Red Ink

When Jim Bakker was imprisoned for participating in the abuse of funds that were received for the PTL ministry, he had been preaching what is called a “prosperity gospel” for many years. He had promised riches to people who invested heavily in ministries that preached the proper message.

While he was in jail, he says that he was led to read the Bible a few times. He could tell that something was not right in what he had been preaching, but it was not immediately clear what was wrong. At one point, he felt led to read the words that Jesus was quoted as having said, and to see how much of his previous doctrines were left unspoken by Jesus. He read the red ink. He had a new story to tell when he got done.

We frequently get two things backwards and are then confused. One is that we try to understand Jesus by looking at the Church, instead of trying to understand the Church by getting to know Jesus better. The other is trying to understand the words of Jesus by looking at the rest of the New Testament.

Many unbelievers don’t want Jesus because they don’t like us. Many theologians don’t understand the Kingdom because they won’t read the words of Jesus without separating teaching about the church from teaching about the Kingdom.