New Years Eve after Riley went to bed Angel and I stayed up watching TV just because we’re grown ups. TBN (one of the Christian [I use that term because they use that term] networks) was doing a best moments of 2008 type of thing. I took the bait.

I think it came across as more of an our favorite heresies of 2008 type of thing, or maybe a reasons not to watch in 2009 thing. We also checked in with the INSP network to see what kind of curses they were cooking up.

After about an hour of switching back and forth between these two channels I told Angel “I believe that if we were to keep watching this all night we would eventually see some preacher deny the deity of Christ or deny the existence of God.” Angel said “If you keep making me watch this garbage you’ll never be allowed to touch me again.”

In one of these clips “prophet” Kim Clement said that the position of prophet was never God’s idea. This is coming from the same guy who a few months ago prophesied that there would be no recession. Nice work.

Over on the INSP network Mike Murdock was doing his usual thing: loving money, dramatically pausing, and using the word stupid a lot. He raised the question “If God is in control of everything, then why…” and he filled it in with stuff like “do we need to punish a rapist? do we need to punish criminals?” His point was that God was not in control everything.

He wasn’t presenting the question like “I’ve often been asked…and here is the answer.” He was presenting it like “Why do people believe that God is in control of everything when we can plainly see that he’s not?” The point of his statement was unmistakable.

He also said that he’s heard preachers pray over the offering asking God to bless those who can give and those who can’t. Murdock said if “If God is going to bless those who can’t give then why give?”

I’ve heard Murdock say that he’s traveled all over the world and has never seen anything more beautiful than a hundred dollar bill. He said he’s also never seen a woman more beautiful than a hundred dollar bill.

How can a network that calls itself a Christian network allow a man like this on their airwaves? He’s one of their leading spokesmen!

I’ve wondered if he would preach the same way in an impoverished part of the world. If the prosperity gospel is the true gospel then shouldn’t we preach it the same way all over the world? Can you imagine him standing in front of a group of starving people telling them that God will prosper them if they’ll give $58 a month to his ministry? Or telling them that God has promised many miracles to them if they’ll give a one-time gift of $1,000? Or that God will wipe out their credit card debt if they’ll make their donation on their credit card?

This is the American gospel and it is a false gospel. Do we really believe that Christ died on the cross so that we might have more money? Do we really think that Christ suffered the most heinous act of wickedness in all of human history so that I might be free from the outrageous interest rate on my Visa?

These men trample the truth under their feet with no idea of what Christ actually accomplished on the cross. It’s disgusting.

God does not promise you wealth in this life. He does not promise you perfect health in this life. He does not promise you a problem-free existence in this life. He promises you eternal life and to declare you innocent of your sin. At Calvary he took my sin and wickedness and placed it on Christ and he took Christ’s perfect righteousness and placed it on me. Christ became the curse so that I could be free from the curse.

That is the heart of the gospel. The true gospel.

We hear people say “I’m a good person. I’ve never killed anybody.” And they think that being a good person will find them favor in the eyes of God. But they don’t realize that there is no act of kindness, or philanthropy, or mercy that isn’t seen as complete manure in the eyes of God if they haven’t repented for their sins and aren’t trusting in Christ alone for their salvation.

The thing they see as an act of kindness to their neighbor is only an act of great pride in thinking that this will earn them any merit with God when they have completely rejected his command to repent for their sin. If it took God putting to death his own son to merit your justification before a holy God then what makes them think that giving to the United Way is going to amount to anything at all?

It’s only after we have recognized our guilt before God, and repented for our sin, and acknowledged that Christ is our only hope that our good works are actually seen as good in the eyes of God. Because we know that we cannot merit our own salvation.