Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Colorado Pastor’s Office View—Hope-filled and Heartbreaking

2013-05-31 15.12.40

The picture to my right is a view from my office looking toward Arapahoe Road.  How appropriate since the church I pastor bears the name (Arapahoe Road Baptist Church).  As I look out this window, I see a number of things:

  1. A parking lot:  On Sunday these spaces will be mostly filled.  Christians, seekers, skeptics from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and spiritual journeys will come.  This fuels my prayer and fires up my study in the Word—they are hungry for the Word (whether they know it or not) and need to be nourished on the Bread of Life.  Some will come out of hunger, some out of habit, some out of heartbreak, all out of hope!  May the Spirit show up and bring all of us who are far from God near through Christ.
  2. Arapahoe Road:  Many travellers drive on this major thoroughfare of Centennial.  Where have they been?  Where are they going?  From work to home?  From store 1 to store 2?  Are they going to pick up their children?  Whatever their earthly journey, without Christ, they are destined for judgment and hell because their sin is still held against them.  Christ came to put His righteousness to their account by taking their sin.  We do not know where they are going in an earthly sense—but pray that God would put someone in their path to send them on the right path for eternity’s sake.
  3. Residences:  Within a mile radius of our church is 13,000 people—85-90% of whom do not know Christ nor go to a church.  As John Knox aptly replied:  “Give us this or we die!”  We are at 780 E. Arapahoe Road in Centennial, CO for a reason.  God, help us to pour into their lives the love and hope of Christ in a dark and dying world.
  4. The sky:  This is not the end and this is not all.  Past the atmosphere (the first heaven) and outer space (the second heaven) is the abode of God—HEAVEN (the third heaven—see 2 Corinthians 12).  Christ will return for His church.  Are we ready?  Are we getting others ready—desperately telling them the Good News of Christ?  As we see this clear sky, may we also see the clear mandate to GO (Matthew 28:18-20).

Look out your window!

 

What do you see?

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You Say Jesus Never Ministered in Denver—I Beg to Differ

Some say, “Jesus only ministered in a tiny territory in Israel—and the disciples were the one to carry on His name to the ends of the earth.”  In one sense that is true, but in another sense Jesus has ministered all over the world—even in my new home and beloved city of Denver, Colorado.  You didn’t get the memo that He made it?  Think again!

Have you ever been around someone that you’ve taught and taught and taught, and you think they should have it by now—but they just don’t? Maybe your children, whom you’ve told not to do something every day of your life—but they still do it?

Jesus spent time teaching them much, but many of the same truths kept coming to the fore. John MacArthur put it so well: “He is not merely a manifestation of God; He is God manifested. That truth, a constant theme in John’s gospel, is the watershed that divides true from false views of Christ.”

Jesus continues to comfort the disciples—even as he chides them. You had to work hard to seek after the Father. You had to keep the Law of Moses in every point. You had to offer the sacrifices for the forgiveness of the sins of the flesh. Keeping the Law of Moses left many frustrated. They had a significant ladder to climb in order to make it to heaven—and the ladder (the Law of Moses) they kept breaking.

So Jesus pressed the point. Only by me can you get to the Father. Philip ignorantly said, “Show us. That’s all you need to do.” Keep in mind, they had heard his teachings, seen miracles accomplished. Remember what Steven preached on last Sunday?

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:2-4).

Jesus repeatedly connected Himself with His Father. In fact, John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the ony Son from the Father full of grace and truth.” The whole intent of Christ coming was make the Father known, and in return for the Father to glorify His Son (John 17). How?

By words and by works. His teaching and His doing. His doing validated His teaching. This is nothing new to them:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[a] does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel (John 5:19-20).

So Christ says that He is the only way to the Father. He also says that, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. The Father sent Christ to bring heaven down to earth.

Christ returns to heaven for us to do heavenly works here on earth (John 14:12-14).

The disciples wondered what they would do in the here and now. Jesus is going, but will return at some point. They would be without him. They followed him for 3 ½ years, seeing the works and the words that seemed to either change or harden hearts. He worked with such power. Such purpose! Can you see another layer of trouble needed? This isn’t getting much better. They get that Jesus will be leaving and preparing something great for them in the hereafter—but what about now?

Ever felt unqualified for a job? One time when I was first getting into serious piano playing in college, I tried out for a play that the drama department was doing called No, No, Nanette. If you’re familiar with the song Tea for Two, that’s the musical from which it came.

