Friday Sermon | Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

Our sermon today is not a sermon. I reviewed 5 sermons this week that were good, but didn’t seem to hit the notes I felt were most important for this week. Yesterday’s DiM post was a discerning look at the role of music and Worship in the Church, from pastors who come from various reformed traditions. I attend a reformed Baptist church now, but I wanted to find something that could present a bit of a juxtaposition of Lutheran and Reformed theology. I believe this discussion does a good job of that.

We’ve listened to lectures from this year’s Liberate conference, and today we’ll be looking at a discussion between a respected Reformed Pastor Steve Brown and Lutheran Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. They had not met previously, but knew of each other by common friends and associates. Here, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the subject of Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins, the Gospel of Grace, discussed from both the Reformed and Lutheran perspectives. There are difference, yes, but there is also common ground that is worth highlighting, that being the Gospel of Grace.

Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

[youtube https://youtu.be/5VkNNeMgZcY]

*note: At one point in this discussion (16:15), Steve Brown reflects on his encounter with Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran pastrix. While I do appreciate Steve Brown’s intention of using this anecdote to highlight the diversity of believers and the power of Grace, I don’t want anyone to come away from this thinking she is doctrinally sound or that she rightfully holds a position of pastor. She is not, and does not, and I pray she repents. She is still loved and cared for by many in the LIBERATE community. She is to the Lutheran community what Rob Bell was to the Southern Baptists, deconstructing Doctrine and minimizing sin ala the Emergent/Liberal Church.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Colossians 3-4

bibleAs we continue working through the fundamentals of the Gospel as explained in the New Testament, it is our hope that you will also explore our Old Testament (OT) studies and see how the Bible truly is one complete document, the very Word of God.

Last week we started in Colossians 2. We looked at what it means to be made alive in Christ and how important it is that we not allow false teaching lead us away from Christ and His Gospel. We see Paul progressing in his letter to the church he hadn’t visited in person from the Person of Jesus and the truth of His Gospel as the central focus of the Christian Life. Brothers and sisters, there will be many false teacher majoring in the minor things of life, seeking to profit from you while getting you off-track from the central focus of Christianity… the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is so much we can dive into in these last two chapters of Colossians, but for now let’s do a high-altitude flyover of the text to see how the Christian life should look. So, without further adieu, let’s continue in our study of Colossians.

Living the Christian Life

Colossians 3 (ESV)

Put On the New Self

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Seek the things that are above. This utterly destroys any so-called “prosperity gospel”. Paul isn’t inventing this teaching, either… Jesus taught us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20)” The Truth of the Gospel is that in Christ we are over-comers… but not as the world defines over-comer with untouchable health, wealth, and prosperity… those are earthy treasures where moth and rust destroy, and thieves steal.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

This is the hard part, this is where the Law of God continues to work in us. The purpose of the Law is to convict us of sin… and the wages of sin is death. Now, Christ died as a substitutionary atonement for our sin so that we needn’t fear eternal death, Christ paid that price. However, Jesus told us that to follow him we’ll have to take up our cross (Luke 9:23-27) … we are to die to our sinful natures daily. Notice the wording of the first list “what is earthly in you”. These are the sins of the heart that we’ve inherited in our flesh, born of the seed of Adam. Sexual Immorality is a broad sin… it covers everything that isn’t within God’s design for sexual intimacy which is the union of one man and one woman for life. Any and all deviation from this design is Sexual Immorality. Homosexuality, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, rape, incest, adultery… all of it. That’s the first item… impurity, passion, and evil desire are next in the same list… lust, fantasizing of sexual immorality, pornography, emotional intimacy with someone other than your spouse… these are all bad copies/replacements for God’s love for us, how He designed us to love our spouses and how we are to love our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. And your flesh craves it all. Paul is urging/reminding his readers that we must put to death that which is sin in our flesh. We do not have the strength (or even the will) to do this apart from faith in Jesus Christ. For in Him we have forgiveness and the hope of resurrection in Christ at the last day. In Him we the genuine article… Love. The second list refers to the corruption of sin in our emotions. Anger for the wrong reasons (sinful selfishness) is a fallen version of righteous anger against sin and unrighteousness. Wrath… it’s not our place. We deserve, have earned, the wrath of God… and Jesus bore the full brunt of God’s Wrath in our stead. Slander has no place in our dealings with brothers and sisters in Christ, they are His children. Slander is pointless with the lost… for they are condemned by their unbelief and destined for destruction. They don’t need slander, they need the Gospel of Jesus Christ… they need Grace… they need Faith. There is no Greek or Jew, there are no haves and have-nots within the Church… we are all equally free in Christ for He is in all who have been Saved by Him.

