  When it comes to the Lakewood charismatic mega-church there are aspects of this ministry which must be cited as worthy.  To begin with the church was originally started by John Osteen, who was originally a Southern Baptist pastor but after receiving the “baptism” in/with the Holy Spirit he became enamored with the charismatic renewal movement in its early stage and eventually became associated with the Word of Faith (WOF) cult.  The following commentary was taken from the official web site of Lakewood Church :

 The late John Osteen served the Lord Jesus Christ as pastor, evangelist, author, and teacher for sixty years. Ordained as a Southern Baptist, he received the baptism in the Holy Ghost in 1958, an experience which revolutionized his ministry into a worldwide outreach…John Osteen began Lakewood Church in a dusty, abandoned feed store on Mother’s Day 1959…John Osteen was driven by an amazing love for people of all ages, races, nationalities and walks of life.[2]

One thing is certain in a time of racial division John Osteen opened wide the doors of his church to all people, and all shades and classes of people came.  John, even though he had rejected his Baptist theology (he did actually earn a Masters degree from Northern Baptist Seminary) he never lost sight of the need for foreign missions and his congregation supported and still supports a great deal of foreign mission work.  At the time of his death Lakewood Church had risen to 8,000 members.

I must be honest with you; out of all the WOF teachers my wife and I listened to we enjoyed John Osteen more than most.  He did have a genuine pastor’s heart and a desire to see people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  We have many of John Osteen’s books and tapes in the DMI archives.  It seems that his seminary education helped keep John from espousing some of the most heretical doctrines that are commonly taught by WOF teachers today.

However, I am under no illusions regarding the WOF “leaven” which John propagated and is unfortunately being further magnified through his son Joel Osteen who took over as Pastor when his father died in 1999.  John was a big crusader for the error of positive confession.  This is a metaphysical belief that we can either create or change our reality by the power of our words, for example he stated the following:

 When they say like they did to Smith Wigglesworth, “How are you feeling today?” He said “Listen, I don’t ask my body how it’s feeling; I tell it how to feel.” And your words should not be to describe the situation; your words should be given to change the situation. And so, read it, meditate upon it, and speak it[3]

I am the sum total of what I have been confessing through the years. My children are the best children that ever lived on the face of the earth.  They are blessed of God.  They are the sum total of what Dodie and I have confessed and loved them into being[4]

 Osteen is on record as fully endorsing the WOF errant concepts surrounding financial prosperity:

It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life[5]

 In the above sermon we can see the Health & Wealth “gospel” summed up three sentences.  So despite the good things that John Osteen did as a Pastor he got ensnared by the subtlety of false teaching and ended up misleading millions before his death.

Jesus in speaking to His disciples warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees in the following discussion:

Mt 16:6,11-12

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?  Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Even though it seems to us that His disciples were a little slow on the “uptake” at times Jesus makes His point crystal clear to them — He was warning them to beware[6], to be on guard against the danger of their doctrinal errors, which Jesus likens to leaven in bread.  Jesus knew that if left unchecked, like leaven in bread, their doctrinal error would spread.  The leaven of false doctrines which he instilled in his son are now expanding and misleading more people than John Osteen could have ever imagined.

The Concerns

Joel Osteen Master of Marketeering

Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor.  Charismatic pulpits are filled with people who feel “called” to the pastorate and that is enough for them and those who follow them.  They attempt to build congregations on the “strength” of their calling.  Some charismatic leaders may go on to some unaccredited “ Bible School ” for a year or two, none (which encompasses a large group of ministers) that we were ever acquainted with attended any legitimate seminary.

Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt “called” to be a surgeon as a child, but never went on to medical school?  Or would you allow someone to build your house who firmly believed God had called him to be an architect yet had never gone on to college to study architectural design?  Of course not, it would be the height of foolishness!

