Testing the Spirits (part 2)

By Cris Putnam
Continuing the series Testing the Spirits, we now turn to the second test in 1 John 4: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 Jn 4:4-5) The second test is:

2) Test their regeneration. Are they worldly?

Are they manifesting evidences of being children of God, or are they just parroting the motivational success and wealth messages from the world? The Gospel is an offense to the world system. Does the world find them offensive or are they welcomed by the world. Jesus said, ““Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Lk 6:26) False prophets are well spoken of and they draw huge crowds by prophesying what people want to hear. This is a warning against seeking the approval of the world rather than being faithful to God.

By way of example let us examine Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church, which according to Church Growth Today is America’s largest and fastest growing church. On July 16, 2005 after completing $95 million dollars in renovations, Joel moved Lakewood Church into the former Compaq Center. It is the largest worship center in the United States with more than 38,000 attendees each week.

Osteen says “Your ‘lot in life’ is to continually increase.”[1]

John the Baptist remarked of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way…” (Jn 3:30-31)

Jesus told the rich young ruler, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”(Lk 18:22)

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23)

Osteen says “Your lot in life is to be an overcomer, to live prosperously in every area.”

Paul wrote, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Ti 6:9) Furthermore, if you live in America this next verse certainly applies to you even if you consider yourself in lower economic strata (you are rich compared to 90% of the rest of the world): “As for the rich in this present age (you), charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Ti 6:17)

James is a little more direct, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.” (Jas 5:1-2)

Osteen says, “Quit eating the cheese and crackers and step into the banquet hall!” [3]

John wrote a prophetic word to the church in Laodicea that applies well today, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Re 3:17)

I believe it is safe to say that Osteen fails test two, even though his Christology is correct. That is why the Bible gives us more than one test for determining false prophets. In the next installment, we will look at the third criterion.


[1] Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, Success Book Summaries, http://elgme.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Your-Best-Life-Now-Summarypdf.pdf

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.


  1. David Lowe says:

    Great posting, Chris. And the McArthur video is outstanding as well.


  2. john B says:

    I don’t think that these prosperity preachers hate the true God as MacArthur says… I reckon that it is a matter of ‘the blind leading the Blind’
    These ‘false teachers’ believe that they are serving God, just like the pope does and as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day did..
    The same spirit of luxurious papal Rome is at work in a lesser way with prosperity preachers.. prosperity is also within the catholic charismatic renewal movement.. Ti’s all ‘Mystery Babylon’ and her harlot daughters you see.
    we are in the throngs of the ‘falling away’ of the end-Time..

    john b

  3. Pat says:

    John B, I have heard MacArthur speak further on the false teachers. I used to think like you , that they were the blind leading the blind. But, MacArthur unequivocally believes that they know exactly what they are doing and are not deceived at all. If you go to gty.org and search his sermons, you can hear his messages on false teachers.

  4. john B says:

    Thanks Pat I’ll look up further.. The scripture that comes to mind on this matter is Acts20:29,30
    john B

  5. john B says:

    hi Cris this a follow up from testing the spirit (part1)
    Hi BCV; as I have said,, salvation is in Christ and Christ alon!
    I have a tendency to reckon that Travis is some what messianic in theology.. Now; if he is not then the status of His belief has great similarity to messianic Jewish theology.. which I believe to be a mixture of rabbinism and grace.. and as such is what Apostle Paul gave warning about…. see the Epistle to the Galatians..

    All of the Apostles accepted Paul.. If it was not Christ that revealed himself on the Damascus road then it was the devil ! Not So; this i believe, reason being that The Apostle suffered for Christ sake abandoning his rabbinical ways, Not forgetting that he was present at Stephen’s Martyrdom as a persecuter of Christ and the saints and that his life ended in persecution from the Jews, this being a sequel of the pro Jewish messianic movement of today similarly aligning itself with the rabbinism of the past against such as myself.. I have had a similar experience to Paul.. Although i do not classify myself as an Apostle, But I proclaim the Apostolic doctrine that salvation is By Grace and not race, and as such, that one’s calling entail’s a responsibility for Holiness and not the Law of Moses and its feast days…….

    Blessings in Jesus

    john B

    • Cris Putnam says:

      I think I have found travis’s ancestors see:

      The Ebionites (Greek: Hebiwnaitoi; derived from Hebrew ebyonim, ebionim, probably meaning “the poor” or “poor ones”), is a patristic theological term referring to a Jewish Christian sect or sects that existed during the first few centuries of the Christian Era. In all probability, more than one group has been included under the “Ebionites” umbrella. A few have claimed that the Ebionites were the descendants of the Jerusalem church of the first century, but this is very far from being proven. But – for sure – these people held James (an early leader in the Jerusalem church) in high esteem. Like the Arians, this group were very soon on the outside of the established Church of the first few centuries.

      Mostly these people indeed accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but insisted on the necessity of following old covenant religious law and rites. The Ebionites revered James (the brother of Jesus), but rejected Paul of Tarsus whom they considered to be an apostate preacher and teacher. It seems that this group presented themselves as another option for those Jews who struggled between accepting the New Covenant – in all its Pauline ramifications – and a continuing adherence to Judaism. This has also been called the ‘continual covenant’ teaching, adopting a position somewhere between the old and New covenants; without question this is heretical. Yet another term which has been applied to such groups is Galatianism, this is a reference to the judaistic heretical group which caused such headaches to Paul the Apostle and which he outlines in books such as Romans, but most especially within the Book of Galatians. That particular group accepted Christ but pointed the Galatians back to observance of the law. Paul is clear that Christ, and justification by faith, was being denied by such behaviour – read Galatians as a reminder!

      Much of what we know about the Ebionites derives from the Church Fathers, who wrote polemics against this group/associated groups, which they clearly regarded as heretical Judaizers. However, very little about the Ebionite sect or sects is known with certainty. Most scholars (although not all), distinguish the Ebionites from the Nazarenes; the Nazarenes are usually viewed as true disciples of Jesus, ‘Nazarene’ being an early name.


  1. […] Cris Putnam Finishing up the Testing the Spirits series (see part 1 and part 2) we now discuss the third test in 1 John 4: Does it conform to the apostolic teaching in the New […]