Friday, December 7, 2012


Acts 20:24, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."

Acts 21:19, "And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry."

Colossians 4:17, "And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it."

1Timothy 1:12, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;"

Hebrews 8:6, "But now hath he (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises."

*Note: When the author renders the word 'Church' as shown here, he is referring to the world's model of an Institutional, Corporate Entity, Program-driven Business, which masquerades as God's church. When he renders the word church in all lower case letters, he is referring the reader to Christ's Authentic, Legitimate Home based church of His design, which He created and continues to build.

The world defines the word 'ministry' thus: "The work or vocation of a minister of religion." In this piece I wish to share some thoughts regarding what God's ministry is compared to man's religious version of ministry. All my life I have heard this word used to describe a man's life's work. I've heard many say, "I belong to Brother So-N-So's ministry." Or, I have heard the minister say, "In my ministry I have..." Without trying to sound harsh, this is an example of man's religious attempt to gain favor in God's sight. I would like to make an observation public by saying that those engaged in Christ's ministry should also engage in referring to it as such and not their own. Also, if they wish to engage in Promoting a ministry in their Institutional model of 'Church,' they should refrain from calling it Jesus' ministry. It is either Christ's ministry, or it isn't. Is there a difference? Oh yeah!

Today, with almost no exception, a ministry in our modern day has a business DNA attached. I was listening to a 'Church' leader preach a message on cults and I noticed something that brought this message to my mind. When he described what a cult was and what a cult leader is, he was, to me anyway, describing his own 'Church' fitting his very description of a cult and himself as the cult leader. I do not believe that he has any harmful intentions, but I do believe that he has an agenda, which is much different than advertised. He runs a 'Training Program Campus,' which requires an application fee. There are also Course and lodging costs (tuition) that runs into the thousands of dollars. His target audience are young men and women who are searching for a deeper truth of Jesus Christ.

They even have a 'Church' which is called "the 'Church' AT ________." The Problem I see is that he is referring to his 'Church' in much the same way the New Testament describes churches by geographic location (See my post, 'Should Churches Have A Name?). When I searched for a city. town or even a lake with the name ________, there was no such place with this name in that local area. As it turns out, the  name given to the Program's campus itself is named after a city in Europe because it is the birthplace of a famous revolutionary who was portrayed in a Hollywood film of much acclaim. The 'Church' at ________ actually resides in another city altogether. Why do I bring this up? I may be wrong, but it sounds to me that whoever named the campus is making something sound Biblical just to attract others. As it turns out, this campus charges students money, starting with an application fee, just to be considered to attended. It's non refundable of course. The tuition costs are $3,850 for one semester. If one doesn't attend after paying a $1,000 registration fee, for whatever reason, this fee is also non refundable.  

Normally, this would be considered standard business practice. No one should be offended by this today, right? Tell me, when was the last time we read in Scripture that Jesus, Paul or any other early church leader charged an application, registration or any other fee to learn from them? Why don't we let that percolate in our minds for a moment? Proverbs 23:23, "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding." Matthew 10:7-8, "And as ye go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." When Proverbs 23:23 says, "buy the truth" it doesn't mean to purchase a Bible, Books, DVD set, CD's, Manuals or Curriculum. It means to 'buy into the ideas' expressed in the Truth, God's Word. It also goes on to say to not sell wisdom, instruction and understanding. When Matthew 10 8 says, "freely give," it's talking in the sense of not making God's Word, or the work of the ministry an industry for Profit, or use it to make a living. In fact, these organizations, which call themselves 'ministries' are SELLING wisdom, instruction and understanding! These 'tutors' may have gotten these things freely for themselves, but they sure don't give them freely!

It seems to me that even their theology is aimed towards 'cashing in' on the ignorance of their pupils. It is consistent with their entrepreneurial approach to 'Church.' They believe in calling their business entity a 'ministry,' and work themselves 60 to 80 hours a week to attract new students for a fee. Well, according to them, students are taught that one must repent of all of their sins as a condition before asking Christ to save them. Both Promote a 'work for what you want' mindset. In other words, their spirit of work for what you want is matched by their desire to work for their salvation. It's the Old Fashioned approach; EARN IT! Fortunately for mankind, Jesus never taught such 'Work to get to Heaven' theology. See my post 'Two Types of Repentance' for more on the doctrine of repentance. I'd like to clarify what I mean when I used the word 'ignorance.' Ignorance doesn't mean that someone is stupid or dumb. It means, 'lack of information about something, or someone.' We all have lack of knowledge. I, for instance am ignorant on how to repair automobiles or computers. Others are ignorant regarding certain Catholic doctrines like transubstantiation. Some are ignorant about foreign customs. So please know that I am not being disparaging towards anyone if I call them ignorant. Ignorance simply means 'lack of knowledge.'