Yet millions of professing Christians are more than willing to follow a man (or woman) who says “God” has called them and has supernaturally equipped them to be ministers. (FWM doesn’t agree with this statement as we believe God can and has called many a man to the Ministry and has used them greatly who never attended any type of Bible College, but we do agree that those same men studied their Bibles daily and learned the Word.)  These especially anointed men and women have no need to study Church history, hermeneutics, systematic theology and struggle through Greek and Hebrew as other ministers do.  They hear directly from God (this is especially true for the sign-gift[7] pastors, most seeker-sensitive churches are led by seminary educated individuals).

So my first main concern is that we have a man in the pulpit of the largest congregation in America , being beamed around the world that has no biblical education or training for the vocation he says he has!  To me we have a clear case of the blind leading the blind (read Luke 6:39) with the end result being masses of people falling into the ditch of spiritual ignorance, abuse and/or extremism.

Joel Osteen made the following statement which ought to be enough to drive 1,000’s of people away from his church:

 Osteen’s upbeat style is deliberate and authentic. ‘Make church relevant,’ he says. ‘Give them something to be able to take away.  I find today people are not looking for theology.  There’s a place for it, [But] in your everyday life you need to know how to live.[8]

 That statement is loaded with seeker-sensitive “code.”  My wife and I left a North American Baptist church of over 1,000 members which had as its acronym “GPARS” which stood for: (1) Grace; (2) People; (3) Authenticity; (4) Relevance and (5) Small groups.

Of course Osteen’s “style” is upbeat, would you expect negativity from a positive confession devotee?  No!  Deliberate, absolutely, he really believes much of the WOF nonsense his father taught him all his life, not to mention whatever offbeat spirituality he may have gleaned from his two years at Oral Roberts University .  Authentic?  Without a doubt!  What you see is what you get.  Joel Osteen is a man without any biblical education but an admitted talent for marketing. 

To be a success in marketing you have to know where people itch and scratch it.  Or, you have to create a desire in them by creating a hunger for something they currently do not have nor formerly knew they needed.  All commercials can be condensed down to one of these two truths.

So to become a mega-church a pastor has to make church relevant.  He has to give the people what they want, something that soothes that spiritual itch.  In order to be a “success” (i.e. large masses of people and money) pastors must preach unchallenging messages that uplift rather than convict.  He must pander to the lowest common denominator and make sure that whatever is taught does not offend anymore at anytime.  What we are seeing is really nothing new, it is a simply fulfillment of 2Ti 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 This is exactly where multitudes of people are spiritually today.  The above text also helps explain the phenomena of people like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and now, Joel Osteen.

Osteen goes on to say that “I find today that people are not looking for theology.”  Well that is obvious because if they were they would not find any sound theology at Lakewood !  Although he does not reveal to the readers where he found this astonishing fact out, it appears the folks he has talked to have no interest in theology.

Lest you think me a bit harsh let me remind you that theology simply means “the knowledge of God.”  In essence Osteen has said that people are really not interested in learning about God.  Somehow (undoubtedly due to his lack of biblical education) he has made a disconnect between knowing the God of the Bible via sound biblical theology and “knowing how to live.” 

Brothers and sisters, my wife and I can testify to you that the more accurately you understand God within the biblical context the better life you will live before Him.  Tracy and I have a daughter, she does not like to eat certain vegetables but we MAKE her eat them from time to time.  Why?  As her parents, even though somewhat distasteful to her we know that eating them will be beneficial.

The same is true for every man who mounts a pulpit!  God does not tell us to feed the sheep what they want to eat.  Jesus told Peter “feed My sheep,” (see John 21:16).  Jesus said “feed” the sheep not “entertain” them!  We are to give them the Word of God in its totality.  Any pastor can fall into the trap of becoming a people pleaser.  This is why Paul, through the Holy Ghost warned young Timothy in the verse just above the one I cited:  2Ti 4:-2

I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

 Timothy is WARNED to be steadfast in his proclamation of the Gospel to be ready and in his preaching to: (1) REPROVE; (2) REBUKE; (3) EXHORT the people according to the Scriptures.  How? We are to preach with all longsuffering (because such preaching is unpleasant to people’s carnal nature) and with doctrine.  GASP!  Doctrine?  I can hear the seeker-sensitive pundits saying “oh come now, Rev. Liichow, surely you know preaching doctrinal messages is passé?”  Osteen would do well to heed the word of the Lord from a genuine prophet who stated:  Eze 34:2 -3

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel , prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock.

