As you can see by the statement above, this site does not ask for donations of any kind, nor are they wanted. The world of religion has become a very disturbing place, where ministry has often come to be thought of as a profession rather than an extension of Christ’s love (one that ought to be shared freely, without any charge to anyone). Many in the so-called “ministry” feel that such serving on their part is virtually (if not completely) impossible without some means implemented to make money off those they “minister” to (not to mention all the “marketing” of their name that goes along with that endeavor). That is NOT the belief of anyone associated with this website; either of myself or my friends who have contributed content here, purposed for the edification of the body of Christ. In truth, there are some who not only view ministry as something they have a right to profit by, but some have become experts at manipulating people out of their money (at every opportunity) – all in the name of Jesus. This is a disgrace and God is not blind to their deeds.
TruthForFree.com endeavors to provide an increasingly expanding resource of articles, books and multimedia (many of which are authored by good friends) written and composed for the benefit of the Lord’s family and all visiting persons to this site. TruthForFree.com is a non-sectarian, non-church-affiliated, non-organizational, non-institutional, privately-run “ministry” (in the least formal, non-professional, and non-institutional sense of the word); in other words, it is a “serving” of love to you the visitor of this page (that’s all “ministry” means as it is used in Scripture; is “to serve others”). It is not supported by any church organization nor does it endorse such… and, no, we are not “under a covering”. Why? Because “spiritual covering” is an entirely spurious, man-made, religious doctrine that does not agree with Scripture in the least! Our covering is Christ Jesus alone and we submit to one another in the Body of Christ through Love, not phony religious schemes of hierarchical leadership and sham authority paradigms. Covering doctrine is worldly, manipulative, ungodly, abominable and is primarily a tactic of religious control that has no place among those who sit at the feet of One Master; Jesus Christ.
- Isaiah 30:1-5 (emphases and parentheses added) – “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that COVER with A COVERING, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into EGYPT [a symbol of captivity in Scripture], and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh [symbol of Satan and autocratic dictators in Scripture], and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your CONFUSION. For his princes were at Zoan [aka, Goshen, where Pharaoh met with Moses and Aaron; Easton’s Bible Dictionary], and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not PROFIT them, nor be an help nor PROFIT, but a shame, and also a reproach.
This site is self-supporting and all information available directly from this site is free of charge, with the exception of those items provided by other “ministries” and/or business that are linked to from this site (some of which may not be free of charge – as determined by the individual convictions of each author, which this site respects, although we may not always agree). Though this site is maintained at some cost to me personally, donations to this author/website are not requested, suggested or implied because this outreach is a labor of love to the body of Christ and not posted with any intent to make a profit. If God intends this site to continue I believe He will provide the means to finance every aspect of it. The truth, in my opinion (based upon what I read in Scripture and how my heart has been touched by God through the Holy Spirit), MUST ALWAYS BE FREE. I wholly identify with the heart of Paul the apostle when he said:
- 1 Corinthians 9:15-27 (The Message) – Still, I want it made clear that I’ve never gotten anything out of this for myself, and that I’m not writing now to get something. I’d rather die than give anyone ammunition to discredit me or impugn my motives. If I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself. I’m compelled to do it, and doomed if I don’t! If this was my own idea of just another way to make a living, I’d expect some pay. But since it’s not my idea but something solemnly entrusted to me, why would I expect to get paid? So am I getting anything out of it? Yes, as a matter of fact: the pleasure of proclaiming the Message at no cost to you. You don’t even have to pay my expenses! Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized–whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ–but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
In a day when it has become all too common for preachers to charge money for their preaching (believing that such is biblically-sanctioned and just “business as usual”), I believe God has no such design for those who feel compelled to preach. Even under the Old Covenant, God REQUIRED that those wise who teach the others NOT take monetary gifts from those they speak to lest their message become tainted (the way a bribe persuades someone to do whatever necessary to bring profit).
- Exodus 23:8 – And thou shalt not receive gifts* (the Hebrew word for “gift” here means “donation, present, reward, payment” or even “bribe”); for gifts blind the eyes of the seeing, and corrupt just words.
Deuteronomy 16:19 – You shall not pervert judgment; you shall not respect persons, nor take a gift* (donation). For a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
* The Hebrew word for “gift” in these passages (meaning “payment” or “donation”) is derived from the word that means “to hire”. It is, therefore, clear that the concept presented in these passages refers to the act of paying someone, either by wage, donation or bribe, as a reward for services rendered or information received. The point being that God has never had in mind that men should charge or become accustomed to taking money for sharing a message – He gave them – with others.
I remember, during my days in church world, going to these meetings that featured guest “prophets” who would preach and give “personal prophecies” and the charge for each meeting was $7 (not to mention a table full of books, tapes, CDs, videos, etc.). How unlike the Old Testament prophets this is, which is ironic considering that so many of these men like to imply they are modern equivalents of the old time prophets in the Bible. They boast about everything under the sun, save the detail that Scripture itself provides no instruction or allowance for prophets to charge for their ministry… In fact, it commands and examples the opposite.
The Old Testament prophet Samuel stood before the people (1 Samuel 12:3) and pointed to his own life as an example of his trustworthiness, asking them to examine his actions throughout all the years that he served them and how he NEVER ONCE accepted money for the prophetic utterances he brought them. NOT ONE SINGLE TIME EVER! Verse 4 says that the people affirmed this saying, “You have never been untrue to us or cruel to us; you have taken nothing from any man.”
In the Book of Micah, the prophet declares the word of the Lord to the leaders of Israel, which included their judges and religious leaders, prophets and ministers. They had become accustomed to taking money for ministry, while telling people what they wanted to hear, and God was most displeased.
- Micah 3:11-12 – The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD in the midst of us? no evil shall come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.
The Lord also spoke through His prophet Isaiah about the greed of Israel’s pastors, who took money for ministry and spent it on themselves while never actually shepherding God’s people as they were intended to do. God had enough and pronounced severe judgment on them; invoking the wild beasts of the field to come and devour them all up!
- Isaiah 56:9-11 – Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour My people! For the leaders of My people—the LORD’s watchmen, His shepherds—are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning when danger comes. They love to lie around, sleeping and dreaming. Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
Remember, it was also Isaiah who gave the prophecy about the coming of Christ, the Messiah, who would distribute the blessing of the Gospel to everyone. The call is to invite all to come and partake of the good things of the Kingdom WITHOUT PRICE!
