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Two things show if someone is selling the Gospel, and two things should be preached in order to avoid it: Only in Christ is there satisfaction and only in Christ is there justification.

What Are the Signs of a Gospel-Peddler?

  1. Craves earthly pleasure
  2. Dreads earthly pain

What Does a Gospel-Peddler Preach?

  1. Human prosperity is the gift of salvation. This appeals to the desire for earthly pleasure and replaces God’s worth with money.
  2. Human obedience is the price of justification. This appeals to the desire for earthly achievement and replaces God’s grace with morality.

Paul Did not Peddle the Gospel.

Paul renounced the pursuit of money as the goal of ministry and so received fewer physical pleasures. And he renounced the pursuit of morality as the way to be justified and so received more physical persecution.

He preached Christ and let the chips fall where they would, whether he received money or beatings.

We, too, should not be in the ministry in order to make money or avoid trouble. Regardless of the consequence, let us preach Jesus as the only satisfying treasure and the only sufficient obedience.

What Should We Preach?

1. All the money in the world cannot replace Jesus as our treasure.

Remember Lot’s Wife.

Luke 17:26-33

vs. 31-32: On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife.

Do not try to hold onto this world when there is a choice between Christ and things.

Remember the Rich Young Ruler.

Luke 18:18-23

v. 22: When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus tells him he lacks one thing and then tells him to do three things: sell, give and follow.

The one thing he lacks is Christ himself. Christ is all he should hold onto. And when he takes hold of the one thing he lacks, the three things he must do will follow. When he opens his hand to grab hold of Jesus, his earthly riches will fall out of his clutches and land on the poor. Then he will be a follower of Christ.

2. All the obedience in the world cannot replace Jesus as our righteousness.

Remember the Obedient Servant.

Luke 17:7-10

v. 10: So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

When we have done everything we are supposed to, we should still acknowledge that it won’t suffice. We are still unworthy.

Remember the Obedient Pharisee.

Luke 18:9-14

v. 11: The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even like this tax collector."

The Pharisee acknowledges that his obedience is from God. But it still doesn’t justify him. No amount of obedience in us, then—even God-worked obedience—is sufficient to save us.

We need Jesus above all for satisfaction and justification.

Our own money, even if it filled the earth, would not satisfy us. Our own obedience, even if it were perfect and God-given, would not justify us. Therefore we have every motivation to say with Paul, “We are not peddlers of God’s Word.”

Peddlers are driven by greed for money and fear of pain. But let us preach Christ as the all-satisfying treasure and God-satisfying obedience.



John Piper is founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For over 30 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books, and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.

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John E Miller

commented on Apr 15, 2013

Sound words indeed. This is stern reminder to those who peddle a "prosperity gospel", grasping for the giving of the gullible, that they are on a collision course with the Almighty and His inerrant word.

Steven Leapley

commented on Apr 15, 2013

I totally agree with that sentiment..although the opposite can occur where people refuse to make money because they feel that in order to be a Christian they must be worldly poor....I once heard an evalgelist say that we should never preach "God has a wonderful plan for your life" when we evangelize because "what if they get into an accident and becomes a parapalegic." ... Here I think we miss that whole point that GOD has a wonderful plan for our lives...most people here that God has a WONDERFUL plan for OUR life.....which people can only relate it to physical reality. God's wonderful plan may be worldly prosperity and through that they bless others....and others wonderful plan from God may be to suffer worldly things to bring others to Christ... Just my thoughts...

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Apr 15, 2013

I've been a bit puzzled by explanations of how we get this 'righteousness' and what it should be called . Abraham believed God and it was 'accounted to him as righteousness '. (reckoned imputed ). Thereafter , in the new Testament it is called 'the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all which believe'. The poplar term is 'the righteousness of Christ imputed and some say imparted to the believer'. And there is a real difference . God declares as righteous all who believe in Him concerning His Son Jesus Christ. The other says that Jesus Christ in his lifetime and before his death on the cross , kept the law or worked righteous deeds in the place of those who would believe in Him . And that becomes as much of His righteousness or justification as the Cross . It's a puzzle why it is a popular doctrine among Reformed christins . Look at middletownbaptistchurch.org to see if this is so .

Gerbrand Van Schalkwyk

commented on Apr 16, 2013

Very good points raised. maybe you should add the reasons for obedience. Since we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are guided by Him to bear fruit of the Spirit and this will make us obedient. We gather treasures in heaven when we do as God guids us to do. We experience God once we take action under His guidence and see how wonderful He plans things for us and how things faal in place when we follow His will. As His child I want to be in His loving enviroment all the time. I dont want to dissapoint Him or give a reason for receiving dissipline in my life.( Please note - God is not an angry Father Who walks around with a stick to dissipline us all the time, but sometumes He has to call us closer for our own protection). In the same vain I want to serve Him and the best way to serve Him is to do things the way He wants it done. So ask Him what is His will and be obedient. I think the best reason for being obedient is the feeling of I have done something right. I know there is no way can receive salvation or sanctification through obedience, except by being obedient and accepting Christ as my Lord and Master. Being obedient and forgive others and repent my sin, ask for forgiveness. there is nothing i can do to receive this, it is a gift from God. But being obedient make sanctification so muxh easier. By being obedient I humble myself before God, thus He can work much easier within me. When i am not obedient i want my own will and resist God's changes within me. And sanctification takes much longer and can be much harder. Serve God with everything n you and see wonderful results. God bless you all, with good and with bad times, whatever is best for you