My job was to be a keyboard player who would provide improvisation and extra filler to help round out the pit band. Kristen Conn was the main piano player—one of the most incredible pianists I’ve ever heard. She was always there to keep it all together—she could look at an orchestral score that had lines for all the instruments and be able to play them all at once and provide all the music from all the parts for rehearsal. Unreal!

One day, she couldn’t make it. So Chuck asked if I could fill in. I played the good sport but at the time, I was way over my head. I tried to help—it hadn’t clicked in yet. Needless to say, we had an incredibly short rehearsal that night.

Jesus had been the foundation for the disciples. His works, His words, His influence—it was amazing to be a part of that ministry and to even be of use. But he would leave—now what? Jesus gives them the answer!

12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Again, Jesus says he is going to the Father (v. 12). And because of this, they will do the works that He does—and even greater! Did you catch that? We will do His works! We will do greater works. In what way? We will do what He does in greater scope.

Where did Jesus minister? In a small piece of territory in Israel, with an excursion or two into Samaria. He didn’t journey far. But where did the disciples go? The book of Acts shows that they made it all the way from Israel, through modern day Syria and Turkey, even to Rome. Historians say that Paul could have made it all the way to Spain. Philip influenced and led an Ethiopian to faith. Thomas went to India. Andrew went into the western part of the former Soviet Union and even into modern day Bulgaria. Bartholemew went to India. Jude went into Mesopotamia, near modern-day Iraq and Iran before his execution. John died on the isle of Patmos.

The disciples passed the baton down through the ages. And we have taken that baton. We are in Denver, Colorado. We are doing the works of Him—greater even! How? Jesus never made it physically to Denver! He never made it to our part of the world.

Isn’t that exciting? We will be presenting soon some great things to do for the cause of Christ. Do we realize the greater works He’s called us to? He has called us physical presence with a spiritual purpose.  While Jesus has never been to Denver—Jesus has and is in Denver through His body, the church.  He has not left us alone, but through the Spirit He is still with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  Whose works are we doing? The one in whom we believe. The only one worth believing!

So would Jesus leave them? Yes! But that’s a good thing! Because Jesus said He would send the Spirit who would teach us all things. Comfort us. Convicting us! But also connecting us to the Father and the Son. So Jesus was leaving them, but he wasn’t leaving them. And He was as close as the mention of his name (v. 14).

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:7-11).

Those who deny that Jesus is the only way believe it will be about their works. But we understand it’s about His exclusive, unique atoning work.

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Only One Way to Heaven? Why Are You Christians So Exclusive?

Tim Keller told of a time when he was invited to be the Christian representative in a panel discussion at a local college. With him on the panel would be a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim imam. At one point, they were all asked to discuss the differences among their respective religions. In a civil tone, Keller notes:

“Each speaker affirmed that there were significant, irreconcilable differences between the major faiths. A case in point was the person of Jesus. We all agreed on this statement: ‘If Christians are right about Jesus being God, then Muslims and Jews and Muslims fail in a serious way to love God as God really is, but if Muslims and Jews are right that Jesus is not God but rather a teacher or prophet, then Christians fail in a serious way to love God as God really is.’ The bottom line was—we couldn’t all be right about the nature of God.”[1]

Some in the audience were upset, saying that this is intolerant. One said, “We will never come to know peace on earth if religious leaders keep on making such exclusive claims.” As a result, some want to ban or condemn all religion.

Elton John in an interview back in 2006 shared, “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely.”

Many in the culture blame religion for many of the ills of society. If it wasn’t for religion, we would have all the moral restrictions and people could live as they wish. Religions wouldn’t be fighting, as they were when the Muslims beheaded that British soldier last week. Religions zealotry really brings on the problems. It brings division. The culture cries, “Can’t we all get along?”

Back to that panel discussion: it’s elementary to recognize that all religions are not like spokes of the wheel. But why does Christianity hold to this?

1. Christ is the only way to the Father in heaven (John 14:1-7).

Look with me at John 14:1-6:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”  5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

We cannot get away from Jesus’ words here—not in the least. Verse 6 is a gamechanger for many in this world—and no wonder so many recoil from this notion. No one comes to the Father? This is another way of saying no one gets to heaven except through Jesus—really?

But consider the context of what’s happening. Jesus had just washed the disciples’ feet to show them how to serve one another, not simply to be served as his Kingdom children. This was a significant attitude adjustment for them. They thought the Kingdom would be about them being served. Jesus set them straight: “I came not to be served but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”

Later, Jesus tells them that one would betray him. Satan would enter him and turn him over to the authorities. Be used as an instrument to bring Christ to the cross. What Satan meant for evil, God used it for our ultimate good.