- Isaiah 55:1-2 – “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Some who stubbornly resist the notion that Scripture consistently portrays God’s disgust with those who seek to profit by ministry, often argue that Isaiah was only talking about salvation being a free gift and that this has nothing to do with receiving money for ministry work. I disagree, because the passage refers to all the good things of God which those who are brought into the Kingdom of God through Salvation are privileged to partake in together. Notice the reference to, not only waters of life, but also wine and milk… Wine was used for celebration among God’s people (and indeed Salvation brings cause for much celebration and joy) and milk, throughout Scripture, is a reference to that which provides spiritual nourishment and is also a symbol of the Word of God and even ministry of that Word to saints of God. It is also quite easy, in my opinion, to recognize by Isaiah’s mention throughout his writings of God’s disgust with corrupt and money making pastors; that he is describing a kingdom paradigm where all of God’s children are free to come and share in His life, truth, and ministry together without price.
Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord saying:
- Jeremiah 6:13 – For from the least of them even to the greatest, everyone is given up to getting money; from the prophet even to the priest, everyone is working deceit.
In 2 Kings 5:14-16 Naaman, the Syrian prince, had come to the prophet Elisha to be healed of a disease. Elijah gave him instruction, according to the direction of the Lord, and the man was healed completely. At that time, Naaman returned to the prophet of God and sought to pay him money for the blessing he received (750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing), but Elisha refused it!
- 2 Kings 5:14-16 – Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.” But he said, “As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it; but he refused.“
However, the story doesn’t end there. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was disappointed that Elisha didn’t take money for the work of ministry he performed, especially when it had been so graciously offered by such an important and wealthy man. So he caught up with Naaman and told him that some other prophets had just showed up after he had left and they were going to need the money after all and so he suggested an amount to Naaman and also asked for two sets of fine clothing. Naaman was more than happy to oblige the “work of the Lord” so he offered DOUBLE the amount of money asked for along with the clothing. The servant kept the money and clothes and didn’t mention any of this to Elisha (for, after all, Elisha didn’t want the money anyway and Gehazi was just as much a servant of the Lord as he was of Elisha and probably thought himself deserving). When Elisha found out (because God revealed it to him) what his servant had done, to manipulate someone for the sake of profiting by the ministry (not to mention keeping it for himself), God cursed Elisha’s servant with the same disease that Naaman had just been healed of! But it’s even worse than that; This disease would then also be visited down upon all of Gehazi’s children and throughout their generations… FOREVER! Ouch! It’s pretty obvious what God and His true ministers thought about taking money for the Lord’s work.
- 2 Kings 5:27 – “Because you have done this, you and your descendants will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.
These kinds of examples are abundant in both the Old and New Testaments, yet somehow they are consistently overlooked by today’s so-called prophets and preachers. Even some of my associates in the out-of-church crowd who maintain websites with similar content as my own feel it necessary to take advantage of the medium to generate a profit! This disheartens me, especially in those cases where I have written or spoken to them directly about it and they lash back in angry retort with defensive posture and sometimes even try to turn things around back on me as though I were a spiritual enemy just because I asked the question. I’ve sometimes been called a hypocritical, judgmental, uncompassionate critic all because I only asked them if they would offer their book or teaching in a freely downloadable format (in addition to their purchasable versions that they distribute through sites like Amazon.com). I’ve been told that what my inquiry on this matter amounts to is me expecting these individuals to not care for their families or to stop providing their books, music, teachings, videos, websites, or traveling ministry. I often have responded to this accusation by asking the next logical question, “What’s wrong with you getting a regular job to take care of your family and pay for your books and websites?” Many other authors, including myself, do as much and it is not a burden. God always supplies all our needs when we purpose to follow Him and share His truth with others.
Unfortunately, many want to exist as “busybodies” while mooching off the saints of God, claiming that such is their right. I suppose too many of these people have forgotten what Paul said concerning the matter:
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 – Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition (the very instruction) which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power (or, rather, “the opportunity to take advantage of”), but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
So many preachers today seem to read a passage like this and always hone in on the line “not because we have not power” (i.e. what they consider their “biblical right”) and that becomes their banner excuse for charging for everything under the sun. It’s as though they are blind to the fact that Paul did not state this without a context. He goes on to emphasize a commandment to work and to follow their example! (Paul indeed worked to earn his own money, working a normal job, so that he would make himself chargeable to no one) Furthermore, he gives instruction for the rest of us to keep no company with a brother that chooses to disregard this instruction… Not to reject them as an enemy but to admonish them as a brother. In my opinion, the very fact that a brother refuses to work for a living and instead basically mooch off the saints, makes him little more than a busybody (or, in other words, someone who is invariably shirking their responsibility to work to support their own way and, instead, meddling in the affairs of others as a religious “busybody” rather than being busy at work and setting a better example).
When Paul spoke of his “right” I do not believe he was actually saying that he had a right to anyone’s money or some God-given authority to demand it, though this is how that usually gets interpreted. Pastors (the world over) have used such verses of Scripture to qualify their implementation of guilt trips on people; manipulating them to believe that a preacher is given authority by God to mandate money to provide for their houses, cars, boats, dressy suits, church buildings, vacations, etc. But this is NOT what Paul meant by his “right”. A simple overview of Paul’s comments on the matter of how ministers should behave should squash out any such notion, but let’s look briefly at the words he used and the context in which he used them. The word in the Greek that Paul references with regard to his “right” or “power” is the Greek word “exousia” and generally denotes “freedom of action”. In other words, Paul was saying (2 Thessalonians 3:9), “Not that we did not have the opportunity, but we made ourselves a model, for you to imitate.” The people had already become accustomed to other so-called “messengers of God” that frequently came to them expecting payment for their “ministry”. They indeed used their “power” or “right” to do this, but this was not a godly sanction! This was power in the sense of taking an opportunity to take advantage of their generosity and to manipulate them to give their money. Keep this in mind when you hear preachers talk about their so-called “right” to receive money for their service. This was NEVER Paul’s example or doctrine and Paul repeatedly warned the Believers to be on the watch for false preachers who employed these very tactics.
Now, that’s not to suggest that every minister or author who currently asks for donations or charges for their media is evil. I believe many have simply been raised with these faulty mindsets and act in ignorance… But I also believe that many know, in their heart of hearts, that something about this behavior is not right and that it does not possess the blessing of the Holy Spirit. I have confronted many with questions about their motives for charging for Gospel publications and some get very upset at the mere asking of the question.
It is for this reason that I no longer offer a number of the resources by some authors whose materials once appeared on this site. Some of them have made it very clear what they think of brothers like me who dare question their position on money and ministry and some of them have illustrated by their angry response what motive really drives them. I won’t name their names here or speak any ill of them in the hope that they will, one day, change their tune and stop robbing God’s people in the name of ministry.
