World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

Joel Osteen versus Martin Luther

"You may have to wear a fake smile, but if you keep at it, God will turn it into a real smile." (page 33)

Osteen
I’m reading Joel Osteen’s newest book Every Day a Friday. I’ve seen Joel’s TV sermons here and there, but I’d never sat down to read what he says until now. Here’s a sample:

“My purpose in writing this book is to help you arrange your mind so that you choose happiness each and every day.” (p. 4)

Joel Osteen teaches that man’s will is free, and in fact more than free; man’s will is creative. With positive thoughts, correct choices, good decisions we can make good things happen to us.

“I do have a smile. I do have joy. I do have God’s favor. I do have victory.” (p. 5)

In fact, our will is so strong and powerful that God Himself is wait on us to act; our will enables God to work. This is stunning.

“You have the seeds of greatness on the inside.” (p. 72)

“When you begin each day in faith, anticipating something good, God tells the angels to go to work and to arrange things in your favor. He gives you breaks, lines up the right people, and opens the right doors. That’s what allows God to show up and do amazing things.” (p. 7, emphasis added)

“When your faith is released, God’s power is activated.” (p. 65)

“If you’re to be restored, if you’re to fulfill your destiny, it’s not up to God. It’s up to you.” (p. 91)

This is what Joel teaches. He exalts us, our human nature, our will.

“Don’t be a beggar. Be a believer.” (p. 91)

Luther

"I'm reading 'Every Day a Sunday' by Erasmus"

Compare this to Luther. When Martin Luther died on February 18th, 1546. He had travelled to Eislaben (the city of his birth) to settle a dispute between two brothers. His last written words were found on a scrap of paper in his pocket, “We are beggars; that is true.”

This what what Luther taught; man is nothing, God is everything.

“With might of our may naught be done” (A Mighty Fortress).

“I believe that I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him” (The Small Catechism)

“This hereditary sin is such a deep corruption of nature that no reason can understand it” (Smalcald Articles).

“We are beggars; this is true.”

This are fundamentally different teachings, about man, about God, about Jesus. Joel teaches us that we are good, powerful, great. Luther teaches that we are sinners, dust, nothing. Which is true?

The Bible
Luther agrees with the Bible.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

The Bible teaches us to despair of ourselves, of our own works, of our own goodness, and come to Jesus for mercy. “Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy!” That is the cry of a beggar, of a person who has no riches, no works, no wealth, who’s only hope is in the Master’s mercy. Our only hope is in the Lord, in His generosity. “Kyrie eleison,” that is our cry, and Jesus hears our cry, and answers it.

He, in fact, answers our prayer even before we pray. He came into our world, our flesh, our sin and death two thousand years ago. He took our place under God’s wrath on the cross so that we would be forgiven and cleansed of our sin and adopted into His family and called His own. He did it. He sent this word of forgiveness to you by the Holy Spirit in the Word, the Word at your baptism, the Word of the Gospel, the Word of promise at His Communion Supper. He does it. He calls you, enlightens you, forgives you, adopts you, saves you, helps you, keeps you, rescues you, upholds you, defends you, calls you by name. He has mercy on you.

So, dear sinners, do not despair. Life might not be all that you expect. Every day may not be a Friday. But you always have Good Friday, the day that Jesus died for you, and that means that the life you live now, full of temptation and sickness and sin and death, this life is a forgiven life, a life blessed by Jesus.

We are beggars; this is true. But our Lord is rich in love and mercy for you. Amen.

Lord’s Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Wolfmueller

30 Comments

  1. Why does this book have this title? Is it based on T.G.I.F.?

  2. Why does this book have this title? Is it based on T.G.I.F.?

  3. The teaching of making good choices has no doubt permeated our world. It can be found loud and clear, especially in the field of education. Children are being inundated with ‘their ability to choose the right path’. Not only in regard to pursuing careers, but in connection with social interactions (drinking/ drugging), communication (bullying), and much to our disdain- as Osteen and Oprah teach, to achieve JOY. God help us, that the church and Her schools have adopted this type of teaching! May we return to thinking as Luther taught! Kyrie eleison! Pr. Wolfmueller- can you give some pointers on how to turn it about for the proper 3rd use of the law?

  4. The teaching of making good choices has no doubt permeated our world. It can be found loud and clear, especially in the field of education. Children are being inundated with ‘their ability to choose the right path’. Not only in regard to pursuing careers, but in connection with social interactions (drinking/ drugging), communication (bullying), and much to our disdain- as Osteen and Oprah teach, to achieve JOY. God help us, that the church and Her schools have adopted this type of teaching! May we return to thinking as Luther taught! Kyrie eleison! Pr. Wolfmueller- can you give some pointers on how to turn it about for the proper 3rd use of the law?

