False ministers do not preach the true gospel. Their false preaching results in false churches, which Jesus himself called “synagogues of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Paul spoke much about such false ministers, especially in 2 Corinthians (2:14-17; 4:1-6; 11:1-4, 13-15).
2 Corinthians 2:14-17, 2 Cor. 4:1-6, 2 Cor. 11:1-4, 2 Cor. 11:13-15
P.G. Mathew | Sunday, March 27, 2011
Copyright © 2011, P.G. Mathew
False ministers do not preach the true gospel. Their false preaching results in false churches, which Jesus himself called “synagogues of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Paul spoke much about such false ministers, especially in 2 Corinthians (2:14-17; 4:1-6; 11:1-4, 13-15).
Many false ministers are in the church today. A modern publication, The Defender, edited by T. S. Balan of South India, publishes religious news of the evangelical and Pentecostal world. In it Balan exposes false ministers who corrupt the gospel to make money for themselves so that they can live utterly immoral lives. These ministers are hucksters who prey on people who refuse to think God’s thoughts after him, hucksters who call themselves into ministry so they can deceive gullible people with a false gospel. We want to examine some traits of false ministers so that we can recognize them and avoid them.
1) They Are Not Called by God
The majority of today’s Christian ministers are not called and sent forth by God to preach the gospel. Rather, they are called and sent by themselves. They send their resumes out to get a job, just like any professional would do. They preach, not the true gospel, but a false one. Paul saw such ministers in his day: “For if someone comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel, you put up with it” (2 Cor. 11:4; see also Gal. 1:6-9). They came, uninvited, through the back door to contradict the gospel Paul preached (see Gal. 2:4). They used the word of God for their own benefit, as Paul implies: “Unlike the many [hoi polloi], we do not peddle the word for a profit” (2 Cor. 2:17).
False ministers have “a form of godliness but [deny] its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). They are empty shells. Their gospel has no power to save anyone from sin. Paul warns, “Have nothing to do with them.” They “oppose the truth” and are “men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.” (2 Tim. 3:8). God hands them over to depraved minds to think and do what they should not think and do. These self-called, self-sent false ministers are rejected by God.
2) They Invent Their Own Gospel
False ministers preach a false gospel of their own invention, usually based in psychology. Refusing to believe in the true gospel and the solas (sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solo Christo, soli Deo gloria), they preach an imitation gospel that sends people to hell. But we preach the Scripture alone. A true Christian’s authority is not the Scripture plus something else, whether that “plus” is tradition, or psychology, or claiming, “The Lord told me,” or a dream, or a vision, or a false miracle. Whenever there is a “plus,” that preacher is going to abuse and imprison people and make them his slaves. It is the true preaching of the gospel that liberates us, as Paul declares: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1). We must preach Scripture alone. True salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, from beginning to end. To God alone be glory!
Any preacher who refuses to believe in the absolute authority of Scripture as explained in the first chapter of the Westminster Confession is a false minister. Everything he preaches will be false.
3) They Preach What People Want to Hear
A false minister preaches what people want to hear, not what God wants them to hear. Most television and radio preachers preach a false gospel. They do not preach regeneration, even though nothing else matters unless we are new creations. They do not preach repentance, total depravity, the law of God, the holiness of God, and, therefore, God’s demand for holiness. For God is holy; he is “the Lord who makes [us] holy” (Lev. 22:32). If we are not living holy lives, we are not Christians.
False ministers do not preach a saving faith that leads to obedience to God. They also do not speak of judgment and hell. Instead, they preach autonomy, antinomianism, self-esteem, universalism, unconditional love, psychology, emotionalism, and pure pragmatism, which says if something “works,” it is good. In American pragmatism, “works” means making money and giving pleasure. They refuse to preach exclusivism, that salvation is only through Jesus Christ. Instead, they entertain people, trying to minister to their felt needs through rock music and other forms of entertainment. They say man is not born a sinner; rather, he is born good and, in fact, getting better every day. They say all kinds of sexual activity is permissible before, during, and after marriage, whether fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, or transgender sexuality.