I do understand that there are different convictions based on various and sincere reasoning (even according to a person’s present understanding of Scripture) so I am not suggesting (with some kind of cold, unsympathetic frame of mind) that I think every author is falsely motivated because they do not presently share the exact same conviction as I do. I think attitude is incredibly important and, ultimately, God knows the heart. I’ve talked to some authors who confess that they’ve never really thought about the matter this intently and have just fallen into the practice of assuming it’s not big deal because it’s the way things have always been done; the way they were trained to believe. Others have confessed that they are presently examining the issue and asking the Lord to help them get clarity on the matter. In both cases, I appreciate their attitude and honesty. I also appreciate the fact that these do not automatically presume I am trying to make them out to be villains by simply asking a question. All of us have a path we walk and God knows how to lead each one and bring revelation in His timing.
I won’t speak ill of, or imply, that I think everyone who presently charges money for things like books or CDs or whatever is operating on a sinister level, however, I will still speak my heart boldly here concerning the matter itself and simply offer these comments for those who have ears to hear. My conviction remains (according to the abundant reference of Scripture on this matter) that ministry MUST ALWAYS BE FREE! Regardless of the fact that many teachers like to talk about their so-called “biblical right” to be compensated financially for bringing “God’s divine message” to others (by charging money for it), I believe such doctrine is wholly spurious and contrary to the example of Jesus and those He commissioned to teach throughout the earliest centuries of the Christian Church. No minister has a “right” to manipulate people to give them money! When they do this, they are merely operating outside of faith and they are taking advantage of people’s ignorance of the Truth. For those that do this without intention to offend the Truth, this still does not excuse it. But rather than think it’s my mission to go after such folks, I would rather the rest of us come to a better understanding of the Truth so that we are no longer manipulated by such error. Indeed we are all free to let God’s love motivate us to give and to bless others (including and especially to bless those who labor in the Word by giving of their time and finances to bring the Good News to others). We should all allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in these matters and also to help us discern those we should give to (regardless of whether they ask for it because they lack understanding or whether they do not ask for it at all). The Lord is the one who does have the POWER and the RIGHT to direct our giving to whomever He desires! If we yield to Him, there is no way we can fail in this – even if the one who is recipient of our gift is making a mistake. We ought to ALWAYS follow God rather than man!
Some websites offer the “explanation” that web hosting costs are expensive and therefore necessary to keep their pages in operation. In my opinion, I think this is an excuse and not necessarily true. Again, just my personal opinion here. While it is true that there are hosting services out there that charge exorbitant costs for their services, I will plainly tell you all what it actually costs me to run this site; about $200 a year is all (that’s less than $20 a month)! For this cost I am able to provide an unlimited amount of bandwidth for downloading articles, e-books, videos and music absolutely free of charge to whomever visits – and the time spent maintaining the site is not all that significant either. Granted it’s maybe not as “up-to-date” as if it were a full-time profession, but then ministry is NOT a profession anyway. Additionally, I also choose to pay about $360 a year ($30/month) to enhance the security of the site (and this covers a number of sites I manage, not just TruthForFree). Do you realize that both of these expenses average out to roughly 2.5 hours labor (out of the entire month) at my regular day job?!! Throughout the year I engage hundreds of conversations with people about Christ, spend many hours reading the Bible and responding to tons of emails… and I still have time to spare outside of a full-time secular job.
I am absolutely ill of preachers telling people that they can’t do anything without their continued financial support. This is flat-out nonsense! I’m quite sure most preachers could at least take a job that only required them to work 2.5 hours a month and they could do as much (and even much more than) as I do with a website. You see how silly the whole thing is? Does anybody really think that a pastor or preacher (of any variety) is so busy, so spiritually elite, and so incapable of work that he just doesn’t have time to pay his own way? Excuse my bluntness… that’s just absolutely STUPID! Compare the luxuries most “ministers” have today against men like the apostle Paul who walked most everywhere they went and literally worked night and day at a secular job (2 Thessalonians 3:8), while still managing to counsel scores of Christians all over the known world in their building up of the Body of Christ, also leading thousands to Christ, and author most of the New Testament! The Bible says that their ministry was so overwhelmingly effective that many of the Jews complained that Paul and Silas had “turned the world upside-down”… Interesting, considering that neither of them took a paycheck from an institutional church for it and none of them charged for any of their writings or ministry! Dear money-making preacher reading this, do you really expect to convince us that you have a “right” to engage in professional ministry, when no example or teaching exists anywhere in Scripture – except among false teachers? Perhaps you never really thought about it this much… Well… I encourage you to think about it.
Even though I have shared some of the expense I bear for upkeep of this website, there are also many great free and low-cost hosting options out there for web managers (even for folks who know next to nothing about how to create or manage a website). In fact, a person could even obtain totally free web service and actually earn money for their ministry just by allowing advertising on the site with banner-ad services (that still avoid obligating anyone to paying for the message). I simply chose (because I am able) to pay the extra cost to host my own site and not have the annoyance of external advertising on my pages. I work a regular full-time job in addition to this website and have a family and dog to think of as well. In fact, for a time I was working two jobs and still finding time to maintain the site and respond to every e-mail sent to me. Just like all of you, I have car and gas payments, insurance payments, rent/mortgage payments, and day to day bills – and I also manage an apartment complex. I have to eat and be “the provider” and all of that. Still, there is plenty of time to write and share in some fellowship with many of you through the venue of this website.
I know quite well that I’m NOT so important that my insights must be put on a pedestal for the world to admire (let alone pay me for). This is why I enjoy gathering a host of resources from many different brothers and sisters within the body of Christ. This is, in fact, completely biblical. There is no such thing in Scripture as a spiritual super hero teacher or pastor that everyone is supposed to follow and subsidize his/her living.
- Ephesians 4:16 – He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
So, I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy the excuse of others who say it is necessary to charge money for their so-called ministry otherwise they would not be able to offer it. Perhaps this is suggesting too much, but I wonder if maybe those who feel this way ought to return to their knees and find out whether or not God has really called them to the “ministry” they feel they are called to do. If they can’t support it by their own labors then maybe it’s not theirs to support. Remember, the word “ministry” means “to serve others… especially Christ.”
- Acts 20:33-35 – (Paul speaking) “I have not wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak (needy, poor), remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.’ “
While many preachers use the following verse to get other people to give to them, I find encouragement in this verse as a motivator to myself in trust that God will ALWAYS provide me with the means to share good works with others. I wish others who think they have a call to share a God-inspired message with others would also remember Paul’s message FOR THEMSELVES and not to simply turn it out and place it as a burden on others to take care of them!
