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In our time when everybody has "a ministry" and everybody charges for nearly everything they do for the Lord, it is necessary that we keep a clear head on a few key points. I am a pastor-missionary of a small church on the mission field. I have very few churches in the United States that help me economically. I make do with less than most missionaries as a general rule. I own no property (in this world, but in heaven I have a small place of my own), have no house, drive a beat up 2000 Dodge Caravan, and that is about the extent of my worldly possessions. Our church on the field doesn't even own its own building or property, we just rent a locale in a small strip mall.
The value of these modules could well be up into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. The question comes up why don't you sell them and be well established economically. As a preacher and a pastor, it is important to me that you as a user of my website understand my thinking as to why I make everything here free.
#1 We are not free to work in the ministry as we feel we want to, but we are under the instructions and directions of He whom we serve.
Matt 10:8... freely ye have received, freely give.
The instructions which Jesus gave his disciples when they went out to minister is that they are not to charge for the Gospel or the ministry which they perform. This established a principle or precept that ALL in the ministry MUST (as an obligation) follow. If I understand this principle correctly it is unbiblical to make a charge for something you do spiritually for somebody else. This means that Christian schools, Christian universities, Christian Bookstores, Christian summer camps, etc. ALL VIOLATE THIS PRINCIPLE.
How do you function as a ministry then? Well, it is very obvious that these ministries I just mentioned CANNOT and WILL NOT (as a matter of spiritual disobedience) function on this basis. As a local church we do not charge anybody for anything we do for them spiritually. We teach them their scriptural obligation to reciprocate with those that minister to them, and we take up free will offerings. That is how God has structured all ministry, and it is where most ministries fail (except local churches as a rule).
What happens is that the immature and unsaved people will benefit from our ministry, and over time they should grow more mature spiritually, and after time, they will understand that our ministry cannot function optimally without God's people (spiritually mature) donating to keep us "economically alive" and praying for us. We definitely do not function at our best without this spiritual and economic cooperation of others.
But the controls God has placed on this economic cooperation are the following: 1) We say what God says, so it is not wrong to teach this spiritual obligation. 2) There is a requirement BEFORE and DURING the ministry that the minister not be the type that seeks unjust gain. 3) the minister/ministry makes itself content with what comes in, which is always less than if they were to sell things, and charge.
#2 Minister not seeking unjust gain
1Tim 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Tim 3:8 Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Tim 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.
1Pet 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof] , not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
We must always keep clear in our minds that #1) God never made an educational requirement, that a minister has to have graduated from some seminary or Bible school to be qualified to minister for God. #2) God repeatedly places the requirement of selfless, sacrificial service on the minister's part, as a prerequisite before and during ministry which demonstrates the spiritual virtue of being free and unfettered from the appearance of ministering for gain (covetousness). When a minister has his own personal jet, he is not free from the accusation of ministering for worldly gain. A frugal lifestyle is what must be seen in the minister BEFORE you give to that ministry/ministry.
Moreover, God specifically commands each Christian to separate from ALL THOSE WHO SEEK GAIN in the ministry (1Tim 6:5 "gain is godliness"), and to "WITHDRAW OURSELVES". We are to separate ourselves from those ministers who place the economic motive as their principle control over their minister. The false prophet will always pass over this test of ministering free of "greed or seeking filthy lucre." The economic motive (what makes money) is the primary consideration for him, not what is best spiritually.
If you go into any Christian Bookstore today, you will see all of this very clearly. Book publishers can print books for $1-$3 each, but they sell these types of books for $50-$100 because they "need" a 5 million printing press to print "economically". You invent a "need" that supposedly justifies your greed. Some pastors of local churches do this same thing. These new presses reduce the cost (for the book publisher) to 50 cents to a dollar, but you will never see any reduction in what you pay. They print 24/7, and they are a business. What doesn't make money gets the axe. The business decisions they make of what they offer is based on one absolute rule: what sells is what they stock, what makes them rich is what they do and pursue. That means they exercise no discernment of filtering out bad books, they just stock what sells like any secular business. In fact most pagan businesses have more principles about what they sell than the typical Christian bookstore.
