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Monday, February 20, 2006

Cliff Notes to Spotting False Teachers III

Ocassionally, I like to post easy ways to spot false teaching. It's important that we are all diligent to spot it, because it could creep in from any of us (myself included) if we are not kept in check with the Word of God and the accountability of the Church searching the Scriptures to make sure teachings are true.

Does the message preach worldwide?

While there are a million things wrong with the prosperity angle of gospel preaching, one easy way to spot it is asking if the message speaks to all Christians worldwide. While the message that God wants to give me a better car, healthy kids, a larger house and a career advancement seems to match the message for suburban America, it falls short across the globe.

Ask yourself the question: "If I handed this to a brother in Rwanda, would he be offended to read it?" Warning: You may find a favorite book of yours referred to here. If so, run it through this test. If you think I'm off base, don't worry about it. (Also, acknowledge that I may not even know about your book, since I don't read as much as I should, and therefore the correlation may be accidental) How would a brother who's watched his family die because of his faith accept the idea that God wants the person potential to be maximized all while finding great self-fulfillment because God is just waiting to open the "storehouses of heaven" while you dream big? Would he be offended to know you think the reason his life is difficult is because his not claiming his goods from God?

America is probably breeding more false teaching within Christianity than any other country. It's typically very easy to spot...as long as you're willing to think outside of the boundaries of America.

You may think it's no big deal. You find it uplifting, so people should quit being so picky. Allow me to encourage you to consider two thoughts:

1. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Just wanting to be godly (not even having to fully acheive it) will mean that you won't be living your best life now.
2. In fact, that's the problem. Your trials should only be ensuring that your best life awaits you in heaven. Paul encourages us in Philippians 3:10 that our suffering actually deepens our intimacy with God, an intimacy that won't be fully realized until heaven.

You see, an Americanized, live-for-today's-prosperity message isn't selling you more. It's selling you short.

Just ask your persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe. They'll tell you they are living for so much more!


  • At 8:45 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…


    I'd be curious to hear who you think is preaching a prosperity message?

    What evoked such a post from you? A discontent with someone you hear giving out the prosperity message?

    If you are referring to the Prayer of Jabez, I'm totally with you.

  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger RevPharoah said…

    I'm seeing a little more Osteen influence. On the statement that "America is probably breeding more false teaching within Christianity than any other country" I hear that South America may be giving us a run for our money. Their socialized gospel of "God wants you poor along with everybody else." is an inverse distortion of what's preached here.

  • At 6:54 PM, Blogger ~d said…

    most of us here in the U.S. don't really understand persecution because we don't have personal experience with it...especially not the kind of persecution that christians suffer in china, indonesia, vietnam, pakistan, sudan, etc. i really don't want to suffer that kind of persecution, but at the same time i feel shame that my faith has cost me very little so far.

    speaking of persecution and prisoners in egypt....do i get to share soon?

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    another interesting discussion would be Rev. Pharaoh's "Osteen influence."

    Is he preaching a message of prosperity... or just a lot of messages straight from the book of Proverbs?

  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    these are good thoughts. i think we have to preach the atoning sacrifice of Jesus above all other things related to salvation. can Jesus heal pains of the past? sure. can He give us victory over demonic forces? sure. can He give me personal fulfillment? absolutely. but should any of these things be my major focus. no way.

    a person can not stand before God and claim salvation because Jesus gave Him more joy or fulfillment. a person stands before God and must state that their faith is in Jesus forgiving their sins and giving them His righteousness.

    i think jabez missing the point terribly. yes, i don't want to fight you, but i find warren largely missing the point. and mr. osteen is off as well. as is joyce meyers. as is benny hinn. as is anyone who preaches a gospel with therapeutic deliverance prioritized over redemption to God because of justification from our sin.

    i think what bothers me about osteen is that i don't think the man suffering in sudan would see much of himself described in "your best life now." i also think osteen is aiming far too low. there's so much more to look forward to than the here and now. part of my joy is in knowing that despite the fact that i have nothing to complain about here, it's only going to be better in eternity!

  • At 8:35 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    From what I hear, Osteen also has a church that runs very different from his television outreach ministry.

    Let's not make the assumption that Joel doesn't preach the whole canon.

    Let's also allow Joel to preach practial wisdom that also finds its root in Scripture.

    If people evaluated our preaching or ministry on limited exposure, I'm sure we all leave some things out at times. We also consider our audience, and how to build trust and a safe relationship (even if its a virtual relationship with a TV pastor) in which to present the hard truth of the Gospel.

  • At 9:42 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i appreciate your graciousness. however, i don't really think televised sermons FROM HIS CHURCH (which i have watched) a published book and his famous larry king interview are hardly limited exposure.

    it's not about preaching the whole cannon (though that must be done) it's what you do with it when you are preaching it.

    don't forget, joel (like you and me) has been called (if he has been called by God) to be a minister of the gospel...not of better earthly living.


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