But the Christian life isn’t just about “thou shalt not”. The Law has both prohibitions and commandments… and in Christ all have been fulfilled. In Christ we are made free to do the works of God. So, while we put to death the sin of our flesh, we should also seek to put on the righteousness of Christ.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The world specializing in lies. The world will tell you, that you should keep silent regarding their sin or their need for a Savior because in their eyes that’s unloving. They are lying. Some of our Christian brothers and sisters will try to tell you that rebuke for sinful living or false doctrine is unloving, that’s also a lie. Silence in the face of sin is unloving. People don’t stay silent in the face of sin for the sake of the sinner, but for their own sake. Have compassion on those who are trapped in sin, and also for the lowly and the downtrodden, and for those being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. Speak and walk in kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Remember, there is forgiveness available for us when we fail (and we will fail) and if we keep that in the forefront of our mind then we should also extend forgiveness for others who have wronged us.

This is tough, and it cannot be done out of pride or effort, but only by faith in Christ. The take overall can be quite daunting and if you lose sight of the core of the Gospel, and start buying into false notions of “inner purpose” or “the champion within you” discouragement is inevitable. It’s not about you, it’s about Christ. Start small, start with your family. God instituted the family as a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Rules for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

The first relationship in the family that needs to be set straight is that of husband and wives. It points to the relationship between Christ (husband) and the Church (wife). Children are to obey their parents, fathers are not to provoke their children. Here we have bonservants and masters all included in the household. What took place in the U.S. under slavery was sinful in the sight of the Lord. Don’t let anyone get away with twisting this scripture. The better picture of what this bondservant thing would look like (when done scripturally) would be like Alfred serving Bruce Wayne, or Higgens serving Magnum P.I., or Baileywick serving King Roland. If I’ve managed to miss every pop culture reference that matters to you, then I suppose it would be best to think of this proper bondservant would be a live-in nanny or house keeper. It would also be wise to extend the rules of the master-servant relationship found in the New Testament to the Employer-Employee relationships in business.

Colossians 4 (ESV)

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Further Instructions

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Notice that this is the first time we have a direct command regarding outsiders or unbelievers. The purpose of the Church is to grow in Christ, to mature the saints. There is a lot of bad theology out there, particularly with a complete misunderstanding of the role of the Church. The purpose of the Church is to mature the saints so they can be edified and grow in the fullness of Christ. We are all called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost, but the role of the Church is to nurture the infants in the faith into men and women of God. The role of the pastor isn’t just to preach the Gospel to the lost… it’s to feed Christ’s sheep… to tend His flock. In his closing remarks, Paul names his fellow workers in Christ… the elders and pastors/teachers. Quite the list of names, because Paul wants this church to know who is faithfully working on their behalf, for the edification of the Church.

Final Greetings

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Such great love, to take the time to write to this young church whose congregation he never met. Paul loves them, and they are also loved by several other servants of God. This is the role of the pastor/elder. This letter isn’t a long one… and yes, there is more to learn of the mystery of God… but this letter covers the essentials, the supremacy of Christ and the need to guard your doctrine and love your family and the Family of Jesus Christ. In closing, let’s turn to the Apostle Peter’s prayer in his first letter.