 There are many biblical themes which are very “unpopular” and even politically “incorrect” yet the faithful pastor/teacher will expound on these topics as well so that the flock under his care is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk in the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.

What is Joel’s educational background and experience?  Since we know his training is not theological, what is it?  He did attend Oral Roberts University for two years, but his area of study had to do with television production and marketing.

 Meanwhile, son Joel, one of six children, was learning the business of television… ‘Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be involved in TV production,’ he says. ‘That was just my passion.’  In 1981 he came home from Oral Roberts University (ORU) to start the Lakewood TV ministry.[9]

 For seventeen (17) years Joel was behind the scenes handling all the television and marketing of his father’s ministry.  The next statement from the Charisma article is very revealing:

The younger Osteen’s television-marketing talents and his dad’s preaching skills resulted eventually in the church churches being aired on stations nationwide and in more than 100 countries.[10]

             Joel Osteen had the ability to get his father’s heavily WOF influenced message out all over America and into 100 foreign markets.  Due to this dynamic-duo of folksy preaching/teaching and highly visible presence on television Lakewood Church grew to close to 8,000 members at the time of John Osteen’s death in 1999.

            With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to preach for him that Sunday.  Initially Joel balked at the idea and said “no.”  He then relented and here are Joel’s own words concerning his preaching that day:

 I just got up there and told stories.  I was so glad when it was over, I said, ‘I’ll never do this again in my life.’[11]

That was the beginning of his public ministry; he just got up and told “stories.”  Joel has been telling stories that have been tickling the ears of the multitudes ever since. Here is how the article describes Joel’s style of preaching:

 The appealing style of Osteen’s personality in the pulpit is unmistakable.  It is part of the reason for the Lakewood ’s current level of success.[12]

Everyone agrees Osteen’s preaching is a key ingredient.  Descriptions of his style include ‘simple,’ ‘down-to-earth,’ ‘practical,’ ‘relatable,’ ‘easy,’ ‘folksy,’ ‘humble.’[13]

It’s 10 a.m. when he began his sermon.  The theme is practical as he gives example after example of the importance of following God’s timing rather than one’s own.  He keeps the tone cheerful, optimistic. ‘God doesn’t want anybody walking out of here today heavy-hearted and downcast,” Osteen says.[14]

Joel Osteen is charismatic in his personality.  He is not a bad looking man, his delivery is as non-threatening as the positive messages he delivers.  Perhaps I am reading in to much yet when I read “practical” it makes me think that he believes teaching theology is somehow “impractical.”  The example after example simple means he tells a lot of stories and anecdotes that somehow relate to the message in which he may cite one or two proof texts to make his point.

It also concerns me when a pastor can make the statement that God does not want anybody walking out of here “heavy-hearted.” My Bible says “godly sorrow worketh repentance…” (see 2 Cor. 7:10).  At times God does want us to walk out of a service “heavy-hearted” if we have been sinning against His will.  We should allow the Word (when properly expounded) and the Spirit (when genuinely present) to break us, to convict us of sinful attitudes and practices. 

However if all you hear is “upbeat,” “cheerful,” and “optimistic” messages there is little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work conviction in the hearts of the hearers.  This folksy down home non-confrontational type of message also goes a long way in explaining the huge crowds that gather to be entertained. 

Let Us Entertain You

Entertained?  Oh yes, it is not only Joel’s preaching style but the music of Lakewood is an important ingredient in drawing large hoards of people. Once Joel took command of Lakewood ’s already large congregation (between 6,000 to 8,000 members) he began to expand the musical talent as well.

