I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! - Galatians 1: 6-9 (NIV) The key verses today are the words of the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Galatia. It seemed that some false teaching had infiltrated the church. Chapter Three of Galatians reveals the Galatian error was in believing that they needed works in order to enter heaven instead of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an error still repeated by some today and reinforced by the seeker-friendly and purpose driven models of church growth. Within these models, the hard truths of the Gospel such as repentance and sin are avoided and faux salvation is offered through meaningless and repent-less prayer. The person is welcomed to the family of God and immediately plugged into baptism class, membership class and soon after into ministry. They are promised that the most important thing is to discover their "purpose" in working for the church. Since they were probably never saved to begin with however, they service becomes their walk. Their works becomes their defense for their own salvation. As dangerous as the Galatian error is there is another seeping into the church due to the church growth theories that continue to water down the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. That error is belief in a man centered Gospel. That religion is about us and not God. That God exists to satisfy us instead of us being created to worship Him. That we have the power to alter our own lives instead of God being sovereign. Think about all of the seeker friendly and purpose driven preachers out there and how their messages are geared towards motivation and self help instead of faith and reliance upon God. They preach and write flowery words designed to make us feel better about ourselves when we need to feel better about our God. The words we hear, read and believe form our theology and thus they carry enormous potential to either magnify God in our lives or magnify ourselves. We need to be oh so careful because these are not always easy to spot. False teaching does not come with a disclaimer. We actually need to be in the Word ourselves if we expect to be able to guard ourselves against the schemes of the enemy and men who care nothing for our souls. For example I present the Facebook status for Pastor Joel Osteen for today: "If you’ll keep believing, keep praying and keep being your best, then God promises He will finish what He started." That sure sounds right, no? It certainly sounds like an inspiring sentiment. God does promise to finish what He started in us. I can only assume that Pastor Osteen is referring to Philippians: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. - Philippians 1: 6 (NLT) I always give Pastor Joel the benefit of the doubt when it comes to sincerity so I will assume that he genuinely believes what he wrote. Sincere or not however, he is sincerely wrong. Take a good look at his statement beloved and tell me what is wrong comparatively to the Scripture he references? - If YOU keep praying - If YOU keep being your best Versus - God began the good work in you - God will continue HIS work Are you starting to see the cleverness of the man centered doctrine? The deception should be clear. It takes the responsibilities of God and projects them onto man. In many ways it is the Galatian error all over again because according to Joel Osteen it is based on our works that God will finish what He started within us! Beloved you must open your eyes and realize how dangerous this is. The seeker friendly-purpose driven agendas do not teach dependence on God but instead they teach allegiance to a church building. Denial of self is not taught. Picking up your cross to follow Christ and sharing in his sufferings is not taught. The Bible teaches us that once saved we should be slaves to righteousness! There is nothing seeker friendly about saying you will be a slave! Consider the Words of Jesus: I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. - John 5: 30 (NLT) When Jesus walked the earth even He acknowledged His entire dependence upon God! So, what exactly is Joel Osteen saying here? That if we somehow slack off regarding prayer that God will refuse to finish the work He started in us? Really? That God requires a certain level of prayer life before being willing to finish the work He started? What about this "being your best" nonsense? God will only agree to finish the work He started in us if we keep trying to be our best? Here is our best according to God: As the Scriptures say,“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise;no one is seeking God.. All have turned away;all have become useless.No one does good,not a single one.” “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.Their tongues are filled with lies.”“Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.” “They have no fear of God at all.” - Romans 3: 10-18 (NLT) Beloved, God does not want us to continue to try and do anything under our own power anymore. That was why we needed a Savior to begin with. Christianity is about becoming a new creation in Christ - not in ourselves. God wants us to stop trying to be our best because our best will only lead us straight to hell. It is only through His best - His Son - His Son's blood - that we have any righteousness at all! If we keep trying to be our best then we will significantly lower the bar on acceptable sin in our lives. We will erroneously think that we have something to do to ensure that God keeps His Word. Trust me, we do not: If we are unfaithful,he remains faithful,for he cannot deny who he is. - 2Timothy 2: 13 (NLT) God will continue His work in you until it is finally finished on the day of Christ Jesus. Now I know some will look at this and think it is nitpicky. Oh preacher, what's the big deal? The big deal is that a little leaven spreads through the whole batch. I think of something like the absurd holy laughter movement that started in Toronto in the mid 1990's. Something as obviously heretical as having people rolling on the floor and barking like dogs should never have had the widespread acceptance that it did. It was so widely accepted because of the smaller heresies we looked the other way on before. Paul exhorts Timothy to watch only two things - his life and his doctrine so do not tell me doctrine is not crucial in the life of a believer. One day you think it is no big deal that a pastor with the largest church in America thinks we need to be our best in order for God to finish His work in us and the next thing you know you really believe that this is your best life. Corrupt doctrine allows for more corrupt doctrine. Compromise leads to more compromise. A little leaven spreads through the whole batch. Look back to the key verses and see that anyone who preaches a contrary gospel, let them be cursed. Do not fall for the cleverness. Do not fall for the deception. Only God must be at the center of our theology. The Spirit gives life beloved. The flesh profits nothing. Rev. Anthony.