For as long as I can recall, I had always found myself fascinated by TV evangelists and TV preachers and TV ministries. For the most part, my fascination stemmed from seeing men who attach the titles of “Reverend” or “Pastor” to their names go up on a big stage with a pulpit and sometimes a huge choir in the backdrop to preach– and sometimes to offering healing or to solicit monies from viewers for such and such ministry or charity or for some kind of bounty from heaven. Essentially it was like watching a TV show… a “show” of religion. A big production of singing, praising, healing, and sermonizing with a lot of soliciting for money thrown in to boot.
Now I am not saying all TV ministries are essentially out to scam you for money or take advantage of a captive, vulnerable Christian audience to push religious literature or religious themed products for profit and TV ratings. What I am suggesting is that it does happen and that some of these so-called reverends and pastors and televangelists are in it for the money and little else. They know there are millions of Christians out there who are easily glued to the TV and cannot discern for themselves who is legit and who is a scam or con artist. There are many Christians who fail to heed the warnings or see the signs of false prophecy or false religion and are easily taken advantage of.
There are some televangelists with definite political agendas they wish to promote and push forward. There are some who are simply out to weasel as much money as possible from Christians through deception and false promises of healing or profit and prosperity. Other simply want to be worshipped and revered and are attracted to the delusion of being a Messiah to flocks of blindly worshipping adherents who, like sycophants, are willing to sacrifice their life savings, themselves, and even their children to their religious leader in exchange for favors or promises of salvation or eternal bliss in the afterlife.
In my mind, I think of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson. I also think back to cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh.
There are so many more TV preachers out there preaching in elaborate stadium-sized mega-churches and auditoriums or even “crystal cathedrals”. On the surface this seems like a positive– the word of God being spread across millions of people at the convenience of the TV. Honestly though, I can’t help but be wary and skeptical and cautious.
Oftentimes these TV preachers are more personalities than preachers. Oftentimes their off-screen actions are not in line with what it is they are actually preaching or teaching. More often than not, their lessons are not Bible based at all or come with very little scholarship, poor theological arguments, or from the talking points and rhetoric of political agenda. Worse yet, their actions are contrary to the Christ-like model they could be following.
Whether it is fraud or sex scandals or embezzlement of funds from company assets, these so-called preachers or prophets are conducting in criminal activity and offer very little legitimate moral guidance and are not leading anyone to any real salvation.
The Bible warns against false prophets numerous times and Jesus also has some sharp words and criticism for the self-righteous religious establishment as well who make claims with authority they don’t have. Jesus also has a lot to say about those who put on a big show of religiosity. Consider the criticism Jesus has for the Pharisees who make long winded prayers and go out of their way to make big shows of how generously they give alms to the poor or seek the best seats at the temple. It is all show without much substance or investment of soul or heart.
Verses to consider:
Mathew 7:15-23 and Mathew 24:24
1 Corinthians 14:33 — “God is no the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
You will know a true Christian by his or her actions, based on love, kindness, sincerity, and humility. You will see God’s hand in the works of His followers. You should know that Christ already paid the price for your salvation. No man of God needs to sell you salvation for cash or access to your credit cards. No book or DVD box set or special limited edition prayer cross or set of prayer beads will get you any closer to heaven than Jesus Christ will. Jesus said He was the Way, the Light, and the Truth and it is through Him and Him alone that we see the Father. And it is by God’s grace alone that we are saved. Miracles– true miracles are not for sale and cannot be bought, sold, or traded for money or favors.
What Jesus offered to all of us, was offered to us all freely and willingly without strings attached or extra fine print or false promises. We must only believe in Jesus and what He died for. We must endeavor to love our Creator and love each other as we would want to be loved. If love isn’t the message you hear, than it is not from God or from Jesus.