Four years ago, when Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff — former member of the Dove Award-winning Cruse Family gospel group — became Lakewood’s minister of music, the church had only one Sunday morning service…Soon after Cruse-Ratcliff arrived Lakewood expanded when two Sunday morning services were added…’The growth was extremely rapid,’ says Cruse-Ratcliff, who still serves on the 200-member Lakewood. Staff.[15]

 “Star power” brings people to churches as well, especially musical stars and Joel is not ignorant of this fact.  As minister of music Ms. Ratcliff knows people in the contemporary music scene and she no doubt help add to the musical strength of this mega-church by helping bring in some more musical talent:

 Helping to spice up that mix are two of the most prominent names in worship music.  Marcos Witt, who fills stadiums in Latin America for worship concerts was tapped in 2002 to pastor Lakewood ’s 3,000 member Hispanic congregation.  Also adding diversity to the Lakewood staff is Israel Houghton, whose soulful worship anthems are sung around the world.[16]

The music at Lakewood is contemporary.  They have musical stars that appeal to Hispanic (Witt), African-American (Houghton) and Caucasian members (Ratcliff).  The musical team writes many of their own songs and nothing in the article is ever mentioned about hymns.

This is not surprising when you consider that (to our knowledge) no seeker-sensitive or WOF congregation use hymnals at all, apart from the occasional singing of Amazing Grace.  The charismatic movement’s brand of music has infiltrated almost all evangelical congregations that have forsaken the use of the historic hymns.  At our former seeker-sensitive Baptist church we sang songs that originated from the Toronto “revival” and from the Vineyard movement, two examples of some of the wildest expressions within the renewal movement.

Musically speaking there is a method “to their madness” at Lakewood and other mega-churches.  They have a strong emphasis to cut all ties with traditional Christianity.  The classic, highly theological hymns and hymnals virtually scream out the dreaded word “traditional.

Out With the Old, In With the New

  Lakewood and all seeker congregations do not want to be associated with any denominational trappings or any forms of liturgical worship[17].  Many of these churches have even removed crosses from behind their pulpits lest they appear to be too churchy to the seeker. 

In all our time spent among both Pentecostal believers and seeker-sensitive groups we never recited the Lord’s prayer as part of our worship.  We never recited any of the historic creeds of the orthodox Church.  I doubt there are three people who attend Lakewood who could recite the Apostles or Nicene Creeds, probably few know the Lord’s Prayer.  Catechism classes?  You’ve got to be kidding!  In its place some groups may offer a new member’s class, but these classes are usually just general introductions to what the church has to offer the “seeker.”  Osteen being a sign-gift believer offers classes which promote the concept of a second baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, but this aspect seems to be soft-peddled as well.

 What Is the Key to Osteen’s Success?

Osteen I believe is probably the first of many WOF devotee’s who has melded the successful marketing techniques of the seeker-sensitive mega-churches with their positive confession health & wealth message.  The blend becomes a potent hybrid that appeals to both sign-gift believers (sort of “charismatic lite”) and baby-boomer seekers.

The message that God wants to bless His children with complete physical health, to give them great financial wealth and to demand little of them regarding their spiritual life is a highly appealing message.  When you combine this with well known Gospel singers, highly orchestrated praise and worship teams in a decidedly non-church atmosphere it will appeal to even a wider audience.

We cannot forget to mix in the vast television footprint that Lakewood church promotes, along with its web site, daddy John Osteen’s books are still in almost all Christian bookstores so it is not difficult to understand how it can gather 30,000 people in Lakewood ’s rented 16,000 seat arena, formerly the home of the Houston Rockets.

What saddens me the most is that one hears little, if any, Law & Gospel proclaimed by Joel at Lakewood Church .  To quote something I remember hearing “dad” Hagin say: “how do you poison a dog?  You put the poison in with the good meat.”  I do not want to press the analogy too far but the reality is that 30,000 people are not being biblically fed a balanced spiritual diet that will promote true growth in their lives.  What you do hear is a synthesis of WOF concepts wrapped up in a seeker-friendly environment by a young man with a winsome smile.

