Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 17, 1966
NUMBER 28, PAGE 1-3,5b-7a

The Support Of Preaching The Gospel

Floyd Thompson

The mayor of this city has great and grave responsibilities laid upon his shoulders. The governor of this state occupies a prominent position among the citizens of this great state of ours; the duties and responsibilities that are laid upon him are heavy and many. The legislators of this state and of these United States carry very weighty responsibilities. The President of this country, regardless of your political leanings, has laid upon his shoulders very heavy and grave responsibilities; the decisions that are made by him are important ones. The field marshall in Viet Nam, directing all the activities of our sons who have been sent into that area of activity, carries a great and grave responsibility, also. The head physician at the hospital where you take your loved ones, and into whose hands you commit their lives while he performs the needed surgery, also has a position of great importance. All of these responsibilities, grave as they are, are temporal, physical, and temporary.

None of these, therefore, compare to the responsibility that is laid upon the shoulders of anyone who sets himself to the task of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Christ is the greatest message that this world has ever heard: so great is it that Jesus Christ said, "Go preach it to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." So great is the gospel of Jesus Christ that the apostle Paul said that "it is the power of God unto salvation." James said that we are to "receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save our souls." The soul, the spirit that resides in you and me (since we became living souls) is just as eternal as God Himself. It cannot die. It is immortal. The gospel of Jesus Christ has to do with that which is eternal -- your soul and mine. Since the gospel is God's power to save the soul, and since Jesus Christ himself said "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul," "Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" and since this view point is further strengthened by the apostle Paul in II Corinthians 4: 18 "While we look not on the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" it is no wonder that Jesus Christ through the word, by the direction of the Holy Spirit that was given to the apostles, taught us to support the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"They Held Up His Hands"

In the Old Testament there is a thrilling story told. The record is found in Exodus 17, starting at verse 8: "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." This thrilling story, no doubt, is the origin of the expression "upholding ones hands in any particular work." As one stands as a gospel preacher, he must rely upon those that are about him--the elders, the deacons, members of the congregation--everyone in particular, to uphold his hands while he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I would like to make this suggestion so far as your cooperation is concerned: if you have never experienced this, there is no way for you to know about what I am speaking. But it does help for someone to tell the preacher that he is standing behind him, and agreeing with the preaching that is being done. And it is comforting to a preacher to know this is being publicly expressed. Some might think "well, he knows that I am behind him." I think I do. I believe you are behind me. But I would like to suggest to you also that maybe your wife knows that you love her, but it doesn't hurt to tell her once in a while. Everyone knows that is true! So I suggest this merely as a practical observation. Another practical way of upholding the hands and giving encouragement to a person who is preaching the gospel: If he is going to be sent out to some remote area within driving distance of this church to hold a gospel meeting, to do the preaching, where beforehand you know that the attendance and singing are going to be poor, why not get up several car-loads and attend? Show him that you have an interest in the thing that is being done. Someone might say, "If I should go, I'll probably hear a sermon that he has already preached at home." If this expresses your attitude, let me ask you a question like this: have you been to see the Angels play ball this year? Or the Dodgers? or have you been planning to see a football game? You don't need to go but once, because after you have seen one, you don't need to go back. They are going to be playing by the same rule book. Three strikes is an out; you have to get all around the bases to make a score. But why is it that you want to go again, and again, and again? You know why it is. It is because you have an interest in that, and I am not opposed to your seeing such games. I am trying to make a point that if a person says "well, I have heard a sermon preached before" you should understand that it is going to be from the same text, we are going to have to be following the same rule book. We are going to have to be preaching from the same one that was given by the direction of the Holy Spirit. But I think it is a very practical suggestion, so far as upholding the hands of a gospel preacher is concerned, that you attend and encourage.

Supporting The Preacher

But there is another area that I want to talk about insofar as the preaching of the gospel is concerned. This is in the support of the preaching of the gospel financially. Some of these things needed to be said twenty-five years ago. But I was not old enough to say them then. I am now. Probably I did not know enough to say some of the things that I am going to say now. But I think they are very necessary for our consideration. Let me also say in the very outset of the lesson that I am speaking about qualified men. I am speaking about men who are qualified to preach the gospel of Christ. There was a friend of mine not too long ago, a friend also of young gospel preachers. After hearing a young man preach, my friend told me, "Brother Thompson, when he had finished, he had two corpses laid out in front of him." I wondered what he meant, as I hope you are wondering now. But he explained, "When he had finished, he had butchered the text and slain the King's English." If a person does not have a working knowledge of the testament, he ought not to pose as a gospel preacher. If he does not have an adequate knowledge of grammar, there are night schools, public schools, ample schools in which a person can enroll and get a working knowledge of grammar, so that he can tell the things that he has learned. So; I'm talking this morning about qualified men.