Anyway, getting back to the organization in question...I discussed this place with a friend of mine who's son attended there a short time ago. He mentioned that most of the funds were for room and board and that comparing their cost structure to major colleges and universities, it was somewhat of a bargain. So what? What we are doing here is comparing apples to other apples. The focus of this piece is showing the difference between God's ministry and man's. I don't know of a Bible College in the world that is derived from Christ's ministry. I asked my friend this question, which I will pose to my readers. "If Peter and Paul were alive today, and we knew that they were the same Peter and Paul who lived with Jesus back in the day when Christ walked the Earth in Israel, and they offered to teach people their deeper understanding of Christ and charged $3,850 a semester for their trouble, what would you think of them?" My friend humbly replied, "I wouldn't think much of them. You got me there." And there it is! There is a fundamental difference between God's ministry and man's, and it's clearly seen in the phrase, 'Show me the Money!' Of course, the way they advertise and push the subject of money towards the back burner, folks just don't notice it. Plainly stated, if the Apostle's charged money to minister and teach those who desire their guidance toward a greater understanding of Jesus Christ, would that be considered Christ's ministry or man's? I think common sense would dictate the answer. It clearly would be man's.

This campus, has a Marketing and Public Relations Department. No kidding! The main purpose of marketing is to advertise and sell something. Who are they marketing to and having public relations with? Their target clientele, of course! These are young men and women mostly in their early twenties. On the Administration Staff alone, almost every one of these employees don't look old enough to want to buy a Life Insurance Policy. I jest of course, but these are very intelligent and sincere young people who are following the lead of a man who wrote a best-selling book that relates to them. With some Main-Stream-Media exposure he has turned his book into a money making enterprise. The student's goal is to receive a deeper understanding of Christ and His ways. All rightly then, but does this mean that they should be charged for it? It seems that most ministries we see today tend to repackage Christianity to appeal to those untapped markets. His target market is the young who are searching for God's truth.

They even have an outreach mission where foreign children are sponsored and this 'Church' or Program is associated with an International Adoption Agency where some are adopted from over ten countries. There is an element of humanitarian good in play, but donations are solicited and fees charged to those who wish to adopt from around the country. The fact that children are involved makes their allure even more appealing. Another fact is that they are instrumental in attracting clientele for this adoption agency. In other words, this 'ministry' is associated with a business. The Program I refer to does this. Adoption agencies are not bad things in themselves, but when someone calls it a part of Christ's ministry, it becomes a subtle deception. This college caters to the young men and women of this country who are impressionable. Because of their inexperience and youth they easily fall into deception of what is the authentic ministry of Jesus Christ and what is packaged as something else.

The slant of Christianity this Organization offers is off the beaten path from Main-Stream Christianity and their Bible Colleges. Even though they appear different in nature, they are very much the same. But because they appear different in name than the Main-Stream they have more appeal to these young men and women. The sad part is, because they appear different, the youngsters are more than willing to pay for something Christ intended for them to have for free!

I can see that it may be difficult for anyone who has experienced this environment to accept what I'm saying. First off they have already spent their money on the Program and would hate to think that they got taken and or displayed poor judgement. Secondly, it would be hard to realize that this place (and others like it) erects their empire the same way a modern day Institutional 'Church' does because their surroundings seem so different on the surface. But, if they can be objective and break it down to the building block level, they'd see that anytime we have facilities and a faculty, funding is not far behind. And where does this funding come from? They come from what appears to be subtle sources. The first place we need to look is our own wallets. The second place would be outside Programs and marketing. Some may Protest and say, "What's wrong with that?" It's simple really. It's Christ's ministry versus man's form of ministry. One is power driven and the other is money driven.

In Greece, Paul noticed the same thing. He saw that people are drawn to things that are different and new.  Acts 17:16-23, "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." Apparently man's desire to be connected with something different and new hasn't changed.

I see the youth of America wanting to hear 'some new thing' packaged as and old thing. They are simply searching for actual truth as most of us are. What better way than to attach a Christian appearing cloak over it? That's what Bible Colleges like this one is offering. The spin is, they're offering it at discount prices! Their 'ministry' isn't Jesus' ministry. If it were, they wouldn't be set up as a business entity with a Marketing and Public Relations Department.

Jesus Christ never created a college for his disciples to understand a deeper meaning of Himself. This includes anyone in any time period. As a matter of fact, Scripture shows the opposite approach to gain a deeper meaning of Christ. Although Paul commanded Timothy, "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."~2Timothy 4:5, he evidently was referring to Timothy's ministry as it were handed to him through Paul by Jesus Himself. It was only Timothy's ministry as long as he ran it as Christ would have run it, not by clever means of placing a banner with Christ's name over it and making a living from people who are thirsty to learn more about God's truth. But by truly ministering to them without thought of anything in return. His reward was the same as Paul's; to see people saved. I don't recall reading in Scripture where Timmy ever charged his student a fee for learning under his tutelage.