- 2 Corinthians 9:8-10 – And GOD will generously provide ALL you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “Godly people GIVE generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.” For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
What about things like providing books? Isn’t it expensive to publish a book? Answer: Sure, it can be, if you do it wrong. ;o) But there are many fantastic resources available for people wanting to publish a book at very low costs. So here’s my first advice: Consider the teaching and example of Jesus… then… count the cost! If you can afford to provide in this medium, go for it. If you can’t, what’s wrong with presenting it free online? And even if you decide to offer a hard copy of your book and charge a fee to cover the cost of publishing (which usually isn’t more than $3 to $6 a book), why not also provide a freely downloadable PDF version of your book on your website (or, heck, I’ll put a link on my website for you for free)? Usually though, the concern there is that by offering it free on a website, “no one will buy the hard copy”… This leads me back to the question, “What then is your real motive in sharing that work?” Is it for what you might hope to gain by it? Or is it the message you really want to share? If it’s truly the message that is your concern, I guarantee you there is a way to share it for little to no cost at all, but even there is a cost, I believe God is well able to equip you to provide for it without you having to beg for money to resort to charging a price.
For those who think that no one would benefit from the message God gave them if they did not sell it, I wonder how much you really believe in that message to begin with? If God called you to share it, isn’t it His responsibility to open the ears of those who are meant to hear it? Shouldn’t you perhaps exercise a bit more faith in God’s ability, instead of presuming He is crippled without money or the grand financial success of your work? Is money really the magic formula that insures lives will be changed with God-inspired truth? How do you suppose it is that Christianity turned the world upside down without ever charging a dollar? How did Jesus manage to reach thousands of people without charging for tickets or passing an offering plate? How did He feed thousands without money to buy food for them? How did Paul literally travel the world and spend months and years training up new believers without charging anyone? He got a job, that’s how… and he trusted God (and God’s people). It wasn’t always smooth sailing either. He often suffered poverty, imprisonment, punishment, sickness, humiliation, and unfair treatment… yet he would not make himself chargeable to anyone. Certainly Paul counted the cost!
So, did Jesus or Paul or the other apostles ever receive support for their labors? Scripture indicates that they did on occasion. The difference, of course, is that people were not manipulated to give to their cause. It was each person’s freewill choice to support those that ministered to them. But regardless of the support factor, Jesus and His apostles still gave the message they were commissioned to give freely! This is why I have little tolerance or respect for individuals who claim they have a message from God for His people and then they employ methods to profit by that message.
I will say that I think how a person responds to the question of perspective on money and ministry tells you a lot about the dominating motive behind the scene. I realize this may not always be the case. Some have very sincere and reasonable convictions that may not actually be motivated by greed or ulterior motive. Some just haven’t thought about this much. I merely hope to encourage some who might read this to THINK ABOUT IT because it affects how people receive the message you are sending AND I think it does have the potential to affect your own relationship with God.
Just to add one more example here regarding popular passages of Scriptures that are often misused by preachers to promote their “right” to collect money for ministry… A number of preachers have used Galatians 6:6 to imply (again) that those who are the recipient of ministry by some kind of preacher or teacher hold some obligation to support the minister financially. But this is one of those passages of Scripture where you must pay close attention to the context and use of words. It’s quite interesting how a number of Bible versions render this verse… For example, take a look at the New Living Translation:
- Galatians 6:6 (NLT) -Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.
Now look at how some other versions render it (similarly):
(GNB) If you are being taught the Christian message, you should share all the good things you have with your teacher.
(ISV) The person who is taught the word should share all his goods with his teacher.
(AMP) Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].
Sounds pretty cut and dry doesn’t it? And there are many other versions that express this very much the same way… But now, observe the same passage in Young Literal Translation from the Greek:
- Galatians 6:6 – And let him who is instructed in the word share with him who is instructing–in all good things.
Sounds a bit different doesn’t it? Now consider this fact… The original Greek Scriptures NOWHERE contain the word “goods” or “things” or the phrase “contributing to his support” or “provide for”, etc. These were added by translators. There is simply NO REFERENCE to a sharing of material possessions in this passage, despite how it has been interpreted in several translations. But let’s look a bit closer now at the context of the entire chapter, which will put this in even clearer perspective…
The very first and second verses open with these words:
- Galatians 6:1-2 – Brethren, if a man also may be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself–lest thou also may be tempted; of one another the burdens bear ye, and so fill up the law of the Christ…
It is clear by Paul’s initial words here that he is talking about how to restore someone in the family of God that has fallen into sin. Paul continues (now talking to “ministers”):
- Galatians 6:3-5 – If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Notice how Paul uses the same language as when he talked about himself in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (he said, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”). Paul makes absolutely no emphasis of the one whom God uses to help another brother or sister in Christ, save that they can expect the satisfaction of a job well done. They are simply vessels for the Lord’s use… and Paul starts right out, making sure that no arrogance can creep in here where a brother serves to help others in their time of need. Paul tells them, don’t worry about comparing yourself to others or thinking of yourself as something special… Just do the work God has equipped you to do and be happy with that!
It is the very next verse where Paul continues along this same mindset, when he says, “Now let him who is instructed in the word share with him who is instructing–in all good things.” It should be plain to the reader that Paul has not suddenly changed course and prescribed a payment plan for preachers. In fact, Paul isn’t even talking to some character we might call a preacher. He is talking to ANYONE who would take up the responsibility of love to restore a brother. The qualification isn’t some kind of religious ordination by a church organization. The qualification is a spirit of meekness. The qualification is someone who doesn’t think they’re too important to be used by God to help a struggling brother or sister in Christ.
Up until verse 6 Paul has been talking about setting a godly example and reaching out to help someone from an attitude of humility (meanwhile minding to his own burdens and not placing a burden on anyone else). It is simply impossible to presume Paul would somehow shift immediately from telling one to now make himself a financial burden to the other. In verse 6, he encourages the one being helped to be a partner in the good things that God is working through the example of the one who is seeking to be a vessel of restoration. He is saying, “join along with the one who is instructing you in all good things. Embrace these good things. Yield yourself to this godly instruction and example of righteousness. And just as the one who is instructing you has not made himself a burden to you, so receive this instruction with gladness and learn to chasten yourself and bear your own burdens as well. In this you may both rejoice in the good work God is performing in you.”
Paul is talking about imitating the good example of the godly instructor. That’s it! This is NOT about preachers collecting money from church laity!
The BiblePages website comments on this passage of Scripture with the following quote:
- Verse 8, “sowing to one’s own flesh” versus “sowing to the Spirit”. This obviously refers back to what Paul had written a bit earlier when he contrasted carnal and egoistic ways, Galatians 5:16-21, with the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. Let us consider a practical example of this. If those who proclaimed the Good Message, were in it for carnal reasons (such as money), they were trapped by the “snare of the Devil” and became unfruitful – see 1 Timothy 3:3-7 and 6:5-9-10, and also Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19 with their contexts….
