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What Is A Pastor's Principal Responsibility; How Does Joel Osteen Measure Up?

I receive many emails attacking me for my article on Joel Osteen about whether or not he is a true prophet of God. A biblical prophet is someone called of God to speak the Word of God in two ways - to forth-tell and to fore-tell, that is, to speak the Word of God that applies to present issues and also to preach and teach the prophetic Scriptures concerning future things (Note: that does not mean giving extra-biblical prophecies - those not supported by the written Word). 

I don't watch Mr. Osteen because I don't care to hear a motivational talk, which is nothing more than a prepared memorized speech. Anyone with basic intelligence and a gift for speaking can do that, but getting a Word for God and delivering it in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit is a vast difference. When I attend Church, I want my pastor to open the Word of God and teach the "meat" not the milk.  Shallow milk-toast sermons or speeches are for the immature, but meat, the deep things of the Word are for the spiritually mature. The writer of Hebrews sharply rebuked the Jewish Christians he was addressing for their shallowness - they didn't know much about the Word, but were still majoring on elementary things:

Hebrews 5:11-14 NKJV

11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The opposite of unskilled is to be skilled in the Word of righteousness, that is, know the depths of the Scriptures via much study and prayer. In fact, we are ALL commanded to know how to rightly handle the Word of Truth:

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

15  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

A pastor should be highly skilled in the Word of God, that is, know the doctrines of the Bible and then teach them systematically to the saints so they can grow in the Word and knowledge of God and that does no mean to be men-pleasers - teach what they want to hear, but to present the whole counsel of God even those things that are convicting and hard to swallow.

Paul told a young pastor, Timothy, to preach the Word in season and out of season, when it was convenient and when it was difficult. Notice he said, preach the Word not give motivational speeches. 

2 Timothy 4:2-5 (NASB)

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
4  and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
5  But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

This one passage describes Mr. Osteen's approach to pastoral ministry - to give those who attend his Church a positive motivational talk not what they need to hear. His method of speaking (not preaching for he does none of that) is "topical" which is to find a topic then go to the Scriptures to find a text to support it. This kind of ministry is not only difficult, but guarantees the Church will be full of baby Christians that know little about the Word unless they are personally committed to their own study. 

The pastor should come before his people every Sunday or whenever they have worship and TEACH FROM THE BIBLE, that is, open to a text, read it, and then massage it thoroughly comparing Scripture with Scripture and explaining the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew texts from which the English Bible is translated.

My wife and I decided to listen to Mr. Osteen's speech last Sunday so we turned on the TV channel he is on and watched his program.  He always says the same thing every Sunday, which is, "I like to start with something funny" - I wonder if his congregation gets tired of hearing that?  By now everyone knows he is going to tell a joke before he starts his speech whether or not it has any connection to his speech.

His topic was "Unfinished Grace" and it had some good points, but was it the meat of the Word? Did his congregation leave knowing how to rightly handle the Word of truth and to walk in the power and discipline of the Holy Spirit? Did they learn anything about the division of body, soul, and spirit which is essential for growing into a spiritually mature Christian? Did a lost person hear the gospel and know they are sinners in dire need of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus? 

Osteen, while he holds up a Bible and has the congregation repeat a same-old, same-old mantra about being a Bible believer, he never opens the Bible to preach from it. He lays it on the pulpit beside his written speech. Then he delivers his ear-tickling motivational speech to a large audience soaking up HIS WORDS! 

There are 622,771 words in the Old Testament and 184,590 words in the New Testament for a total of 807,361 words. That is almost a million words, yet Osteen's message was primarily "his own words" even though he quoted a few Scriptures and spoke briefly about them. There are also 23,145 verses in the Old Testament and 7958 verses in the New Testament for a total of 31,103 verses plus 137 unnumbered verses in the Old Testament.  In addition, there are 1189 chapters in the Bible - 929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament. Finally there are 66 books on the English Bible - 39 in the Old and 27 in the New.  You would think with that much Bible material, Mr. Osteen could find a biblical text to preach from. 

God has given us this marvelous book, the Bible, that contains a plethora of information no one has mastered including the most eminent scholars. How very shameful to ignore it and for a pastor, how irresponsible.  My advice to Mr. Osteen is to discard his motivational speeches, which is more "his" carefully selected words ABOUT SOME BIBLE TOPIC that will not offend anyone, particularly homosexuals and other religions and God forbid if the word SIN is ever mentioned, take the Word of God in his hand and thoroughly teach the TEXTS OF SOLA SCRIPTURA!  Be a God-called preacher of the whole counsel of God and not a popular motivational speaker for one day we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account of all that we have said and done and the Bible is very clear that the shepherds (pastors) shall be even more accountable to the Chief Shepherd - the Lord Jesus Christ.

So how does Joel Osteen stack-up against the principal responsibility for all God-called pastors?  I will let you decide that for he is to be held accountable according to the Scriptures not according to how popular he is with the world and the religious people.