1 Peter 4:7-11 (ESV) 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Church | Part 5

churchAs we close out our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s Closing Thoughts in 1 Timothy

Today, we will close out our reading in 1 Timothy, with a look at chapter 6.

1 Timothy 6 (ESV)
1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

I really should have included the beginning of chapter 6 in yesterday’s post, since Paul is closing out those thoughts. The “these things” are pointing back to all that was discussed in the previous chapter. Notice how Paul again revisits the charge to resist false doctrine. I find it interesting how in our modern-day liberalism often accuse those who dare to exercise Biblical discernment as being puffed up with conceit, and even having an unhealthy craving for controversy. Paul is making clear that it is not those who hold Scripture who are guilty of such sin; rather, those who teach a different doctrine that does not agree with the Word of Jesus Christ. We also see Paul warning of the trap of riches. Notice also the wording toward the end of verse 5, “…imagining that godliness is a means of gain“. As heirs to the Kingdom of God, through the blood of Jesus by His Grace and Mercy, we do have an inheritance… in Heaven. Jesus did not promise worldly riches, in fact, He specifically taught in Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We live in a time where so many false teachers have become rich and living lavish lives preaching a false doctrine with false promises of earthly riches through living godly lives. Brothers and sisters in Christ… that is not the Gospel, and it is not our Promise. God blesses His children here on earth according to His Will and plan for us in this life, but the Promises laid out in Scripture primarily for the life that is to come, in the Great Day of Christ’s Return when we join Him in the Heavens.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

It is not impossible for the rich in this present age to be faithful stewards of God’s resources, though it brings along its own temptations. Namely, that earthly riches tempt man to set their hopes on their riches and themselves rather than on God.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Did you know that the Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates, Euclid, and Aristotle all pre-date the virgin-birth? By hundreds of years. The Roman Empire replaced that of the Greeks, and had philosophers of their own (Cicero and Ptolemy), all pursuing earthly “knowledge” via metaphysics and philosophy. Many of the early heretics pulled from these “ancients” for their Gnosticism, Pantheism (multiple gods), and Panentheism (god is in everything). In our present culture, the temptation is to believe that due to man’s vastly superior scientific accomplishments, we should now change how we read Scripture (particularly the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood) based on what the world falsely calls “knowledge”.

My Closing Thoughts for this Series

The Bible lays out very plainly how God intends for His Church (and churches) are to be structured, managed, and overseen. God has made it clear how the church is to be led, what its focus should be, and its purpose. The Church is to build up the Body of Christ into the fullness of Christ who is the Head of His Church, and we who comprise the body of Christ are to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as ministers of reconciliation. The smallest unit of the church is the family, God’s first institution for man to embrace as a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, the Church should first seek to raise up fathers, priests and leaders of their households who raise up the next generation in Christ. After showing themselves approved, they should likewise raise up other fathers. Those who wish to teach and become overseers should therefore be tested and appointed as Paul laid out clearly in Titus and 1 Timothy. Regardless of what you might have heard from a celebrity seeker-mergent “pastor”, the role of the Church IS to feed God’s sheep. In some cases literally. Christians need to step up their game in sharing the Gospel with the lost in the world, but the role of the Church Elder (pastor, teacher, overseer) is to serve the Body of Christ as one who will give account.