Please note that there was no earthly reward for those (the apostles and others) who did all that hard work with God’s harvest. The reward which they received for their work, did not consist of money or anything like that. The reward for their work was the “harvest” which it produced, consisting of people who were turned to God and were then saved so that they received everlasting life.
You can see how religious men have so often twisted such beautiful passages of Scripture that deal with how the family of God ought to care for one another, and they have produced so much harm. This is why I flee religion. This is why I cannot abide the old way of doing things… these strange doctrines that I grew up with and once thought were right… and these strange doctrines are yet the staple of most organized churches today. The devil has deceived so many and it is no wonder to me that the church system is in the mess that it’s in… That’s why I often have said, the answer is not to try and fix the system… The answer is simply for each of us to fall on our faces before the Master and ask Him to heal us, deliver us, and restore us to truth and love. Religion will NEVER be the answer! So why waste time trying to fix what God has not ordained for Hid people to begin with. We ought to just start being what He has made us to be and allow His Spirit to work in and through us. I don’t know that it’s all that important or even useful to spend too much time working to expose all the people out there who are teaching this stuff wrong… Rather, I think we do more good by allowing the Lord to change us and thus keep us free of the corruption of the world (even churchish, religious mindsets). As we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives may become a testimony of truth and others may be led to freedom as they observe truth in action to vessels yielded to the Lord.
I was encouraged by some comments that a fellow brother in Christ (Chip Brogden) shared in a recent e-mail post regarding how he approaches the issue of “financing ministry”, which helped me to better articulate my own thinking in this regard in terms of how to convey it to visitors of this site. TruthForFree.com wholly operates from the philosophy that leans towards a general belief in “paying my own way.” Instead of relying on partners, pledges, faith-promises, donations, tithes, offerings or “love gifts” I am persuaded by the apostolic standard I see manifested in Scripture of working with my own hands to provide for my own needs and the work of ministry God has given me to accomplish (as Paul said of himself in Acts 20:34). That is not meant to suggest that I am equating myself with Paul, except in the sense of regard that ministry should be given freely out of love for Christ and His people and that if God has purposed something to exist and thrive, He will also provide every means to support it and that includes equipping me with the strength, ability and finance to maintain it.
My opinion is that if a person truly believes God has given them a mission and purpose to accomplish then that person should not be laying that burden on everyone else. They should trust that God Himself called THEM to the work and therefore will meet THEIR needs as they confidently invest their life into the advancement of that calling. Jesus didn’t delegate the cross to someone else; He paid the price Himself. The apostles did not charge for their message; 2 Corinthians 12:14-19, 9:15-19, etc. (search your Bibles yourself and you will never find, in even one place, a minister of the Gospel asking money for his message – only false teachers, busybodies and idle moochers of the flock employed this practice; 1 Timothy 6:5-12, 2 Corinthians 3:6-16). The apostles worked with their own hands (in secular professions) and did not make themselves a financial burden to those they ministered to. This, however, is not the norm today and it’s incredibly hard to even find an occasional exception.
My approach to whatever “ministry” God lays on my heart is that I know He will equip me for the work and enable me to actuate it. Whether or not others choose to contribute is of no concern to me whatsoever. I am not doing this for profit, prestige or the acceptance of men. That is why you will not find me sending out appeals, solicitations, and the like. I truly don’t give one rip about any of that! This is not a “full-time ministry” in the sense that income is derived from “ministry” as some believe and practice. To do such, I believe, would constitute the error of attempting to serve both God and Mammon (which, by-the-way, Jesus said was impossible – Matthew 6:24). Instead, I happily work a full-time job that provides for my needs and allows me to pay for the maintenance, advertising and distribution of this site. This way I can speak the truth without fear of offending someone and losing their financial support. Perhaps there will be occasions when I can alert folks to needs they can be a part of supporting (perhaps for a friend or even my own family), but that opportunity will NEVER be tied to the content that is otherwise freely available at this site! No visitor will ever have to agree to donate something before accessing any resource available on this site and I will NEVER abuse my mailing list for the purpose of soliciting people for money. Freely I have received and I will freely give!
Why do I say this is a myth? Because the Scripture does NOT teach that “the ministry” is something you leave your job to “go into”. In fact, it says just the opposite! Paul clearly told the believers:
1 Corinthians 7:20 – Whatever be the condition in life in which a man was (i.e. his vocation, trade, occupation, etc.), when he was called, in that let him continue.
In other words, just because God called you to serve Him, DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! Solomon, regarded as one of the wisest men to have ever lived (1 Kings 4:30), said (in Ecclesiastes 5:18-19) “At last I have seen what is good and beautiful: It is to eat and drink and to enjoy the good in all our hard work (i.e. profession, labor, industry) under the sun during the brief lives God gives us. That is our place in life. It is a gift from God when God gives some people wealth and possessions, the power to enjoy them, the ability to accept their portion in life, and the ability to rejoice in their own hard work.” Notice his positive attitude toward work! Solomon is not talking about being a slave to money or the hard effort it takes to acquire it; but he is saying that God gives man the privilege and ability to work and to use for good that which God has blessed man with the ability to earn. You see, there is nothing inherently evil about money. It is only the love of money that works evil in people’s hearts. God intends for man to work hard and to see it as a grand privilege. By working hard, this becomes one of the primary means by which we can do good and help others.
Acts 20:34-35 – And you yourselves, know, that these hands ministered to my needs (the Greek word here is “employment/profession”), and to them that were with me. And I have showed you all things; that thus it is a duty to labor, and to care for the infirm, and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus; for he has said, That he is more blessed who gives, than he who receives.
This is rarely the attitude of most people (especially many of those in the so-called “ministry”) who have been infected by the religious notion that work is somehow evil or base compared to (what they regard as) the nobler “work” of “serving God” (as a profession). The simple fact of the matter is, God (from the very beginning of time) is the one who gave man the task to work (Genesis 2:15)! Throughout the ages (as Scripture testifies) men held the responsibility to work as a high privilege; even a God-given blessing, which would be one of the principle tools used to bless others with.