John E Miller

commented on Apr 16, 2013

I cannot find anything controversial or ambiguous in the web pages of Middletown Baptist church to which Michael Monaghan directs our attention. The subject of how God counts us righteous however is of great importance and interest to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and a most important constituent truth of the Christian Gospel. The scriptures do not teach that we have salvation any other way than by faith in the Person and work of our Lord Jesus. His righteousness is imputed to us by faith. Romans 4:22-25 makes that absolutely clear. We cannot be saved by his earthly life of perfection, submission and service. The illustration of the Passover Lamb in Exodous illustrates this prophetically. The lamb was to be without blemish. It was kept in the house for three days and in this period opportunity was given for the family to study its perfection and suitability for the sacrifice. That period did not provide any kind of protection or salvation from the judgement to come. Only obedience and observance of the divinely prescribed shelter of the blood on the door posts and lintel made that provision. Our faith in Christ, His atoning death, His precious shed blood and His resurrection righteously allows God to impute Christ's righteousness to us. After we are saved by faith, and only after, does God put a value on our righteous acts (Rev.19:8). Where do we get saving faith? Only from God, it is the gift of His grace (Eph 2:8). All and every blessing comes from God, there is no other source.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Apr 16, 2013

What I was directing your attention to at middletownbiblechurch.org was their warning on Reformed theology as pertaining to the term 'The Righteousness of Christ ' as imputed to believers . Such a term is not found in scripture . But 'the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ is '. So why use it ?. The reason it is used is because some say that Jesus not only bore our sins in His body on the tree , but done so during His whole life on earth . But especially and more exquisitely , in the Garden of Gethsemane. They believe in Christ's vicarious law keeping . This is what I questioned . What does 'the righteousness of Christ ' as you use the term !! . Or , when God imputed His righteousness to Abraham for His faith shown by his obedience , was He imputing then , this righteousness of Christ which has found its way into our vocabulary . In Christ we are told we have become 'the righteousness of God ,in Him' ?.

Charles Ingwe

commented on Apr 17, 2013

Hallo John Miller, I stand abit behind on the point that sound like eliminating the importance of christ's obedient life on earth. I find Hebrews 4:15 stressing that we have a high priest who having been tempted like us still stayed without sin. I see this point coming out cardinal in fulfilling the without blemish condition of the lamb that stood fit for sacrifice. My view point is that christ's messiaship is incomplete without a faithful stand to the will of the father. Hence, the death at calvary is the climax of the salvation process but any attempt of over looking the aspect of Christ's earthly obedience leaves the lamb blemish and that nalify the condition for the lamb that stood worthy to bring the needed salvation.

John E Miller

commented on Apr 17, 2013

Michael Monaghan I believe that although the actual form of words that you use may not be found in scripture the truth that they suggest is clearly enunciated. For example in 1 Cor.1:30 we read that "Christ Jesus became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Charles Ingwe I do not disagree with what you say at all and I deeply regret if I did not make my absolute conviction of the vital importance of Christ's sinless perfection clear. That was the intention of my use of the illustration of the Paschal Lamb. I also believe that the sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus was the fulfilment of God's plan of The redemptive work of His Son. Please believe me that I do not overlook Christ's obedience both in His life and His death.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Apr 18, 2013

Hi John , So you found those words , 'the righteousness of Christ' imputed, are not found in scripture . But the righteousness of God imputed is found , and the difference between the two terms may not be obvious to all . As to the 'righteousness of Christ' some say this was through 'Christ' keeping the law for us' and after that , dying on the cross for us . This is why they say , the righteousness of Christ ' instead of 'the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all which believe '. See also Rom 3:21 . I expect you've heard of the theory , 'The active and the passive obedience .....?' These are thought to be two ways Christ acted as our substitute . So back to middletownbibiblechurch.org and look up Reformed teachings. Many revered names hold or held this doctrine , so if you do , you will be in good company . 'The Westminster Con fession- exploded ' Metcalfe publishing trust , pages 21-45 also .

John E Miller

commented on Apr 18, 2013

Michael, consider this. He became a curse for us so that we might become God's righteousness in Him.

Doug Conley

commented on Apr 20, 2013

Faith comes by hearing; hearing from the word of Christ. Those who hear my words and do them. Faith without works is dead. Be faithful unto death, and you will receive the crown of life. Go unto all nations making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirits, teaching them the same things I have commanded you. If you love me, you will keep my commands. Obedience has nothing to do with salvation???

Doug Conley

commented on Apr 20, 2013

Jesus' point about the Pharisee is that he was self-righteous, not that he was obedient. Stop twisting the Scripture!!!

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Apr 21, 2013

O.k John , but I think you got that verse of scripture wrong . I think you meant ' God has made 'Christ' to be sin for us , who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him '. (2 Cor' 5:21 ). So even here it is 'the Righteousness of God ' for all who are in Christ Jesus . Where was He made sin for us ?. On the Cross!! . Not in His life on earth as some infer . The question revolves around , 'Did Christ live a vicarious life on your behalf or die a vicarious death ? ' It cannot be both can it ?. If Christ obtained righteousness for us by keeping the Law ;living a righteous life , for us , as they seem to say , Is there not a danger of making the Cross superfluous and of no effect ?. But it is called 'the righteousness of God , without the Law ' Or , by the deeds of the law , no flesh shall be made righteous (justified) in His sight. But now 'the righteousness of God without the law is manifested....even the righteousness of God , which is by faith of Jesus Christ , unto all and upon all who believe ...' Rom 3:21 . I hope that clarifies the doctrine in question . :)

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Apr 21, 2013

I'm not sure why John P has made a debate about 'obedience'. It depends what obedience . At a reading we had today at church from 1Peter it says , ' Unto you which believe He is precious ; but unto them which be disobedient , the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner '. Or 'seeing you have purified your souls Obeying the truth ....... It seems obedience and believing are co-joined. ?.

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