Specific concerns and special cases

  • The Church was not granted the authority to determine itself, its doctrine, its structure, or its purpose. Christ is the Head of His Church, and the Apostles and the Prophets are its foundation, with Christ as the cornerstone. The Reformation was a move to return to Biblical doctrine, not a reinvention of the church. The Catholic church refused to repent, so the Protestant Church was born. The role of Elder is to preach the Word of God and to correct all false teaching. Elders do not have the authority to change Biblical doctrine. They have the authority to correct, rebuke, and training in righteousness according to the God-breathed Scriptures (2 Timothy 3). There is nothing in Scripture that leaves room for the Catholic doctrine of the Pope or Papal authority to pronounce unchangeable doctrine (ex cathedra). Such authority was not given to the Church. Additionally, there is no reason to believe that God would be raising up new Apostles to lay new foundations for the church. The foundation has long been laid in Scripture. I do believe that 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 remain as valid and instructive of the Gifts of God the Holy Spirit, but God is not changing the Body of Christ or Scriptures. We have been given the Word of God by which we are to test every spirit and every teaching to know if it is from God or from a spirit of error.
  • Churches with women pastors/elders/deacons.  As we saw in 1 Timothy 2 and in 1 Corinthians 14, having women in a position of authority over men is prohibited. When we see a church with a female pastor, we know that something is wrong. Either the church is completely lacking in godly men, or the church has simply decided to disregard Paul’s instructions to Timothy, Titus, and the Corinthians. I do believe Grace can be given to those in transitional periods, or newly formed churches planted within strongly matriarchal societies (such as in various African tribes); however, the Word of God is sufficient for all instruction and correction. God’s plan for mankind is for man to bear the mantle of leadership an its responsibility. Men cannot be expected to step up and perform their Scriptural role as men, when the church has willfully placed women into positions of leadership. A woman cannot Biblically disciple a man into his rightful place of leadership. In 2 Timothy 1, Paul praised Timothy’s mother and grandmother for planting the seed of God’s Word in his heart, and Timothy was charged to guard the gift given him. Paul took Timothy as a disciple, an adopted son, and trained him in the Word and the Ministry before setting him as an Elder.
  • Youth Ministries. This series was sparked by my post on How We Do Church. We don’t see anywhere in Scripture where the youth are separated from their parents and taught their own things. Throughout Scripture, the expectation is for fathers to raise their sons and daughters in the ways of God until the time comes when they leave their fathers and their mothers and cleave to their spouses, becoming one flesh and starting their own families. So, our modern “youth groups” present a problem of usurped authority (although often with permission). We’ve embraced the worldly messaging that says that parents just don’t understand their own kids, therefore we need a young pastor who can “speak their language” to reach them with the Gospel. How can we assess how a man manages his household when we’ve inserted others into the role of discipling his kids? How can we command the fathers to turn their hearts toward their children, and the children to honor their fathers, when in church we encourage them to look to a “youth pastor” for guidance, love, and instruction? Is there truly a way of “doing it right” if the Bible doesn’t provide us with a guideline or parameters for such a ministry? I think we should have outreach programs for lost youth, but we need to reach their fathers and mothers. We need to focus on equipping the fathers and mothers in our congregation to be the leaders, role models, teachers, and counselors for their children. That is what youth ministry should be focused on. Do I expect all churches to abandon their Sunday school and youth group models immediately? No. But we should return to Biblical standards of family and church guided by the power and wisdom of God the Holy Spirit.
  • What about the fatherless families? The young men in the congregation who do not have fathers at home are starving for mentors and discipleship more than anyone else. The answer is for the Elders and the other Fathers in the church to disciple them, and for the older women and mothers to gather around their mother to strengthen and nurture her. Divorce is more prevalent in our day than widow/widower. It is outside of God’s plan for us, and is far more difficult and treacherous as a result. We are the Body of Christ, and when one member of the body hurts, we all hurt; therefore, we are supposed to come together to help those caught in sin (guarding ourselves from sin) to restore one another into right standing with Christ. That doesn’t always mean the marriage gets restored, but repentance and the forgiveness of sin is available at the foot of the Cross.
  • Praise and Worship. Well, nothing has been addressed thus far by Paul in his letters regarding a “worship pastor”. The Elders are overseers of the church, and they are to teach the Word of God and discipline those who step outside of it. What we sing is more important than what instruments are involved in the accompaniment. What we do in church must always Glorify God and edify the Body of Christ. It must be orderly (1 Corinthians 14). I will say that since the Church is indeed for the believers, any attempt to manipulate the purpose of Praise and Worship so that the unbeliever can be entertained is foolishness and should be rebuked sharply. Christ must be our focus, now and forever, in our praise, in our worship, and in how we live our lives. To the unbeliever, we preach Law (repentance from sin) and Gospel (forgiveness by the blood of Christ). I care more about the conduct/focus/heart/content of worship than I do the method or technology employed.