Paul told the believers (in Ephesians 4:28) to “…use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”
Paul followed his own advice in this; he continued to make tents. He paid his own way COMPLETELY (by working a regular job) so that he could help others without ever being a financial burden to them. Other Gospel workers are mentioned in the New Testament whom also held secular professions; Pricilla and Aquila, who worked with Paul in his business. Peter, Andrew, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John were fisherman by trade. In fact, James and John were not just fishermen but business owners with their father. We know from Scripture that several of the disciples continued to fish even after the resurrection of Jesus (John 21:2-3). This of course doesn’t mean they fished all the time or that they never took leave to travel for ministry purpose, but there is simply no reason to presume that they ended their profession to serve the Lord. It certainly doesn’t mean that they sat around like fat cat preachers, collecting thousands of dollars, so they could stay in the finest hotels and enjoy the most luxurious accommodations. We know how the apostles chose to live in poverty and suffered incredible persecutions, even imprisonment or worse for the sake of the Gospel.
“Generosity was obviously thought to be a prime Christian virtue, but in practice one had to be careful, for others could easily take advantage of the Christian. This was especially the case with ‘false’ prophets who showed up and wanted the congregation to feed them. The instruction was not to ‘receive’ any prophet who asked for food or money while speaking ‘by the spirit’ (Didache 11:12), and not to allow any ‘true’ prophet (who did not do that) to stay longer than two or three days unless he was willing to settle down, learn a craft, and ‘work for his bread’ (Didache 12:2-5).” –EarlyChristianWritings.com (RE: The Didache)
It was not until the middle of the third century that the concept of a paid “clergy” came into fashion. Before this time there was no distinction between a so-called “laity” and “clergy” class. This ungodly division brought with it a whole host of changes to the mindset of Christians and only here do we see the beginning of ministry as a profession.
Paul’s letters reveal so plainly that he was well able to minister, travel, and write letters to the churches all while continuing to work a secular profession (which he described as a labor he performed both night and day to finance, not only his own expenses, but those he traveled with). Paul, before his conversion, was a Pharisee (a religious leader). It may interest some people to realize that even the religious leaders of Jesus’ day held regular secular jobs! There are many extra-biblical historical references that indicate this fact. As I have already mentioned, it was regarded as a mark against a man’s dignity if he did not work for a living. Even the workers in the synagogues (the religious meeting places) held regular jobs. All of this is why I say that the concept of “leaving secular profession” to “enter into the (so-called) ministry” is a total modern myth! I dare say it is nothing more than an ungodly fantasy of the modern busybody preacher. Such individuals should realize their error, repent and get themselves a job and stop taking advantage of people’s ignorance regarding the Scriptures.
This is, of course, not to say that God never calls people to leave a profession to serve Him in some way for some duration of time (or that Christians may not choose to freely support that servant of Christ). I am simply pointing out that today’s common mindset on this is completely foreign to Scripture and the earliest centuries of Christianity! What has become the norm today NEVER was during the time the Bible was written and those first ministers set forth the example of how to live and serve God and His people! Ministry is just a fancy word for “serving others”. It’s NOT some “thing” you join. It’s not an “elite office”. It’s certainly NOT a profession. Jesus was a servant (a minister) and He did NOT charge for His serving. In fact, He gave His life serving others and set the ultimate example for us to follow.
Jesus said, “freely you have received and freely you are to give” (or, put another way, “Without payment you have received of Me, now give to others without being paid”) and this I believe with all my heart where sharing the Gospel of Jesus is concerned. Some ministries provide offline materials on a donation basis or for a small fee because they feel they do not “freely” receive the paper, the compact discs, the packaging, the printing, and the postage and therefore they cannot always freely give these things away. I realize that this is an issue subject to some variance of opinion, but I humbly disagree with the concept of ever charging for what God gives you to bless others with. Paul went through great pains (in opposition to the damage caused by false leaders who charged money for their preaching) to express his “right” to receive gifts (note I said “receive” not require) from those he ministered to only to immediately follow up those comments by highlighting his example of NOT RECEIVING those gifts or charging for his ministry in any way whatsoever. In other words he built a case for his rights and then showed the more excellent way – to not exercise any such right but trust Christ completely and never allow the potential of a stumbling block to hinder his expression of love and truth. He also instructed them to note and follow his example! He told those that wished to serve after his example to get a job, work for their own living, and not be a burden to anyone but to pay for their own way and eat their own bread. And, even more astounding, the one time that Paul talks about his receiving gifts from believers to support his Gospel work, he actually calls it robbery!
- 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 – Was I wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God’s Good News to you without expecting anything in return? I “robbed” other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost. And when I was with you and didn’t have enough to live on, I did not become a financial burden to anyone. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me all that I needed. I have never been a burden to you, and I never will be.
Wow! So, technically, one can argue of a right to receive (again, that’s receive, NOT require), but the heart of the Gospel (which Paul demonstrated) is to freely give and to make your service to others without any burden to them. I believe that 100% and it is a subject I cannot compromise on. If I ever end up offering a book or other offline materials from this site, I can promise you there will be no charge for this. I often try, insomuch as I am able, to discern when there is a need and as I am financially able to do so I give whatever I can. The articles, streaming audio, and e-books provided through the website are available without cost. The Lord has always provided the means to pay whatever expenses are required, usually through a combination of personal funds and donations. If I do not have the money to do something then I simply refrain from doing it until I can pay for it. I also lay such concerns before the Lord in prayer because I believe that, very often, if the money does not come in to finance it, then it may very well be that the Lord has not actually purposed it.
Still, many stubborn preachers will set aside all of this regarding Paul’s example (despite the fact that they love to quote him on virtually every other subject in every Sunday sermon) and will still say, “It is my biblical right to live off the Gospel.” However, the Scripture does not say “live OFF the Gospel” but rather it says “FROM” it. As we’ll see in a moment, there is quite a difference… Some might accuse me of “semantics” here by honing in on the words “off” vs. “from”, but I purpose only to draw a distinction from the mindset that views serving the Lord as a profession (living “off” the Gospel) as opposed to serving the Lord because of joyful submission to the will of the Father and because of love for God’s people, whom may also choose of their own free will to support such a minister (thus enabling him to live “from” the Gospel).
1 Corinthians 9:14 – Even so, the Lord ordained those announcing the gospel to live from the gospel.
What exactly does it mean to live FROM the Gospel? Some preachers would have you think it means to take a healthy paycheck for preaching week after week at their religious institution and cease from all physical and secular labor. Some would have you think it allows them to charge for every item under the sun that might conveniently be labeled as “Gospel-related”. But in case anyone is confused about what Paul has in mind, let them note the following:
1 Corinthians 9:4 – Do we not have authority to eat and drink?
1 Timothy 6:6-8 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and it is clear that we can carry nothing out. But having food and clothing, we will be content.
