17 Jun 2001

The Word Merchants

Submitted by theshovel
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I am not speaking this as a command ... I give my opinion in this matter 2 Corinthians 8:8,10

(see below for 2 Corinthians 8:8-15) Why did Paul give these people his opinion? The theology of bondage might suggest that he was putting forth one of his own non-binding principles as opposed to one of the inspired new rules of the Christian life. But if Christ came to set us free from the law why do we think the disciples wrote their letters to bring us back into the bondage of even more rules? Once you mentally break free from the law-bound, fleshly perception of Christ the recorded words of his disciples will begin to reflect that life instead of being a noose around your neck! So, if Paul is not making a distinction between his flexible opinion and the concrete command of God, what is his point? Wouldn't you know it, the answer is found in the simple context of the two letters to the Corinthians. Consider: These believers had been abused by men Paul described as...

false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ 2 Corinthians 11:13

Take a fresh read through these letters and see if you notice any hint of this mistreatment. Here's one:

For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face. 2 Corinthians 11:20

The commands were from MEN, the opinion was from a man...

determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 2 Corinthians 2:2

Do you see it? The Corinthian believers were being subjected to harsh and abusive demands of false apostles who used guilt and obligation for their own advantage; while Paul, their...

father through the gospel 1 Corinthians 4:15

...addressed them in gentleness as equals. I imagine the people who received this letter saw the contrast so clearly that it shook them out of their spiritual trance. Here is that contrast:

For we are not like many, PEDDLING the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 2:17

Word-Merchants operate under the premise of commands because they disregard the inner working of the Spirit of Christ within the new creation. Some disregard it because they don't have this Spirit, while some have simply forgotten the reality of the life of Christ within them. What a tragedy! While the men Paul referred to leaned upon verbal commands, he himself would only lean upon the freely-given life of God within those born of the Spirit. So, what does this have to do with the matter of giving? Well, if the goal of a merchant is to make a profit, wouldn't a Word-Merchant operate under the same premise? The only variable to take into account is the payoff. In other words, what does the merchant want in exchange for his goods? It may be prestige, it may be popularity, it may be a sense of control or power, but it often includes money. There should be little doubt that the Corinthians were used to hearing commands from many of their spiritual leaders for money or material goods. Against this, Paul offers an opinion that is rooted in the fact that Christ is the life and motivation that has been put within them. So, are you counting on that outward-command-style motivation ... or the inward working of the Spirit? Next time: The Grace Exchange

I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, 'he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.' 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

Comments

Very nice, I really liked it. Do you know of somewhere I can see more about it?.

theshovel's picture

Hello visitor! :)

To see more about any topic, click on one of the links just under the article (just above these comments. Also, there is a menu box on the top right, alongside the article heading. :)

Jim

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: June 18,2001 by Joyce

Jim,

Really good letter. Some months ago my husband and I bought a couple of weeks of real estate in southeastern Florida. It was a really bad experience. Afterwards, the falsehood and deceptions that we had fallen in to came to light. We lost lots of money on something that in no way is worth it and really isn't even something that we want. You mentioned "spiritual trance". There really seemed to be that element to it. Our minds seemed fogged at the time and people couldn't believe that we fell for it.

But because of the degree of disappointment and the high cost, it has seemed to help me realize that, even as bad as it was, it is nothing compared to the deception (and what it has cost) in the church today regarding the money issue. There seems to be a similar "spiritual trance".


Posted: June 18,2001 by Sharyn

I see so many times the Word of God being manipulated by the ones you call "Word Merchants" - not only in the area of giving but in other areas as well - leaders who come down heavy on new believers - causing them to get rid of the externals so as to be accepted and though of a "good" Christians and "growing in the LORD". I have seen those new believers crumble and fall and become disillusioned with Christianity because they have been made to conform to man made doctrines - I wonder if this is the reason for so many that fall away so soon - I have been a so called "mature" Christian that has also been caught in the snare of legalisim and doctrinal manipulation and I am ashamed to say it but I also have been one that has tried to bring change to a person - and been judgemental of those who didn't quite "have it" ... The Word Merchants have been the channels for bringing misery and pain to so many - I wonder when Jesus will take that whip and clear His temple.


Sharyn, thanks for your refreshing honesty in your comments!

Indeed, these "Word Merchants" are not in the least restricted to the realm of money. You are quite right in your assessment of the manipulation that many religious leaders impose upon those who belong to God. It is the exact same situation that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing. As a matter of fact, if you will notice, the indictments of Jesus were not directed toward the general populace, but were mostly leveled against the religious leaders and leadership (Pharisees, scribes, rabbis, lawyers, etc).

« leaders who come down heavy on new believers - causing them to get rid of the externals so as to be accepted and though of a "good" Christians and "growing in the LORD". »

Yes, yes, all the while pretending to be proclaiming the freedom of Christ!

« I have seen those new believers crumble and fall and become disillusioned with Christianity because they have been made to conform to man made doctrines - I wonder if this is the reason for so many that fall away so soon »

What a shame this whole process is! Can you hear Jesus saying, "Woe to you for causing these little ones to stumble by teaching your traditions as being the commands of God!"?

Never forget that there is something incredibly wonderful when believers become disillusioned with a "Christianity" that has nothing to do with Christ!! I have witnessed MANY such believers, who after going through such devastating situations, have come to see His life as being the only reality that sustains them through thick and thin!!

« I have been a so called "mature" Christian that has also been caught in the snare of legalisim and doctrinal manipulation and I am ashamed to say it but I also have been one that has tried to bring change to a person - and been judgemental of those who didn't quite "have it" »

This makes everything you have written so real, so believeable!!