I have books that I don't agree with their doctrine position in this library, because I need to examine other people's positions to understand them, and to refute them. I make no profit from this ministry, so my motive is not the profit motive, but to examine truth and error side by side, to understand both, and hold to the truth and refute the error. Christian bookstores in general don't have much in the way of truth, and the error they have on their shelves is abundant. The majority of the books here are good doctrinally. In some cases I have tried to add other books that would help a person understand other people's position without just flooding the entire site with popular books of bad doctrine.
If you compare what I offer (even though I am a single person without staff, without funding, without Internet-Computer training), it is sufficient to be a blessing. Compare that to the millions of dollars that Christian Universities take in every year, with staffs of thousands, and income in the hundreds of millions, and they don't offer you anything comparable to what this site has. Why? There is no money in it. If there becomes a money angle, i.e. it promotes the University, then they will offer it for free. But libraries don't generally promote Universities, except in paper and shelf form. An Internet library doesn't promote them in their understanding, so they don't have any interest in doing this. Remember this when you write your thousand dollar monthly check to your favorite Christian University, and you refuse to donate to somebody like me who gives freely, because he has been given to freely by Christ.
#3 We are not to minister for free, and work a secular job to pay for our personal needs.
Although all Christians are to sustain themselves through their own physical labors, working secular jobs in order to fulfill this spiritual obligation, those who are full time in the ministry should be supported by that ministry. This is a principle of God, that God gives us to follow.
Paul was accused of being a person who unjustly lived off of others because his principle income was donations from churches and individuals. He defended his practice and thinking in 1 Corinthians 9.
Have we not power to eat and to drink?
The key point here is to understand that God's principle is that every Christian should economically support the ministers that locally minister to them. There are two kinds of ministers you should support. Those who are in your local church that preach, teach, and minister to you on a weekly basis, and what is known as a "missionary." Paul's appeal to the Corinthians was both, that he established that church, and that he was one of their missionaries. (Everybody is now calling themselves a "missionary", but missionaries are people who go to unchurched lands, evangelize the unsaved, and form a local church out of their evangelism efforts. Anybody who does not do this principally as their ministry has no right to call themselves a "missionary". They are not one. Those who labor in a local church are just ministers, preachers, pastors, etc. and they do the same as a missionary, but locally, and those local people support them. They raise no funds outside of their own local church.)
Matt 10:10 Nor scrip for [your] journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
Christ taught the same principle. God never taught that people who minister should have to work a secular job to pay for their economic needs. On one hand, God's ministers are taken care of by the people who sit under their ministries. On the other hand, covetousness, or the desire for unjust (no right to receive, or receiving too much money for something justly done), are things that disqualify the minister from the ministry. We in the ministry have a narrow line to walk with boundaries clearly set on both sides as to our economic situation.
#4 Those who sit under a minister and ministry should economically support that ministry.
Gal 6:4 But let every man prove his own
work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in
God says that we are to each prove our own work, and every man shall bear his own burden. This is the context of Galatians 6:6. You as a member of a church should bear your responsibility to support your local church. The word "communicate" in verse 6 means koinwneo which means to share, distribute, participate, all having an economic implication or meaning. We see how clearly this "service without charge" teaching fits into God's way of doing things, and in time, when people mature spiritually, then they will respond. Paul's exhortation in verse 9 goes exactly hand in hand with this, "let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
#5 What is not and never has been a real ministry.
I should point out that the false prophet always wants to steal unjustly (without merit) and excessively (more than he is entitled to) money from the work of God. What is a real ministry is #1 evangelism which funnels its converts into a local church. #2 a local church which teaches and trains people to understand and obey the will of God, which does the work of God. What is not specifically these two (you must do both together for either to be valid), is not a true biblical ministry but a type of false prophet ministry that runs parallel to the true work of God (always in churches), and which siphons off as much donations and funds from the true work of God as possible. I am a Pastor-Missionary of a local church in a foreign land (Mexico, I am from the USA). Our funds are reduced because churches give to ministries with a million dollar office building, and have fleets of vehicles, and properties and equipment without end. When these "ministries" ask for another million from their supporting churches, in a few months they have it. When we ask for money to pay for the bare necessities of rent, food, and clothes, we go years without people responding. This is the reality of modern Christianity, and it is unbiblical.
