When the Church hogged the Glory and Honor due to Christ
In 1517, Martin Luther heard a Dominican friar Johann Tetzel (1465-1519), a representative of the Pope, telling the German people that if they paid money to the church, the souls of their loved ones would be released from purgatory. He was outraged. He wrote 95 theses, which protested "simony" - the promise of spiritual and material benefit in exchange for giving money to the church. We lived in a fallen world and perhaps a fallen church. The conservative right despite all its claims to morality and righteousness have their hearts on power and wealth and for them the gay issue is one to gain more wealth and support. In 1998, Trinity Broadcasting Network paid more than USD 425K in a settle a lawsuit for a homosexual affair by allegedly its founder Dr. Paul Crouch. Crouch’s accuser, Enoch Lonnie Ford, told the LA Times that he was coerced into sexual activity with Crouch in order to keep his job. Ford met Crouch in 1991 at a network-affiliated drug treatment facility. He started working for Crouch’s company the next year at a phone bank. According to a friend of Ford, the two men had a sexual encounter in the fall of 1996 at a network-owned cabin near Lake Arrowhead. As TBN continues to come against Gays and their basic rights, yet involved in the same sexual activity they condemned. Yet, this sin of hypocrisy is the least of their sins as they have taken millions destined for the work of God for their personal wealth and we wonder why the message of the Gospel is ridiculed and America moving towards liberal teachings which denies the centrality of Christ.
Despite its urgent pleas for donation, TBN is sitting on top of a USD 300 million of reserves. In 2002, they had a surplus of more than USD 60 million out of a revenue of 171 million. The problem with TBN's accumulation of wealth is that the bulk of it does not come from wealthy people, but comes from poor widows and children. The Crouches boast of being debt-free while telling their viewers to give to them before they pay their own bills. So while TBN insiders are living luxuriously, the ones who sent in their widow's mites are languishing in debt and can't pay their creditorsIt is not surprising that many see the televangelists as at worst con men, and at best hypocrites with no speaking rights on the true way to God. You'll know a wolf in sheep's clothing by its diet. A wolf eats sheep. This is a sad predicament because the Gospel message will be belittled and disregarded by many. Which is a greater sin? A homosexual "lifestlye" on account of one being born gay, or a straight "lifestyle" based on choices made to cheat millions in the name of Christ.
The famous evangelist Rev. Benny Hinn, closely associated with TBN, will be coming to Singapore on 13-15 Apr 2007 invited by City Harvest Church and supported by the anti-gay Anglican and Charismatic Churches. The CHC details the event as “the miraculous signs and wonders often follow his emphatic preaching of God's Word”. What those churches would not tell you is that NBC did an expose on Benny Hinn in 2002. In the expose, none of the healings announced on stage, and broadcasted around the world, could be verified as miracles and on the contrary many died soon after being proclaimed healed at the crusades. Earlier, in an HBO documentary called A Question of Miracles, researchers attended a Portland, Oregon, crusade at which 76 miracles were claimed. Even though Hinn had agreed to provide medical verification of each one, he stonewalled requests for the data, then eventually responded 13 weeks later – with only five names. HBO followed up the five cases and determined that a woman "cured" of lung cancer had died nine months later, an old woman's broken vertebra wasn't healed after all, a man with a logging injury deteriorated. Fake healings are not new. In March 1993, there was a nasty shoving incident at the Philadelphia airport with Steve Wilson of Inside Edition, followed by a damage-control campaign to admit that he'd made mistakes and vow that he would never again air "miracles" on TV unless they had been medically verified. "God has taken me by the neck," Benny said to his congregation. "I think I'm gonna stop preaching healing and start preaching Jesus. Rev. Benny has never started preaching Jesus but continued to milk his suppporters. Whlist his prophesy that God will destroy the homosexual community in 94,95 to the great applause of churches such as City Harvest and the Church of Our Saviour did not materialised, we are reminded of God's grace and mercy to contend with Benny for the last 20 years despite living in and choosing a lifestyle of sin. Such is the mystery of God's amazing grace.
Those who sin appears to get richer as the money has kept flowing in, an estimated $120 million per year in donations from people, with the continual request for donations as a pledge of faith in return for God’s healing from desperate people, desperate for God, and desperate for healing. In an expose by NBC, it was documented that Rev Benny travels by private jets, has $8.5 million oceanfront hacienda in southern California, stays in Presidential Suits, buys the best designer luxury clothing and living in a lifestyle of a billionaire. Here is a small sampling of financial records from the summer of 2003. At that time Hinn had crusades in Russia and Sweden then departed for a four day whirlwind trip to Italy and London, billing it as a simple layover they spent about $200,000 charged it to the ministry. For many, this is a professional “con” job taking money from people sincerely believing that it is all for “the work of God”. Despite all his yearnings for wealth, in mitigation, Rev Benny preached the Gospel as well in his crusades. However, God will not contend forever and His fall will come in season from the least expected.
In response, calling it an attack of Satan attacking the fund raising, Benny Hinn and Jan Crouch of TBN says that the criticisms goes back to Judas, “don’t pour the costly oil over Jesus” and claimed to be persecuted for the “Work of God”. When fame and money comes in and we become very famous and popular, there is a great danger that we come to see ourselves as “gods” and take away the glory and honor due to God alone. The most common criticism against the church is not that it is boring or irrelevant but that it is a business and concerns only about wealth. When it takes a pagan organization to reveal the iniquity of the church, how great has the church fallen! And we still have the audacity to condemn Gays as sinners. Mary Magdalene poured the best perfume on Christ for in that act she gave her life and all to God. Mary gave all for it was Christ who healed her in Luke 8.2. Yet, we take away the worship and honor to God, which is so precious in God’s sight and demand that people worshiped us instead. No wonder the Holy Spirit was silent.
