Endtime Prophets

Joel Osteen's False Teaching That Jesus went to Hell

Following is a critique of two of Joel Osteen's Sermons on the resurrection from 1999 and 2000. A lot of what Joel Osteen says about what Christ did on the cross for sinners "appears" to be true at first glance but as I will show below he has a distorted view of God and how and where Christ paid for our sins.

(False teacher/prophet quotes are in purple and indented, my
comments are in plain text and scripture is in teal. False teachers rarely use scripture. I have only included those portions I intend to comment on.)

NEWS BULLETIN: A so-called Faith-Healer Gathering at the grand opening of the Morris Cerullo Legacy International Center, scheduled for March 31, 2020, was cancelled due to the Coronavirus! What does this tell you -- that when a "real" sickness comes forward these false charlatans run for cover. Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn and many others were planning to attend but the virus scared them off.

Joel said, God's Throne was in the Temple on Earth

Joel Osteen said:

But listen. Matthew 27:51 says that the very moment that Jesus died, the curtain in the temple that surrounded the presence of God was ripped in two from the top to the bottom. Now listen to this carefully because it's very significant.

Back in those days, God didn't live in people like He does now. He lived in buildings. For a while, He lived in the Ark of the Covenant. But at this particular time, the people had built for Him a temple. And God lived in a sacred secluded area of the temple called the Holy of Holies. From: #CS_001 - 4/4/99 www.lakewood.cc/sermon_listing.htm

The Holy Spirit lives in us when we become believers, that much is true. But notice this isn't what Joel Osteen said. God may dwell in the hearts of those that believe, but it's in a spiritual sense only. God's throne is in heaven not on the earth.

"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66:1)

"Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" (Acts 7:49)

What Joel Osteen said above may not be much of a problem, YET. But he needs to be watched closely to see if he follows the line of other Word of Faith teachers like Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Kenneth Copeland who claims that we are not sinners and man is divine.

After Dying on the Cross, Joel said, Christ still had to make a Blood Sacrifice

So what was happening here? Well, in the book of John, John gives the account of Jesus when He just arose from the dead. And it's in John, chapter 20. . . .Mary Magdalene was at the Garden tomb and she was sobbing. She's looking in there and she can't find the body of Jesus.

Jesus says, "Woman, why are you weeping?" And she thought He was the gardener. She said, "Sir, if you've taken away His body, please tell me where and I'll go get Him?"

And Jesus said, "Mary." No doubt she recognized Jesus' voice at that point. And she turned around and she said, "Rabbi, Teacher, Master." And no doubt she was going to hug Him or to grab Him. Maybe to embrace Him. In John 20:17, He said something that's very significant also. He said, "Mary, touch me not. I have not yet ascended unto my Father and to your Father; unto your God and to my God."

See, there still had to be a blood sacrifice. And Jesus had shed His blood. And He had His holy blood on Him at that point. He had the precious blood of Jesus on Him. And it's interesting because later when Jesus appeared to the disciples, He openly told them. He said, "Touch me, feel me, handle me." You know the story. He told doubting Thomas, "Feel the nail scars in my hand."

Please notice that Joel said the shedding of Christ's blood was not completed on the Cross. Even after Christ appeared to Mary with his resurrected and bloodstained body, Joel says "there still had to be a blood sacrifice."

Joel Osteen continues:

Why did He tell Mary, "Don't touch me"? Well, the reason He did is He had just arisen from the dead. He had the blood, the precious blood, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world on Him.

And what He was saying, He said, "Mary, I'm about to go." And the Bible talks about in Hebrews how He went, He didn't go to the Holy of Holies this time because God moved out of that.

He went into the very heavens themselves and He placed His blood as a sacrifice for our sins in the high court of heaven. And He offered it to God. And the good news about Easter is that God accepted the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus Christ.

This almost sounds scriptural, except Joel seems to be implying that Mary's touching him would negate what he did on the cross. If this is what he meant it doesn't make sense when the next year in his resurrection speech Joel said Christ went to Hell to wrestle with Satan (see below).

Joel Osteen's Sinners Prayer

And I want you to just pray a simple prayer with me. Maybe you don't know how to pray. But all you got to do is say this prayer and mean it with your heart. Say, Jesus, come into my heart. Save me.

Be my Lord. Be my Savior. Jesus, I want to serve You all the days of my life. I'm not everything I want to be Jesus, but I know You'll make me into what You want me to be. Jesus, I'll serve You all the days. I'll give you 100%.

Notice there is no mention of people acknowledging they are a sinner in this "sinner's" prayer.

Jesus Didn't Complete His Work on the Cross

Joel Osteen repeated almost the same identical message re the crucifixion and resurrection as the year before, i.e., he's still saying God lives in man and "now we are the address of God" and Christ didn't complete his work on the cross, he still had to go to Heaven to deliver his blood and this is why he didn't want Mary to touch him.

However, this year he goes a LOT farther with his message, re where Jesus went after the resurrection and before he went to heaven:

I can imagine when Jesus bowed His head and died on that cross, that Satan and all those demons they gathered in Hell for a great victory celebration. . . .

