Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross – Part 2

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17

Notice here that, just as in the scripture in Philippians 3:18 concerning the enemies of the cross, these people who corrupt the gospel (or peddlers of the gospel) Paul says they are ‘many’.

The people that Paul is talking about in both scriptures are, unfortunately, preachers. We probably think the Church is safe today. It is not.

Who is a peddler of the gospel? What does the word ‘peddle’ mean, in the first place? From my computer’s Thesaurus it means ‘to sell’, ‘to vend’, ‘to market’, ‘to hawk’. One version says to ‘hype’.

So there are venders, sellers, hawkers and marketers of the gospel. The last lot must be the upper-crust, the more sophisticated.

There are also ‘hypers’ of the gospel. Here hysteria rules. I have seen on TV in some church service in the US, someone was preaching and people were hysterically waving kerchiefs and screaming their heads off and pawing at the air and at the same time they were doing this the preacher was preaching even more violently and they were screaming louder and louder with no let-up, and that went on and on; and 30 minutes later I realized I hadn’t heard one word the preacher was saying and I thought, “They must be catching something in the spirit!”

Those are the hypers.

But there are the venders, sellers and marketers. This is the really dangerous group. Now, here Paul is not talking necessarily about those who tell you to give money so that you might receive this and that blessing. These are simply crooks who prey on the gullibility of simple folk. But they are also an offshoot of that other gospel.

More importantly, Paul is talking about what today we have come to accept as the gospel – a gospel that deals with and talks about what a Christian can get in this material world. It is a gospel which, in effect, panders to the flesh. This is a gospel that tears out one scripture from the Bible and runs away with it. It is the gospel that tells you that Jesus became poor so that we might become rich: and, ever so slightly, it turns that scripture to mean that Jesus became poor so we might become rich in money and the material things of this world. It is a gospel that tells you that God wants you to live a comfortable life in this world because that is what Christ died for.

But the Word of God never talks about us becoming rich in this world. Jesus did not come from heaven to die for the riches of this world.

The preachers who preach this kind of gospel are they whom Paul calls the enemies of the cross of Christ. The enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the Devil. It is the carnal Christian, especially a worldly-minded preacher. And these are many in the Church today.

In Romans 8 the Bible says that the carnal nature does not, nor cannot obey God’s law. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:47,48, “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”

The Bible says clearly here that there is an earthy man, and that his desires are earthy. In other words, the carnal nature within him lusts after this world and the things in it. We born-again believers are of the second Adam, “the Lord from heaven.” We are spiritual. We have no business with the first man. We are not of that stock. We are of the second man, “the Lord from heaven.” Our desires and our vision is heavenly. May the Lord be praised for that!

Jesus did not have much to say about this earthly life. He said simply, “31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

He said to seek first the Kingdom of God.

That is why the apostles could go hungry and naked. That is why they could undergo all those lacks and still carry the plan and purpose of God in their hearts. They were spiritual.

Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross – Part 1

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17

I keep coming back to this topic because it is so vital to the Church. There is something about this topic that made the Apostle Paul to weep. In our culture, if you see a grown man weeping, it shocks you. When we as born-again believers read in the Bible about a man like the Apostle Paul weeping, that should shock us. There was something there that caused untold grief to the Apostle.

Before I continue, let me say that I know that in writing these kinds of things I run the risk of reducing the readership of this blog. But I am quite comfortable with that because, in the first place, I am not seeking any kind of popularity through running this blog. I am not even seeking to be accepted by anyone. I am simply seeking to present the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as sincerely as I find it set out in the Bible. I want to thank WORDPRESS for affording me this opportunity. I also want to thank my dear sister, Louise Echstein, who encouraged me to begin writing this blog. Lastly, I thank my readers, and in particular Pastor Rob Barkman, for inspiring me on.

But I am also a part of the Body of Christ and I want to assure you that I write with a heart of love. I have to say this last one because some one accused me of being ‘insensitive’. I may not be the most loving person within the Body of Christ, but I know I strive to present my observations with as much love as I know how.

(Have you ever noticed that the Apostle Paul does not come out as a particularly ‘loving’ person in his epistles, in the way we have been conditioned to view love? He had many hard and difficult things to say to the Church of his day. But, I assure you that Paul was and still is the most loving father the Church will ever know. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not there to please anybody in the flesh. That is why Jesus and Paul could call people ‘dogs’ and ‘Satan’ and get away with it. When therefore someone writes or says some hard things about the Church it does not necessarily mean they are unloving.)

Secondly (as far as I am concerned), if even one person – just one – were to come to a realization of the true purpose of God for the Church through what I write in this blog, that would be sufficient for me. Sometimes we might not be writing for ‘the multitudes’. We hardly know the importance of a single person who has caught the purpose of God in their hearts. But God does. You can see that in the Bible.

During Abel’s time there were many men and women in the world. So it was with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Ruth, the prophets and all of the Bible heroes that we read about. During each one’s tenure on earth there were probably thousands or even millions of other people living; but the Bible has space to talk only about these very few persons. Why so? It is because they carried God’s plan in their hearts.

You can see that also with John the Baptist. In Luke chapter 3, the Bible takes only one and a half short verses to chronicle the many powerful men that ruled the world during his time, after which it settles down to talk unhurriedly about John the Baptist’s life “in the wilderness”. In purely human terms, John was a nothing. But he was everything with God.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 and in Galatians chapter 1 we read and recognize that even if there were other apostles in his day, yet the Apostle Paul “received” something – a revelation – that was distinctly superior and he received it directly from the Lord Himself.

All these men and women of God were a very small group who somehow paid the price to carry God’s plan and purpose in their hearts during their lifetime. That is how important one man (or woman) can be with God.

As I just said, there is a price to pay in carrying the plan and purpose of God on earth. Not many who are called are able or willing to pay that price. That is why Jesus said that many are called, but few are chosen. But Jesus said something else also concerning this. He said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14)

“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way” That is the price. Jesus lays it out clearly.

But notice also that phrase, “few there be that find it.”

How we can believe that all the multitudes in the churches today are carrying the plan and purpose of God in their hearts is incredible. Jesus Himself said that few will find it. We must be scriptural and not let our emotions (or brains) overrun us.

When I see the number of preachers today and hear what the majority of them are preaching; and when I see how Christians love listening to a gospel that forever tells them that God loves them and that He does not want them to undergo any kind of trouble,  I realize that indeed, few will find that narrow way. For that narrow road is the road of the cross: it is the road (or lifestyle) of crucifying the flesh, forsaking our rights and this world and following Jesus.

In I Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Through the example of giving his life, the Apostle Paul took up his cross, just as Jesus did.

 

Having established a ‘background’ of sorts there, let me now get back to my topic: Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross. You can follow it up in the second and third parts of this post…