July 1, 1987 Issue
Don L. King
Recently, an evangelical pollster noted on the program Nightline that there are roughly five million hard-core contributors who support all the various so-called "ministries" on television today. Made up mostly of women who fall between the ages of 50 to 70, their numbers seem to be shrinking a bit as they get into fixed income retirement age or die. In an ever-increasing crowded religious arena, it seems power and greed have no whereto go but down; and down is the definite direction the publics confidence in the television preacher is going today. One evidence of this is found in a statement I recently read in our local newspaper, The Argus: "These television ministries were bound to run into financial difficulty, as society and women in general have become better educated and less capitulating toward men. As women become less dependent on these illiterate, condescending, slight-of word, snake-oil salesmen, society will be the better." You may or may not agree with this persons perspective (a woman) but it is obvious where her feelings lie concerning television preachers. In fact, I suspect most of us have little respect for the big time fellows on the air today. The recent and shameful revelations about the PTL club have hurt their cause considerably. We know now that the religion business via television, etc. is about a 2 billion dollar a year industry! The continued success of Satan's work on television via these men depends upon their being able to dupe and fool the public who supports them. Now, that the whole world knows of Jim Bakker's adulterous life style the money is not coming as fast as before.
PASS THE LOOT
In the June issue of Life magazine we are reminded that people once joked that PTL (Praise The Lord), also stood for "pass the loot". According to Life the PTL network sends its Pentecostal message to 13 million household and takes in $129 million annually! Big business? Absolutely. The Bakker's lived on a lakeside spread not far from their 2,300 acre theme park, Heritage USA, in Fort Mill, S.C. She wore mink; he carried a Louis Vuitton briefcase; (whatever that is) They had a Rolls Royce and houses in Charlotte, NC. and Palm Desert, California. After the admission of Jim Bakker's adultery with Jessica Hahn, a church secretary, they flew to a $595,000 estate in Palm Springs, California.
"Would Jesus Wear A Rolex?"
Soon, the air waves were full of this news. A song has even been written and recorded where the singer says "Would Jesus wear a Rolex on his television show?" "Would he admit to talking with all those preachers who claim they've been talking to him?" "Would his wife wear a mink and fancy jewelry," etc., etc.
How far removed is all this foolishness and sin from the meek and lowly Saviour who had not even a place of his own to lay his head; to say the least of estates and mansions. The Swaggarts, FaIwells, Robertsons, Schullers, Roberts, Anckerbergs, et al, live in mansions rivaling the richest of rich. Falwell and Swaggart recently claimed that they made only about $100,000 per year plus records and/or speaking engagements, etc. Brethren, anyone who could see through the rungs of a ladder ought to be able to figure out that there is something very wrong with big-business-religion. It doesn't remotely resemble New Testament Christianity. Small wonder the Apostle Paul wrote of such men in Romans 16:17, 18 "Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Jesus taught that it would be difficult indeed for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:23, 24) and in Luke 6:24 said, "But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation." The NIV renders "consolation" "Comfort." I would hate to think that I had already received all the comfort I would ever receive and no rest, no comfort, no consolation awaited me on the other side.
Paul warned against the dangers of striving for riches in 1 Timothy 6:9, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
All of this information we are hearing daily about the big-name, big-business preachers of the denominational world, makes me so proud of our godly men of the Lords church. They live much better today than ever before, thanks to the Lord blessing all of us so bountifully. But I am happy to say I don't know any rich men who are preaching today. None of us have multi million dollar private jets to travel in, none live in mansions or estates, few, if any, wear custom tailored suites, we cant afford a Rolex watch, our wives have no mink coats, perhaps; but we do look forward to mansions in the sky. Thank God for every preacher who is content with what he has and is happy to just preach the truth, yes, and considers it a profound privilege on top of it all.
Will this sinful activity of Bakker and others hinder the truth? Perhaps in some small ways and some minds. However, it is our belief and hope that the Lord will use this to His advantage. This false and misleading religion needed to be exposed, in our opinion. Who better to expose it that the very ones involved? The whole world knows of what these men are made. Now is the time, brethren, for us to live the truth, before the eyes of the world as never before. Eyes, that just may be opened, as never before to pure and simple New Testament teaching and living. May God help us all to meet the challenge before us and climb the mountain of success.
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