(This article can also be titled “Has God Really Commanded That Pastors Be Paid? Part II”.This is a continuation of Part I, which should be read first in order to establish the background for this article.)
Now for the most important question: Do these men even preach the Gospel? One thing that is also conveniently overlooked within many professing Christian circles is the fact that 1Cor 9:14 applies exclusively and therefore ONLY to those who “preach the Gospel”. Let us review:
Even so has the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 1Cor 9:14 [Emphasis added]
The preaching of modern church protocol and the promotion of man made traditions is not preaching the Gospel. The preaching of the alleged “need” for a church building or preaching compliance to other similar man made traditions is not preaching the Gospel. Expounding endless long-winded erroneous theories on Old Testament accounts twisted to appear to support man-centered control in the church is not preaching the Gospel. The amazing thing here is most of the men who collect money from the church (using 1Cor 9:14 , or 13-14 as their main justification or one of their main justifications) do not only not preach anything close to the Gospel, they typically preach a myriad of false doctrines that actually hinder the Gospel! Their action and teachings work contrary to the Gospel. Such men are not even remotely qualified to cite 1Cor9:14 or cite related Scriptures as applying to themselves.
It is no secret that many modern pastors do not want to be bothered with evangelism and if they care at all about winning souls to Christ they often leave “that” up to others in the church to do. This again would immediately disqualify such a “pastor” from even applying 1Cor 9:13-14 to himself because he obviously does not meet the condition of this verse that requires that he preach the Gospel. Oddly, other members in the church, if any, who actually do preach the Gospel (if they preach the true Gospel) actually WOULD QUALIFY for financial or material support if they really needed it, while ironically the man in the pulpit who collects a regular income from the church and who does not preach the Gospel at all (but who instead hinders the Gospel) does not qualify in the least! So what we often see today is the guy collecting a regular income is entirely the wrong guy to be supported financially by the church (or to be encouraged in any other way as well). As we have seen before, imposters abound.
Not surprisingly, the modern pastor often replaces the “they which preach the gospel” portion of 1Cor 9:14 with their own title “pastor” so that the verse incorrectly reads: Even so has the Lord ordained that “pastors” should live of the gospel. Not so. This is obviously not how this verse is written! Yet this is how this verse is commonly understood to mean by Christians in general. Of course this is no surprise as we are well aware that it is not at all uncommon for modern pastors to teach things that afford them all kinds of favoritism, powers and privileges that Word of God simply does not grant them.
If They Do Preach the “Gospel”, Do They Preach The Real Gospel?
More importantly, among those who do claim to preach the “Gospel”, these men often do not even preach the real Gospel at all, but rather a false Gospel of works, not the true free grace Gospel of faith alone in Christ alone with guaranteed assurance of salvation.
(8) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9
These men do not stop with the fact that every human being is a sinner (Rom 3:23) in desperate need of the Savior (John 14:6) because the wages of sin are death (Rom 6:23), that none of us are good (Rom 3:10-12), that there is no way we can save ourselves no matter how “good of a life” we live or how many good works we do (Eph 2:8-9), and that if we believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead paying the full penalty for our sins and trust in Him for eternal life, we are saved with full assurance of salvation (John 3:16).
No, false teachers don't stop here. Instead they add other requirements to this true Gospel message. They go on and on to confuse and misinterpret other unrelated verses that apply to discipleship or growing and maturing in the Lord as if these apply to salvation and so they incorrectly make salvation dependent on compliance to doctrines that in reality refer only to maturing as a Christian. They go beyond the true Gospel into heresy by adding a myriad of works that they claim are also required for salvation, rendering the cross incomplete in the eyes of those who believe them. As important as it is to obey God's commands regarding growing in the Lord, this is not a requirement of salvation.
The truth is that additional heavenly rewards (and living a life that is pleasing to God) depends on our ongoing compliance to God's Word and depends on our submitting to what the Bible teaches regarding how a maturing Christian should live and behave. While it is utterly foolish to disobey anything that the Bible teaches, nevertheless salvation is secured by faith alone in Christ alone and cannot be lost due to any failures on our part (see John 10:28). Nothing can snatch a Christian out of Christ's hands. And of course salvation cannot be gained due to any attributes or good qualities that a person has.
Sadly, many professing Christians place their faith in there alleged ability to do the impossible – to remain sin-free (all Christians sin in some way or another even if only in relatively minor things). These people often place their faith in the promises that they made to God (such as committing not to sin) and in their determination to do good works. But as good as their intentions are, and as good as it is to avoid sin and do go good works, their faith is really not in Christ at all. Their faith is not in the promise and guarantee of salvation that God made to us through Christ. Their faith is in themselves.
So in understanding who 1Cor 9:14 applies to, we need to start with the first premise of this verse, that those who claim that this verse applies to them must PREACH THE (REAL) GOSPEL to even qualify for church support! We should not object to the support of anyone who preaches the real Gospel if that person truly needs support and if they choose to claim their right of support. It is a right and we should not deny that. It a right and not a requirement. In other words, God has not commanded that Christians take advantage of this right. Nevertheless, if we have them means, we should be willing to help support any genuine Gospel-preaching Christian (minister or otherwise) who legitimately needs help.