Thank you for taking the time to read these posts and share your thoughts, questions, and comments. I pray that this has helped or challenged some to read the Word of God to test all that I’ve said here. As I hear from those at Stand Up for the Truth and from Chris Rosebrough, don’t ever read what I’m writing with an open mind; rather, do so with an open Bible. Test everything I share against the Word of God. Where I am found faulty or deficient, please point me to the proper Scripture.

I’d like to close with Paul’s charge to Timothy at the end of the second epistle:

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Amen. May the Lord bless you and keep you.
In Him,
Jorge

Series: The Church | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Church | Part 4

churchAs we continue in our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.

Qualifications of Overseers (Elders)

Today, we will continue reading in 1 Timothy, beginning in chapter 3.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV)
1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Paul goes into greater detail in his letter to Timothy than we saw in Titus, though we see no contradiction. I have highlighted here what I mentioned back in Part 2 of our series, that a man must manage his own household well. It makes no different how knowledgeable, charismatic, or affluent, if his house is not in order he is not fit to manage God’s church. His attention should be firmly fixed upon his household, as his first duty and responsibility to God. This doesn’t mean he is unfit to share the Gospel, or serve his brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, it means he is unfit to be an Elder or Overseer. I have also highlighted able to teach. You see, Paul will not be going into the qualifications of “teachers” or “pastors” because the role of pastor is to be performed by an Elder. How can one effectively “Shepherd the flock” if he is not qualified to serve as an Elder?

Qualifications of Deacons

1 Timothy 3:8-13 (ESV)
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The role of Deacon is one of service to the Body of Christ. This role began when the Early Church in Jerusalem had grown large and the widows of the Hellenist were being overlooked in the daily distribution (Acts 6). Now their task was to minister to the people so that the Elders would not be drawn away from their primary task of seeking the Lord in prayer and preaching the Word of God. That is not to say that these men did not minister or preach the Gospel themselves. Of the first 7 appointed as deacons of Christ’s Church, we Philip and Stephen being used mightily of God. They were servants in the Church, and they were Ambassadors of Jesus Christ outside the church (as are we regardless of our role within the church). While a deacon is not an overseer, he is still being entrusted with the task of ministering to the body of believers. The daily distribution was for the feeding of those in need, particularly the widows. The Church is to take care of its own. We are to serve one another in love and humility. Where did we get the idea that it was somehow wrong or out of the ordinary for Christians to seek help from the Church? May God have forgive us of our neglect.

I highlighted an interesting comment in verse 9, “They must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience”. Well, what does that mean? Thankfully, that is Paul’s next point in the chapter.

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (ESV)
The Mystery of Godliness
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God was made flesh, vindicated (proven right, pure, justified) by the Spirit of God, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations and believed on in the world ascended into heaven. So Paul has defined what he was referring to in verse 9 and notice how he continues in that thought at the start of chapter 4 (remember, these letters weren’t written in chapters and verses).

