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|Vol. 15 No. 9 September 2013||
Selling Christian Literature
Louis Rushmore, Editor
A Christian in Nigeria inquired if ‘scriptural materials written by brethren ought to be sold.’ On one hand, one would hardly expect the apostles Paul or Peter to have sold their respective epistles that we find in the New Testament. Certainly, there was some expense incurred for materials and especially for hand delivery of some of their writings to various recipients. Obviously, those costs were borne by individual Christians and congregations of the body of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:8-9; Philippians 4:14-16).
However, mass production of Christian literature accompanied by massive distribution of that literature was unavailable in the first century. The financial investment in Christian literature today (e.g., books, tracts, DVDs, etc.) to make it widely available is substantial. Further, making Christian literature available for sale is a way to recover the expense in making it available rather than an effective way to make a profit; one is more likely to spend more money than he earns from the sale of Christian literature, making production and distribution of Christian literature more of a labor of love and a valuable service than a money-making enterprise. However, unless individuals, congregations, publisher or sellers that provide Christian literature are able to recoup their investments, they are not likely able to continue providing Christian literature in the future.
Making Christian literature available for sale is a means of spreading the cost of its production and distribution upon many Christians and congregations. This way, the financial investment that would otherwise be borne alone by an author or a publisher is defrayed so that many can benefit from the availability and use of Christian literature. When those who can afford to purchase literature do so, it provides opportunity for the distribution of Christian literature to those who cannot afford to buy it. Individual Christians and congregations of the churches of Christ, for instance, may give books and tracts away to Christians and non-Christians alike. Typically, Christians and congregations of the Lord’s church in America are responsible annually for sending tons and tons of literature without cost to recipients, Christians and non-Christians, in foreign countries.
When we do what we can do for ourselves, in this case, buying Christian literature, we make it possible for literature to be produced and distributed in the future as well. In addition, often the purchase of literature provides the opportunity for others to receive literature without charge.
Finally, though, the intellectual property, including literature, belonging to someone is worthy of financial reward for its use just the same as if someone were to part with his personal, physical property. The precept of not stealing the belongings of others enters here (Romans 2:21; 13:9; Ephesians 4:28). One may offer his possessions to others without charge if he can afford to do so, but he is not obligated to give his possessions away, and he may not be able to do that financially.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
An inquirer asked, “Where does the Bible say that Satan was once an angel?” There are many biblical subjects that are taught through the examination of several kindred passages, and yet they are certainly taught nevertheless. This is such a teaching that necessitates the analysis of various verses of Scripture in order to ascertain the meaning that God expects humankind to grasp. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17 NKJV).
First, the words “Satan” and “the devil,” plus a few more, are used interchangeably in the Bible. Revelation 12:7-9 is an historical event that predated the Incarnation of Christ, forasmuch as the conflict was between the archangel Michael and Satan, whereas after the Incarnation Satan’s conflict was with Christ (Coffman).
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
The inspired writers Peter and Jude substantiate the historical nature of this reference in the Book of Revelation. “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Likewise, Jesus Christ Himself touched on same demise of a segment of this fallen angelic horde. “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41). Documenting the fall of Satan also, the apostle Paul additionally cited the reason why the Devil revolted against God – “pride.” “[N]ot a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).
Furthermore, the apostle Paul confirmed in his epistle to Ephesian Christians that Satan is a spirit being. “[I]n which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The same apostle further warned Christians not to follow false gospels, even if they seemed to be delivered by “an angel from heaven.” “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). After all, Satan masquerades as “an angel of light.” “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Today, he does so to modern man through false teachers who serve him (2 Corinthians 11:13, 15).
From the sum of God’s Word – that is, from the available scriptural evidence, one correctly and confidently concludes that not only was Satan an angel, but he is a fallen angel and the leader of a host of additional fallen angels. In conclusion, please note the summary observations of the two following quotations.
Satan The whole description of his power implies spiritual nature and spiritual influence. We conclude therefore that he was of angelic nature, a rational and spiritual creature, superhuman in power, wisdom and energy; and not only so, but an archangel, one of the “princes” of heaven. We cannot, of course, conceive that anything essentially and originally evil was created by God. We can only conjecture, therefore, that Satan is a fallen angel, who once had a time of probation, but whose condemnation is now irrevocably fixed. (Smith’s)
Satan In the New Testament it is used as interchangeable with Diabolos, or the devil, and is so used more than thirty times. He is also called “the dragon,” “the old serpent” (Rev 12:9; 20:2); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4); “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11). He is “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (12:24). He is “the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way.” His power is very great in the world. He is a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Men are said to be “taken captive by him” (2 Tim 2:26). Christians are warned against his “devices” (2 Cor 2:11), and called on to “resist” him (James 4:7). Christ redeems his people from “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).
Coffman, James Burton. James Burton Coffman Bible Study Library. CD-ROM. Abilene: ACU Press, 1989.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.