  5. Joel would not disagree with anything you wrote concerning the bibles teaching. Joel teaches from the bible always. He always tells us that the only way to salvation is thru our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    He is telling us that as we live our lives you might as well be a happy Christian than a grouchy one. That is over simplifying, but the main thrust.
    Martin Luther and Joel Osteen our both God’s children. Our Lord is so much wiser than Joel and Martin….and bloggers.
    THe only way to heaven is “Salvation, offered thru Jesus Christ. Joel knows that, you know that , and I know that.
    “Jesus” not a name of a religion is what is important.

    • David,
      Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

      I wish I could agree with you that “Salvation, offered thru Jesus Christ. Joel knows that…” But I don’t think Joel does know that. After all, Joel is the one who wrote, “If you’re to be restored, if you’re to fulfill your destiny, it’s not up to God. It’s up to you” (p. 91).

      I did a review of this book on the radio. Part I is here:
      http://issuesetc.org/2011/11/14/a-review-of-joel-osteens-book-everyday-a-friday-part-1-with-pr-bryan-wolfmueller-11142011/
      Have a listen and let me know what you think.

      Lord’s Blessings.

      • In the interest of fairness:

        Joel does understand Salvation through Jesus Christ… sort of… in a muddled… touchy-feely fashion… heavily influenced by revivalism and decision theology. …he just doesn’t think that it’s important enough to give any emphasis or proclaim on a regular basis. …much less write a book about it.

        Here’s a example of his attempt at “Salvation offered through Jesus Christ.” He’s no Luther, but its alot better than many of his critics give him credit for.

        In the video below, his altar call includes lines like: “Do you know where you would spend Eternity?”, “The price has already been paid your sins have already been forgiven.” “All you gotta do is accept the free gift of Christ’s salvation.” At one point he even says “sin”. Now it is an altar call and poorly articulated with lots of decisions and conditions, but it’s alot better than typical Joel sound bites. If memory servies, this was from his Easter sermon last year. When I heard it, I was floored and encouraged at his progress.

        http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1195182/joel_osteen_does_joel_believe_you_should_be_saved/

    • Totally agree…I myself have had a pentecostal experience

  6. Joel would not disagree with anything you wrote concerning the bibles teaching. Joel teaches from the bible always. He always tells us that the only way to salvation is thru our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    He is telling us that as we live our lives you might as well be a happy Christian than a grouchy one. That is over simplifying, but the main thrust.
    Martin Luther and Joel Osteen our both God’s children. Our Lord is so much wiser than Joel and Martin….and bloggers.
    THe only way to heaven is “Salvation, offered thru Jesus Christ. Joel knows that, you know that , and I know that.
    “Jesus” not a name of a religion is what is important.

    • David,
      Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

      I wish I could agree with you that “Salvation, offered thru Jesus Christ. Joel knows that…” But I don’t think Joel does know that. After all, Joel is the one who wrote, “If you’re to be restored, if you’re to fulfill your destiny, it’s not up to God. It’s up to you” (p. 91).

      I did a review of this book on the radio. Part I is here:
      http://issuesetc.org/2011/11/14/a-review-of-joel-osteens-book-everyday-a-friday-part-1-with-pr-bryan-wolfmueller-11142011/
      Have a listen and let me know what you think.

      Lord’s Blessings.

      • In the interest of fairness:

        Joel does understand Salvation through Jesus Christ… sort of… in a muddled… touchy-feely fashion… heavily influenced by revivalism and decision theology. …he just doesn’t think that it’s important enough to give any emphasis or proclaim on a regular basis. …much less write a book about it.

        Here’s a example of his attempt at “Salvation offered through Jesus Christ.” He’s no Luther, but its alot better than many of his critics give him credit for.

