Monday, April 30, 2007

Some Good Q & A on Male Leadership

Jim Hamilton has some good questions and answers on male leadership in the church posted on his blog. He deals with some major objections to the notion of a male only leadership in the church.

This issue, to me, is a little different than differing views on eschatology. I even have an easier time with those who hold differing views on spiritual gifts. As long as someone recognizes the error of the hyper-charismatic movement and the outright abuses of the “sign” gifts, and in particular, the error of the Word-Faith movement, I really don’t have a problem with the view of the possibility of the miraculous sign gifts being active in the church today. Even though I believe that they are not normative for the church today.

But the biblical evidence to support male leadership within the church is overwhelming. It is abundantly clear, and the only way someone can deny the evidence is by warping the text of Scripture to mean something that it simply does not mean.

If we just dismiss this issue as no big deal, then what else can we let slide? The same line of reasoning is utilized by the homosexual groups in their argumentation to justify the toleration of the homosexual life style. If we allow the convoluted teaching of the pro feminists to pervade the church unchallenged, what will we allow the door to swing open to accommodate? Will this allow pro homosexual groups an opportunity to use the same logic and reasoning to gain a foot hold?

The post on Hamilton’s blog mentions this in question # 10. He rightly points out that "what is at stake is the authority of Scripture to determine what Christians believe and do." This may ultimately determine our views such as whether we say that homosexuality is sinful since "many of the same arguments used for the view that women can teach men are used by those who want to legitimate 'alternate lifestyles'".

Strauch also points this out in "Biblical Eldership".

"Biblical feminists misuse the Galatians 3:28 passage by pressing the text far beyond its intended meaning and declaring the plain, literal interpretation of the headship-submission passages to be simplistic. Following the same methodology of interpretation as the biblical feminists, so-called Christian homosexuals claim the right to same-sex relationships. Because the Bible says "neither male nor female," they claim that all the specific biblical passages prohibiting homosexuality must be understood culturally and in the light of Galatians 3:28. But does Galatians 3:28 truly abolish all sexual distinctions? Can men now marry men, or women marry women? The conclusions that those who hold an egalitarian viewpoint draw from Galatians 3:28 are plainly at odds with numerous portions of Scripture."
("Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call To Restore Biblical Church Leadership", p. 65)

I believe there is more at stake here than many may think.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Dangers of Following Jesus - Piper

The Dangers of Following Jesus
By John Piper

Matthew 10:24-25

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."

As I have prayed and meditated over the last several weeks on what I should say tonight I have come to distill it into one sentence.

Jesus had love to suffer for me that I might have faith to suffer with him.

I have been reading the sufferings of Jesus in the light of the Salmon Rushdie affair. Rushdie published a novel entitled Satanic Verses. In it he put the Muslim prophet Mohammed and the Muslim god Allah in a bad light. He was accused of blasphemy and the Ayatollah Kohmeni ordered him executed and offered bounty for his death.

I have put myself in Rushdie's place and felt how utterly vulnerable he is. I do not look on this as a distant and strange thing. To me it is very close. I felt this so strongly two weeks ago that I wrote to the former Bethlehem interns who are now scattered around the country as pastors and teachers. Here is what I said:

What will you do when your preaching is so clear and pointed in its missionary implications concerning the blasphemy of Muslim teachings about Jesus that your name appears on the hit list along with Rushdie's?

There is a hair's breadth between me and the condemnation of the Ayatollah. One slight turn of social and historical affairs and the militancy of the Muslim defense of the honor of Mohammed and Allah could make us the target of a thousand guns. Are you ready? Read of the wild-eyed, irrational spit and fists in Matthew 26:67 and then read Matthew 10:24-25.

I want you to see the connection that I saw in these verses.

Matthew 26:67 simply says this: "Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him."

Matthew 10:24-25 says, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master . . . If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."

Now Salmon Rushdie is no follower of Jesus as far as I can tell. That's not the point. The point is that we Christians by definition believe that Allah is not the true God as Muslims know him and Mohammed is not a true prophet. Jesus really is the Son of God and really did die on the cross and rose again and reigns at God's right hand until he puts all his enemies under his feet, including Mohammed and his followers. And saying that is enough to get me killed—and you.

The days will soon be gone, if they aren't already, when you can assume that it is safe to follow Jesus—to stand for his majesty and his commandments. So I have been thinking much about whether I am willing to pay the price. And if I say yes, where will I get the courage and the freedom to suffer with Jesus?

It isn't just Islam with its endorsement of holy violence that makes following Jesus dangerous today. Consistent Biblical Christians, who don't absorb the spirit and trends of the age, are increasingly at odds with major forces in our society. And what makes the situation so volatile is that those forces are increasingly strident and increasingly invested with legal sanction.

The above excerpt was taken from the article, "The Dangers of Following Jesus" by John Piper, at Desiring God. You can view the remainder of the article at

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: Email: Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Biblical Church Leadership – Pt.7

Male Leadership in the New Testament Churches

The practice of male leadership continuing in the New Testament is clearly evident in Scripture. It is interesting to note that approximately 70 percent of the New Testament was penned by the apostle Paul (or a close associate), who is the dominant figure – other than Jesus – in the New Testament. Furthermore, all the Old and New Testament writers were male, as well as the predominant characters were also male. Much to the chagrin of the feminists, the Bible appears to be overwhelmingly patriarchal.

It is simply mind-boggling that there are Bible-believing Christians who can claim that the New Testament teaches an egalitarian approach to gender roles. This approach to gender roles is referred to as Biblical Feminism or Egalitarianism. It is simply the teaching that the New Testament does not teach gender role distinctions between men and women in terms of headship and submission. But it is impossible to support this viewpoint biblically without engaging in what could be termed “hermeneutical ventriloquism”; making the Bible say what you want it to say. [Strauch, pg. 55-56]

But Scripture is very clear on the role of men being in leadership throughout the New Testament, including the marriage relationship. Paul made this point very clear in Scripture, emphasizing the divine order in the husband-wife relationship. Consider the following passages of Scripture:

Ephesians 5:22 – “Wives be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord”
Ephesians 5:24 – “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their own husbands in everything”
Ephesians 5:23 – “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church”
Colossians 3:18 – “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”
Titus 2:1,3-5 –
“1But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” “3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

It is clear that Paul admonished the Christian wives to be submissive to their husbands. The solid biblical basis for this is found in Ephesians 5:23. To further clarify the meaning of “the head of the wife”, Paul uses the analogy of the headship of Christ over the church. The term “head” is used in a figurative sense meaning, “authority over” and “leadership”. It does not mean “source” or “origin” as feminists would claim. [Strauch, pg.57] Colossians 3:18 is another passage that teaches the same principle in Ephesians 5. It should be clearly apparent that each Scripture that deals with the relationship of the wife to the husband, that submission to their husband is clearly taught (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1).

The predominant teaching is that submission is to be “as to the Lord” and “as is fitting to the Lord” (Col. 3). Submission is therefore to be in the same manner as she would submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul consistently taught that the marriage relationship is to serve as a living picture of Christ’s relationship to the Church (Ephesians 5:23). There should be no question that the marriage relationship between the husband and wife is to mirror the relationship of Christ to the Church. It should also be clearly evident from Scripture that the headship-submission is not culturally induced, but is an integral part of the marriage relationship by divine mandate.

The headship and submission roles also carry over to the local church. In fact, Paul used the household analogy when defining the order of the local New Testament church (1 Timothy 3:15). Male headship is to be the biblical norm for the local church (1 Timothy 2:8-3:7). With the family being the basic social unit with the establishment of male leadership, it should therefore not be shocking that men are to be elders or fathers of the larger local church family.

Just as there are certain codes of conduct set forth to govern the family, there are also principles pertaining to the governing of the church family as well. Paul wrote Timothy specific instructions on how the church is to be governed in his letter of First Timothy. Paul wrote certain instructions so that Timothy would “know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God”.

Of particular importance in the church’s social structure is the behavior of women within the church. Due to the influx of false teaching, it appears that traditional gender roles were being challenged, resulting in the women behaving in a manner unacceptable for Christian behavior. In 1Timothy 2:9-10, Paul addresses the issue of modest dress. 1 Timothy 2:11-14, Paul deals with the issue of submission in the church.

“11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14, NASB)

That passage should alone provide the answer to the question of women being elders. The prohibition clearly prohibits women from teaching and exercising authority over men. Women were encouraged to learn, but to do so under submission to the leadership authority of the teaching male elders. Women were also specifically forbidden to teach and lead men in the church. It is not that women are not allowed to teach at all. Women are encouraged to teach in other situations, such as instruction to the younger women in the church (Titus 2:3-5). It is just that they were not to be publicly teaching men in the church.

Discussion on this topic inevitably stirs up heated debate. But the restriction on women elders is not the result of personal opinion or cultural norm. Paul supports his restriction on women teaching and leading men based on the original order of creation.

“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 2:13-14, NASB)

The statement of the fact that Adam was created first, underscores that fact that God created man as “first among equals”. [Strauch, pg.60] God uniquely created man, equipping him with the physical, emotional and spiritual capacity to head the marital relationship. And it is also God’s design for the woman to complement Adam’s headship. It is no insignificant matter that God did not create Adam and Eve at the same time. God made the woman after the man, from the man and for the man. God brought her to the man and the man named her (Genesis 2:20-23; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9).

It is important to note that the Fall illustrates the necessity for preserving the distinctive creation differences between men and women. 1 Timothy 2:14 clearly explains that it was Eve and not Adam who fell into deception. Satan cleverly perceived that Eve was the weaker one who was vulnerable to being deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Timothy 3:6). It should be profoundly apparent that men are more suited for leadership by God’s design. Men are better suited for battling against subtle deceptive false teaching and doctrine twisting. It is also noteworthy that immediately following the prohibition against women leading men in 1 Timothy 2, he immediately launches into a discussion concerning the qualifications of those responsible for leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7). The phrase “the husband of one wife” (verse 2) and “one who manages his own house well” (verse 4) are clearly directed at men and not women.

1. Alexander Strauch, "Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership", p. 55-61.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus - Spurgeon


The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus
April 9th, 1882
by C. H. SPURGEON(1834-1892)

This Jesus Christ was really and truly man; for Paul says he was “of the seed of David.” True he was divine, and his birth was not after the ordinary manner of men, but still he was in all respects partaker of our human nature, and came of the stock of David. This also we do believe. We are not among those who spiritualize the incarnation, and suppose that God was here as a phantom, or that the whole story is but an instructive legend. Nay, in very flesh and blood did the Son of God abide among men: bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh was he in the days of his sojourn here below. We know and believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. We love the incarnate God, and in him we fix our trust.

It is implied, too, in the text that Jesus died; for he could not be raised from the dead if he had not first gone down among the dead, and been one of them. Yes, Jesus died: the crucifixion was no delusion, the piercing of his side with a spear was most clear and evident proof that he was dead: his heart was pierced, and the blood and water flowed from there. As a dead man he was taken down from the cross and carried by gentle hands, and laid in Joseph’s virgin tomb. I think I see that pale corpse, white as a lily. Mark how it is distained with the blood of his five wounds, which make him red as the rose. See how the holy women tenderly wrap him in fine linen with sweet spices, and leave him to spend his Sabbath all alone in the rock hewn sepulcher. No man in this world was ever more surely dead than he. “He made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death.” As dead they laid him in the place of the dead, with napkin and grave clothes, and habiliments fit for a grave then they rolled the great stone at the grave’s mouth and left him, knowing that he was dead.

Then comes the grand truth, that as soon as ever the third sun commenced his shining circuit Jesus rose again. His body had not decayed, for it was not possible for that holy thing to see corruption; but still it had been dead; and by the power of God by his own power, by the Father’s power, by the power of the Spirit for it is attributed to each of these in turn, before the sun had risen his dead body was quickened. The silent heart began again to beat, and through the stagnant canals of the veins the lifeblood began to circulate. The soul of the Redeemer again took possession of the body, and it lived once more. There he was within the sepulcher, as truly living as to all parts of him as he had ever been. He literally and truly, in a material body, came forth from the tomb to live among men till the hour of his ascension into heaven. This is the truth which is still to be taught, refine it who may, spiritualize it who dare. This is the historical fact which the apostles witnessed; this is the truth for which the confessors bled and died. This is the doctrine which is the keystone of the arch of Christianity, and they that hold it not have cast aside the essential truth of God. How can they hope for salvation for their souls if they do not believe that “the Lord is risen indeed”?
This excerpt taken from the article "The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus" from the Spurgeon Collection at the Bible Bulletin Board.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Crucifixion

35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36And sitting down they watched him there; 37And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

(Matthew 27:35-54, KJV)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Christ's Agony - Edwards

Excerpt from:

Christ's Agony
by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." [Luke 22:44]

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his original nature, was infinitely above all suffering, for he was "God over all, blessed for evermore;" but, when he became man, he was not only capable of suffering, but partook of that nature that is remarkably feeble and exposed to suffering. The human nature, on account of its weakness, is in Scripture compared to the grass of the field, which easily withers and decays. So it is compared to a leaf; and to the dry stubble; and to a blast of wind: and the nature of feeble man is said to be but dust and ashes, to have its foundation in the dust, and to be crushed before the moth. It was this nature, with all its weakness and exposedness to sufferings, which Christ, who is the Lord God omnipotent, took upon him. He did not take the human nature on him in its first, most perfect and vigorous state, but in that feeble forlorn state which it is in since the fall; and therefore Christ is called "a tender plant," and "a root out of a dry ground." Isa. 53:2. "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." Thus, as Christ's principal errand into the world was suffering, so, agreeably to that errand, he came with such a nature and in such circumstances, as most made way for his suffering; so his whole life was filled up with suffering, he began to suffer in his infancy, but his suffering increased the more he drew near to the close of his life. His suffering after his public ministry began, was probably much greater than before; and the latter part of the time of his public ministry seems to have been distinguished by suffering. The longer Christ lived in the world, the more men saw and heard of him, the more they hated him. His enemies were more and more enraged by the continuance of the opposition that he made to their lusts; and the devil having been often baffled by him, grew more and more enraged, and strengthened the battle more and more against him: so that the cloud over Christ's head grew darker and darker, as long as he lived in the world, till it was in its greatest blackness when he hung upon the cross and cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! Before this, it was exceedingly dark, in the time of his agony in the garden; of which we have an account in the words now read; and which I propose to make the subject of my present discourse. The word agony properly signifies an earnest strife, such as is witnessed in wrestling, running, or fighting. And therefore in Luke 13:24. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able;" the word in the original, translated strive, is agwnizesqe. "Agonize, to enter in at the strait gate." The word is especially used for that sort of strife, which in those days was exhibited in the Olympic games, in which men strove for the mastery in running, wrestling, and other such kinds of exercises; and a prize was set up that was bestowed on the conqueror. Those, who thus contended, were, in the language then in use, said to agonize. Thus the apostle in his epistle to the Christians of Corinth, a city of Greece, where such games were annually exhibited, says in allusion to the strivings of the combatants, "And every man that striveth for the mastery," in the original, every one that agonizeth, "is temperate in all things." The place where those games were held was called Agwn, or the place of agony; and the word is particularly used in Scripture for that striving in earnest prayer wherein persons wrestle with God:they are said to agonize, or to be in agony, in prayer. So the word is used Rom. 15:30. "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me:" in the original sunagwnizesqai moi, that ye agonize together with me. So Col. 4:12. "Always labouring fervently for you in prayer, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God:" in the original agwnizwn agonizing for you. So that when it is said in the text that Christ was in an agony, the meaning is, that his soul was in a great and earnest strife and conflict. It was so in two respects:

1. As his soul was in a great and sore conflict with those terrible and amazing views and apprehensions which he then had.
2. As he was at the same time in great labour and earnest strife with God in prayer.

This article can be viewed in its entirety at the Jonathan Edwards Collection at the Bible Bulletin Board.