Lastly, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a certain synergy builds with any church when it begins to reach such a size.  People, who have no solid doctrinal foundation, will want to attend the place where “something” is happening (throw in a coffee bar, ice rink and gym does not hurt either).  In America , bigger is better.  After all, many posit, if Joel was not being used of the Lord then why would God allow all these people to come to Lakewood church?

Could it be a sign of God’s judgment on His people who have forsaken His ways?  Often we think of God’s judgment as some divine catastrophe, yet often, and just as catastrophic, is when He simply allows people to have own way.  I believe the words of Jeremiah are applicable to many in the Church today: Jer 2:12-13

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.  For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

 As much as Joel no doubt believes the growth they’ve experienced is due to the blessing of God it really boils down to three simple things, which have nothing to do with God at all: (1) his father’s legacy and an already existing mega-church; (2) Joel’s slick marketing abilities; (3) a biblically errant, but hugely popular message which appeals to the masses seeking to have their ears tickled and experience a “good time” in church.  Please pray for Joel Osteen, like it or not, he currently has a tremendous impact on many people.  Pray the Lord open his eyes to biblical truth and may he take as bold a stand to expose error.

Thank you Rev. Liichow

http://www.forgottenword.org/osteen.html

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MORE WORD FAITH POST ON THIS BLOG

Word Faith teaching- A spiritual copy of the Mind Sciences by LetUsReason.org

I HAVE WHAT I THINK AND SAY I HAVE (SPEAKING THINGS INTO EXISTENCE) by LetUsReason.org

THE WORD OF FAITH and the Mormon Connection by Larry Hall

Word Faith Movement heresies on GOD, in their own words (audio clips) BY H2bac.info

Walter Martin’s Word Faith Movement WARNING: w/GOSPEL OF GREED Big Steele: get-it/get-it slideshow by H2bac.info I think I did a good job on this ASLIDSHOW. What do you think?

How the Health and Wealth Gospel Twists Scripture

 

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How the Health and Wealth Gospel Twists Scripture by Watchman.org

Most Christians have heard some of the following: “You can have what you say,” “The reason you haven’t been healed is that you don’t have enough faith,” “We can write our own ticket with God if we decide what we want, believe that it’s ours, and confess it,” “He wants you rich and healthy,” “What is the desire of your heart? Name it , claim it by faith, and it is yours! Your heavenly Father has promised it. It’s right there in the Bible.”

Such statements reflect the models which set forth a theology of the spoken word (rhematology) or of thought-actualization, commonly known as “positive confession”, which stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts.

Some who teach this system argue that just as God, by His faith, spoke (or conceived of the creation in His mind) and matter came into existence (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6, Hebrews 11:3, 2 Peter 3:5), so the Christian can speak (or conceive of things in his mind) and actually bring them into existence by faith.

Many of those in the Word-Faith movement, such as Charles Capps and Jerry Savelle, teach that God had faith in His faith. They use Scripture texts such as Mark 11:22 and Hebrews 11:3, translating them as “have the faith of God”. However, renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, in his books A Short Grammar of the Greek Testament (pp. 227-228) and A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (p. 500), very adequately shows that the phrase is not to be translated in the subjective genitive (meaning that the noun is the subject of the action – or that God is the subject of faith) such as “have the faith of God”, but is to be translated in the objective genitive (meaning that the noun is the object of the action – that God is the object of faith). He goes on to insist that translating in the subjective genitive is preposterous. He says “it is not the faith that God has, but the faith of which God is the object”.

 

The Gospel of Health

“I am fully convinced – I would die saying it is so – that it is the plan of Our Father God, in His great love and in His great mercy, that no believer should ever be sick; that every believer should live his full life span down here on this earth; and that every believer should finally just fall asleep in Jesus” (Kenneth E. Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know about Divine Healing, p. 21).

