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MONEY-MAKING BIBLE HUCKSTERS
Published On : December 3, 1997
Last Updated : May 22, 2009
Online Money-Making Bible Hucksters, Freely Ye Have Received, Jesus' Example Of Freely Sharing God's Truth, Not Infallible, Casting The Bait, Secret Societies, Lure Of Esoteric Wisdom, Worldly Commercial Spirit And What Is In It For Me, Helping Others Because It Is The Right Thing To Do, Jesus' Anger In The Temple, Simon The Sorcerer Tries To Purchase Holy Spirit, Peter Heals Lame Man, Biblical Meaning Of The Word "Publish", A Free Written Record, What If The Original Manuscripts Had Been Sold?, Modern Friends Of Mammon, Abundant Life Doctrine, Lay Not Up Treasures On Earth, We Cannot Serve Two Masters, Dilemma Of Wealthy People, Example Of Moses & Other Examples, Bob Dylan - You Gotta Serve Somebody, Parable Of The Sower, Freely Preach The Gospel, Danger Of Filthy Lucre, Practicing Humility In Our Preaching, Modern Self-Proclaimed Prophets
Some time ago, while scanning various Internet newsgroups, I happened upon one of many messages in which the writer offered some interesting information related to Endtime prophecy. Following the instructions that were provided in the message post, I sent him a reply to obtain additional information. This person responded with an email message which was even more tantalizing than his first newsgroup post. It provided some additional comments on the knowledge which this person claimed to possess, but it didn't contain the actual information. At this point I was beginning to get a better idea of what this man was all about. Following the instructions in the email message, I went to the URL that he had included. You can imagine the deep disappointment that I experienced upon discovering that the message posted in the newsgroup, as well as the private email message, were only bait to lure me, and other spiritually hungry folks, to what amounted to nothing more than a commercial web site, where God's Word, or at least what this person claimed was the proper interpretation of God's Word, was being sold for a profit.
Quite frankly, I find it rather objectionable, and in fact, it really upsets me, that modern Christianity has become so overrun by Bible hucksters who feel that they have the right to convert the sharing of God's truth into nothing more than another worldly business venture. Being a prolific writer myself, I can understand and appreciate that many Christian writers invest a considerable amount of time, energy, thought and money into their writing and research endeavors. However, this is no excuse for anyone to sell the truth, or at least what we believe to be the truth, concerning the Scriptures. Like this person who posted a message in the newsgroup, I've been dedicated to sharing Biblical truth with those who are willing to hear it for many years. However, I do not sell it. I firmly believe in what the Lord taught us in the Gospels when He said:
". . . freely ye have received, freely give."
Matthew 10:8b, KJV
In my view, to put a price on Biblical truth is to indirectly suggest that the only people who are worthy of hearing it, or reading it, are those who are willing to pay for it. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to the whole Spirit of the Bible. This is most definitely not the method which Jesus and His followers practiced. Jesus didn't go around on book tours or speaking engagements in which He charged hefty fees before He would even be willing to speak. He shared God's truth in the open air, for all to hear, freely. Furthermore, being as the ideas of any Christian writer are not infallible, anyone who is foolish enough to pay money for their books, videos or whatever it is that they are selling, is taking a big gamble.
Let us be honest about this. The truth of the matter is that we may truly and sincerely believe in what we are writing and teaching, but to promote such beliefs as some absolute truth which supersedes the writings of all other Christian writers and teachers -- as some of these fast-talking Bible hucksters do -- is simply a product of vanity and pride, and an attempt to enrich oneself by relying upon the gullibility of others. As I said, I often receive emails from some of these crafty characters, and I will sometimes visit their websites. When they make the claim that they are going to reveal something new, some shocking revelation that they have just discovered which has never been heard before, -- for a modest price, of course -- that is when they lose me. I wonder how many people send in money to some of these money-making Bible hucksters, only to be disappointed later when they find out exactly what it is the writers espouse. Perhaps you are one who has been "burned" by some of these scam artists.