False preachers preach a gospel that promotes health, wealth, power, and fame. They preach open theism, false ecumenism, and Marxist liberation theology. They never preach suffering for Jesus’ sake. About them Paul says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
4) They Preach to Make Money
False ministers preach only to make money. In fact, they have no other motive. They want money so that they can live in luxury and laziness and engage in every form of immorality. T. S. Balan gives five ways such ministers make money. First is begging. They go to wealthy Western countries where gullible people live. They beg in the name of imaginary or corrupt mission works. For example, in India and other countries there are orphanages established to indulge the sexually immoral practices of the leader and others. Second, they claim false healings. They will come and say, “I will pray and you will be healed.” You will not be healed, but he gets your money. Third is false prophecy. The false minister will say, “I understand you want to have a son. Let me pray for you. I see a son being conceived, and you are going to call his name Daniel.” As soon as he finishes his prophecy, gullible people are prompted to give. Fourth, a preacher gets various commissions for activities such as arranging marriages, selling used cars, obtaining admission into college or finding tickets for travel. Fifth, he even steals. Balan wrote of an American man who went to India and stayed with a local preacher. While the American was in the other room, the preacher stole ten thousand dollars from his bag.
All these people are interested in is money. They distort the gospel to make it palatable so that gullible people will give them money. They remove all doctrines people do not like-doctrines like sin, repentance, regeneration, holy living, hell, and judgment. They are like Judas, who was, in the end, possessed by the devil. He stole money and sold Jesus for thirty shekels of silver. They are like Simon Magus, who desired to buy the Holy Spirit and trade it for a profit (Acts 8). False ministers are hucksters, and we see them all over the world. They love filthy lucre.
A pastor should not be a lover of money. Peter writes, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve” (1 Pet. 5:2).
5) They Build Their Churches with Unregenerate Rejects
False ministers build their churches with unregenerate people and the rejects of true churches, including those who have been excommunicated from true churches. False ministers gather these rejects and build churches with them. They praise and appreciate these rejects and appoint them as teachers so that they, in turn, can go out to gather more rejects. They are like those who go to the city dump to gather other people’s rejects. There is plenty of rejected building material in the city dump (see Lev. 14:33-57).
Such ministers never tell excommunicated people to repent and go back to the churches that put them out. This shows they are agents of Satan. In contrast, this church will not accept someone who says he or she was put out by another church, unless it is from a cult. But false ministers build their churches with the rejects from true churches and with outright pagans.
False churches are synagogues of Satan and therefore they do not have the true marks of Christ’s church: preaching of the word, administration of valid sacraments to proper people, and discipline. False ministers will never practice biblical discipline. They do not, because the whole church is full of cancer, so there is no point in surgery. Instead, they practice unconditional love, which is sheer autonomy and lawlessness.
6) They Are Sent by the Devil
False ministers are appointed and sent by the devil as his agents to promote his kingdom of evil, yet they pose as ministers of Christ. Read The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. Of such people Paul writes, “The god of this age [i.e., Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers for the purpose that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). The false minister is blinded by the devil and is unconverted. So he gathers around him unconverted rejects. The blind false minister leads the blind, and both end up in the ditch of hell.
Paul warns about false preachers: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3), by false ministers. He also says, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). False ministers are servants of the devil himself. They are false apostles, deceitful workmen, pretending to be agents of Christ. They will be condemned.
7) They Are the Same as False Prophets of Old
Today’s false ministers are the same false prophets we read about throughout the Bible. Jesus spoke about them: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:15-16). Keep watching and listening to them, and eventually you will see their falsehood.
Paul said about them, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).
Peter said, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:1-3).
They are the same old, bold, false prophets. Ahab had four hundred false prophets, and only one true prophet, Micaiah, who alone had the word of God and the Holy Spirit. The four hundred false prophets were well paid by the king to tell him the lies he liked to hear: “Do you want to go to war? You will win.” But Ahab died instead, as Micaiah had predicted. Yet both Ahab and these false prophets were energized by the evil spirit to persecute the true prophet Micaiah.
The Old Testament speaks much about false prophets.
Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”
Isaiah 30:9-11: “These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’”
Jeremiah 5:12-13: “They have lied about the LORD; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.’”
Jeremiah 5:30-31: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
Jeremiah 6:13-15: “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.” If it were not serious, why did Jesus become incarnate and go to the cross? Jeremiah continues: “‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all. They do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them.”
Jeremiah 14:14-15: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine.”
Jeremiah 23:16: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”
Jeremiah 23:21-22: “I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.”
It matters where we go to church and who the pastor is. False ministers send people to hell because they are ministers of Satan. May God grant us illumination, regeneration, a new mind, a new will, new affections, and a new desire for the word of God. The minister’s job is to feed the sheep with the word of life.
8) They Cannot Have Regenerate People
False ministers’ churches cannot have regenerate people because regeneration takes place in the context of two realities: the gospel preaching and the Holy Spirit. When you go to the church of a false preacher, you know there cannot be even one regenerate person in that church. If someone accidentally goes there, the Holy Spirit will tell him to get out, and will guide that person to a church where the gospel is preached.