 

The above statement and others like it have caused much confusion in the body of Christ and led many to be presumptuous in the area of divine healing. There are some things that are true about healing to which most Christians would readily admit. First of all, people who are morally conscientious and who recognize that the physical body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) may generally have better health because they take care of their bodies. Secondly, the healing of human life is part of the redemptive work of God. The Bible does teach healing. It was part of Jesus’ and the apostles’ ministries. There were gifts of healing in the church’s charismata, and in James 5:14-15, Christians are specifically encouraged to pray for the sick with the promise of answered prayer.

Of course, one reason believers pray for the sick to be healed is their conviction that the body, though still subject to decay and death in the present age, is destined for resurrection (1 Corinthians 6:13-14), and when God does heal someone it is a sign of the future Age already at work in the present.

However, where most Christians depart from the “faith movement” on healing is their understanding of the most pivotal text of Isaiah 53, which those in the faith movement almost always twist to justify their view of “blanket” coverage for the physical healing of every Christian who has enough faith.

A clearer understanding of this important passage can be gleaned throurgh a deeper evaluation of its underlying Hebrew text. What does the text Isaiah 53:5 mean when it says, “and by His stripes we are healed”? The Faith Movement interprets it to mean primarily the physical, while the majority of Christian scholarship has always interpreted it to mean primarily spiritual. For example, Gordon D. Fee, Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is quoted in the SCP Newsletter, Spring 1985, concerning this text, as saying, “It is also questionable whether the Bible teaches that healing is provided for in the atonement. Scores of texts explicitly tell us our sin has been overcome through Christ’s death and resurrection, but no text explicitly says the same about healing, not even Isaiah and its New Testament citations.

“Matthew (8:17) clearly saw Isaiah as referring to physical healing, but as a part of the Messiah’s ministry, not the atonement. Peter (2:24) saw the healing in Isaiah 53 as metaphysical, referring to our sin sickness, and this is the primary sense Isaiah himself gives the passage.

“Yet, since physical disease was clearly recognized to be a consequence of the Fall, one may argue that healing also finds its focal point in the atonement. But saying that does not imply all faithful Christians should experience perfect health. Even historic Pentecostalism, which believes healing was provided for in the atonement, does not hold that view. The position paper on divine healing adopted by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God (1974) makes it clear that healing is “provided for” because the “atonement brought release from the consequences of sin.” Nonetheless, since we have not yet received the “redemption of our bodies”, suffering and death are still our lot until the resurrection”.

An incorrect Bible hermeneutic (rules for Bible interpretation) combined with a desire for complete perfection have led many in the faith camp to deny the reality of sickness and disease.

For example, Kenneth Hagin, in The Name of Jesus, says, “In teaching on divine healing and health, I have often said, `I haven’t had a headache in so-many years.’ (At this writing it has been 45 years.) I guess the devil got tired of hearing me say it. Just a few months ago, as I left the office building and started home, suddenly my head started hurting. Someone might say, `Well, you had a headache.’ No, I didn’t have one! I don’t have headaches. I haven’t had a headache since August 1934.

“Forty-five years have come and gone, and I haven’t had a headache. Not one. The last headache I can actually remember having was in August 1933. I haven’t had a headache, and I’m not expecting to have one. But if I had a headache, I wouldn’t tell anybody. And if somebody asked me how I was feeling, I would say, “I’m fine, thank you.” (p. 44, parenthesis in original).

It is obvious from the above statements that Hagin doesn’t consider having a headache to be real. That’s because to him and other Faith movement teachers, symptoms are not real indications of sickness or disease, but distractions by the devil tempting him or her into making a negative confession.

