For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.- 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (ESV)
I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. So yesterday I tried putting her teaching from last week into practice. Then I awoke today very disappointed that she was wrong. So very disappointed to discover that I had not in fact, hit the 900 million Powerball jackpot. I was so sure that the wife of the pastor of the largest church in America must have been teaching me soundly only to discover she is false. Plain and simple. Let me explain. Last week Victoria Osteen said from the pulpit at Lakewood Church the following:
"Our "yes" gives God permission to bring forth His promises in our life." - Victoria Osteen
Now to be honest, my first reaction was that this is an utterly indefensible and blasphemous statement. That the God who spoke the entire universe into existence would need our permission for anything! But then I posted the quote and my opinion on Facebook and people started defending her and even tried parsing the quote; that it might somehow be appropriate to ever suggest that God needs our permission for anything. Having had listened to the entire teaching from Victoria however I know that she was actually mangling the following verse:
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. - 2Corinthians 1: 20 (ESV)
Now I know it is chic in modern Christendom to wink and nod when someone leverages the Bible to teach carnal life principles but this is not a matter of I say "toe-may-toe" and you say "toe-mah-toe." It is a matter that God said neither. Victoria tried to teach that because of this verse, God has already said "yes" to whatever you want but He is now waiting for us to agree and say amen. This is central to the word faith theology that the Osteens live by. That our spoken words have the power to create and apparently now, give permission to God. This still smells of really bad blasphemy. You see the point God is making through the writer, Paul, is that Christ was the fulfillment of all of the promises of God. That is why "all the promises of God find their yes in Him." It is only through Him that we would ever even want to utter "so be it" or amen. But note why beloved. We do not utter the amen for our temporal desires. We do not utter the amen so we can have our best life now. No, we utter the amen for the glory of God alone! That we agree it is in the person of Jesus Christ that one can find the fulfillment of the promises of God! What did Victoria teach this meant?
"God has already said yes, everything is mine. Healing is mine. Joy is mine. Provision is mine. All I need to say is yes" - Victoria Osteen
Beloved, I really want you to see the difference here. This verse is supposed to be about God delivering His promises through His Son Jesus Christ. When you speak about it this way, as God intended, the focus is all on God and Jesus. You begin to understand that the promise has been delivered on Calvary. Your heart is filled with the joy of the Lord for what He has already done in delivering His promise. In the Victoria teaching the focus is all on me. This is mine. That is mine. If only I would stop and give God permission, I can have whatever I want because He has already said yes. Calvary? Yeah thanks for that but what have you done for me lately? Do we see how deviously blasphemous this teaching is? Everything that is considered promises are things we have yet to acquire in Victoria's teaching when the verse is actually teaching that the promises have already been delivered in the person of Jesus Christ. Healing? That is what salvation is beloved! It is the healing of our soul with the Creator of the universe! Victoria is teaching it as if God is promising guaranteed physical healing if we would only give Him permission. That is patently absurd and not supported by this text nor any other in the Bible. God is still sovereign and sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the person is called home. But here is today's deep theology beloved. If that person was truly saved then they were already healed! That is the promise of God delivered through His Son Jesus Christ! Not that we might bargain for another 10 years on this mortal coil but that we are healed for eternity with God!