More than that, in the very outset of our lesson this morning, I want it understood that I am not ungrateful. I am deeply grateful. Please remember it. I am deeply grateful for every dime of support that I have received during the years that I have been preaching the gospel. I am deeply grateful for every favor shown, for everything that has been done to show your appreciation. They have been manifold, and for this I am deeply grateful. So don't misunderstand me in what I plan to say, or what I am hoping to get said in the lesson for this morning. Insofar as preachers are concerned, the ones that I have known are very dedicated men. Where else can you find men in the beginning of their particular work that will do the things that gospel preachers have done in the beginning of their work. Some, along with me, have driven hundreds of miles and asked for the privilege to go and preach, sometimes not even receiving gasoline money for the trip that was made. Time, after time, after time hundreds of miles have been driven for which they received not one cent of support for the work being done. So I am talking about the work that is being done by dedicated men. I do not know of a group of men any place that have more dedication for the work that they have been doing, and are doing, than gospel preachers.

My Work In Santa Ana

A little over thirty-five years ago, my wife and I were married in Long Beach, California. Before our marriage, our home was in Oklahoma. My wife-to-be was visiting in Long Beach. I came out and we were married. While yet in California, on our honeymoon, we looked around and picked out Santa Ana as being an ideal town in which to live. After returning to Oklahoma, and living there the better part of three years, we then moved to California and had the opportunity to begin working with the church in Santa Ana. Brother William S. Irvine preceded me there. He had an opportunity to move to Fresno, which he did. For twenty years and ten months, I preached for the church at Birch & McFadden. The remainder of the time, we have spent with this congregation at Fairview. The only reason I am telling this is to show that our decision to stay in southern California has been a decision of our choosing. We chose to come here. And we chose to stay, not because of necessity, for I have turned down preaching jobs all the way from San Diego, California, to Salem, Oregon, and as far back east as across the Mississippi River. So it has been a matter of choice. The more than thirty years that we have spent in Orange county have been interesting years, and I regret it not, but have enjoyed my stay in this area. If it were to do over, I would do it again. But I am saying all this to tell you that it has not been easy. A number of these years I have had to work at secular work for us to have an income sufficient to live. If it had not been for the willingness of my wife to work, I could not have gone to school to further my education, in order to more effectively preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of you know that for a number of years, she and I operated some businesses to underwrite our income during the time that we chose to stay and to work in this area preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

To some, that may or may not be interesting. But what we are interested in this morning is, what does the text teach with reference to the financial support of the preaching of the gospel? Let me read a verse to you from Galatians 6:6: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." The Holy Spirit said that. Another passage I want to read is I Corinthians 9:1-14, considerably longer: "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?" I want to pause long enough in the reading to make this observation: there is such a thing as a rhetorical question. This is one of them. A rhetorical question is one that is so obvious that it does not need an answer. "Who goeth a warfare at his own charges?" Nobody ! "Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit there?" Nobody ! "Who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?" It is unthinkable! "Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar ?" I will remind you now that the apostle Paul here referred to the Levites. I am going to refer to them myself in just a few minutes. But reading on, he said, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Remember, this is the Lord "ordaining that they that preach the gospel shall live of the gospel."

Some Comparisons

I am going to name some trades, and some occupations. I do not want anyone to think, as I am talking about trades and occupations that I have any ulterior motive in referring to these. It is just that I am more familiar with these that I will name. I think in all, and if not in all, at least in most, of the cases that I am talking about this morning, I have close personal friends who are engaged in the particular work to which I am going to refer. People whom I consider to be saints of God, and who have just as firm a hope of heaven as do I. So, let it be understood that I am not speaking about these particular works because of any reason other than the fact that we are familiar with them.