        In the video below, his altar call includes lines like: “Do you know where you would spend Eternity?”, “The price has already been paid your sins have already been forgiven.” “All you gotta do is accept the free gift of Christ’s salvation.” At one point he even says “sin”. Now it is an altar call and poorly articulated with lots of decisions and conditions, but it’s alot better than typical Joel sound bites. If memory servies, this was from his Easter sermon last year. When I heard it, I was floored and encouraged at his progress.

        http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1195182/joel_osteen_does_joel_believe_you_should_be_saved/

    • Totally agree…I myself have had a pentecostal experience

  7. Have you asked Joel?
    That is what I usually do before I question ones faith.
    Do you believe that you have to ask Jesus for salvation? Salvation is Jesus’s to give….if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour. We must ask and he will give.
    A murderer on death row can receive salvation, but he must ask. I have heard Joel say that over and over again.
    Joel has said many times that good works and good deeds……a happy joyful life, are the result of salvation. They are not salvation. Jesus is.
    You may want to ask Joel, I am sure he will discuss it with you. He is easy to reach. God Bless.

    • Thanks, David, for your thoughts. Where in the Bible are we taught that we have to ask for salvation?
      Lord’s Blessings.

    • I do not believe that “you have to ask Jesus for salvation?” I also do not believe that Jesus gives us salvation “if we accept Him.” We are saved entirely by the work of Christ throught the Holy Spirit so that even our conversion is pure gift.

      I used to think that we had to accept him first because that was what I had always been taught, but the Bible teaches us differently. Here’s what God says about our ability to decide:

      1 Corinthians 2:14 “THE NATURAL PERSON DOES NOT ACCEPT THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, for they are folly to him, and HE IS NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.”

      Romans 9:15-16 “For [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends NOT ON HUMAN WILL OR EXERTION, BUT ON GOD, WHO HAS MERCY.”

      Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, SO THAT NO ONE MAY BOAST.”

      John 6:44 “No one can come to me [Christ] UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS HIM. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

  8. Have you asked Joel?
    That is what I usually do before I question ones faith.
    Do you believe that you have to ask Jesus for salvation? Salvation is Jesus’s to give….if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour. We must ask and he will give.
    A murderer on death row can receive salvation, but he must ask. I have heard Joel say that over and over again.
    Joel has said many times that good works and good deeds……a happy joyful life, are the result of salvation. They are not salvation. Jesus is.
    You may want to ask Joel, I am sure he will discuss it with you. He is easy to reach. God Bless.

    • Thanks, David, for your thoughts. Where in the Bible are we taught that we have to ask for salvation?
      Lord’s Blessings.

    • I do not believe that “you have to ask Jesus for salvation?” I also do not believe that Jesus gives us salvation “if we accept Him.” We are saved entirely by the work of Christ throught the Holy Spirit so that even our conversion is pure gift.

      I used to think that we had to accept him first because that was what I had always been taught, but the Bible teaches us differently. Here’s what God says about our ability to decide:

      1 Corinthians 2:14 “THE NATURAL PERSON DOES NOT ACCEPT THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, for they are folly to him, and HE IS NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.”

      Romans 9:15-16 “For [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends NOT ON HUMAN WILL OR EXERTION, BUT ON GOD, WHO HAS MERCY.”

      Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, SO THAT NO ONE MAY BOAST.”

      John 6:44 “No one can come to me [Christ] UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS HIM. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

  9. Rev. Wolfmueller,

    Thank you for your reviews of this book (and so much more) on Issues, Etc. I have worked the text of this blog up into a one-sheet/four-page bi-fold pamphlet and would like your permission to print it up and make it available in the narthex of my church. I have done minimal editing (grammar, dropped or repeated words… typical bloggish mistakes), and am willing to submit it to you for your approval if I may have an email address I can attach it to. Persevere in the good fight.

    soli Deo gloria,
    Joel J. Wippich

  10. Rev. Wolfmueller,

    Thank you for your reviews of this book (and so much more) on Issues, Etc. I have worked the text of this blog up into a one-sheet/four-page bi-fold pamphlet and would like your permission to print it up and make it available in the narthex of my church. I have done minimal editing (grammar, dropped or repeated words… typical bloggish mistakes), and am willing to submit it to you for your approval if I may have an email address I can attach it to. Persevere in the good fight.

    soli Deo gloria,
    Joel J. Wippich

  11. When do I become a Forgiven sinner? A Forgiven Sinner gives credit for what Christ has done for him.
    By calling a person a sinner, and not telling the story of Christ, you give no Credit to God! People need to repent of there sins and live a life for Christ by becoming A Child of God!

    As I look pass the Cross of Christ, I see a future with him ! Amen.

  12. When do I become a Forgiven sinner? A Forgiven Sinner gives credit for what Christ has done for him.
    By calling a person a sinner, and not telling the story of Christ, you give no Credit to God! People need to repent of there sins and live a life for Christ by becoming A Child of God!

    As I look pass the Cross of Christ, I see a future with him ! Amen.

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