1 Timothy 4 (ESV)
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Within the context of appointing deacons, those who look after the needs of the brethren, Paul reminds Timothy that the Holy Spirit has warned that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Other things are included in this list, but Paul hits the biggest ones first. Timothy is to make sure that he is not placing into the role of deacon any who would fall into this category of apostasy (falling away). Notice that aberrant food myths will also play a role in the departure from the faith. We cannot simply dismiss these deviations from the faith as merely “nonessential” since Paul is warning of a departure from the faith by such devotions. While the brothers and sisters within the congregation will undoubtedly be at various stages in their walk and growing in the faith, and we are to extend grace to those whose faith is still weak, we are NOT to place such individuals into positions of leadership within the church. Paul then encourages Timothy directly to set for the brothers a role model. He is being charged with authority to lead the appointed Elders and Deacons in the way that they must go. He will undoubtedly be placing men who are older than he is as Overseers, and they will be expected to follow Timothy’s example. Paul encourages Timothy, and charges him to let no one despise you for your youth. I fear we have allowed this passage to serve as a proof text that age is irrelevant completely and that all one needs is a “calling” and “gifting” to preach, or at least a college degree (seminary) and you are good-to-go to lead a church body. Don’t get me wrong, I think a seminary degree is a good thing… but it isn’t a Scriptural requirement, it’s a fairly modern one. Leaders need to be discipled into leadership, tested and proved to be blameless. They must manage their households well, and be above reproach.

General Instructions for Church

1 Timothy 5  (ESV)
1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35 (ESV) “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” We must honor the older men and women as we would honor our own mothers and fathers. Open rebuke is not acceptable; rather, we must encourage them in the Word as we would our own parents. Younger men and women are to be regarded as brothers and sisters, in all purity. Sexual immorality is not to be tolerated in this sense, we do not allow a wolf in sheep’s clothing to pose as a brother only to defile younger women for his own pleasure (or vice versa).

3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I find this to be extremely poignant and out-of-step with the present culture. We now see that the upholding of family as the smallest unit of the Church working in the other direction. We have clearly established that a man’s qualifications for leadership in the church are demonstrated by his management of the household. Here, we see that true widows are to be honored by the Church. True widows not having any remaining family are to be cared for by the Body of Christ. Notice, however, that Paul looks to the children or grandchildren of widows to demonstrate godliness in their household by taking care and honoring the widows, even compelling some to return to live with their mother. Can you imagine giving that sermon on “Mother’s Day”? We then see Paul warn against true widows taking the “retirement” mentality and becoming self-indulgent, for such a person is dead even while she lives. We are to care for and meet the needs of the true widows in the Body of Christ, but our young women need proper instruction, example, and encouragement from the older women.

9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

Here we see Paul addressing what might be considered “welfare”. This good work should be handled by the Church, not the State. We should be setting the standard for taking care of those in need, those without family. Having already set the standard for how the true widows should continue in godliness, he also warns against allowing younger widows to be enrolled without responsibilities. Paul’s concern is for their faith. While many will find such generalization insulting, do we not see such behavior now among the newly divorced? Sure, in our culture women are taking jobs and careers outside the home but don’t we see newly single women turning away from the faith chasing after carnality? We also see men failing (woefully) in this regard, but men are not provided the kind of enrollment being offered to widows here in scripture. Paul encourages young widows to remarry and lead godly faithful lives as wives and as mothers, thereby safeguarding themselves from many a temptation that is natural to fleshly man/woman. (Edit: As a point of clarification, I am in no way equivocating divorce and widowhood. Divorce is a sin that requires repentance and forgiveness)

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

Finally, we see here that Elders are to be the pastors and teachers, and those who labor in such capacities are worthy of double honor. It is fitting to pay those who oversee the church well. Should they become affluent? I think not. Double portion… not 100 fold. Besides, affluence is a snare unto itself. But we will cover that tomorrow when we close out our study of 1 Timothy.

We gather together as a church body to encourage one another in the Spirit of Truth and Love. Christ have to the Church Apostles and prophets (foundations), and pastors, teachers, evangelists (elders), and deacons to minister to the body of Christ, teaching the Word, bearing one anothers burdens, honoring one another, confessing our sins and forgiving each other. One does not seek out or accept a position of authority to serve himself, rather, it is to serve others. In closing, I want to share some strong warnings regarding church leadership.

