The motive for the false teacher is set forth in the above text; i.e., covetousness. Balaam, one of the old testament false prophets, loved the wages of unrighteousness, and he loved the recognition it brought. The false teachers of today also love the wages of unrighteousness. Now they will feign themselves to be pious and to have a great concern for the cause of Christ.
The false worship systems of today are money based. They are continually raising money for mission work, for payment of the ministers salaries, for the various programs that they support. The vast majority of the “so-called” ministry move from one location to another location that offers them more salary or benefits.
This raises the question: “Should a preacher even receive a salary?” Peter exhorted the preachers to feed the flock of God willingly, but not for filthy lucre...” (I Pet. 5:2). Paul said, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” Paul went on to tell the elders at Ephesus, “I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring (i.e., providing for your own necessities and them that are with you) ye ought to support the weak...” Thus the gospel ministry is to labor as Paul labored and to provide for their own necessities and to provide for the necessities of those that are with him (family members) and to help support the weak. This is quite different from a salaried ministry. Some have thought that Paul changed all this in I Cor. 9th chapter. Paul set forth the rationale for a financial supported ministry in the first 13 verses. But in verse 15 Paul wrote, “But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” Then in verse 17 Paul says of preaching the gospel, “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward...” Then in verse 18 Paul tells us what that reward is: “What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” Paul said his reward was that he may make the gospel of Christ without charge. Furthermore, he said that to charge for the gospel would be an abuse of his power! Paul has clearly stated to us that selling or charging for the gospel is wrong. Those who sell tapes of gospel preaching above cost or those who publish gospel sermons and charge above cost of production are just as guilty as those who receive salaries for preaching the gospel and pastoring churches. It is simply making merchandise of the Lord’s people.
It is covetousness of the false teachers that has led to the speaking of perverse things and bringing in of damnable heresies; i.e., especially false works systems of eternal salvation. Because these systems appeal to the flesh they gain wide acceptance for the fleshly man wants to believe that he can do something to secure his eternal salvation. It makes him feel important. Once it has become widely acceptable to believe the works of man are responsible for his salvation from sin, then the truth that salvation is by grace alone is evil spoken of. People see it as a threat to the importance of their own works and efforts to try to secure eternal salvation.
Now we Old Baptists need not think that we are immune from false teachers. There has arisen a new generation of false teachers among those professing to be Primitive Baptists. They covetously are teaching tithing, or “first fruit giving,” salarying the ministry, raising funds for mission work. Some are embracing Calvinism, which I suspect, most of the other false teachers will fairly soon embrace.
The scriptures are a thorough furnish unto all good works. We don’t need to change a thing from the scriptural pattern. We don’t need to change our belief in salvation by grace and we don’t need to change the manner in which we worship or our church order or government from that which the Lord has given us. What the Lord has given us is everything we need to worship and serve him acceptably.
Elder Vernon Johnson