August 19, 2006

Seeds & Tares at the Harvest Crusade

Monica had a fight with her boyfriend and found herself all alone on a Friday night. Bored, she sat in front of her TV with the remote control in her hand just channel-surfing in search of something to take away the emptiness she felt inside. She stopped at what appeared to be a concert in a stadium filled with people and the music rocked so she kept it tuned in.

When the band stopped playing, several successful people got up to give testimonies of how their lives had changed for the better after accepting the Lord Jesus into their lives. Then a balding preacher spoke excitedly, telling uplifting stories from the Bible. He ended his message with a call for people to come down and dedicate their lives to the Lord and for the people at home to call the number on the screen.

RESULT: Monica called the number on the screen that was answered in TBNís call center by a WOF "Christian." Monica asked for a church referral and the voice on the phone led her in a sinnerís prayer and coached her to babble in "tongues," before referring her to a WOF church in San Jose. She never got any foundational teaching, and fell by the wayside having never understood the faith.

Matt just graduated from college and was pondering what he would like to do for the rest of his life, he found that nothing really excited him. After all, he thought, people work 8 to 5, five days a week, working for the week-ends and after 50 years or so retiring just to die. He wanted to find more meaning in life. He found a "Christian" television station and began watching it regularly, hoping to find answers to his questions about life and God. But each program he watched on that channel seemed to have a different message than the next one. It was beginning to get confusing and he was about to just give up on finding meaning in any of that.

He fell asleep with the TV on one night while watching a faith healer casting demons out of pitiful looking people. He was awakened by loud rock music on the TV and was about to shut off the noise, when a preacher took the stage. He thought heíd listen for a minute or two to see what this guyís angle was. What method would this one use to get donations out of desperate viewers? To his amazement this preacher didnít bring up money. He presented the Gospel in the clearest way Matt had ever heard. Matt opened up the Bible someone had recently given to him and followed along in the passages the preacher read. He was beginning to see things clearly for the first time in his life. He wanted to know more and there was a phone number on the screen.

RESULT: Matt called TBNís number at the bottom of the screen and asked for a church like the one pastored by the Harvest Crusade preacher. He was referred to Harvest House Church in Fremont, but was shocked that their services were chaotic with people lying all over the floor and acting goofy. It gave him the creeps. So he looked the Harvest Crusade up on the Internet and found out it was associated with Calvary Chapel. So he found a Calvary Chapel nearby and joined the new believersí class where he learned the basics of the Christian faith. The Word found good soil, and Matt is now evangelizing others.

Mike and Mindy had been living together for several months and the excitement was beginning to fade from their relationship. Mindy had heard from a friend about the Harvest Crusade coming up that would have Christian rock bands. Mindy was sick of sitting around smoking pot with Mike every weekend and talked him into going to a free concert.

They were glad to see so many other young adults their own age there and the music was better than what they heard at nightclubs. But these guys were singing about God. Mike had gone to a Methodist church growing up and remarked, "We never heard music like that when I was in church." When the preacher got up and spoke of Jesus and the Bible so excitedly, both Mike and Mindy were inspired. When the invitation was given to come down and receive Christ as Savior, Mindy was first to want to go, but Mike was hesitant.

RESULT: They both went up front and a Decision Follow-up Worker asked them what their religious background was. Mike told the worker that he went to a Methodist Church as a child, and the worker pointed him to the United Methodist workers. Mindy told the worker that she was never in church and her religious background was the new age Ė she was an amateur psychic. She was referred to the table of the Jubilee Christian Center, pastored by TBN regular Dick Bernal. When they got home, Mike told Mindy that he never felt close to God at the Methodist church growing up and the fact that the Harvest Crusade would send him back there just confirmed that they were just as messed up as the church he grew up in that had a lesbian pastor. He dismissed all of it and retained a stony heart. Mindy visited Jubilee and they had a special guest prophet named Kim Clement and Mindy was so impressed with him. He could do cold readings better than her favorite psychics. She decided Jubilee was the place for her and Christianized the psychic powers she knew God had given her from birth. She didnít have to change much and stayed on the same thorny path and became known in the church as a prophetess. At the next Harvest Crusade, she got to be one of the Decision Workers.

COMMENTARY: We recognize from the above stories the parable of the Sower of the Seed as recorded in the 13th chapter of the book of Matthew. But do we recognize the similarity to the next parable, the Sower of the Seeds and the Tares?

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn"'" (Matthew 13:24-43).

How remarkable that the very man sowing the good seed of the Gospel at the Harvest Crusades is simultaneously sowing tares into the body of Christ. TBN has paid for the airtime of the Harvest Crusades for around 15 years. That is why their phone numbers show up on the bottom of the screen during the program. And several times we have tested our hypothesis that TBN refers people to Word/Faith churches when they call during the program. Basically, people hear the Gospel of Salvation and immediately are turned over to aberrant or heretical churches where the seed is stolen and they are turned into tares.

Greg Laurie has followed in the footsteps of Billy Graham and now allows just about any church calling itself Christian to participate in the follow-up counseling. Graham goes so far as to seek out Roman Catholic involvement and itís only a matter of time before Greg Laurie goes that low in bringing tares into his crusades that devour the good seed he sows in his messages. I was shocked to see the list of sponsoring churches in his upcoming San Jose crusade that my own Calvary Chapel is also participating in. It includes the Jubilee Christian Center who is having bona-fide false prophet Kim Clement there as a guest in a couple of weeks. Another sponsor is a United Methodist church and another one that is associated with Rick Warren. Thatís what happens when one begins to compromise for expediencyís sake.

As we can see from the parable, when the real harvest crusade takes place, these tares will be tossed into the everlasting fire. But how much damage will they do in the meantime?


Heavenly Father, I lift up the coming Harvest Crusade in San Jose to You now and pray that You would wake up our leaders as the enemy sows tares in your field. We see the sort of damage these tares do in our churches, especially when they gain leadership positions. We know this is happening according to Your word, for You told us ahead of time that these perilous times would come to the church. Give Your sheep ears to hear and eyes to see and discern truth from error and help us to follow Your voice. Give us the mind of Christ to know how to respond to those who challenge the wisdom of marking those who teach false doctrine. Gather Your remnant together and strengthen us for the battles ahead. In Jesusí name. Amen!


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