It seems a strange thing to me, that in this period of time, the very period of time in which you and I now live, that a man can go out and work on a job, and make more money than a man can make preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a strange thing to me. It seems strange to me also, that a man can come to a job and fit pipes together so that you and I can flush a toilet, and that he will make more money at that work than one who will come to your house and tell your son or daughter how to go to heaven. It seems a strange thing to me that we make such an evaluation as this. I am talking about financial support of the gospel.

Let's look further. We gospel preachers do not have labor unions. And I am not suggesting that we should. But I would remind you that there are many people listening to me this morning who have an organization looking out for the standard of wage that you are going to receive. That organization is trying to make fringe benefits better for you. That is their full task and their whole job. We do not have this.

Again, another consideration, men of ability in the commercial world today can go out and look for, seek for, a better job. If he finds a company that recognizes his ability, he may barter for more pay. If he betters himself, we consider that man fortunate, and indeed he is, Gospel preachers cannot do this. Gospel preachers dare not even use congregations as stepping stones. We are confined to preaching for churches of the Lord. So it ought to be. At any rate, we are confined in our field of labor. I am looking at gospel preaching now as it compares to the commercial world.

If a farmer, by good planning and diligent work, gets his farm to produce twice as much this year as it did last year, we call that man a good farmer. If a salesman, working on a commission, goes out and sells with diligence, and sells twice as much as he did last year, necessarily making twice as much, we call that man a crack salesman. If a man in business, by good planning and good advertising, causes his business to increase, we call him a sharp businessman. If a preacher, starting with a congregation of people, working as diligently as he knows how, builds up that congregation, expecting to receive financial consideration in proportion to the work that is being done, he is greedy, or grasping, or money minded, or at any rate disappointed!!

I told you I was going to refer to the Levites again. The only reason I am referring to them is because Paul did in I Corinthians 9. In the book of Numbers, the 18th chapter, verse 21, concerning the Levites, the teaching of the law said this: "And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation." All of the tenth was to go to them. It does not take but a little thinking to see that if the Israelites increased, and their flocks increased, their tenth was going to be greater. So, necessarily what the Levites received would be more. In the 24th verse it says, "But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance." So here is a consideration of the Levites, and again, repeating what I had said, I am only referring to them because the apostle Paul did in the I Corinthian letter, the 9th chapter.

How Do You Figure It?

Occasionally we hear something like this: "Well, the preacher is making as much as I am making now."

That needs a little consideration. Do you mean your take-home pay? The preacher, out of his take-home pay, has to pay his income tax. There is no withholding taken out of his wages. He has to pay that, all of it, quarterly. And estimate what he's going to make. And more than that, all that I know about have to pay all their social security tax. All of it! The employer does not pay part of it, as he does for most of you. If the preacher has any social security, he pays for it himself. When you are talking about "the preacher makes as much as you do", or "as much as somebody else does," are you talking about the hospitalization that you receive on your job? What kind of hospitalization, covering all the family, does the preacher have? Again, when we are comparing the preacher's wages with others, we ought also to think about this: Is there a retirement plan on the job that you have? When you are talking about the preacher making as much as you, do you have a retirement plan? Well, I found one hint of that, or at least an application could be made to the Levites. In Deuteronomy 12:19, the record says: "Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth." The law of Moses did not allow the Israelites to brush the Levites aside in their old age. So also it is not right to forsake a gospel preacher who has spent his life in ministering the word. It is not right. Not being right, it is wrong.

Another consideration: What about the company where you work? Does it pay a bonus? If they have had a good year do they come around and give you a bonus? Who ever heard of a preacher getting a bonus?

Here is another consideration: Do you have the expense of moving every two to four years? Fortunately, I have not had that expense. But at any rate some preachers, every two or four years, have to move. And they have the expense of moving. Is that considered in your job? You say, "Well, they pay the mover." In some cases they pay the van, but they do not buy the draperies, and pay for the discarded furniture that does not fit.

One more, as we are thinking about this. Now we are getting into an area where I could be misunderstood. I would not be misunderstood for anything. Our lives, mine and Ruth's, have been enriched. We have loved it, and do not want it any other way. But most of the time of the thirty-odd years that we have been working in this area, when a preacher comes to hold a meeting, we have kept him in our home. I love it--want it that way. Our lives have been enriched by it. But there hasn't been a case yet where it has not been more work, and cost extra money. Not a one!

Another consideration: In the commercial world where your job requires the use of an automobile (and I don't know of a preaching job that doesn't require one), the business buys the car. They buy the tires. They buy the gas, the insurance, the license, and besides that, they take the depreciation when it is time to trade it in on another car. And if this is not the case, they pay mileage for the use of your car over and above the salary that you receive.

Why They Quit

I know right now qualified men who used to preach the gospel full time, but who no longer do. They preach when they have the opportunity, but they do not earn their living that way. They are not preaching full time. One of the men that I know was asked, right here on this property, "Why is it that you are not preaching the gospel full time now?" He pointed to his children as they were going to get into his car, and said, "Right there is the reason why I am not preaching the gospel full time. I cannot make a living for my family preaching the gospel." Another qualified man, fully qualified man, read this verse of scripture to me. Remember this! The verse says: "But if any provide not for his own and especially those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." I Timothy 5:8. This qualified preacher told me, "For years I violated that verse while preaching full time." That is pretty strong language, but that is a quotation. That is exactly what he said, "For years I violated that verse while serving as a full time minister." He no longer serves as a full time minister. He has gone into secular work, to pay the miserable debts that he accumulated during the time that he was preaching full time.

Let us consider something else. Young man, as you are making preparation for your life's work, if you want to earn money, my suggestion to you would be -- don't preach, teach. Qualify yourself to be a teacher, not a preacher. The salary that I am going to mention will vary from place to place. In some areas in California the salary will be slightly higher --in some, slightly lower, but this is a pretty good standard. Do not prepare yourself to preach the gospel, prepare yourself to teach. Because if you prepare yourself to teach, the first year you can earn $5,900. That is the first year!! If you go to summer school and advance your education to a Master's Degree, and then take a few additional units of work, in eighteen years you can be making $12,125 and that is with Saturdays, Sundays, all major holidays off, about three months off in the summer, with pay, for a vacation, or for going to school, or for whatever you want to do. Add to that a very attractive retirement plan and you can see why I say, don't preach -- teach. And if you want to make more money than that, go into administration. Administrators make considerably more than that. Let's keep this thought crystal clear: Do I think that teachers are overpaid? No, I do not. My manner of life, from my youth up, has been in favor of public school teachers receiving better pay. And I do not have children for them to educate. I do not think they are overpaid. The idea is that I think that preachers are underpaid. That is it!

Again, if you want to be paid, learn to straighten teeth, not the thinking of men.

If you want to be paid, learn to teach the arts--not the word.

If you want to be paid, learn to be an attorney-at-law--not a teacher of the law. And of course now I am talking about the perfect law of liberty.

If you want to be paid, learn to treat the eyes--not "to enlighten the eyes of one's understanding."

If you want to be paid, learn to be a commercial air pilot--not a sky pilot.

So if you want to be paid, go into one of these other endeavors. I was talking with a doctor when I was but a boy preacher. When he found out that I was preaching the gospel of Christ he said, "If I were as young as you are, and starting out, I would get into something that would be a little bit more lucrative than preaching." I knew what it was going to be and chose to be a preacher.

"What Do We Owe You?"

Think about this for a minute: What doctor, lawyer, teacher, plumber, painter, plasterer, contractor, salesman, or anyone else in the way of a skilled worker today, will travel as much as one or two thousand miles, less or more, do the best that he has ever learned to do in the performance of his task for a period of eight to ten days, working to the best of his ability, and after he has done the best that he knows how to do on one of these jobs, will then have someone say, "What do we owe you?" And he says, "Whatever you feel like giving me." Where is the person that would do that? --except a gospel preacher. That is what I am talking about! !

And again I emphasize the fact that preachers dare not be mercenary. If they had ideas about making money, I think they would have decided long ago to do something other than preach. Preachers dare not be mercenary. They stand condemned in God's sight if they are. But in the light of this, if a church, or elders of a church, becomes so careful that they are not going to pay more than the "going" price, what are they being? "Ox Muzzlers?" The word said, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox Another consideration is this: Why should a nice-looking, glib-talking young man be able to go out, and in a year earn as much preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ as some man who has been preaching more years than he has been alive? whose life has shown that he will love and defend the truth! whose life has shown that his judgment has been good, or acceptable at any rate! Whose life has shown that he will work with the elders of the local congregation! Whose life has shown that he is not a hireling! and when the wolf comes he will not flee! My friend, if you think that the wolves are overlooking the flock of God--you are wrong. If you think that distress and troubles are not going to come to local congregations, you are mistaken. As long as the church has stood, as long as time has been, wolves have entered in among the flock. You ought to want to have someone around who has his feet planted, whose heart has been set for "the defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "If somebody should suggest that this is the Lord's money that we give, to this I give a hearty "amen," and suggest that more of it be spent for the purpose that was ordained by the Lord in I Corinthians the ninth chapter.

In the book of James, the 3rd chapter, verse 1: "My brethren, be not as masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." Question: If the Holy Spirit's teaching concerning this matter is that a gospel preacher will receive greater condemnation, does it stand to reason that the remuneration should be lesser? Think on that for a little while.

It is a sad commentary on preaching the gospel of Christ that a gospel preacher's son should come to him, (and let me remind you again, these are not imaginary cases that I am talking about, but real cases about which I know) and say: "Dad, I do not intend to be a gospel preacher." And the reason that he gave was that, "I do not intend for the brethren to treat me the way you have been treated." Well, I have been treated mighty nice myself. I am not making any complaints about the way that I have been treated, except insofar as financial consideration is concerned. There is room for thought on that point. When I preached this sermon before, another gospel preacher came to me and said: "Bro. Thompson, my son said virtually the same thing to me." Ten minutes after I finished preaching this sermon in Long Beach, the son of a preacher came to me and said: "Brother Thompson, I am a son of a preacher, and I, too, have decided that I am not going to be a gospel preacher for the same reason." I say it is a sad commentary.

"Call The Preacher!"

There is a case about which I have knowledge in which a congregation fired their preacher for no other reason that that "another man can take it on from here." He had done a good work, they had done a good work, during the period of time that he had been there. Then they fired him for no reason at all. While they were looking for a preacher, they offered the work to another man, a man who had for years been a full-time gospel preacher, but who now is making his living in secular work. When they offered him the work, he refused it, and told his son: "It sure does seem good not to be depending upon the brethren." I will say that instances like this make for a sad commentary on preaching the gospel of Christ.

I know that we are not marriage counselors. I know that! That is not our work. But anyone who has preached half as long as I have can tell you case after case where people, whose marriages were on the rocks, have come to him for counsel. And after talking with them, because they had some respect for God's word, and confidence in the preacher, that marriage did not end up in a divorce court. Case after case can preachers tell just like that.

I know that we are not psychologists, and our work is not as psychologists. But again, case after case, time after time, when people have been so disturbed in thought and mind, when people's hearts have been so heavy that they have almost despaired of life, they want to talk to somebody whom they consider to have a knowledge of God's word. I have reasoned and talked with them, and for your information, not all these are confined to one sex. I have talked with both sexes, concerning problems of this kind. Individuals who come to me with problems will receive the best help that I am able to give. And don't ask me after this sermon is over, "Who has been talking to you?" I have talked to them in confidence, and I do not intend to betray that confidence. I know that is not my work as a gospel preacher. But I am not about to hang up the telephone when someone who has respect for me and God's word calls me and wants to talk about things of that kind. I will do the best that I can.

Why is it, when someone has a loved one at the hospital at the point of death, why is it they want somebody close by who has respect for God's word and loves it. They want someone like that by them at that time. Why is it, after the physicians have done all they can, and when death has claimed their loved ones, no one is satisfied to take the remains of their loved one and put it in the cold ground without someone coming, opening the book, and talking about the hope of an everlasting life, and the reward that will come from being a child of God.

It is the grandest work in all the world, and I want to announce to you now that I am not about to quit. And if the time comes when I cannot preach, and get paid for preaching, I will get me a tin bill and peck with the chickens, but I intend to be preaching the gospel of Christ. But while I am, I am going to be saying something about what the Bible teaches about supporting those who do teach and preach the gospel of Christ.

I haven't said anything this morning about what it takes to become a child of God. I have been talking about another matter. I am fully convinced that it is high time that we should take a new, fresh look at what the Bible teaches on the topic of supporting the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, both from the standpoint of moral support and financial support. I hope you will consider this lesson thoughtfully and prayerfully.

-429 Eastside Santa Ana, California