Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Women Pastors—What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible makes it clear as to the woman's position in the church. Observe:
"As in all the churches of the saints, the women are to keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks he is a prophet, or spiritual, let him recognize that the things I write to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized." 1 Corinthians 14:33b-38
Now, this passage is not saying that women are forbidden from ever talking in church altogether. That would be a gross misrepresentation of what this passage is saying. It is speaking in regard to role, authority, and revelation. Note Paul's questions to them: "Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?" (v.36). The answer is, of course, no. Paul makes it clear what the end result should be: "If anyone thinks he is a prophet, or spiritual, let him recognize that the things I write to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized" (vv.37-38). In other words, if a woman believes herself to be gifted or spiritual, she should recognize that what Paul is saying is coming directly from God and that she ought to be obedient to God's Word. Otherwise, she is living in open rebellion and disobedience.
"The connection seems plainly to include [prophesying], in the limited sense in which it is taken in this chapter, namely, for preaching, or interpreting scripture by inspiration. And, indeed, for a woman to prophesy in this sense were to teach, which does not so well befit her state of subjection. A teacher of others has in that respect a superiority over them, which is not allowed the woman over the man, nor must she therefore be allowed to teach in a congregation: I suffer them not to teach. But praying, and uttering hymns inspired, were not teaching. And seeing there were women who had spiritual gifts of this sort in that age of the church (see Acts xxii. 9), and might be under this impulse in the assembly, must they altogether suppress it? Or why should they have this gift, if it must never be publicly exercised? For these reasons, some think that these general prohibitions are only to be understood in common cases; but that upon extraordinary occasions, when women were under a divine afflatus, and known to be so, they might have liberty of speech. They were not ordinarily to teach, nor so much as to debate and ask questions in the church, but learn in silence there; and, if difficulties occurred, ask their own husbands at home.
Note, As it is the woman's duty to learn in subjection, it is the man's duty to keep up his superiority, by being able to instruct her; if it be her duty to ask her husband at home, it is his concern and duty to endeavour at lest to be able to answer her enquiries; if it be a shame for her to speak in the church, where she should be silent, it is a shame for him to be silent when he should speak, and not be able to give an answer, when she asks him at home.
We have here the reason of this injunction: It is God's law and commandment that they should be under obedience (34); they are placed in subordination to the man,
Note, Our spirit and conduct should be suitable to our rank. The natural distinctions God has made, we should observe. Those he has placed in subjection to others should not set themselves on a level, nor affect or assume superiority. The woman was made subject to the man, and she should keep her station and be content with it. For this reason women must be silent in the churches, not set up for teachers; for this is setting up for superiority over the man.

He lets them know that what he said to them was the command of God; nor durst any true prophet, any one really inspired, deny it (37): "If any man think himself a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge, &c., nay, let him be tried by this very rule. If he will not own what I deliver on this head to be the will of Christ, he himself never had the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of Christ can never contradict itself; if it speak in me, and in them, it must speak the same things in both. If their revelations contradict mine, they do not come from the same Spirit; either I or they must be false prophets. By this therefore you may know them. If they say that my directions in this matter are no divine commandments, you may depend upon it they are not divinely inspired. But if any continue after all, through prejudice or obstinacy, uncertain or ignorant whether they or I speak by the Spirit of God, they must be left under the power of this ignorance. If their pretences to inspiration can stand in competition with the apostolical character and powers which I have, I have lost all my authority and influence; and the persons who allow of this competition against me are out of the reach of conviction, and must be left to themselves."
Note, It is just with God to leave those to the blindness of their own minds who wilfully shut out the light. Those who would be ignorant in so plain a case were justly left under the power of their mistake."
Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible,
1 Corinthians 14:34, 37
Why are women not permitted to speak? Observe:
"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." 1 Timothy 2:11-14
The reason has to do with roles and authority given by God. Nowadays, people attempt to use the ignorant arguments that either "that was for back then, it is not for today," or "Paul was a chauvinist." Let us address the second argument first. The Bible informs us that "All Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote what God wanted him to write. Ergo, if Paul is "chauvinistic," then so is God because He inspired Paul with what he should write. Note carefully Paul's source of authority: "the things I write to you are a command of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). Furthermore, since God "is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8), what was written for back then also applies for today. God's Word is an extension of Himself, and if He does not change, neither does His Word.
"Women must learn the principles of their religion, learn Christ, learn the scriptures; they must not think that their sex excuses them from that learning which is necessary to salvation.
They must be silent, submissive, and subject, and not usurp authority. The reason given is because Adam was first formed, then Eve out of him, to denote her subordination to him and dependence upon him; and that she was made for him, to be a help-meet for him. And as she was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression, and that is another reason. Adam was not deceived, that is, not first; the serpent did not immediately set upon him, but the woman was first in the transgression (2 Cor. xi. 3), and it was part of the sentence, Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee, Gen. iii. 16.
According to Paul, women must be learners, and are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority, and the woman must not usurp authority over the man, but is to be in silence. But, notwithstanding this prohibition, good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of religion. Timothy from a child had known the holy scriptures; and who should teach him but his mother and grandmother? 2 Tim. iii. 15. Aquila and his wife Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly; but then they did it privately, for they took him unto them, Acts xviii. 26.
Here are two very good reasons given for the man's authority over the woman, and her subjection to the man, 13, 14. Adam was first formed, then Eve; she was created for the man, and not the man for the woman (1 Cor. xi. 9); then she was deceived, and brought the man into the transgression."
Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible,
1 Timothy 2:11-12
Verse 13 of 1 Timothy 2 begins with "for" and gives the "cause" of Paul's statement in verses 11-12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because "it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." Eve was created to be a "helper" for Adam. This order of creation has universal application in the family (Eph. 5:22-33) and the church. God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. The qualifications for elders/overseers/bishops/pastors clearly indicate men. Observe:
"It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested, then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 3:1-13

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it." Titus 1:5-9
An examination of the Greek reveals that masculine pronouns are used exclusively. Ergo, women are not allowed to be pastors!

Many ignorant arguments have been made using the Bible in an attempt to draw support for women pastors. Some of those arguments are as follows:
  1. Deborah the prophetess (Judges 4:4-14). Deborah was a judge over Israel; not a pastor. Her being a judge over Israel was judgment upon Israel because no man was willing to step up and take on the responsibility for leading Israel. You can see this in Barak's words to her: "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go" (v. 8). If ever there was a call to man-up and be a man, it was here.
  2. The talking donkey (Numbers 22:22-33). This has got to be the most ridiculous argument ever. Because the donkey was female, they say it is okay for women to be pastors. First of all, what does a talking donkey have to do with being a pastor? Second of all, the donkey, while being female, spoke with a man's voice (2 Peter 2:16).
  3. Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2). Phoebe was not a pastor. She was a deaconess, as revealed by the Greek word diakonos (διακονος). She was a servant of the church.

Friday, May 17, 2013

In This Way All Israel Will Be Saved

"Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, 'The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.'" Romans 11:25-27
The question is, how will all Israel be saved and to what extent does "all" mean (see 2 Peter 3:9 for a dealing with the word "all")? I think there is something to note here. Verse 26 begins with "And in this way..." In what way? In the inclusion of the Gentiles all Israel will be saved. That does not mean that no Jews will ever again be saved, but in comparing Joel 2:32 to Romans 11:26 the indication is that Paul was referring to the remnant of Jews that call upon the name of the Lord; as opposed to the false view that teaches every person of Jewish blood and/or who converts to Judaism will be saved (i.e., Jewish Universalism). I do believe this verse is referring to spiritual Israel, true Israel, all those who are truly the sons and daughters of Abraham (Gal. 3:8, 16, 26). After all, there is only one body of Christ, one bride of Christ, which is the church. To say God has two distinct groups of people is unbiblical. How anybody can believe this when the entire New Testament repeatedly declares "one body" (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12-14, 18-20; Eph. 2:16; 4:4; Col. 3:15), which is the bride—the church, is beyond me. Especially when passages such as Ephesians 2:11-22 make a point of this by declaring that the dividing wall was broken down and there remains but one.

No matter how sincerely one believes in two distinct groups, it is still contrary to Scripture and therefore a false teaching. A person can be a genuine brother or sister in the faith and yet, if they teach this, they are still a false teacher. If they make any prophetic statements about the future end times, especially things the Bible says nothing about (e.g., Hal Lindsay), they are also false prophets. The fact of the matter is that such teachings make God out to be a liar and His Word to be false and unreliable. While I can and do love my brothers and sisters in the faith who hold to these false teachings, nevertheless I cannot, in good conscience, allow them to malign the Word of God, no matter how faithful and sincere they may be.

Dispensationalism is a lie that distorts and maligns Scripture and makes God out to be schizophrenic and a liar. For example, God declared that Israel would be slaves to Egypt for 400 years. How long were they slaves? 400 years. God declared that Israel would wander the desert for 40 years. How long did they wander the desert? 40 years. God declared Israel would be captives to Babylon for 70 years. How long were they captive? 70 years. God declared that 490 years would be declared upon Israel. According to Dispensationalists, there have currently been over 2,000 years declared upon Israel where some imaginary "parenthesis" pretends that these 2,000 years do not exist and that time magically stands still for Israel. In other words, God declared 490 years but lied and has put them through over 2,000 years. (For a biblical answer to this issue, please read this blog entry: What Comes After 69?)

Another example of Dispensationalism making God out to be a liar: Jesus told us that His second coming would be like the days of Lot and the days of Noah. The flood was God's judgment, which took the wicked away. Jesus' second coming is judgment. When Jesus spoke of two being in one place, one taken and the other left, an examination of the Greek reveals that the word "taken" means to be taken in judgment. This same word is used of Jesus being taken to be scourged and taken to be crucified. Furthermore, an examination of Luke's parallel adds some information missing from Matthew. The question "Where?" is asked of those taken, to which Jesus responds, "Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather." The ones taken are taken in judgment. You want to be among those left behind. The word used for "left" means to be pardoned.

One last example should suffice:
"And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known." Deuteronomy 28:63-64
The entire passage of Deuteronomy 28 from verse 15 through verse 68 declares what God will do if national Israel fails to obey the covenant, which they did. While four times in Scripture it confirms adamantly that the land promise was fulfilled (Josh. 11:23; 21:41-43; 1 Kings 4:20-21; Neh. 9:21-25), nevertheless this passage lets us know that if national Israel fails to obey the covenant, the land will be taken away from them. Israel back as a nation in 1948 has nothing to do with Scripture or prophecy. National Israel today is as apostate as ever, and just as bad as (if not worse than) Islam. National Israel today adheres to the Talmud, an expansion of the Mishna that existed during Jesus' time. In the Talmud it says that Jesus is currently in Hell boiling in hot semen while Christians will boil in hot excrement. Yet, Dispensationalists still attempt to glorify heathen Israel by raising them to a status of worship. To them, the entire Bible is about Israel. However, on the road to Emaus Jesus went through the entire Old Testament and showed them how it was about HIM. Observe, in regard to the above passage:
"and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it; in a violent manner, by their enemies, and against their wills, they being loath to leave it. The Emperor Adrian, to prevent their insurrections and rebellions, which had given him a great deal of trouble, ordered by an edict that no Jew should come into Jerusalem, nor into the land of Judea, or be seen in it, which is observed by several writers; by which means the country was cleared of them. In later times some of them did get thither again, but they were but few. Benjamin of Tudela, a Jew of the twelfth century, travelled into several parts of the world in quest of his countrymen, and particularly into Judea, and his view was to magnify his people; and yet owns he found at Jerusalem only two hundred persons, whose employment was dyeing wool, and dwelt in a corner of the town under the tower of David; and but twelve at Bethlehem, three at Maresha, at Shunem indeed three hundred, none at Gilead, two at Nob, who were dyers, three at Ramah, one at Joppa, none at Jafne, where had been a famous academy, none at Ashdod, and at Tiberias about fifty. And our countryman Sandys, who travelled into Judea in the seventeenth century, says, 'here be some Jews, yet inherit they no part of the land, but in their own country do live as aliens.'" John Gill's Expositor

"63. ye shall be plucked from off the land—Hadrian issued a proclamation, forbidding any Jews to reside in Judea, or even to approach its confines." Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"That is a terrible word (63), As the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, so he will rejoice over you to destroy you. Behold here the goodness and severity of God: mercy here shines brightly in the pleasure God takes in doing good--he rejoices in it; yet justice here appears no less illustrious in the pleasure he takes in destroying the impenitent; not as it is the making of his creatures miserable, but as it is the asserting of his own honour and the securing of the ends of his government. See what a malignant mischievous thing sin is, which (as I may say) makes it necessary for the God of infinite goodness to rejoice in the destruction of his own creatures, even those that had been favourites."Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible

Verse 64. The Lord shall scatter thee among all people] How literally has this been fulfilled! The people of the Jews are scattered over every nation under heaven." Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

"And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other, Which refers to their present dispersion, being now, more or fewer, in all parts of the world, east, west, north, and south:
and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, [even] wood and stone: it may be observed, that the phrase, 'which either thou nor fathers have known', is fitly added here, which is not used of them, De 28:36; and well agrees with the idols of the Papists, their images of the Virgin Mary, and saints departed, made of wood and stone, which were such the fathers of the Jews never knew; just as it is said of the host, the consecrated wafer, the breaden god honoured by antichrist, that it is 'a god who his fathers knew not', Da 11:38; the apostles and ancient fathers of the church. Now in Popish countries the Jews have often been prevailed upon to change, or at least dissemble their religion, and embrace Popery: and have worshipped images of wood and stone. The author of the history of their calamities and sufferings owns this; 'multitudes (he says) in Spain and Portugal forsook the law of Moses, and joined the Papists, pretending at least to be of their religion.' He makes mention of sixteen thousand at one time, and some, he says, 'that were driven out of Spain, came into Italy, where the young men pressed with famine could not bear it, and changed their religion, and began to worship images that they might have to satisfy their hunger; and the Papists used to go about with a crucifix in one hand, and a piece of bread in the other, promising the bread to those that would worship the crucifix; and so many famishing persons forsook the law of Moses, and mixed with them:' and to this day the convents of monks and nuns in Spain are full of them; and most of their canons, inquisitors, and bishops, are Jews. The Targum of Jonathan indeed, to clear them from idolatry itself, gives another sense of these words, paraphrasing them, 'ye shall pay tribute to the worshippers of idols.'" John Gill's Expositor

"64. the Lord shall scatter thee among all people—There is, perhaps, not a country in the world where Jews are not to be found. Who that looks on this condition of the Hebrews is not filled with awe, when he considers the fulfilment of this prophecy?" Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

"That the remnant should be scattered throughout the nations This completes their woe: The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, 64. This is remarkably fulfilled in their present dispersion, for there are Jews to be fond almost in all countries that are possessed either by Christians or Mahometans, and in such numbers that it has been said, If they could unite in one common interest, they would be a very formidable body, and able to deal with the most powerful states and princes; but they abide under the power of this curse, and are so scattered that they are not able to incorporate." Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible
True Israel is spiritual Israel, which consists of all believers in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile (Rom. 11:17-24; 2:28-29; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:8, 16, 26; Eph. 2:11-22). This inclusion was prophesied many times in the Old Testament (Gen. 10; 12:1-3; Isa. 19:16-25; 42:6; 60:10-14; Hos. 1:10, cf. Rom. 9:26; Zech. 14:16). There is but one body of Christ, which is His bride, and that is the church. True Israel is the true church and the true church is the true Israel. "I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Love-letter Sent To You From God

by Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity"

"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." Colossians 3:16

STUDY the Scripture. It is a copy of God's will. Be Scripture-men, Bible-Christians. Search the Scripture as for a vein of gold. This blessed Book will fill your head with knowledge, and your heart with grace!

There is majesty sparkling in every line of Scripture.

There is a melody in Scripture. This is that blessed harp which drives away sadness of spirit. How sweetly does this harp of Scripture sound, what heavenly music does it make in the ears of a distressed sinner, especially when the finger of God's Spirit touches this instrument!

There is divinity in Scripture. It contains the marrow and quintessence of true religion. It is a rock of diamonds and a manual of piety. The lips of Scripture have grace poured into them. The Scripture speaks of faith, self-denial, and all the graces which, as a chain of pearls, adorns a Christian.

Oh, then, search the Scripture! Had I the tongue of angels, I could not sufficiently set forth the excellency of Scripture. It is a spiritual telescope, in which we behold God's glory! It is the tree of life, the oracle of wisdom, the rule of godliness, the heavenly seed of which the new creature is formed.

'The two Testaments,' says one, 'are the two breasts which every Christian must suck, that he may get spiritual nourishment.' These holy leaves of Scripture are for the healing of our souls.

The Scripture is profitable for all things. If we are downcast, here is spiced wine that cheers the heavy heart. If we are pursued by Satan, here is the sword of the Spirit to resist him. If we are diseased with sin's leprosy, here are the waters of the sanctuary, both to cleanse and cure. Oh, then, search the Scriptures!

Read the Bible with reverence. Think, in every line you read, that God is speaking to you. The ark wherein the Word was put was overlaid with pure gold, and was carried on bars, that the Levites might not touch it. Exodus 25:14. Why was this—but to give reverence to the Word?

Read with seriousness. It is matter of life and death; by this Word you must be tried and judged.

Read the Word with affection. Get your hearts quickened with the Word. Labor that the Word may not only be a lamp to direct but a fire to warm. Read the Scripture, not only as a history but as a love-letter sent to you from God, which may affect your hearts. Pray that the same Spirit who wrote the Word, may assist you in reading it; that God's Spirit would show you the wonderful things of His law, so that the Word will become effectual.

"Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97