Satan says, Listen, Jesus, you're on my turf now. You don't have a chance down here. You're surrounded by my demons. We're going to tear you apart. And Jesus just smiles and says, "Go ahead, Satan, make my day!" (Congregation applauds) Jesus says, "Look, Satan, I'm down here to take care of business. I'm ready to do battle. I don't want to be here any longer than I have to be because it stinks down here. . . .

The Bible indicates that for three days, Jesus went into the very depths of hell. Right into the enemy's own territory. And He did battle with Satan face to face. From: #CS_002 - 4-23-00 www.lakewood.cc/sermon_listing.htm

Joel doesn't mention which verse he is referring to but it is probably the following:

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt 12:40)

Where is the Heart of the Earth

A lot of people translate "in the heart of the earth" to mean "hell." But is that what it really means?

In the Greek the word "heart" is *Kardia* #2588 and when speaking of the body it means heart, "for the life of the flesh is in the blood," (Leviticus 17:11) so the heart is the seat of physical life. However, according to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, when speaking of the earth, this word means the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life.

Does any spiritual life originate in HELL? No!

Joel was also probably thinking of the following verse:

"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.' What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?" (Eph 4:7-9)

And if one is thinking that the "heart of the earth" means means Hell, then the next logical conclusion is that must be where Jesus descended to.

Where is the Seat of Spiritual Life on the Earth?

What does the Bible say is the seat of spiritual life on the earth and where is this for those who have died? Abraham's bosom. Read the story of Lazarus:

"And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom [often translated as Paradise]. . . And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." (Luke 16:22)

Did Jonah go to Hell when he was swallowed by the great fish? No! He was in a protected place provided by God in the belly of the great fish.

Joel did mention Col 2:15 in reference to the Principalities and Powers but those are referring to Satan's demons and Joel is depicting Jesus wrestling with Satan himself so that verse doesn't apply either.

What does the Bible say About Where Christ went after the Resurrection?

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2)

"And she [Israel] brought forth a man child [Christ], who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne." (Re 12:5)

So Jesus went to Abraham's bosom or Paradise, to preach to the saints before he went to Heaven, not to Hell (there are no saints in Hell and he wouldn't have led captives out of hell either). And thus he didn't wrestle with Satan either.

Why should he? He's God. The creator doesn't need to wrestle with the created. Christ doesn't need to wrestle with Satan when he had already beat him by shedding his blood on the Cross.

So none of Joel Osteen's imaginings about Jesus going to hell have any basis in fact.

Joel Osteen continues:

Jesus crushed Satan's head with His foot. He bruised his head. And He once and for all, forever defeated and dethroned and demoralized our enemy. One translation says, "He paralyzed him and rendered him powerless". But thank God. He didn't even stop there. He went over and ripped the keys of death and hell out of Satan's hands.

And He grabbed Satan by the nap of his neck and He began to slowly drag him down through the corridors of Hell. All beat up and bruised because He wanted to make sure that every single demon saw very clearly that Jesus was indeed the undisputed Champion of all time! Amen? . . . And see the good news today is that Satan is eternally defeated. There's not ever going to be anymore rematches. It is forever settled.

Joel is claiming that Satan is now powerless since the cross. Not so! Satan is still active in the earth today and people are still going to hell today. Satan isn't cast into the Abyss (the abode of demons (see Luke 8:31) until Rev. 20:1, after Jesus returns to the earth, after the Tribulation and BEFORE the millennium starts. He remains there for a thousand years, is released and then after he stirs up rebellion again, he is then thrown into the lake of fire for eternity (see vs 10).

Also notice who is holding the Keys of this Abyss in verse 1? An angel who is probably Christ himself. Of course anyone who is an amillennialist would believe a scenario like what Joel preaches, especially if influenced by Word of Faith teachers.

PS. Amillenialism can only be believed if one allegorizes scripture.


Joel Osteen claims that Christ didn't finish his work on the cross and he went to hell to battle Satan after the resurrection before he went to heaven. Those who know of the abberations being promoted by the Word of Faith teachers about Jesus dying spiritually and having to be reborn in Hell will know that the message of the Word of God is beginning to be compromised by this new member of the Word of Faith.

Just like any message with just a little bit of leaven in it, which distorts who Christ or God is, that little lump will eventually leaven the whole lump and Joel Osteen is well on the way to preaching the same heresy as the WoF. It will be interesting to see how much farther off track he gets on Easter 2004 when he will probably give another resurrection sermon. Stay tuned for further updates.

See more information on what happened during Christ's crucifixion week and specifically What day of the week Christ was Crucified?

Lori Eldridge
Copyright © Feb. 10, 2004 - updated 12-17-21

Other Websites Refuting Joel Osteen's Teachings

Here is a video of Joel claiming that even athiests go to heaven, Jesus died so we can have abundant life, prosperity, good health and free from bad habits (instead of Christ dying for our sins).

Here is an analysis of Word of Faith teacher, Joel Osteen's False Gospel

A video of John MacArthur refuting Joel Osteen where MacArthur explains how Osteen is a Pagan Religionist, a quaisi pantheist, and Jesus is only a footnote to satisfy his critics and deceive his followers.