Jesus then said he would be crucified by the authorities. Jesus then said one would deny him—not just anyone. Peter. The one who confessed Christ as Lord. The one who said that he would lay down his life for him. Jesus said, “Not even you, Peter. Before morning, you’ll deny me three times.

The dream seemed over. What hope did these disciples have? Would they be the ones to betray him? They were troubled. Jesus was troubled in his spirit (13:21). The next few hours and days would be hell on earth for them, for it would seem that Satan ruled the day. But Jesus comes along in the midst of his trouble and theirs and says, “Don’t be troubled.” On what basis? You believe in God, believe in me. Here, Jesus is not simply telling them to drum up some faith. He’s saying, “I and the Father are one.”

  • Believe in Me as you do Him!
  • He is going home to His Father to prepare a place His father ordained for them from the foundation of the world.
  • He’s being sent on a mission from His Father to gather His children to Himself.
  • Then he says, “This only happens by way of Me. You cannot get to the Father outside of Me.” You can’t run over me. You can’t get around me. You cannot go below me. You cannot shove me out of the way. It’s through me.

This is what they needed to hear. They would fail. They would betray. Deny. Let him down. Disobey. But Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. It’s by and through him, not by and through us! Lloyd Ogilvie once said, “Jesus is a VIP to be honored but not believed or followed. In America, he is a custom but not the true Christ; a captured hero of casual civil religion but not Lord of our lives.”

Jesus says, “I’m not just a custom. I’m much more than this.”

(Tomorrow:  Part II:  Christ is the Only One to Bring Heaven to Earth!)



[1]Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2008), 4.

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Seasoned with the Psalter: I Love You, O Lord, My Strength (Psalm 18, Part I)

(Yesterday, our Wednesday night study was over Psalm 18.  I’m so enjoying going through these Psalms which seem to cover every possible spiritual issue known to man.  This is Part I, covering the first 24 verses.)

In this Psalm, we find out much from the rather lengthy title:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

This Psalm is found virtually word-for-word in 2 Samuel 22—and we do not know if the Psalm was taken from 2 Samuel 22 or vice versa. In the preceding chapters in 2 Samuel, David was on the run from a jealous King Saul—even though that had taken place years ago—and served as one of the last psalms that David had sung. Since his sin with Bathsheba, David did not have a day’s peace. Yes, God had forgiven him, but the consequences still stood.

Yet, when David spoke of this, this was before the time with Bathsheba. It was a time when David was still faithful and loyal to God and to the king, yet he was still under duress.

1. Our affection for God stems from God’s protection (1-6).

In regards to God’s people, He is in the search and rescue department. We could also say He is in the search and recovery department. David noted the “cords of death” and the “torrents of destruction” around him from his enemies. The sting of death was around us, and we were dead (Ephesians 2:1)—but God makes us alive. He hears our cry in the counsels of heaven, and takes the sting of death away from us. Christ is the ultimate refuge and strength, from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet.

2. We may hearken back to the Exodus and the Entry as an anchor for deliverance (7-19).

When God delivered the Israelites, He made His presence known at the Red Sea and on Mt. Sinai—so much so that Moses trembled (Hebrews 12:18-21). When God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, He parted the Jordan River so they could pass. At all points, enemies oppressed—those from outside and even inside the camp. God delivers those who are His, as He showed in Christ when He delivered His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21-23).

3. God protects those whose heart chase after His (20-24).

A heart surrendered to Christ is a heart cleansed by His righteousness, continually sanctified by His grace. Like David, we will fail, and fail greatly. But how do we react to failure before the Father? Psalm 51 shows that David understood that, even though he sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11), he knew that, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (51:4). Faith in Christ is accompanied by a daily repentance for sin because of a heart that loves Christ because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). When God bestows forgiveness in Christ, the blame is gone, the guilt is removed, and restoration is complete. Chase after the One who first chased after you!

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A Message from Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

This is Anthony Jordan, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Baptists, along with Sam Porter, the head of the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief.  Should you wish to help financially, click here for more information. 

Pray for the residents of Moore, OK, and help out as you can. 

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17, ESV). 

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Eric Metaxas Speaks at My Alma Mater’s 2013 Commencement

Eric Metaxas speaks at his first college commencement at my alma mater of Palm Beach Atlantic University this month.  I like him a lot!  He encourages the graduates to stand for their Christian beliefs!