Victoria then says joy and provision are mine if I would just give permission to God. This is a classic problem within the church today. Blessings are always couched as things we have yet to attain. How in the world can someone who is truly saved from the fires of eternal hell, as a free gift from God and unearned, not already have the joy of the Lord? Now, I am not suggesting perpetual happiness in this world because Jesus has said we will have tribulation. But we are supposed to take heart in knowing that He has already overcome this world for us! Do you know what that is beloved? That is the promises of God being manifest in the person of Jesus Christ over 2000 year ago at Calvary. Our joy is not found in some temporal baubles we might attain now but in the salvation we have already attained! That is why joy is different than happiness. Happiness is based upon fleeting, temporal conditions, which change as often as the wind shifts direction. Joy is based upon the rock that is unmovable and unshakable. The Rock of Ages. The Son of the Living God. Provision? Once again, He has already provided! The promises are already yes and amen! We say amen in agreement to bring glory to God for what He has already done. It is not meant as some magical incantation that allows God to then bless us. You may think this to be not a big deal and I would say you are dead wrong. This flips the entire gift of salvation on its ear. It takes the Gospel and reduces it down to a menu of earthly riches we can greedily reach for if we only learn to control the god we have created in our wicked hearts better. It is carnality on steroids, wrapped in pseudo-piety and bathed in Christianese. If you are still looking for the promises of God then I worry for your salvation because being supernaturally regenerated from the dead is the fulfillment of the promises of God. Jesus is the fulfillment.
But I gave Victoria's teaching the benefit of the doubt and put it into action yesterday. I publicly declared that I gave God permission to let me hit the 900 million Powerball jackpot. I went and bought one quick-pick ticket because God only needs the one chance. I not only publicly declared that He has permission but I stood in agreement with other brothers and sisters, who I promised I would give a cut of the loot to. To seal the deal, I declared and decreed that the Powerball jackpot was mine in the name of Jesus. I did everything but sow a seed into Mike Murdock's ministry. I said positive "I am " statements like Victoria's husband teaches us to do. I kept saying "I am rich" and "I am the Powerball winner." I spoke to my wallet as though it were full; speaking the promises into existence. Then I woke up today to find out that no one hit the jackpot. Victoria had been proven false. Imagine my surprise and disappointment.
Now, in all honesty I was not really surprised. My disappointment was not in the lottery but in the defense of something so blatantly heretical and disrespectful to God and the sacrifice at Calvary. That Christians would defend anyone daring to say that we control God in any manner. That we have to give God permission to do anything. That we would view the promises of God as temporal goodies that we have yet to be given instead of the glorious gift of salvation we have already received and did not deserve. It really brought me back to the key verses for today. This time Paul warned Timothy about has indeed come. I want us to understand the key elements of this because it determines if we are marching towards the narrow gate or are on the broad path leading to destruction. Here are the key elements for us to consider and reflect on:
will not endure sound teaching,
The NIV says that people will simply not put up with sound doctrine anymore. They will not tolerate it. Beloved this time has certainly come. Sound doctrine and the standard of Biblical accuracy is no longer tolerated. It is mocked and derided. Mega church pastor Perry Noble referred to those who wished to go deeper in the Word as jackasses, in a sermon. Another mega church pastor referred to them as the excrement in the body of Christ. Many will refer to those who insist on sound hermeneutics as legalists, Pharisees or even devoid of the Spirit. Paul Crouch famously referred to matters of the using the Bible to discern as "doctrinal doo-doo." Here is the problem beloved. The Bible is God's Word to us. He wrote all of it through the divinely inspired writers. We have become virtual agnostics in the church. We claim to believe in God but we really are not too concerned with what He actually wants, or has said. The verse in 2Corinthians 1:20 has nothing to do with declaring and decreeing. It has nothing to do with saying yes to God so that He can give us stuff. It was not God teaching us that He needs our permission for anything. It instead, was intended to be a beautiful reminder of the fulfillment of promises in the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our saying amen is that we agree that our spiritual healing, eternal joy, and glorious provision has already been delivered through Christ for God's glory.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2: 1-7 (ESV)
When the people who are supposed to point you to Christ and all He has done instead point back to you and everything you can get to fulfill your carnal desires it is no wonder sound teaching is eschewed. A glance at these Ephesian verses reveal that these unparalleled blessings are all noted in the past tense. God in His infinite love, grace and mercy saved us while we were still sinners. He already saved us, raised us, and seated us. How? In Christ Jesus! We once lived according to the passions of our flesh and yet what modern day preachers try and sell us are those very same passions. Just give God permission and we can have them and Him too. The key verses continue: