As my girlfriend, Megan, and I sat together on the couch last night, an interesting report came on the news. It was Fox News interviewing Joel Osteen in lieu of his new book titled Break Out, which is already a bestseller. Any time Joel Osteen's name is mentioned, my reaction is to sit up straight, put my thinking cap on, and listen. And I do so because I believe he does as good a job as any at opening wide the gates of hell to all who will listen.
It's not that Osteen's message is lies through and through. It is sprinkled, battered, and coated with strong biblical truth. But the core of the message is poison. His gospel is not a gospel of complete transforming power - it is a gospel of self improvement. It is the realization of potential already inherent within every human being.
And since I've been meditating on Romans 1:16-17 this week, I began to think about what the gospel does to us. Is it the power of God to make good people better? Or is it the power of God to make dead mean alive, to make sinners saints, to make old people new? Does God stop at improvement? Or does He make the children He chooses into new creations?
The New Testament is packed with illustrations that answer this question. And the Bible states in clear terms that we once indeed were "dead in [our] trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Part of the glory of God in the gospel is the truth of resurrection. And it is also transformation:
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17).Before we say anything about "better," let's talk the gospel. Let's talk about a God who took us when we had nothing to bring to the table and made us new creatures in Jesus Christ.