My study of Jeremiah seems to be developing a theme that centers around false teachers and bad politicians, and yet this is not the theme of the study guide I'm following. I believe I already mentioned I'm following Kay Arthur's study on Jeremiah, titled Listening to God in Difficult Times. And I am once again amazed as to what God is showing me. True, the people in Jeremiah's time were not listening to God at all, but it was their complete and utter disregard for God and His ways that made it impossible for them to hear Him. This is why He sent Jeremiah to them. To warn the people of their wickedness.
I am currently looking at Jeremiah 8, and today while reading, I paused and reflected on several different verses that got me thinking about Joel Osteen and his power of positive thinking and the false prosperity gospel he preaches. I also kept hearing in my head that song from the Lego Movie called "Everything Is Awesome." I have talked about false doctrines and false teachers before, and in my book He Who Has an Ear, I even have a chapter on who the wolves in sheep's clothing are today. But today, a series of verses seemed to strike a chord with me about these types of preachers. They preach that everything is awesome, and Christians who listen to them and accept what they're saying without checking their bibles to find out if it's true are doing themselves no favours.
You shall say to them, Thus says the Lord: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return? Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.
In the verses above, God laments that the people of Jerusalem fall or backslide and never return to Him. They refused to hold onto His laws and obey Him. Instead, they worshipped other idols. The false beliefs and practices they clung to made them feel good. But they did not honour God and were not believing or practising their faith as God intended. But because they were so entrenched in their new beliefs they thought it was okay to practise idol worship and worship God simultaneously. So they refused to repent and return to God and His ways.
I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’
Today's false teachers have not spoken rightly. They have not repented of their evil but have encouraged others to follow them in their false beliefs. They have discarded God's Word. They have urged people to treat God like a genie in a bottle. God, they believe, does not want anything bad to happen to us. He does not want us to be sick, so He is ready to grant our every wish. The mantra of Osteen (and others like him) is to think positively if you want good things to happen. In other words, if you believe it enough, God will make good things happen for you. And just like Jeremiah's people, Christians who do not know the Word of God are blindly following these wolves in sheep's clothing. They are plunging headlong towards a spiritual battle where they will have to make a choice - believe in what feels good, or accept the truth of God's Word and walk away from the lies they have believed in.
Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow
This holds true for the church today. Many Christians have a misinformed belief that revival is coming to the church, and a "new wave" of God's Spirit is about to move over the land that will revitalize the church in general. But the Bible predicts that the end-time church will be wracked with apostasy. This is coming true before our eyes as we see one prominent church leader after another rejecting God's Word in favour of man's opinion and a "feel good" Gospel that tickles the ears. We also see these same preachers exposed as degenerates who sexually abuse or verbally abuse those they are supposed to be shepherding. Meanwhile, God's people do not realize or care that judgement is about to come upon them!
“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord,
The "wise men" of Jeremiah's day were the scribes and priests. They believed that it was okay to worship God and idols, and they spread these lies by manipulating God's laws. They told the people they would go unpunished, and as these verses indicate, they probably wrote down these lies and added them to God's laws. But what does God say about them? He says they have rejected the word of the Lord, and there is no wisdom in them.
Again, this holds true for false teachers and preachers today who have rejected God's laws for their own wisdom. Worse, they write books about their false doctrines that sell thousands of copies and deceive every one who reads them into believing their words come from God.
From the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely.
And here we come to the crux of the matter. Preachers and Christians who proclaim peace when there is no peace. Who shout from the rooftops revival is coming, or about the power of positive thinking - of believing and claiming. One of Joel Osteen's lies is, "If you want a shift to occur, you've got to think positive." In his book, The Power of I Am, he encourages his readers to use God's name - I AM - (Exodus 3:14) in a blasphemous way. He couches his words with life-affirming thoughts that are always focused on the positive. Negative things in life are, according to Joel, not from God. He rejects sickness, suffering and in a Sunday morning telecast, he even dismissed growing old and putting on weight as something that could simply be changed by saying, "I am not old. I am not overweight. I am young, and I am thin." This is not biblical! If it were, then the Apostle Paul would be, according to Joel, the worst sort of Christian because he says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God's "strength is made perfect in weakness." And he continues in 2 Corinthians 12:10-11 by saying, "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
What Joel is preaching and writing about is a lie from the devil. The Bible does not teach that if we believe it enough or say it in a certain way, something good will happen. God is not Santa Claus! That's like Dorothy clicking her heels together three times and wishing she were back in Kansas. What does God say about Joel and the people who "trust in Joel" rather than God? He says He is going to judge them.
1 Peter 4:17 warns us: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" His words were prophetic because it would not be too many years after writing them that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed in A.D. 70. But this verse still applies to the church today because if you as a Christian are mixing false doctrines with the Word of God, you are doing exactly like the people in Jeremiah's day.
The foundation of your faith should not be based on false promises, good feelings and positive thinking. Your faith should be built on the Rock of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.
If it isn't, you are on shaky ground, my friend. If you have turned your ear from listening to the true Gospel and instead have forsaken it for the teachings of false prophets and liars, then you are no better than the people of Jeremiah's day. They wanted to believe that everything was awesome and God would never allow them to suffer because they belonged to Him, and all He wanted was the best for them. Well, guess what? This is what false prophets are teaching today. They don't want to believe that when God comes again, it will be in wrathful anger and judgement. And they don't want to believe or preach that the church will be the first one judgment will be executed upon. Instead, they want to cry out, "Peace! Peace! Revival is coming. Get ready for a fresh outpouring of God's Holy Spirit to move over the land."
If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and have trusted in his atoning sacrifice, then rest assured you are saved from God's condemnation. However, if you have added to your foundation with false beliefs, you will not escape God's correction, which, as Jeremiah's people discovered, feels a lot like punishment.
Joel Osteen and those in the Word of Faith movement want you to believe that sickness, tragedy, inadequate finances, etc., are all of the devil. They want you to rebuke all these bad things. O Christian, that is Satan talking. When bad things happen to us, it is God saying, "You need a course correction in your life. Now listen up!" Sometimes that tragedy can be too much to bear. It might mean the loss of someone you love. I understand that pain. It's hard to fight through the grief to see if God is trying to tell you something. But more often than not, even the death of a loved one can lead us closer to God. We may even have something tragic happen to us physically, but again, whatever happens in this life does not happen without God's knowledge. He always has a plan and a reason. Joni Eareckson Tada knows that first hand, after a diving accident in 1967 left her a quadriplegic. But God used her in a mighty way despite her disability.
Have you forsaken God's Word? Are you putting more trust in celebrity preachers? To listen to preachers who expound on all things positive is a dangerous thing. It's time to come away from these people now. Stop giving them the glory (and your money) and return to God. If you have been deceived by the likes of Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and anyone else in the Word of Faith movement, then repent and return to the Lord before it is too late.