Since the false preacher is an agent of Satan, he will never preach the gospel. Regeneration takes place when a God-sent preacher preaches the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the context of such preaching, the divine, unilateral miracle of regeneration takes place.
This miracle cannot take place in false churches where false ministers are in charge. In such churches, the Holy Spirit and the seed of God’s word do not exist. They are synagogues of Satan. James says, “[God] chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18). Peter says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
We do not preach decisional salvation. Anyone can make a decision; that does not save us. The issue is the miracle of regeneration. We must be born again. But we cannot be born again on our own. So God causes us to be born again. A person told me that she was going to a church where the gospel was never preached. After attending a meeting in which she heard the gospel for the first time, she came home and read the book of Romans in one sitting because of the miracle that had taken place within her. When we are regenerated, we fall in love with God and his word.
In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul says, “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,” and I say, in the gospel. We see Christ in the gospel. We see God in the gospel. We see the glory of God in the gospel. Understand, then, the centrality of the word of God.
9) They Preach a Different Gospel
False preachers preach a different gospel that is the exact opposite of the true gospel. Paul warns about this: “If someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you received a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Cor. 11:4). The evil spirit comes upon people and they say, “Jesus is cursed.” Paul says that only by the Holy Spirit can we say “Jesus is Lord” (see 1 Cor. 12:3).
A different Jesus means an antichrist. A different spirit means an evil spirit. A different gospel means an anti-gospel. It is a Jesus who cannot save, a spirit who cannot sanctify, and a gospel that is bad news and permits all forms of immorality. (PGM) People hate ministers of the true gospel because they preach the Jesus of the Bible, the Holy Spirit of the Bible, and the gospel of the Bible, which demands that we live holy lives.
Jesus cautioned, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matt. 24:4-6). Later on he said, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:10-12). Paul writes, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:7-9). The highest possible curse is put on those who preach a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel.
Paul also declares, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Rom. 16:17-18).
10) They Abuse and Enslave People
False ministers abuse and enslave people and send them to hell. Even while they are doing these things, they accuse true ministers of abusing their people. But the true abusers are those who preach a false gospel. As agents of Satan, they are just doing what Satan himself does. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
Only true ministers love people and therefore preach the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. Only true preachers seek to liberate people from the thralldom of the devil. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be enslaved again” (Gal. 5:1). Any church that preaches the gospel preaches freedom. Who loves you? God loves you, and God-sent preachers love you because they preach the gospel to you. Children, your godly parents love you. Saints of God love you.
R. J. Rushdoony wrote a book, Revolt against Maturity. People like to remain as irresponsible infants in their Christian lives. But if they remain in this state of infancy, they are liable to be shaken by every wind of doctrine and corrupted and deceived. God sends his ministers to bring us to maturity. Paul writes, “It was [the ascended Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:11-14).
We must understand the gospel. Be sharp and intelligent. Be mature so that you can oppose heresies and false ministers. Know that false ministers want only to enslave you. Paul also says, “This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves” (Gal. 2:4). Elsewhere he writes, “But now that you know God-or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Gal. 4:9). Any minister who will not preach the gospel is abusing and enslaving his listeners. “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them” (Gal. 4:17), meaning they wanted to make others their slaves.
Do you understand who loves you now? It is your pastor who preaches the gospel. It is the true preachers of the gospel who care for you and desire that you go to heaven and have eternal life. False ministers make people their slaves, all the while saying the true pastors are enslaving people. But any minister who refuses to preach the gospel of grace, that salvation from beginning to end is God’s work of grace, and who refuses to preach holiness, is one who enslaves people.
11) They Preach Themselves
False ministers preach themselves. Paul writes, “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5). They promote, exalt, and glorify themselves. They are spiritual exhibitionists, always calling attention to themselves. We can see these spiritual exhibitionists on television. While they preach to please people, they are promoting themselves.
They do not preach Jesus Christ as crucified. Paul exclaimed, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” That is what false ministers do-they mesmerize and deceive people. “Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes, Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1).
They do not preach Jesus Christ as crucified, raised, and reigning. They preach themselves. They want you to believe them and perish forever. This is what the devil wants. He knows he is going to go to hell, but he wants others to go with him. False ministers are agents straight from the pit.
A true preacher preaches Jesus Christ as Lord, that people may look to him and be saved.
