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Question #319

What about annual anniversary celebrations for preachers?

It has been noted that some Churches of Christ have annual anniversary for there ministries in recognizing his accomplishments and appreciation. Here recently a few women of the church requested that we conduct an appreciation... I feel there should not be an anniversary due to the annual appreciation we have been currently providing him and his family Christmas at gift, money. What does the Bible say in reference to Anniversary for church leaders. This decision can not be taken to the elders due to not having any at this time.

The Answer:

Since the issue of whether it is right to pay a wage to a preacher is not included within the question, it will not be addressed. It is assumed that the inquirer believes that the scripture certainly authorizes, if not commands, that a preacher be recompensed for his labor. The issue raised is how that is to be done and the extent to which it should be done. Jesus taught that the laborer is worthy of his hire. Luke 10:7. This instruction was in the context of sending out the seventy under the limited commission. The principle is still applicable under the great commission. Preachers’ compensation has been provided in different manners over the years. For many years it was a custom to provide the preacher a house as part of his compensation, with his direct money compensation being lowered in light of his provided housing. After enough preachers reached retirement age without a house to call their own, they realized that by taking less monetary compensation they were not being provided a house, they were in fact buying a house for the congregation. When they moved, they left that part of their compensation behind. Having no home, no retirement, and no benefits, they lived in penury when they could preach no longer. Retirement was unknown. This was maltreatment of God’s ministers, no matter that it was done in ignorance and in good faith. The result was the same. Rest assured that it is hard to over-compensate a faithful preacher. He works or is on call seven days a week. He must be all things to all men – consoler, counselor, psychologist, problem solver, scholar, taxi, sometimes a yard man and janitor at the building, and that is just the beginning. Yet preachers are dedicated to God, His Son, and the body of Christ and, because of this, bear their burdens gladly and silently. Let something go wrong or fall short of expectations, and who gets the blame? You guessed it – the preacher. How many times have you heard of elders saying “our congregation is falling short and it is the fault the elders. We will resign.” How often have you heard of the elders taking even part of the responsibility? My next time will be my first one!

Perhaps there is a rule that can be followed that will solve how the preacher should be treated: “Do unto him as you would have done unto yourself.”

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)