 

The Gospel of Wealth

“It’s a matter of your faith. You got one-dollar faith, and you ask for a ten thousand-dollar item, it ain’t gonna work. It won’t work. Jesus said, “According to your faith”, not “according to His will, if He can work it into His busy schedule.” He said, “according to your faith be it unto you.” Now I may want a Rolls Royce and don’t have but bicycle faith. Guess what I’m gonna get? A bicycle” (Frederick K.C. Price, “Praise the Lord” broadcast on TBN, 21 September 1990, taken from Documentation for Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff). The cardinal fault with the prosperity gospel is one central tenet: God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian, therefore, for a believer to live in poverty is living outside God’s intended will. Normally tucked away somewhere is another affirmation: Since we are God’s children, we should always go first class, we should have the biggest and the best. Only this brings glory to God!

 

No matter how much one tries to clothe the above affirmations in Biblical garb, it is simply not Biblical. Again, poor scripture interpretation is employed by the faith movement.

To substantiate their teachings, proponents of the prosperity gospel distort the meaning of certain Bible passages. One such passage, frequently quoted is 3 John 2. John began his letter with a friendly greeting, expressing his desire that Gaius “may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers”.

Kenneth Copeland explains this verse on page 51 of his book, The Laws of Prosperity, says, “You must realize that it is God’s will for you to prosper. This is available to you, and frankly, it would be stupid of you not to partake of it”.

This verse, however, according to James Bjornstad in his article, “What’s Behind the Prosperity Gospel?”, published by Moody Monthly in the 1986 issue, “is nothing more than John’s personal wish for Gaius. We should not take it as an universal promise or guarantee of health and wealth”.

The Greek word translated “prosper” in the KJV means “to go well with someone”. This wish for “things to go well” and for “good health” was the standard form of greeting in personal letter of antiquity, just as a friend today might say, “I hope this letter finds you all well”.

Another popular text for the word-faith teachers, with regard to prosperity, is John 10:10. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with material abundance. According to Gordon Fee in the same Moody Monthly issue, the “abundant life” Jesus talked about here is the same “life” or “eternal life” in John’s gospel and is the equivalent of the “kingdom of God”. Fee goes on to say, “It literally means the “life of the Age to come”. It is the life that God has in and of Himself; and it is His gift to believers in the present age. The Greek word perrison, translated “more abundantly” in the KJV, means simply that believers are to enjoy this gift of life “to the full” (NIV).

Material abundance is not implied either in “life” or “to the full”. Such an idea is totally foreign to the context of John 10 as well as to the whole teaching of Jesus” (Ibid.).

Many in the word-faith movement treat God as if He is a God simply there only to cater to our every wish as we ask it and that His entire purpose in heaven is simply to do our bidding. Kenneth Hagin has even written a little booklet entitled, “How to write your own ticket with God“. This is the same presupposition that Charles Fillmore of Unity School of Christianity had with regard to prosperity. H. Terris Newman, writing in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 1990, p. 45, records Fillmore’s rendition of Psalm 23: “The Lord is may banker; my credit is good. He maketh me to lie down in the consciousness of omnipresent abundance; He giveth me the key to His strong box; He restoreth my faith in His riches; He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk in the very shadow of debt, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thou preparest a way for me in the presence of the collector; Thou fillest my wallet with plenty; my measure runneth over. Surely goodness and plenty will follow me all the days of my life, And I shall do business in the name of the Lord forever.”

One can not help but see that attitudes like the above are discouraged in scripture when it says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10).

In contrast to word-faith theology, sound biblical theology teaches that God does not have to do anything. God, the Creator of all things, is sovereign in all things, not the creature. God is not obligated to heal or prosper anyone, yet He graciously does, and neither is deserved. Someone has said: “healing is not a divine obligation, it is a divine gift”. The receiver of the gift can make no demands. God can be trusted to do all things well.

Perhaps the root error of the gospel of health and wealth is that it seeks to apply a theology of future glory to the believer in the here and now. But the Lord Jesus taught a theology for here and now that both sustains believers in hard times and holds out hope for tomorrow.

Christians should not claim now what God in His grace has promised only for the future.

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/health$.htm

THERE IS A LARGE QUANTITY OF WORD FAITH MOVEMENT ARCTILCES HERE With articles on it’s deifferent preachers and leaders. From deceptioninthechurch.com

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