Another brother once commented that this is probably one of the most unpopular verses in the Bible for the average money-making pastor/preacher/evangelist; because it does not allow any room for viewing ministry as a profession and rather indicates that a Gospel minister should be content only with the absolute basics for survival; a little food in his belly and the clothes on his back. The rest is in God’s hands. There is not a single mention of taking a sizeable paycheck or taking money to buy an expensive house, boat or car… Paul even points to the Law of Moses and indicates that just as an ox eats from the grain he’s threshing out, neither should it be any surprise if those who serve the Lord have their basic needs met.
1 Corinthians 9:9 – For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox threshing grain.” Does God take care for oxen?
Notice the phrase: “Does GOD care for oxen?” The first thing that strikes me here with this phrase is that the real onus to provide for these oxen is placed upon God. The oxen don’t make the demands, but they freely eat what is set before them. Indeed God generally works through His people, so the fact that the oxen are ultimately God’s responsibility does not take all responsibility away from those charged with caring for the oxen. That is a fair and reasonable point to consider for certain!
Paul appears to simply be asking a rhetorical question for the purpose of emphasizing a point… i.e. “God obviously makes sure that Oxen get enough to eat, so you can trust that He’ll make sure Gospel workers won’t starve either”. To be thorough here, the actual reference in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 25) indicates a precept to treat workers, servants and even animal servants kindly… The obvious notion is therefore a symbolic precept to treat Gospel workers kindly as well.
In the very next verse Paul continues to answer his own question (concerning whether or not God cares for oxen) by saying (1 Corinthians 9:10), “Isn’t he really speaking for our benefit? Yes, this was written for our benefit, because the one who plows should plow in hope, and the one who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.”
I have absolutely no challenge with the clear implication that Paul is using the example from Moses to encourage the saints to regard with kindness those who have labored diligently in their service. If someone gets the idea from me (in reading all this) that I don’t think Believers should be mindful and generous toward those among the body of Christ who serve well with humility and who often make many sacrifices to do so without asking to be compensated for it, then that person misunderstands the spirit of my emphasis on these things. If these ministers are the “oxen” in view here, then obviously God cares for the “oxen” and thus also expects His children to show them kindness and care for them as well.
But you might also notice that most oxen don’t speak (at least none that I’ve ever met)… A lot of preachers I’ve met and observed, however, do speak… and often they don’t shut up when it comes to constantly reminding people to support them. My point is, oxen don’t ask to be fed of the grain they are threshing out; They just do the work they were given by their master – PERIOD. If we’re going to take heed to Paul’s encouragement here, then let’s follow this through all the way. Those serving the Lord should keep silent as an ox when it comes to this matter! Paul’s encouragement is to the recipients of their service. Both have a clear responsibility. The worker to simply shut up and get to work. The recipients of that work to show kindness to the worker.
Martin Luther jokingly said that this command of Moses can’t be for the ox because the ox can’t read. I concur. Obviously the directive was to ensure that the caregiver of the oxen not only treated his animal well, but in the event that the oxen was rented out, the person to whom it was rented it out to would have this charge to take good care of the animal. Luther is right; Moses was not giving the command for the oxen, therefore neither should Gospel workers go around issuing “commandments” that their needs be met. Their owner is God and God is the one that put them to the task. Whether the muzzle is graciously removed or not so that they can eat, doesn’t change their responsibility to serve the Master. Does God care for the oxen or doesn’t He?
And who qualifies as one of these “oxen”? Paul makes very clear that he is talking specifically about workers like himself – APOSTLES; those who have essentially left all else behind (even the very comforts of life that most folks enjoy) to engage their direct calling by Christ Himself to serve as an envoy that carries the message of Christ to those Christ called them to. Think “missionary” here rather than professional church pastor… Remember that an “apostle”, according to Scripture, is actually NOT a “church planter” (as that description is wholly the product of religious invention, not Scripture). An apostle is NOT a “professional pastor” or the “CEO” of some religious organization… An apostle is an envoy of the Gospel. If you think you’re an apostle, just take a look at the life of Paul and see how you size up to the description (more on that in a moment)… These are the only types of individuals that Paul talks about this idea of “living from the Gospel” AND EVEN HE, PAUL, CHOSE NOT TO DO THAT.
Unfortunately, a lot of those who seem to enjoy preaching about “not muzzling oxen” tend to get fairly skilled at manipulating proof texts to support something far beyond the scope of what the apostles had in mind in these passages. History reveals that the first ministers of the Gospel did NOT make a profession out of their service to the body of Christ. Many were very poor and many worked for their living (just as Paul taught). Their sole motivation for preaching the Gospel was their loving devotion to Christ who called them to serve in the first place. Even with no guarantee of remuneration, they continued to serve the Lord with gladness and joy!
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he remarks how he never enjoyed the comforts of consistency in terms of having his needs met. Sometimes he had plenty and other times he had barely enough to survive, yet he never complained and said he was content to be in whatever state he was in. It did not matter to him either way. For Paul, ministry was NEVER a profession. Where is this attitude present in today’s “ministry system”? When Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, he thanked them for their kindness to take care of him, though he did not expect or require it of them. So we see an example of his total dependency upon God (not the “support” of the people, which is what preachers almost always talk about today). We also see the generosity and kindness of God’s people in response to genuine needs… and we observe Paul’s thankful heart for their generosity but even more significant is the willingness to continue serving God whether his needs be physically met or not by them. For Paul he knew his strength came from Christ alone.
Philippians 4:10-14 – Now I rejoice in the Lord greatly, because once again you have shown your concern for me. Of course, you were concerned for me but you did not have an opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in any need, for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in. I know how to be humble, and I know how to prosper. In each and every situation I have learned the secret of being full and of going hungry, of having too much and of having too little. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, it was kind of you to share my troubles.
Keep in mind that Paul’s infrequent mention of the so-called “right” to live from the Gospel also includes a very specific target and a very important context that the reader needs to acknowledge; this “right” is for itinerant Gospel workers (like himself) – though he himself refused this right on most every occasion. Isn’t it curious that a religious man invents a position for himself (called “senior pastor” – completely without any biblical authority) and then thinks that Scripture authorizes him to collect a paycheck for it? Typically, a “senior pastor’s” primary role is not itinerant Gospel work. Typically, he is simply the CEO of his corporation, which is a religious institution (something the Scripture gives no design for). He may occasionally preach the Gospel from his fancy plexiglass pulpit, after driving to Sunday meeting in his flashy car, but that doesn’t qualify him as a Gospel worker. Every follower of Christ is charged with the call to let the Gospel shine… That doesn’t mean everyone deserves a paycheck for doing so. A typical preacher occupies a time slot of maybe 30 to 45 minutes once or twice a week in a static location… That’s hardly comparable to the labors of the first century apostles who left family and home (and virtually all the traditional comforts of life) to travel across the miles, bringing the Gospel to others (not through just a quick sermon, but by spending days, weeks or months with those people, living and working along side them, teaching them what it means to follow Christ and showing them by example – not just words). It makes sense that such should be lovingly supported by the saints if they so choose to do so, being convinced by the conduct of those who are serving in this way.
1 Corinthians 9:14 – Even so, the Lord ordained those announcing the gospel to live from the gospel.
Repeatedly he refers to those, like himself and the other apostles, who left everything behind to travel to other places and bring the Gospel message to the saints. This hardly describes the average “senior pastor” or some guy running a website from the comfort of his lounge chair (let alone the wealthy TV preacher who tells you his ministry can’t go on without your support).
The thing that most people overlook, especially those who use these passages to justify their right to make money off the Gospel (or at least their brand of the Gospel), is that there is a very specific reason Paul was talking about all this to the Believers… It certainly was NOT so that he could secure a paycheck for himself. Paul, on several occasions, refers to other preachers that were making the rounds and teaching things to the saints. These other “ministers” (whom Paul sarcastically refers to as “Super Apostles”) took regular advantage of the Christians by charging them for their ministry at every opportunity. They did this so much so that it became expected and common practice. In fact, they deceived the people to think that it was a more “holy” action to pay money for preaching and then they pointed to men like Paul and Barnabas and attempted to discredit them as less-significant because they did not charge money. Paul was grieved over this and therefore steps up to instruct the Believers that, although he and his fellow Gospel workers had just as much “opportunity” to entice the Believers to give them money for their good labors throughout the Church, yet HE WOULD GIVE NO SUCH EXAMPLE – and why? Because of how Christ had compelled Him! This is a most impressive and important thing to consider. What Paul is essentially saying is that money corrupts and he is warning the believers against deception and corruption and against anything that might also corrupt the Message. If a minister is not compelled by Christ alone, then what is he really compelled by? If he will not gladly give his life for the sake of obedience to Christ and love for His people, what “master” is he really obeying? And if every example we see in the New Testament reveals NOTHING of a minister who charges money for ministry, then whose example are they really following?
1 Corinthians 9:15-18 – I haven’t used any of these rights, and I haven’t written this in order to use them now. I would rather die than have anyone turn my bragging into meaningless words. If I spread the Good News, I have nothing to brag about because I have an obligation to do this. How horrible it will be for me if I don’t spread the Good News! If I spread the Good News willingly, I’ll have a reward. But if I spread the Good News unwillingly, I’m only doing what I’ve been entrusted to do. So what is my reward? It is to spread the Good News free of charge. In that way I won’t use the rights that belong to those who spread the Good News.
1 Timothy 6:8-11 – So then, if we have food and clothes, that should be enough for us. But those who want to get rich (plouteō G4147 – “increase in goods, gain wealth, have an abundance of outward possessions”) fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows. But you, man of God, avoid all these things. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Many preachers, when confronted with Paul’s words here, immediately say, “Well, Paul was only referring to himself. He was just saying that he did this because that’s what God required of him only, not that this was to be some kind of requirement or example for everyone who preaches to follow.” Sorry Mr. Preacher man, Paul did say it was an example for all to follow:
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 – Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly, and not after the teaching which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us. For we did not behave ourselves disorderly among you, neither did we eat any man’s bread freely, but we worked with labor and travail night and day, so that we might not be heavy on any of you (not because we do not have authority [or rather, “not because we didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage”], but to make ourselves an example to you, to imitate us). For even when we were with you, we commanded you this, that if anyone would not work, neither should he eat.
Paul may well indicate that it should be no surprise that those who labor for the sake of Christ are permitted to receive gifts wrought from love by the people for those labors, but what he demonstrates for them IN CONTRAST is his example and this COMMAND of Jesus to get a job and work for a living and stop mooching off God’s people. The repeated directive throughout the New Testament is for each one to be responsible for his own life and to live and give from love and FREEDOM. And let me ask all of you this (and Mr. Preacher man, please pay close attention here), do you really want to trust any preacher who who doesn’t view his calling to preach in the same way Paul viewed his? Isn’t that attitude exactly one of the main things that reveals that he is a trustworthy source? Paul and Barnabas seemed to think so. Do you really want to trust a preacher who sees his calling to preach as being his profession? Think about this? Isn’t how a “minister” views this subject telling of his motives on the matter? Listen carefully to the words of the men and women in so-called “ministry” how they talk when asked about this topic… Many immediately get defensive about the subject (because they perceive that someone is trying to touch their livelihood)… and remember, Jesus himself said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45)! So don’t be afraid to judge how you receive them by what you hear coming out of their mouth.
I share all this to make it clear that I am not getting rich off this website or from the materials provided through it (nor have I any desire to do so). Far from it. On a couple of occasions, people have given to this work financially (of their own free will and personal persuasion) and for those that have done this and who may choose to do such in the future, as my bro Chip also said in his comments regard such gifts,
- “they can at least have the assurance that they are not financing new suits, alligator boots, expensive homes, private jets and multi-million dollar building programs.” Like Paul, I have learned ‘both how to abound and how to suffer need.’ In fact, often it seems I stand somewhere right in the middle to lower end of that condition, but it makes no difference. I am happy to be content for whatever I have.
Lack of finances may affect the speed with which a mission is carried out but it will not prevent me from carrying it out – as God leads (and as I am hopefully sensitive enough to discern that leading). I do wish to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed in some way to this work, whether through sharing articles, e-books or other information and resources. Without you there wouldn’t be much here for all of us to share in the benefit of (and for this reason I do count this kind of “donation” to TruthForFree.com one of the most helpful). God is so wonderful and I am constantly amazed at how He opens doors and makes things happen, usually when I’m not even looking for it or expecting it at all. I am also greatly appreciative of your prayers and letters of encouragement, sharing how this site has benefited you. Your feedback really helps me to work hard at supplying helps to you and others who are hungry for more than just status-quo churchianity. I’m right there with you! Thank you to all those who have contributed articles, e-books, and free services to this effort, which has encouraged me as much as anyone else. TruthForFree.com is our site! I am simply happy to offer it as a resource.
Finally, I would like to share the words of a favorite passage of Scripture that very much conveys my heart concerning the purpose of this website.
- 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (NLT) – And so, since God in His mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up. We reject all shameful and underhanded methods. We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the Word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that.”
If any of you would like to contact me with questions about the thoughts shared on this page or have some other form of encouragement (or even criticism) you would like share with me, please write me. I do get a lot of e-mail and sometimes it’s hard to respond in a timely manner to them all, but I will read your letter and I will do everything I can to get back to you as soon as possible.
Enjoy your visit and may God bless you!
In His grip,