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Shepherd the Flock of God, Part 3: Be Examples, Not Emperors

Part I:  Willingly, Not Begrudgingly |  Part II:  Eagerly, Not Greedily

“… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock …” (1 Peter 5:3).

The world’s system says to be first and to use people to build your kingdom, your empire. People don’t have souls, they say, but are merely tools to help you get what you want. If people can’t help you get what you want, toss them aside as yesterday’s garbage and surround yourself with people who will help you! This was the system in the Roman world, and it’s the system that is here now!

Even James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples (along with their mother) were caught up in this, asking to have her sons sit beside Jesus in his kingdom! They wanted the positions of authority and power! Jesus set them straight:

You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you! But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-45).

Christ’s system is to serve, not to be served! It’s to use the power of God to build up people for God into a Kingdom of God!

Remember the man who took money so he could pray for someone? He is wanting to have an empire—not set an example! A man by the name of Sumner Wemp said, “As a Christian should be, a pastor must be!” Because whatever empire we are building will go up in smoke for certain one day. One glorious, terrifying, majestic, horrific day when why? Look at 1 Peter 5:4-5: “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

“When” means that this is as certain as anything you may find yourself certain about, and even more! Pastors may believe they ultimately lead their flock, but that’s not true! Pastors are undershepherds, not chief shepherds!!! Christ will look favourably on those who have taken care of His church, His flock! To those who use His people for their own means—the day of the Lord’s return will not be welcomed!

As a final charge to everyone, I read to you verse 5:

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.” Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”

The older one gets, the wiser one should get. Notice how the Apostle Paul “progressed.”

  • I am the least of the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:9
  • I am the very least of all the saints. Ephesians 3:8
  • I am the foremost of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15

Yet we would all do well to hear Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:1-12:

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

May we who are ministers here not be ones where people only hear what we preach in the pulpit, but avoid what we do outside of it!

  • We must not add extra burdens and rules and traditions to the backs of our weary people—but show them the yoke of Christ whose yoke is easy and burden light!
  • We must not be willing to be seen by others, and that being our only motive—our motive must be to be seen faithful to Christ and Him alone, regardless of what others may think of us.
  • We must not work simply to have the seat of honor. The only seat that matters is the throne of God and His kingly rule—not ours!
  • We must not love our titles (Father, Rabbi, Rev., Pastor, Dr., or even bishop). We already have a Father! We already have a teacher and instructor! We already have a Great Shepherd over the church. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice!” Are you His sheep, dear church? Do you recognize Christ’s voice?

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn’t a technology problem like radar malfunction–or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

Beware of allowing personal prejudices and pride to subvert your spiritual sensibilities. The Great Shepherd calls, and soon the Great Shepherd will come. This Shepherd called the shepherd to shepherd, and to be shepherded.

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Baptism at ARBC—This Never Gets Old!

Our youth pastor, Steven Diaz, baptizes one of our students today!  Listen to the saints at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church cheer! 

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Friday Funny: Leno and the Gas Station Prank

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Is Christianity Repressive to Women? (Part II: Equally Different Roles)

Isn’t God good?  Isn’t he good to let us know the value that He has placed on us?  Isn’t it wonderful that no matter who we are, male or female, that in Christ we are one in Him! (Read Part I of this topic.)

Yet, this is not all that God has to say about the matter, is it? We are equal in our souls—and this is the area to which we must hold on.

Submission?

One of the issues that seems to trouble most is the idea of submission–that is, women submitting to their husbands.  This is found in two different places:  one in Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6.  What’s going on here?  Some believe that the word submit is actually a Greek word that means doormat.  The husband can do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants and the wife has to go along.  Look at Ephesians 5:22-24:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Do you know why so many in our culture believe that?  It’s because so many in our churches believe that’s what Scripture says.  “Woman!  The word says submit!  I know I’m acting ungodly, but you still have to go along with it.”  Really?  Let me share with you what it says for husbands, if you’re wanting to kick the word out there for the wives.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Do you see what this is?  Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.  If you’re having to throw out the ‘submission’ thing in your house to your wives, dead husbands, it could be that your wife may have a hard time submitting to your leadership, whether it’s weak or overbearing.  We go back to Ephesians 5:21–we are to submit to Christ and to submit and serve one another, with the wives being the helper and the husbands serving their wives as the servant leader and protector, as God laid out in Genesis 1-2. 

Silence? 

Another area found in the NT is that of women being ‘silent in the churches.’  This is found in two places that I would like for you to look at.  I would not be much of a pastor if I ignored that which the culture is coming at so hard. 