James 3:1 (ESV)
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James 3:13-18 (ESV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

When was the last time you honored your Elders? I recommend taking some time this week to send them a letter, or a phone call, maybe invite them to lunch. They have accepted a noble task, one that can be quite a burden at times. In the meantime, our series on the Church is drawing to a close. In tomorrow’s post we will close out 1 Timothy, and then I will try to address some of the special cases I’ve witnessed and to which I’ve been made privy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
In Him,
Jorge

Series: The Church | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

 

The Church | Part 3

churchAs we continue in our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.

Paul Instructs Timothy

Now that we have some idea of who Timothy was (no need to accept my speculation), let us dive right into Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 1  (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

We see here Paul regarding Timothy as a father regards his son. Remember how he spoke to Titus? I believe that an earnest discipleship relationship follows one of adoption. To the fatherless, even more so (I believe Timothy’s father was a non-believing Greek, but that is purely speculation on my part).  Right at the beginning of the letter, we see Paul reminding Timothy of the reason he asked him to remain at Ephesus. Remember yesterday we saw that the role of Elder required the ability to give instruction in sound doctrine and to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). We see here that Timothy is first performing the role of disciplinarian. We have some indication of the types of problems he must confront, devotion to myths, speculations and a swerving from the charge of love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Also notice that certain persons have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the Law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. False teachers.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Paul then provides a defense for the rightful teaching of the Law, and leads directly into a reminder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So we see then that the first order of business for Timothy is in the discipline of certain men who seek to teach that which they do not understand, or who have made shipwreck of their faith by rejecting faith and a good conscience. If ever there is a people who need solid leadership, it is these here at Ephesus. Things are a mess, and it falls to Timothy to set the house in order by Paul’s instruction. Likewise, we too, must take heed to Paul’s instruction to Timothy. Let us continue to chapter 2.

1 Timothy 2 (ESV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Now that the review/reminder of the disciplinary business Timothy needed to address is complete, Paul begins addressing the instructive portion of his duties. Please notice that he begins with Prayer. You might remember we discussed yesterday that the primary role of the Church leadership addressed in Acts 5 was for the elders to devote themselves to prayer and preaching of the Word of God. Here, we see Paul clearly defining that as the “first of all”. That supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. We also see plainly written that there is but ONE mediator between God and men, and that is Christ Jesus. As stewards of God’s grace, we must guard ourselves against the temptation of thinking that we fill that role in any way. We are administers of reconciliation, in that we preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the ONe and only mediator between God and men. We are the body, and He is the Head. With this firm reminder to pray for all people and to preach and teach in faith and in truth, Paul then transitions to the matter of the gathering of the saints, the assembling of the church.

8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Women in Authority over Men?

In our current culture, there is a lot of animosity toward this prohibition of women teaching or exercising authority over men. The conditioned response (by worldly feminism) to this passage of scripture often takes the straw-man position of “so you’re saying a woman shouldn’t never speak?” or “that’s misogynist”. If that is your response, I can only ask that you continue reading with an open Bible. Those of the Protestant or Reformed tradition generally have no problem with this passage (though our culture seems to be gaining ground in those churches lately). It is usually within the Pentecostal, Charismatic, or otherwise non-cessassionist Christian traditions that we see this instruction to Timothy dismissed. Since such traditions generally hold 1 Corinthians 14 in high esteem, I think it is interesting where we find Paul discussing the matter of orderly worship.

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 (ESV)
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

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.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Paul writes the same instruction in his letter to the Corinthians, another church predominantly composed of non-Jews. He makes mention of the Law, but does not go into detail here. The larger issue in this letter to the Corinthians is the chaotic “manifestations run amock” taking place in the church. Paul has instructed at length the gifts of the Holy Spirit, love, speaking and praying in tongues, and prophesying. Now, he is instructing them to be self-controlled (…and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets) and orderly. Why is it shameful for a woman to speak in church? Let’s go back Paul’s explanation in 1 Timothy, where he goes all the back to Creation. I wrote on the topic of Delegated Authority  earlier this year. God gave Adam authority over creation and the commandment of the one tree whose fruit he was forbidden to eat before God created Eve. The serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit, and she was tempted by his words and did eat. Yet, in his letter to the Romans, Paul points out that it was by Adam’s sin that death entered the world ( he did not mention Eve). That is because it was Adam’s responsibility to ensure that the Word of God be taught and observed. While the text (Genesis 3) does not explicitly say so, the fact that Eve adds to the commandment concerning the fruit of the forbidden tree indicates that Adam had failed in his responsibility to teach Eve the Word of God.

As I clearly stated in that January Bible Study, I will say again, this is NOT about Equality. The case I made in that study was that if woman were not equal with man, then Christ couldn’t have been “fully man” for He did not have an earthly father, only an earthly mother.  Let’s also look to 1 Corinthians 11.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Remember that we serve One God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There is a hierarchy, yet they are equal. Husband and wife are equals in substance, yet there is a clear line of authority that was set at Creation in the Garden of Eden, and persists to this day in the Body of Christ. The equality of man and wife are demonstrated and enjoyed in their union and the forming of one flesh.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12 (ESV) 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

Paul is not negating himself in this chapter. I encourage each of you to read it as a whole chapter. Paul is simply demonstrating the distinction between authority and equality.

Women Be Silent in the church?

First, in the interest of intellectual honesty, when was the last time you sat in a church service where anyone (male or female) asked a question or challenged a portion of a sermon or reading of the Scriptures? We don’t do church the way it was done in the synagogues and early Church services of the New Testament. I believe that is a problem, I am NOT praising this current mode of unchallenged, unquestioned, unengaged lecturing that passes as preaching these days. However, we find ourselves in this state because so few spend time studying the Word of God and we’ve bought into the very worldly notion that we just hire the “professionals” to teach the law and sit quietly and listen. But, if we are indeed modeling the church after the early Church, then we have a system designed around the family. The man is the head of his family, and bears the responsibility for teaching and discipline. If he has shown himself faithful in this regard, then he is qualified to be an elder (according to Titus 1, we’ll get to it in Timothy a little later). Therefore, given the family as the basic unit of the church, a woman who asks questions or challenges the Word as taught in the middle of the gathering of believers demonstrates to all that her husband has failed his duty first to teach and second that he was unwilling to speak up and ask a question for himself. The same dynamic is understood regarding single women, as their primary covering is their father. A young woman is supposed to be taught by her father and (as we’ll see in a bit) by the Older women in the church.

So Women don’t do anything?

This is a common rhetorical question that needs to be addressed. Women are prohibited (in Scripture) from teaching or having authority over men. That means serving as Elders, Deacons, and Pastors. They cannot teach men from a position of authority. That is not to say they cannot teach, nor does it mean there is no room for women to minister in the church.

Titus 2 (ESV)
1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

We are to be examples and mentors to the younger generation. Older women are to teach the younger women. Older men are to teach younger men. Only a godly woman can teach a young lady how to be a godly woman. Only a godly man can teach a young man to be a godly man. Parents must raise, teach, and discipline their kids; they are the only ones who can. Fathers are the heads of their households, and bear the responsibility of authority. That isn’t a “personality trait” or “special gift or calling” it’s part of God’s design. Sure, some men need to work harder at fulfilling their responsibility, just as some women need to work harder at submitting to the leadership of their husbands. This isn’t an area where the Scripture takes a back seat to modern psychology. God remains Sovereign over His Creation, and the Scriptures are God-breathed.

Tomorrow, we will look at Paul’s specific instructions for Elders and Deacons, and then we will discuss Paul’s instructions to the members of the church. If this seems new to you, please feel free to ask questions. I’m willing to discuss or even address major questions in their own bible studies once this series draws to a close. I will limit my discussion to what we find in Scriptures. If you’d like to discuss from a church tradition or orthodoxy point of view, then I strongly recommend setting up a meeting with your pastor.

In Him,
Jorge

Series: The Church | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5