Almost all Christians, myself included, have at one time or another purchased materials, i.e., books, DVDs, CDs, etc., from ministries that were going to help us better understand God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We were told that if we purchased these “resources”, we would have a better relationship with God. And once we had a better relationship with God, everything in our lives would be better. We would have greater success in all of our day to day lives. We would be able to obtain physical healing, emotional healing, get out of debt and experience life in a totally powerful and dynamic way. We were told that if we purchased this material, every day we would experience on-going success in every part of our lives. All we had to do was just purchase their material and everything would change. All we had to do was just absorb (listen, read or watch) their material and our lives would change in noticeable ways. Sounded really great, didn’t it?
One definition of “religious works” is doing religious stuff but never getting any “real” results. Real results such as physical healing, freedom from fear, getting out of debt, getting answers to prayers, and not being confused as to what God is doing in our lives and seeing our family and friends coming to Jesus. All of these things can be proven in the “real world” by real evidence. “Religious works” on the other hand rely mainly on how we feel about something. We may not have concrete proof that our lives are getting better, but we “just feel” that they are.
All of us have a tendency to believe something that we really want to believe even when we have no physical proof of it. All of us want to believe that our lives are far better now, after years of purchasing these materials, than they were before we purchased these materials. There is just one GREAT BIG HUGE PROBLEM with this belief, IT’S NOT TRUE. You see if it was true, we would have evidence of it. We would be able to do physically the things that a healed person does. We would not be afraid to watch the news or to go into certain neighborhoods, or have a fear of the future. We would have financial documentation proving that we were out of debt. We would have a prayer life where we got answers for what we prayed for. We would know exactly what God is doing in our lives. We would see those around us dedicating their lives to Jesus. But because we don’t want to believe that we wasted our money, we don’t want to believe that our favorite ministers are just “professionals”, and we don’t want to believe that our favorite ministries are multi-million dollar religious organizations built upon selling “Christian merchandise”. So we lie to ourselves and say our lives are better now than they were years ago. How’s that working out for us?
John 2:14-16 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
Jesus addressed this same issue in the temple. You see in the temple the “ministers” sold all kinds of things to get you closer to God. You could buy plates and cups with verses from the Old Testament engraved on them. You could buy tapestries showing various scenes from the Old Testament, such as Elijah calling down fire from heaven, Daniel in the lion’s den and a big seller, the tapestries showing the Red Sea being parted. And they knew how to handle the sin problem in your life too. Depending upon the severity of the sin you committed, you could purchase sacrifices. If it was a small sin, you could purchase doves. For bigger sins, you could purchase sheep. And if you’ve REALLY been bad, you could purchase a bull. Once you purchased these materials the sellers guaranteed you would be closer to God. Apparently Jesus didn’t agree with the sales pitch.
Matthew 21:12-13, Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
Did you notice He said “den of thieves” in Matthew? What do thieves do? They steal. But how can you be selling something and stealing something at the exact same time? In effect they were saying, if you buy this you will get closer to God. People came to pray but they were intercepted by the people selling “stuff” (resources) to get them closer to God. The religious merchants were in effect stealing the confidence of the RELATIONSHIP THEY ALREADY HAD WITH GOD. When Jesus said, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ in effect He was saying, God’s house is where God’s people hear from God and God hears from them.
JUST THINK ABOUT IT
Prayer, in both the Old and the New Testament, is a conversation between God and His highest creation, YOU. A conversation is an exchange of ideas. It is when two individuals share with one another what is in both of their hearts. Convince one of the individuals that the other one is not going to listen, and YOU HAVE STOLEN THEIR CONFIDENCE. How can our confidence be stolen? It is stolen when we believe that unless we purchase something, we will not be able to understand God or His Word today.
Mark 11:15-17, So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”
Why do you think Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves? Why do you think He said they had made the “house of prayer” into a “den of thieves”? I wonder how much Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, charged the “teacher”, “preacher”, “evangelist” for the “new” revelations they have received.
Matthew 10:5-8 says, These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding this verse, but how much did Jesus say to charge?
You do realize that the book, DVD, or MP3 the “man/woman of God” is selling at the meeting, is coming from the Word of God that you have “freely received”? If it’s not from the Word of God, you don’t want it anyway. Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” He will what? Show someone else to show you? No! Teach YOU.
John 16:13-15 Jesus said, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
Unless you have been involved in Christian ministry as it is practiced in this country, you have no idea how much money is being made off of all those “resources”. How else do you think they are multi-millionaires? Oh, that’s right, it’s not really their mansions, cars and jets, it’s “the ministries”.
The person selling their “merchandise” might say, “Well, it costs a lot to produce that book.” My response is, why didn’t you just make stapled copies and give it free? Or if you really need to get your money back, 100 copies of 10 pages (front/back) and stapled in the corner is @$72.00. You charge .72 cents and you have your cost back. 500 copies of 10 pages (front/back), stapled in the corner is @$260.00. You charge .52 cents and you have your money back. Do you really need the fancy cover, illustrations and picture of you on the back? The Word of God should be free. Check out how much these “ministries” are making from selling the “freely given” Word of God.
Maybe this is their “profession” and not really just trying to proclaim the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
If reading this you are offended because we are implying that your favorite ministry is being slammed, you might have gotten yourself involved into “idolatry”. If you are spending more time watching or listening to your favorite minister than you spending with Jesus in His word and prayer, you better examine yourself. You may be making your favorite “minister” or “ministry” your idol.
Did you know the definition of “Minister” in Hebrew and in Greek is SERVANT? Makes you kind of wonder who is being served. Think about it.
MINISTER = SERVANT
With Love, Cincinnati Christian
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