A local church may have a Christian school, Bible institute, or summer camp program, but these are not valid ministries to which a person should give. They should give to the local church which is the only one of all of these that have validity. What that local church chooses to do with their money is up to them and as the Lord guides them. (There is no spiritual obligation to give to ministries, just the possibility of charity giving like to a person without food on the street. But our obligations come first, and then benevolence giving is subject to restraint and limitation that it doesn't go beyond our obligations. You don't give a lollipop to your child, and a new car to some kid on the street.) The fact that these kinds of ministries have facilities that would make even the largest church jealous, are testimonies to how false prophets have set up "good ministries" to suck away funds from the local church and the true work of God, and into their coffers. We never see any organization in the New Testament except local churches. There are no denominations, no schools, no church camps, and NO LITERATURE MINISTRIES bleeding the churches dry economically. What is done is done on the basis of free offerings, and nothing more. There is no obligation or worse, conditioning the receiving to having to pay for it first.
Yes there are expenses involved in doing these types of ministries, and a local church may take it upon themselves to supply some of these benefits in the way of ministry. But it should always be local, and a local church running that ministry, which is a local church that has as its first priority, being a local church. I have seen local churches that have 10 people, and a Christian school of 300. This is not in proportion. Of course, the 10 people are all teachers at the school, and the school supports the church, which it should be the other way around. Interesting how these kinds of "ministries" always justify themselves receiving donations like a local church, but they never actually do the work of a local church (evangelize on the street and teach in the context of a local church) nor do they function as a local church (the leaders must qualify spiritually according to 1Tim 3, and Titus 1 before and during their ministry).
Most of my words here fall on deaf ears. People don't want to change and return to the biblical, New Testament way of doing things, and refuse any other way.
My website is offered as a ministry of a local church, a missionary (I have been a missionary in Mexico since 1983), which seeks to help other churches and individual Christians to grow spiritually. There are other pastors of local churches studying to prepare themselves and in their service of "doing their ministries". This website is for them. Some individual Christians may get benefit from this website also.
My priorities in my website are the following: (1) Make the resources useful to me in my own personal study of Scriptures. (2) Make it available to other pastors and students of Scripture, (3) make it aesthetically pleasant and easy to navigate. To be truthful, I rarely get beyond point #1 here. My website is for me. I use it to organize my studies, and I try to get to putting up stuff for others. God has blessed my websites I presently have with many visits from many people from different places all over the world. I understand that this is being used of God in many lands where few people speak English, but places where national pastors can read English and download my material.
I do not charge for my laborers, and God will repay me heaven for my expenses. I take comfort in this fact, because the majority of Christians are ignorant today of their financial obligations and the rules that should rule their spiritual and economic life. If you wish to help me or donate so that this ministry continues, you may do so. See my donation page on how to get money to me. Please note that on that page, you will find my home church, Orlando Bible Church, and you can give to my ministry just like all the other local churches and individuals send me money each month. At the end of the year, you will get a tax statement of your donations. This is as biblical a way of doing things as I can understand, imagine, and set up. If you don't want to give, use my materials as your conscience dictates, or go do for yourself all the work that I have done. After all, the bottom line here is laziness, i.e. ease of use. You pay to get a prepared helpful thing so that you don't have to do it for yourself (lack of knowledge how, lack of time, lack of desire to do it yourself, etc). If you pay a mechanic to fix or maintain your car because of this lack of desire to learn how to do it yourself and do it yourself, is it valid to refuse to pay also when it is a spiritual matter?
What I am asking in a donation
If I was to come to your house, show you all I have here on my page, set it up on your computer, and give it to you for free, would you not be thankful and grateful? Perhaps you would invite me and my family to stay for supper. What I would request you consider donating to me, is sending me once or twice a year the equivalent of what you would spend in inviting me to eat at McDonalds with you. We are four, and basically that costs me between $20 to $25 for just my family. That is a small donation for some thousands of dollars of books I offer you for free. If just half the people who download my materials would do this once or twice a year, I would be satisfied with that.
In the end, my ministry to God's people is because of my relationship with God, and I will do it in gratitude because Jesus died on the cross for me. Whether you send me a donation or not, whether you write me a nice email thanking me for my efforts, or whether you use everything I have and never show any gratitude at all, not even a prayer for us, don't matter. I will still serve my Lord the best I can.
visits since July 14, 2009