Mary Magdalene was considered as a sinner, a prostitute. The conservative religious leaders were aghast when they saw Jesus letting her pour oil on him, and touched Him. Mary was in tears and wiped Jesus with her tears in gratefulness of what God has done for her. He wiped and kissed Jesus feet. The conservative right could only see what they consider the immoral women. They did not perceive that the sinner had so much gratitude to Jesus because she knew the depths of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Yet, they being religious leaders did not honor and respect Jesus accordingly because of their self-righteousness. Toady, the same religious leaders mocked at the gay community and called them sinners forgetting that to Christ, it was the religious community that was forgiven little for they do not understand God's grace but focused on the Jewish Laws.
The most amazing aspect of Christianity is not that we are to be “authentic” Christians and focused on our weakness, the weaknessess of our friends and fallen humanity. Rather, Christ is our baseline and we should see Christ in others not because they are angels or identifies with god in a certain way, but bacause Jesus Christ is our righteousness. When God sees us, He sees Christ because we have entered into Christ by accepting His death for us. However, the message of Christianity commonly preached is Law centered and not grace centered. When we focused on the Law, we naturally sin (because we becoming carnally minded focusing on flesh and sin consciouness instead of Christ consciousness) and make the grace of God cheap! Those who preached that the “Gospel of Grace” causes licentiousness are likely to be the greatest sinners. Despite the temptation to criticize and condemn the anti-gay Christian crusaders which are in the majority preached strong adherence to the Judasim and Jewish laws, we should not see them according to the carnality of their fleshly actions of sinning against gays. Rather, if they indeed believed in Jesus Christ, we cannot but see them as Christ sees them, a new creation totally cleansed and without blemish for Jesus Christ paid for their sins once and for all. That is the Gospel, the good news, of God’s amazing grace and mercy. We should forgive that their sins may not be accounted unto us i.e. we will be released from being like them. Unlike most religious conservatives, Mary understood this amazing grace of God and when he ministered to Jesus, He wiped Jesus feet with her tears and the most expensive perfume. It came out of a heart of gratitude, a heart of love, and tears of sadness and heartbroken that Christ may soon depart from them. She gave up everything, her lifesavings unlike the anti-gay televangelists who took away the glory and honour due to God and store up wealth using wicked schemes.
When Jesus walked on earth, His miracles were verified and for all to see. He told the disciples of John the Baptist, the mark of true Christian ministries, that the “the blind see”, “the lame walk”, “the lepers are cleansed”, the “deaf hear”, and the dead are raised from the death. How many churches around the world could claim such miracles? And opened to scrutiny and verification. Jesus told the disciples of John, “you come and see for your self”. When a man who is blind from birth is healed miraculously and could see, or the dead rose from the grave what more proof do you need of the authenticity of Jesus and His message of the good news that He is the only way to God. The Christian conservatives claimed that in Christ we are healed already – yet real verifiable major healings of the gospel remained far off as if something is blocking the move of God. At the mega churches in Singapore, again and again, you will hear, that the greatest “miracle” is the miracle of salvation – the conservatives have carefully rationalized their lack of spiritual power and anointing. They clearly have forgotten the order that the signs came first, then the Gospel is preached (Mat 11:5). Without the signs and wonders, our Gospel is “talk only” which is very cheap. Some went further and claimed that the dispensation of miracles is over! And the Liberals always pragmatic consider the miracles as never existed.
Healing is for today for the bible, in Isaiah 53:5 says that by Jesus' stripes, the severe beatings He received, we are healed. Jesus took upon all Himself all our sickness, our diseases and suffered on our behalf for our peace. In Jesus' death and resurrection, He has already bought for us health. We are believing by faith that we have already received healing. However, when the church takes away the glory and honor due to God and failed to understand the depths God’s grace and mercy and how much we have been forgiven, we inevitably limit the move of God and put our treasure on wealth instead of placing Christ first in our hearts. Yes, God will and have forgiven us for there is no condemnation is Christ (Rom 8:1). Yet, there is a cause and effect of our actions and we seldom see a powerful manifestation of God’s power and Spirit in healings, pray as we might because God will not justify our wickedness and corruption. When we love money more than we love people, all we have is an empty gong and a great performance of hyprocrisy and deceit (Roms 12:9, 1 Cor 13:1). One day, all will be revealed, the TBNs and the Benny Hinns and the truth will hurt and seriously damage the credibilty of the evangelical and charismatic movement.
The church has essentially fallen, became religious, intellectual, greedy, and humanistic and acted in flesh by taking away the honor and glory due to Christ. I believe that an end time revival is coming and it will be such as never been seen before with miracles and healings so supernatural to backup the message of the Gospel of Christ that the world could not easily deny. The tension in the heavens is already brewing with the Gay issues causing so much contention in the churches! For the grace of God will be released upon the Gay community that their hearts will be turned to love and cherish Jesus Christ when they realized that He does not condemn them, and in their gratitude and service to God will usher in the greatest revival.