First, 1 Timothy 2:9-14.  Here, we see that Paul brings out the item of women’s dress.  Some have taken this to mean that women should not wear jewelry or dress nicely.  They are missing the point.  I put it this way: “Women should be known for their godliness, not their goldliness.”  We all have a responsibility not to be a stumbling block to others.  In this case, women have to be careful about their appearance.  Why, because we are judgmental and legalistic?  No, because all of us have to help others grow in Christ, not stumble in their walk with Christ. 

But then Paul really does it, doesn’t he? 

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submisiveness (GG: there’s that word again).  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

First Corinthians 14:33-35 says virtually the same thing:

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Boy, does this light the powder keg in our culture–and in our churches?  Should we just ignore this because Paul was just talking in that time?  We can’t, for two reasons. 

  • One, in the 1 Corinthians passage, Paul commanded it in all the churches. 
  • Secondly, in the 1 Timothy passage, Paul didn’t bring in the Ephesian church context, but brought in the creation order of things from Genesis 1-3.  So we cannot ignore this.

What’s the takeaway?  I’ll tell you right now what the takeaway for some of you is–these two passages just contradicted everything else that God said about equality.  What’s equal about women being quiet? 

Keep in mind that women had a new found freedom in Christianity that they didn’t in Judaism or their culture–and some were taking advantage of it.  They were gossiping, being busybodies, in culture and church.  So Paul reminded them that part of the creation order from the beginning was something that should not have surprised them.  Women were not to teach and have authority over men.  The obvious understanding here is of preaching in the assembly, the congregation, because God called men to be the spiritual authority in the house of God and in our own houses.  In this context, women are not to teach/preach as an authority as a pastor or deacon. 

Another obvious one that we need to deal with is this:  is God saying that women cannot teach in any context of a mixed group?  There seems to be a distinction between teach or to exercise authority–are these considered synonymous?  Or is Paul talking about teaching, and having authority? I confess to you that I am confident of the obvious, special calling of a pastor/preacher to a congregation.  I’m still sorting through this and believe God is bringing some clarity–and when he does, I will share this with our Sunday School and small group leaders first.  (John Frame believes women may with caution; Denny Burk of Southern Seminary does not believe so – both of these men I respect.  Jim Hamilton weighs in as well.)  I owe it to them to talk to them first before I have the perception of firing a shot over the bow here.  But we must look at what Scripture says, pray that we would obey what Scripture says, and ask ourselves if teaching small groups as well as preaching is an area of authority over a people?  I would say a case could be made.

But why is Scripture bringing this out?  To denegrate women?  Because women do not have the gifts or the wherewithal to do this?  I think that misses the ultimate point.  Keep in mind, women have spoken up in 1 Corinthians 11 when they pray and share their testimony.  I’m so thankful the Holy Spirit included that, because I would miss out on Mrs. Gloria Hughes, Mrs. Sheila, and other women praying for us–wouldn’t you?  Can women speak up at a Family Conference?  Yes, absolutely!  No prohibition there. 

But in cases of spiritual authority, this is not about denigrating women. It’s about reminding men of who they should be in Christ!  God called men to lead!   We must not abdicate that position in a world where women are becoming more masculine and men are becoming more feminine.  Women are leading our homes and our churches because (for the most part) men are not stepping up to be who they are in Christ!

I was in Trinidad back in 2004 with my former church as we did VBS, revival services, and on top of that, I did a leadership conference at a time when I had no business doing such.  I geared it on the Epistle to Titus, who addresses some areas of the leadership roles in our homes and in the house of God.  There were women pastors who happened to have shown up, and I honestly had no intention of addressing it until Pastor Roddie asked the question, “Pastor Perry, could you address the issue of roles of women in the church?”  So I did in regards to leadership–that God in 1 Timothy 3 called for male leadership in the church with both pastors/elders and deacons. 

One woman raised her hand in regards to my comments about wives submitting to their husbands. She said, “Pastor, I have two children at home.  My husband left me about four years ago, so I’m having to be father and mother.”  I was stuck!  I wasn’t prepared for this, but then after some conversation and others chiming in, God gave it to me: “You see,” I told them, “this is what happens when men aren’t being men and leave their responsibilities.”  To that, she said “Amen!  That’s right preacha!” 

While she does not speak for everyone, she does speak for many–even though she didn’t speak it.  She affirmed that God’s design in the right design.  When men are upholding their servant leadership in the church and home, most women in Christ will gladly live under that type of leadership.  And it’s only through Christ that we could ever come to that point.

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