You see, this is precisely the gimmick that some writers use in order to attract gullible souls to their lairs. They will tease you and purposely pique your curiosity with some hidden "truth" which they have purportedly discovered; but until you bite the bait and send in your money, they won't let you know exactly what it is. This is the same technique that is used by some individuals who are involved with certain so-called "secret societies", such as the Kabbalists, Freemasons, and other such groups. Even the Roman Catholic Church just loves to surround things in mystery, such as the so-called secrets of Fatima. Certain cults will employ this very same method in order to attract new recruits. They all claim to possess some secret knowledge, or some esoteric wisdom, or some mystical power which is only meant for the "chosen few". You have to go through certain initiation rites and advance one level at a time, until they feel that you are worthy of the "ultimate truth", and the powers which they supposedly possess. This issue is something which I likewise discuss in some of my Endtime and New Age articles.
Well, I am sorry folks -- no, not really -- but it is rather difficult for me personally to believe in the sincerity of some of these money-making Bible hucksters. If their hearts were really right with the Lord, and if they were sincerely interested in enlightening people, instead of in just making money, they would freely share what the Lord has supposedly revealed to them, and not hoard it, and only share it with those people who are willing to pay them money for it. In my view, such "Christian" writers are guilty of yielding to the very same commercial spirit which has polluted the world. It is so sad to see that everything today is based on money and profit. There was a time when good-hearted people did things simply because it helped someone else and because it was the right thing to do. Now, however, everything has a price; and so many people want to know what is in it for them first, before they are willing to extend a helpful hand to someone.
Many of you reading this will be familiar with the story of how Jesus became upset with the moneychangers and sellers in the courts of the temple in Jerusalem. Those merchants were profiting from the devotion to God of the common people, and Jesus didn't like it one bit, as we see here:
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
Matthew 21:12-13, KJV
"And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."
John 2:13-16, KJV
In another example, which is found in the Book of the Acts, there was an evil sorcerer in Samaria by the name of Simon, who actually thought that he could purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles. Consider the following verses:
"But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans."
Acts 8:9-25, KJV
Another interesting example is found in the third chapter of the Book of Acts, where Peter heals a lame man who is asking for alms near the temple in Jerusalem. Peter plainly tells the man that he has no money, and then proceeds to heal the man by the Power of God. Even though Peter obviously has no money, does he ask the lame man for a financial gift before he is willing to heal him? Of course not, as we see here:
"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; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 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. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him."
Acts 3:2-10, KJV
It is plain to see then that Biblical truth, and the Power and the Spirit of God, cannot, and should not, be bought or sold for profit. In my view, there is no difference between what these money-making Bible hucksters are doing today, and what the moneychangers and temple merchants did almost two thousand years ago. Whether you sell doves in the temple, or exchange coins so that people can pay their tithes, or sell books, magazines, tapes or videos which purportedly contain the truth of God's Word, it is all the same selfish spirit of worldly commercialism. It is making a worldly business out of God's Divine Business of winning lost souls to His Kingdom.
On a related note, it may interest you to know that the word "publish" is mentioned eighteen times in the Authorized King James version of the Holy Bible. The word "publisheth" is also mentioned four times. In every instance, these words are not referring to writing and selling books, but rather to verbally proclaiming or declaring something. Following are a few examples which may be familiar to you:
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"
Isaiah 52:7, KJV
"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
Romans 10:15, KJV
Notice how the Apostle Paul substitutes the word "preach" in order to show the true meaning of the word "publish", as it was used by the Prophet Isaiah. When Jesus told His Disciples in Mark 16:15 to "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature", that is exactly what He meant: Go preach, or verbally publish, the Good News. Of course, thanks to the Lord's foresight, He gave His followers the wisdom to eventually write down everything so that future generations of Christians could be spiritually edified by their accounts and teachings. However, when the holy men and Prophets of the Bible did write their various parchments, books, Gospels and Epistles, they did not go around selling them for a profit. They freely distributed them to the Body of Believers. It was probably very similar to a free courier system, to maintain communication between the early Believers. Their intent was to exalt the Lord, and to instruct, strengthen and edify the Church; that is, the worldwide Body of Believers. It wasn't to earn a profit like so many of these money-making Bible hucksters do today.