12) They Practice False Miracles
False ministers practice a kind of supernaturalism, which is really demon activity. They display counterfeit gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy, casting out demons, miracles, and so on. They lengthen your legs and give you brown bags into which you can cough demons. They bark, bite, dance, appear drunk, and are “slain” by the evil spirit. It is sheer shamanism and showmanship designed to deceive people. They fall forward and backward. It is all demon activity.
A minister whom I personally know went to a nearby church because that church had collected some of his rejected members. It was a church that engaged in counterfeit spiritual gifts. In the meeting, a man came and prophesied that he had a dream that this minister was to go to Poland to minister there. This true minister said, “It is too bad God did not tell me about it.”
Spurgeon tells a similar story. A young man came to him and said, “I am supposed to preach here Thursday.” Spurgeon said, “It is too bad that God did not tell me anything about that.” Such prophecies are demon activity, designed to manipulate, control, and enslave people.
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
After the retirement of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a preacher succeeded him at Westminster Chapel who gave the initial impression that he was a true minister of the gospel. But he was a false preacher who preached a false gospel and brought demonic charismatic activity to the church. He destroyed that church.1
So watch out for wolves coming in sheep’s clothing. In due time they will put away the sheep’s clothing and manifest themselves as they really are-ravenous wolves who tear up and devour the sheep.
The True Minister of the Gospel
How, then, can we recognize a true minister? First and foremost, a true minister is appointed by God. Paul says, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28). God-not man-must appoint the true minister.
Such a pastor is Christ’s gift to the church to prepare God’s people for ministry by preaching and teaching the word of God (Eph. 4:11-14). A true pastor is Christ’s gift to his church. He is appointed by God the Father, by Christ the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. He is charged with taking care of God’s flock, as Paul admonished the Ephesian elders: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
Such a God-appointed pastor is committed to feeding the sheep by preaching the Bible, so he will be committed to the principle of sola Scriptura. His goal is to present the church as a pure virgin to Christ her bridegroom, who himself makes her holy and a radiant church (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27).
A true minister knows his responsibility is to feed the flock by the word of God. Jesus said, “Feed my flock.” Paul said, “Preach the word.” To that end, a true minister will be gifted by God so that he can preach and teach the gospel. God will lead him always and everywhere in triumph-in trials, temptations, and persecutions, in the valley of the shadow of death, in life and in death. He follows Christ the victor, whose victory is the victory of his people. Paul declares, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul also says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
This is why a true minister is unafraid. He is bold and confident as he follows the conquering Christ. In Jesus we achieve every day and everywhere super victory. In him we are overcomers. The ark goes before us. Christ is leading us. At our shout in Jesus’ name, the gates and walls of Jericho shall fall.
As we are led by our triumphant Lord, we must proclaim the gospel to all, because the gospel is the fragrance of God that gives life to the dead who believe, and death to those who reject it (2 Cor. 2:14-16). Paul says, “We are fragrance.” God through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God. We are the fragrance of Christ. That means we are filled with the gospel and with Christ. We are a bottle whose top has been taken off so the fragrance can come out. Wherever we go, we send out a fragrance that makes the dead live and believe, and kills those who reject the gospel. When one sinner repents, heaven rejoices. It is fragrance to God, fragrance to the believer, and fragrance to the preacher.
God through us diffuses the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere in every place. At home, at work, in the church, and when you travel, you are radiating fragrance. Paul says we are to God the fragrance of Christ, that is, we reveal his person and saving work. Thus Paul exhorts, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). The gospel is the most costly fragrance from heaven, more costly than Mary’s fragrance that cost her three hundred denarii.
God makes his ministers competent to this difficult task. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13). His grace is sufficient to do all the work he asks us to do. God said so (2 Cor. 9:8). He is the head of the church and the Lord of the universe. And because he lives forever, we also will live forever.
Thank God for all true ministers, appointed by the triune God! Paul himself was one, as he wrote: “Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father” (Gal. 1:1). He was not humanly appointed and sent, but sent by God himself.
We can recognize a true preacher by his character and his preaching of the true gospel. He will never peddle the word of God for profit, fame, or power. He knows he is accountable to God, as the Hebrews writer states: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy and not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb. 13:17). Peter also speaks of this: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
A true preacher diffuses the gospel fragrance that makes people alive when they believe and causes people to die when they do not believe. This is a most serious job. May God, therefore, help us to avoid false preachers and appreciate all God-sent, gospel-preaching true ministers of Christ.
1 Iain Murray, “Openness to the Holy Spirit’: How Westminster Chapel Was Turned Around” (http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?576).
Copyright © 2011, P. G. Mathew
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