Continuing along this same path, Paul didn't charge anyone either. 1Corinthians 9:14-18, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." 

Paul made his own living travailing night and day as a tent maker to support himself and those with him. He declined money from a church and advised others to do the same. Many Christians misunderstand the phrase in verse 14 which says, "..they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel," and think it means that Christianity is for sale to those who want to start up a new ministry as long as they lead people to Christ. See my post entitled, 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' to find out the truth of this passage. It has nothing to do with gaining a living from a ministry. That being said, there are true ministries all across this country that feed the poor and homeless, but do so from the sweat of their brows without assistance from an Organization. These are the ones who do so without any fanfare and advertizing. These are the true ministers of Christ, not ones whose 'ministry' survives on donations or tithing dollars from congregants wherever they can find them.

Peter and John have a similar testimony. Acts 3:1-7, "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 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. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength."

I don't see anywhere when Peter and John got a payment for ministering to this lame man. Apparently, Peter could have used some loose change since he had no silver or gold. The beggar Probably had more money on him than the Apostles did, seeing that he was there begging for alms for most of the day. At this point in the book of Acts the church was not far removed from adding 3,000 souls. Surely, if the Apostles were in need of funds they could have gotten rich if they only asked for donations from the body of believers there in Jerusalem. But did Peter or John ask for a payment? Did they ask for donations from the body? No. Why? Because they possessed THE true ministry of Jesus Christ. That's what they were pursuing.

Some might ask, 'Are you trying to pick a fight with the college mentioned above or others like it?' Not at all. I believe that they have a Constitutional right to pursue a living as any other American does. But there is a difference between those who make a living dishonestly and know it, and those who don't know it. Christ will judge both. If one is a believer and Proceeds with an entrepreneurial spirit within a 'ministry,' his works will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I'm just voicing my humble opinion based upon Scriptural evidence that what they are doing. Even though it has been socially acceptable to operate a ministry as a business for hundreds of years here and abroad, it is still directly opposed to Christ's design for His church and ministry. Is this an indictment on all Bible Colleges or Training Programs that charge others to learn a deeper meaning of Christ? No. It's just my opinion. The last time I looked, I am allowed to voice my opinion, especially when I can back it up with factual evidence from God's Word, which is our highest authority.

So what is a true minister of Christ? One who visits the sick and widowed. Those who feed the poor and homeless. Those who clothe the naked and give the thirsty drink. Men who preach the Gospel in the streets, who's reward is to see people come to Christ. People that do these things and more with Christ in mind without thought of a return. There are scores of good meaning and sincere people who are locked within the matrix of an Institutional Organization. They anonymously tend to the unfortunate on a daily basis. God bless them! That's the way it should be. There is nothing wrong with free will giving. There are men and women all over who minister to those less fortunate than themselves even though they may only be one or two paychecks away from those they minister to. These folks can use some financial help on occasion as well. The key is, they don't ask for donations. They don't solicit money from charitable organizations and sources that can benefit from a tax write off. If those who give are doing so to gain recognition for their 'Church,' or gain a financial benefit of some kind, shame on them.

Here is a case in point. In 2Kings 5, Naaman the leper wanted to give a payment to Elisha for his healing, but Elisha refused it. He wanted God to get the glory. His servant Gehazi however wanted to cash in on some freebies. Guess who had a sudden case of skin rot because of it? What am I saying? Christ is who we should be lifting up before those we minister to, not a business entity such as a Main-Stream 'Church.' Christ's home base church should be careful not to advertise themselves for several reasons. There are many honest folks who want to begin a home church in their areas who have good intentions. They mistakenly give themselves a name and even advertise their new church on the Internet. We're supposed to be drawing men to Christ, not drawing men to So-n-So Baptist 'Church.' That's marketing without asking for donations or money, at least for now. This is not an organic way to grow and expand Christ's church. If these saints of God aren't careful, they too can be morphed into an Institutional 'Church.' All that would be needed is to have a bank account put in their name. At that point they become an Organization and are connected to the world's system of commerce and Federal regulations. See my post 'Should Churches Have A Name?' regarding the dangers of placing a name on God's true church. Our church knows that our reward is stored up in Heaven. The Golden Rule applies daily and is unrepentant and without charge regarding any facet of it.

I have approached this message with the same framework as I do all of my others. Exposing the polar opposites of Giving and Tithing, elders versus senior pastoral authority and the authentic Home church versus man's Institutional business model of 'Church.' Now we have 'Ministries' to set the correct parameters for. Let us tend to Christ's unpolluted ministry and forsake man's entrepreneurial one. I pray that all those who read this will recognize that we need to get back to understanding the simplicity of what these things are and do them as He has shown us in His Word. Thanks for visiting and God bless.

No comments:

Post a Comment