When one of the most popular Christian leaders in America focuses more on personal growth, self-improvement, and positive thinking than on the essential doctrines of the faith such as repentance from sin, sanctification, and the atoning work of Jesus Christ, there’s a problem. The prosperity gospel preached by men such as Joel Osteen has been described as biblically anemic theology. And millions have fallen for it.

It’s like a caffeine or sugar high with the nutritional value of cotton candy, but make no mistake: it can be quite lucrative for those preaching it. A friend of mine visited his church and said there are no crosses and there was no mention of Jesus.

Lakewood Church in Houston church rakes in about $70 million a year. For his latest book, Joel Osteen received a $13 million-dollar advance. One book. He and his wife have a fortune estimated at $60 million. His 17,000 square-foot mansion is listed at $10.7 million and has six bathrooms, five fireplaces, three elevators, a swimming pool, guest house, and parking for 20 cars – including his $230,000 Ferrari.

…People who practice Joel Osteen’s formula for success and then get cancer or fail to get the expected results end up disillusioned or worse; they blame God! It might feel good short term, but many people get angry at God if things don’t work out the way they want them to and they fall away from Him.

Rather than catering to self, the Bible teaches us to surrender our lives to Christ. The Gospel of Luke 9:23-24 quotes Jesus as saying:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

The true Christian faith is honest right up front because the road to eternal life is narrow and hard. The Bible promises persecution, trials, and that people will hate you. Jesus said we will have trouble in this world.

President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler offered some insightful comments on a recent an article in The Financial Times in which the writer destroys Joel Osteen’s brand of Christianity and contrasts prosperity theology with teachings in Scripture. The author is not even a believer.

Editor of The Financial Times, progressive writer Edward Luce, visited Lakewood Church in Houston and interviewed Osteen. Luce writes about what he sees as a contradiction between Joel Osteen’s preaching and the historic, orthodox Christian faith. He calls Lakewood, “the most significant temple to the prosperity gospel in America.”

…Only God knows the hearts of those who preach watered-down doctrines such as word-faith and the prosperity gospel, but those who are teachers will be held to a much higher standard (James 3:1) by the Lord who exalts His precious Word. To embrace and follow Christ, we must hold the things of this life loosely and set our hearts on things above (Col. 3:1-3)…

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Video courtesy of Freedom Project Media