« The Word Merchants have been the channels for bringing misery and pain to so many - I wonder when Jesus will take that whip and clear His temple. »

Well, actually, he has already done that. His whip was the cross!! The temple HAS been cleared. The only reason we don't think so is because we are looking at the wrong thing when we talk about his temple.

Love,
Jim


Posted: June 18,2001 by Sherri

WELL DONE!! : )

First of all, let me say what a wonderful, descript title!! WORD MERCHANTS!! I love that! You are so clever!! But ... you already know that don't you, clever shovel that you are?! (chuckle chuckle) I bet you sing that song by Smashmouth and change the words to say "I AM the sharpest tool in the shed!" : )

"Word-Merchants" operate under the premise of "commands" because they disregard the inner working of the Spirit of Christ within the new creation.

Excellent defining! : )

if the goal of a merchant is to make a profit, wouldn't a Word-Merchant operate under the same premise?

Excellent and stimulating question! I love how you encourage thought!!

are you counting on that outward-command-style motivation ... or the inward working of the Spirit?

It is a wonderful thing to know that even in the midst of the Word Merchants in my past, there were still the times when GOD HIMself moved me to 'give' in whatever way HE so chose in spite of the legalistic, self-motivated and manipulative messages of the 'word-merchants' .... in spite of my endurance and waiting to be motivated by their messages of fear, guilt and shame.

In the midst of the legal bondage, GOD was still GOD in me and I was still miraculously HIS and HE was still miraculously working in me and thru' me.

Unexplainably, as is the very nature of miracles, : ) the New miraculous GOD-sense given to us in HIS very Spirit within us, witnesses within us at those times when HE works despite the 'merchants' and their woven tapestries of deception.

As I look back and remember, and/or as I look back and do not remember, I am still encouraged that GOD is GOD in me regardless, and HE is True to HIMself in me at all times in our Life together, and forever will be. : )

I am thinking of this in regard to 'looking back' to the days of deep deception and the tendency to view the past as simply 'wasted'. I am very encouraged that it is not so! : )

There will always be Word Merchants in this life and along this journey, but ... GOD will always be GOD, and the Word Merchants will not prevent HIS work in us. They can stifle the hearts and minds of various members of the Body, and deceive them, yes, ... and we know this experientially. But praise GOD for when HE awakens us and raises us up to shake each other from the lulling lies before we once again get sleepy and/or fall asleep under the spells they and their messages will consistently attempt to put us under!!

Would I or do I want to return to the days of being victimized by the 'word-merchants'? NO WAY!! NEVER AGAIN, thank you very much!! I shudder at the thought!!

I praise GOD for raising you up, Mr. Shoveldude, to edify us as the Spirit awakens us from our various sleeps under the spells of the 'merchants'!! : )

As we are encouraged and strengthened again in the gospel of CHRIST, we are enabled to help keep each other awake and alert and on guard from the merchants and their countless versions of 'another' gospel, which the apostle Paul explained is NOT another gospel, but only the lies of those who wish to put us and keep us under LAW and BONDAGE!!

So, I guess the Corinthians were awaiting the words from their 'merchants' (their adopted 'sponsors' of 'wisdom') to tell them when, how, where and to whom they were to 'give' ... which inevitably was to the 'word-merchants' themselves or for the pleasures and/or benefits of these 'word-merchants'?

Sounds all too familiar, does it not? Sad to say, but true?

Things have not changed much in the Church or the world, huh? Same o - same o lies and deception! Just the characters have changed, except for the source of the lies and deception, of course.

Love you! Shovelbabe II (Sherri)


Posted: June 18,2001 by John Carlson

Praise God that his spirit leads us into all truth. After reading the "word merchants", the scripture in John 5:39&40 came to mind, I think our Lord lays it out rather well there & in Psalm 40:7 (in the volume of the book it is written of me)...Chapter one of the gospel of John, the Logos (word) , is a person (vs14)...this is a simple truth that has been passed over in the body of believers, and sadly is converted into the dead letter ;2nd cor 3:6.
Its important that we Love those who are nothing but misused vessels and build one another up in the faith, encorage and edify, be gentile, and in Love restore them....for a great part of my christian walk I too was decieved, but Christ never left me....I was eventualy guided through a plethora of God driven circumstances to this death to self that he can exchange me for him, and I can find life...Gal 2:20.
God bless your ministry, this is a much greater thing ,this salvation ,that our Lord has offered to us than we first recognise...its a begining, hebrews 6:1,2,&3...
May the peace of our Lord be with you always.
In his Love....
John (Alaska) Carlson


Most excellent words there, bro!! Yes, indeed, the Word is a PERSON!! Thank you for the encouragement you have shared here in the life you obviously know!! :)

Jim Minker (aka - shovel)


Posted: June 18,2001 by Michael Daniel

Hey Miss Sherri,

Blessed is the man to whom God has given a Proverbs 31 woman. You are such a woman and there's no doubt Jim knows how blessed he is. It was so good to talk to you both on the phone today. I hope it happens more often.

As for the word mechants I can only respond to them thus!

1 John: 26 & 27 "These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the annointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His annointing teaches you about ALL things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him!"

Hebrews 8: 11 "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying; "Know The Lord," for ALL will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them." nasb

I love you all,


Posted: May-12-08 by guest

Piet Uys Malawi

"they disregard the inner working of the Spirit of Christ within the new creation. Some disregard it because they don't have this Spirit, while some have simply forgotten the reality of the life of Christ within them. What a tragedy!"

I like what you said and agree . It is the grace of God which will train us to live a Godly life Tit 2v11,12

We do not understand the power in the grace message . If you get this in your heart you will do better accidently than what you did on purpose under the law.

Thanks

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