Imagine if the original writers of the Bible had only sold their works to those who could afford them. Would the truth of the Bible be as widely dispersed as it is today? Probably not. It would probably be similar to when the Roman Catholic Church intentionally kept the Bible in Latin, and out of the hands of ordinary people, so that they could dictate what it meant, and thus maintain control over the consciences of the masses. Is it any wonder then that today the Roman Catholic Church has compromised with the secular world, and continues to be one of the largest and richest commercial enterprises? Sadly, many other denominations have quickly followed in the steps of the Roman Catholic Church, and are equally guilty of the very same things. In our modern day, these money-minded Christians don't even realize that they have fulfilled one of the very things that Jesus warned us against when He said:
"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
Luke 16:9, KJV
Nowadays, some materialistic Christians claim that the Lord came to give us the abundant life. The Southern Baptists are particularly notorious for promoting this false belief. They will quote all of their favorite verses in their attempts to justify their selfish lifestyle, but they have gotten it all wrong. Jesus was not talking about physical abundance, but rather spiritual abundance; that is, being rich in Spirit. In fact, if we turn to the Sermon on the Mount, we find the following verses:
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:19-21, KJV
So tell me; who has really misinterpreted the Scriptures? Those verses certainly don't talk about an abundant life in the flesh as these material-minded Christians like to claim. Only a few verses later, Jesus made it even more clear what He meant when He said the following:
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24, KJV
That word "mammon" is derived from the Greek "mammonas", and is referring to accumulating physical wealth. As Jesus also stated in several of the Gospels:
". . . Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . . . And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:23-24, 29, KJV
". . . Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!"
Mark 10:24b, KJV
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:33, KJV
The Apostle James likewise had some rather harsh words for the rich people of the world. In the fifth chapter of his Epistle he wrote the following:
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain."
James 5:1-7, KJV
Why did the Lord teach such difficult things? Quite simply, because He fully knows and understands the heart of man; and He realizes that the vast majority of wealthy people are not willing, or capable, of giving up their riches. They prefer the riches and power of this current temporal world, and not the spiritual rewards and riches of God's Eternal Kingdom. I have often said that we should never forget that such people are in business to make as much money as they possibly can, and at whatever the cost; because they are married to their money. Furthermore, as the Apostle Paul tells us, the love of money is the root of all evil. Why are there so many wars and other evils in the world? In many cases, after we clear away all of the lies and deceptions that are put in place by worldly governments, we discover that it is all about money and profit. Paul wrote:
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
1 Timothy 6:10, KJV
This secular attitude of loving money, power and fame is so unlike that of Moses, of whom we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that he was willing to forsake it all in order to serve the Eternal God, as we see here:
"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
Hebrews 11:24-27, KJV
Moses could have remained in Egypt and continued living the royal life. Perhaps Elijah could have earned his millions by stopping the rain for the enemies of Israel. Jesus could no doubt have been a billionaire in His day, had He charged for His healing services and other miracles. Perhaps the Apostle Paul could have continued to enjoy life as a self-righteous, law-abiding, affluent Pharisee, instead of becoming number one on the Jews' "Most Wanted" list. But that is not what any of these men did, because they all had their eyes on something far greater which transcends this temporal human existence. As Paul so eloquently stated in his Epistle to the brethren at Philippi:
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,"
Philippians 3:8, KJV
As legendary folk singer Bob Dylan proclaimed more than two decades ago in one of his powerful Christian-oriented songs, "Now it may be the Devil, and it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody!" As was to be expected, Dylan suffered some degree of persecution after writing such a hard-hitting song which was so contrary to his Jewish roots. Sadly, it seems that Bob Dylan was like the seed that was sown on the stony ground in the Lord's Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13:3-23; and after putting out a few Christian CD's, he returned to his earlier musical roots. As Jesus stated in that Parable:
"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away . . . But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
Matthew 13:5, 6, 20, 21, KJV
But to reiterate an important point that I made earlier, when a person preaches the Word of God, such as through a public street ministry, singing, passing out tracts, sharing God's Word online, etc., they are fulfilling the actual meaning of the Biblical word "publish", because they are freely sharing the truth of the Scriptures with anyone who is willing to receive it, and not with just a select few who can afford to pay for it. As I explain in a number of my articles, Jesus has already paid the full price for our Salvation by way of His Sacrifice on the Cross; and now we must return the favor by glorifying Him, by allowing Him to use both our bodies and spirits as His vessels to share the Gospel of Salvation with the world. As the Apostle Paul tells us in several of his Epistles, as well as in the Book of Acts:
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:20, KJV
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
2 Timothy 4:2, KJV
"And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,"
Acts 20:20, KJV
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Romans 10:9-10, KJV
As far as I am concerned, when the Lord reveals something to one of His servants, it is that person's responsibility to freely share it with as many people as he can without giving any thought to what he might gain in return. Isn't that what the Bible teaches us? The Apostles of the First Century had some very clear things to say regarding those who preached the Gospel for personal gain -- or "filthy lucre" -- as we see by the following verses:
"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous . . . Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;"
1 Timothy 3:3, 8, KJV
"For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre . . . Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
Titus 1:7, 11, KJV
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"
1 Peter 5:2, KJV
As some of my long-time readers know, over the years, I have devoted a lot of time and energy to this writing ministry. I have likewise invested quite a large sum of money in it as well. However, I really don't care if I never earn any money from it, because I am not trying to. I am not motivated by personal financial gain -- or filthy lucre -- and profit. My primary interest is simply to share what I believe may be the truth concerning the Scriptures. My primary task is to remain faithful to the Lord's command found in Mark 16:15. As I have said before, I believe that we each possess different pieces of the puzzle. No one possesses the entire puzzle or knows it all; not me, not you, not any of us. If anyone believes they do, then they are just deceiving themselves, and are lifted up in their own pride and vanity, and are seriously lacking in Christian humility. As the Apostle Paul also tells us, knowledge can puff us up, or make us proud, and that can be dangerous:
"Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
1 Corinthians 8:1, KJV
The Book of Proverbs also offers us a stiff warning regarding those who become puffed up in their own pride, as we see by this verse:
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 16:18, KJV
So again, regardless of how much the Lord may reveal to us in His Word, we all need to maintain a level of humility in our preaching. This is not always easy. After all, we're all just humans who are born with a sinful nature, and that old pride just loves to pop up whenever it can, just like one of those stubborn jack-in-the-boxes. As the Apostle James said:
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
James 4:10, KJV
Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, I've visited certain websites where the author will boastfully exclaim, "Oh, I've got the truth! I've received a special, unique revelation from God! Everyone else is wrong except me! I guarantee that you will not find this kind of information on any other website! I'm unique! I am the one and only! I am God's Prophet!"
That is nonsense! In addition to the many self-proclaimed "prophets" who have established themselves on the Internet, some of those Christian mega-sites are affiliated with some affluent church or religious organization which has piles of money to throw around, and they are simply promoting their particular doctrines. The point is, if they claim, "Everyone else is wrong and we are right", you better be careful; and please don't send them your hard-earned money. It is only in coming together and sharing what we have that we can all get a clearer understanding of God's whole picture. While we may not always see eye to eye on every single point -- because we're all different and our backgrounds and life experiences will affect how we understand the Scriptures -- at least we are talking, and discussing, and making our ideas available for each other's consideration, instead of merely hoarding what we have learned, or worse yet, selling it for a profit.
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .