Preaching For Pay?
“The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”
There is no Scriptural support for the practice of hiring a man (or woman) to preach the gospel of free grace. Preaching for pay is as foreign to the church Jesus built as are all other carnal practices of men not commanded by the Word of God.
The first recorded account in the Bible instructions relative to preaching the gospel came from the lips of our dear Lord Himself. The entire 10th chapter of the book of Matthew contains the discourse. Jesus called His twelve disciples unto Him and fully instructed them for their mission. The following is of particular interest for our topic:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”
These are the words of the Master.
He has spoken!
It is a violation of the worst sort to deviate from His commands for the sake of filthy lucre or for security’s sake.
See carefully these words: freely give! Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses. It would require the sagacity of the combined angelic band to reason these words to mean either more or less than their plain import. And mark well; these are the words of instruction given by our Lord to the very first ministers of the gospel in this age. No one has the right to dismiss them or treat them lightly.
Hardly three years after Jesus had endowed His disciples with these instructions He was sold for thirty pieces of silver by Judas, one of the twelve. Judas was a thief besides being a traitor (John 12:6), and carried their bag. After His crucifixion and burial, Jesus arose on the third morning. The chief priests, ringleaders in His death, alarmed at the prospects of the resurrection event being circulated, gave large sums of money to the soldiers, “Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (Matthew 28:13-15).
Marvel at these things readers! The leading event that delivered Jesus into the hands of His persecutors was the 30 pieces of silver for which Judas sold Him. The initial lie to suppress the truth of the resurrection of Jesus was purchased by large money, and they took the money and did as they were taught!
Is it any wonder then, the church of the Living God is cautious when money and messages are involved together?
Well they should be, for there are many wolves about that had rather fleece the flock than to feed them.
Hirelings, the Lord called them!
Almost at once after the Holy Ghost came down upon the waiting disciples after Jesus had ascended (Acts 1:8-9; Acts 2:1ff), Peter and John went up to the temple to pray. A man lame on his feet asked of them an alms. The response:
“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
Note well! Peter did not condemn silver and gold. Peter did, however, put the affairs of the kingdom of heaven on a non-commercial plane. The gospel ministry is non-commercial. (It is interesting to note that the first deaths in the church was the results of financial double-dealing by Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. See Acts 5:1-11).
Again, in the early church there was a covetous imposter that would make merchandise of the gospel ministry, Simon, a sorcerer of the city of Samaria. Peter, having come to lay hands on the believers, swiftly rebuked the solicitous overtures of Simon thusly:
“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”
Let it be repeated, today, tomorrow, and forever; the gift of God may not be purchased with money!
Any gift! Preaching, praying, the laying on of hands, or whatever. These things are not commodities to be bought and sold. Men cannot be hired to sell them, for they are free to those God has chosen to receive them.
Over the course of about 30 years after, Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, preached throughout much of the then-known world, being sent out by the Holy Ghost from the assembly at Antioch. When he went out it was after the fashion the Lord directed the twelve at the first. In his departing discourse at Ephesus these were among his final words: “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.”
What is this?
Did not Paul negotiate a salary before he hoofed out over the unknown regions to preach the gospel?
He did not, and neither has a true God-called minister since that day!
Any man that professes to be a minister, called of God to preach the gospel, that would negotiate a salary for preaching the blessed gospel is a hireling.
Any church that would negotiate with a hireling minister to preach the gospel is a false church.
The man, called of God to preach free grace, deserves the support of the flock of God but neither sheep or shepherd can follow any course but that of the Bible.
By James Poole