Prophecy coming to fulfillment was on full display while America’s number-one Christian preacher–in terms of numbers he draws to his events—gave the many thousands in attendance his version of “hope” for their lives.
Joel Osteen wrapped up his confirmation of this “hope” that resides within each by having them repeat his gleefully shouted words.
(I paraphrase, because I couldn’t find a transcript of the TV program.)
He said with a toothy smile, while holding up a Bible, “Repeat what I say!
He then proceeded:
“I am favored by God!” (The audience jubilantly repeated the words.)
“I am special!”
“I am destined for something great!”
“I am important!”
“I am deserving of all things good!”
“I will overcome all problems!”
“I will defeat all depression!”
“I will take control of my own destiny!”
You get the point. This went on for many such “”I wills” and “I ams.” The many thousands were in rah – rah ecstasy by the time the head cheerleader concluded.
I heard no mention in Mr. Osteen’s sermon, I guess you could call it, of any of the “I wills and I ams” giving glory to the one who makes hope possible. I heard nowhere America’s most popular pastor of the moment mention the biblical ”hope” that is in reality at the heart of the Christian’s glorious destiny–salvation from soul-destroying sin through the shed blood of the only begotten Son of God.
Instead, I heard the glorification of self, and how good everyone is, and how deserving everyone in attendance was to receive the very best God is obligated to bestow.
More troubling, as the program came to an end, was the perception that the “I wills and I cans” the mesmerized thousands shouted, repeating Osteen’s words of self-praise, reminded me of the “I wills” of Isaiah 14:13-15: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
Jesus, resurrected and at the right hand of His Father, gave John, who penned Revelation, a vivid picture of the church that will, literally, make Him sick. That church was the last one the Lord addressed while going through the seven churches of the Church Age: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:14-17)
The Laodicean church bases its thoughts and actions on terms of 1) self-glorification and 2) physical prosperity, i.e., wealth. This end-of-days’ church is “lukewarm”; that is, it is tepid so far as teaching and preaching the gospel. This church preaches and teaches that people are good and deserving of God’s total blessings and adoration. It does not teach and preach that people are not good, that they are lost in sin, thus need a Savior.
The Laodicean church teaches and preaches that all is well, if money and physical comforts are in abundance. That prosperity is the key to a glorious future is the message sweet to the taste of those who sit in its luxuriant pews. It appeals to self, the same as did the serpent to Eve in Eden.
Another prophecy of Jesus comes into view when we consider the great moral degradation that has taken place in the last half-century. The prophecy is in line with the Laodicean church that, in my opinion, constitutes the majority of so-called Christendom today. Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse, forewarned first and foremost of deception which would mark the time just before His return. Many would, He warned, come in His name, proclaiming themselves to have Christ within themselves–to belong to Him. They would be deceiving themselves and those who followed them, according to what I see in my study of Paul’s words that in the last days evil men and seducers would come, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).
Again, the apostle Paul put his prophetic finger on our time, and, I’m convinced, the sugary, feel-good sermonettes, the likes of which preachers like Mr. Osteen pour into the itching ears of today’s Laodiceans: “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” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Questions that must be addressed are: Where is the proof that this coming forth of a more sinner-friendly church has done harm rather than good? What’s the harm in embracing all sinners and bringing them into the fold, without the condemnation that the Bible passages on sin throws at them? Isn’t Jesus a Lord of love and all-inclusiveness? Isn’t that accusation of Christianity’s “intolerance” the thing that brings the disdain of the world for the very name of Jesus Christ?
All that has to be said to answer the above is: Churches of America have indeed increasingly moved away from pointing at sin as requiring condemnation and sinners as requiring redemption. The result has been that the increased inclusiveness–this greater toleration of sinfulness, in concert with every imaginable evil gushing from Internet debauchery–has produced a society and culture rivaling that of Sodom and Gomorrah.
One article outlined some problems stemming from the church shirking responsibility in America.
The divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen sixfold, couples living together out of wedlock have increased sevenfold, and gay marriage is now a legalized reality in a number of states, with many believing the end is not in sight. (Bert M. Farias, “The Great Deception in American Church,” Charisma News)
Paul prophesied as recorded in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 that the Restrainer, resident within the church, would one day be removed from planet earth. Antichrist and complete lawlessness will then rule the world when the true church–all born-again believers—are called into Heaven.
The Laodicean church now on display, as forewarned by Jesus, Himself, surely must be a major indicator of where this generation stands on God’s prophetic timeline.