Thursday, September 12, 2013

If Joel Osteen gave the sermon at Pentecost...

Joel Osteen: "Removing negative labels" speech was delivered to 43,500 attendees at Lakewood Arena on March 2013.

"I want to talk to you today about removing negative labels. Throughout life, people are constantly sticking labels on us, telling us what we can and cannot become. Sometimes this is good, people speak faith into us, they encourage us. But then there are times that people put negative labels on us. You cannot stop the negative comments. You can’t prevent the negative labels but you can choose to remove them."

"As a teenager, Walt Disney was told by an art instructor that he wasn’t creative. That he didn’t have any imagination. Disney was smart enough to remove that label. He went on to do pretty good. Lucille Ball was told that she didn't have any acting skills. She should try a different profession. She removed that label, and starred in I Love Lucy for many years.
...
"The common denominator of the success of these people is that they chose to remove negative labels. It’s the same way today. People put labels on us. My father went to be with the Lord in 1999, and I stepped up to pastor the church. I had never ministered before. One Sunday after the service, I overheard two ladies talking in the lobby. One said, ‘He’s not as good as his father. The other answered back, ‘Yes, I don’t think the church is going to last.’ I was already insecure, I already felt unqualified. And boom, another negative label. Not good enough…not up to par…inferior. That’s the way the enemy works. He would love to put labels on you to keep you from reaching your highest potential... He’ll try to intimidate you, fight you, make you feel inferior."

"Words are like seeds. If you dwell on them long enough, they will take root and become what was said. I tried to remove that negative label, but it wasn’t easy. Those thoughts would play in my mind again and again. It was like trying to peel a bumper sticker off of a car that’s been there a long time…you peel it and it tears, and you got to work and work... If I had made the mistake of wearing that wrong label, I don't believe I'd be standing here today. Wrong labels can keep you from your destiny."

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Now here is Peter preaching the first sermon of the first day of the Church, at Pentecost, 2000 years ago. It was given in Jerusalem, and the crowds were enormous. It may have reached the same size as Osteen's stadium attendance. We know that 3000 were saved that day.

"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who
Masolino da Panicale,
Peter Preaching at Pentecost, fresco,
Cappella Brancacci, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence
dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." (Acts 2:14-24, 34-35)

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I transcribed the first 375 words of the Osteen speech, and of that first portion, it is about 95% complete. I posted the first 377 words of Peter's sermon and it is about 95% complete.

You see the difference, I hope. In Joel Osteen's sermon, Osteen talked about reaching career success and personal potential by our own works. Osteen lifted up himself as an example. He used two (in the sermon, three) cultural icons as successful examples of the career tips he was giving. He reiterated that it is by own own steam we achieve earthly success. He warned that our destiny is in our own hands. And last but not least, Jesus is not mentioned (except for one verse where he said that removing negative labels is hard but we can do all things by Christ who strengthens us). It is a speech filled with prosperity, legalism and blasphemy.

Peter opened with wrath. He referred to the Old Testament prophet Joel. He named Christ, Christ's work, God and God's work, the resurrection, and salvation. And that is a sermon full of conviction, glory, and truth.

Christ did not live on earth for 33 years and die an agonizing death on the cross, enduring all of God's wrath, so that we could remove a negative label from our psyche like a worn out old bumper sticker.

John MacArthur said in his sermon this week, "Testimony to the Deity of Christ",

"They were unwilling to glorify Christ. It's about Christ. I wish the evangelical church would get this right, and quit selling the benefits and start selling the benefactor. It is so important that the issue is Christ. I was telling some seminary students last week, how many preachers I listen to who have all kinds of things to say, but never talk about Christ. They use His name...but it's almost in vain."

In the fresco above, it is reported that the "The scene refers to Peter's sermon, as recounted in the Act of the Apostles, which he preaches in Jerusalem after the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost. The fresco actually illustrates the final part of the sermon, when Peter says: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Remove the negative label and be something or other; or repent, be saved, and receive the gift of God's Spirit. It is the broad way or the narrow way. (Matthew 7:13-14).

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