Tuesday, May 20, 2008

God's Role for Women

“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.” (Titus 2:3-5, NASB)

The Bible has plenty to say about His ordained roles for both men and women. Unfortunately, our culture has pushed the Bible out of the public spotlight and has replaced its principles with humanistic philosophies of what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Unfortunately, the same philosophies have crept into the church as well.

It has become popular over the years for both men and women to hold full-time jobs, even after children are brought into the marriage. Children are placed in day care centers every day of the week and are essentially raised be someone else, while the mother goes off to her full-time career. By the time that she gets home in the evening, she has little time and energy left to devote much in the way of quality time with her children. The question remains as to who trains the children to know right from wrong and what it means to live a life that honors God. There are no sufficient replacements for the care that only a mother can provide. Unfortunately, the influence for women to pursue full-time careers is largely a result of the feminist movement. Many women were brainwashed into believing that motherhood was less desirable than a full-time career outside the home. It is interesting that in recent years, there seems to be a growing number of women, not necessarily Christians, who have moved away from that influence and have decided to become full-time mothers and housewives.

But above all, what does the Bible have to say about the matter? Just what is the God ordained role for the wife? Well, the Bible does have plenty to say about the subject. This past week, John MacArthur was teaching on this subject, and teaching the biblical principles for a godly wife. If you did not catch the radio broadcast, I would recommend downloading the podcast. No, it is probably not a popular topic, but it is something that needs to be taught more often. Unfortunately, few churches feel inclined to teach on this subject. Many undoubtedly are offended by such teaching, but it really does not matter; adherence to Scriptural teaching must remain paramount in the life of a Christian.

The Bible does not explicitly forbid women from performing any work outside the home and we need to be careful not to go further than what Scripture teaches, perhaps even formulating a legalistic rule that the Bible does not state. However, there are very strong biblical principles outlined in Scripture that should supply ample guidelines when considering whether the wife should seek employment outside the home. Furthermore, there are explicit commands as to the responsibilities of the wife. Now I understand that there are extenuating circumstances that sometimes arise, necessitating that the wife work outside the home on a full-time basis. But I believe these circumstances are the exception rather than the rule. Remember, we must always seek to line up our lives with Scripture and endeavor to live our lives as pleasing to the Lord, even when it is not convenient, or in opposition to what the world may think. For the believer, we should constantly be renewing our minds and purging our thinking from adopting and being carried away by the world’s philosophies (Romans 12:2). This of course, must be accomplished through Scripture.

So, just what does God expect as the role women should play? Let’s look at the book of Titus chapter 2. Paul, giving instruction to Titus in verse 1 says, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”. The term “fitting” means to be in accordance with, to conform in such a way as to stand out or to be conspicuous. We are to line up our lives with the truth of Scripture in such a way that it stands out to others, and that it is obvious that we live by a different standard than the world. Our lifestyles must provide a strong witness and testimony to the unbelieving world. To be effective in this, we must be sure that our lives differ from the world’s perspective, a way that is reflective of God’s Truth. The principles that Paul expounds in the verses following conform to biblical truth. The term “sound” means healthy and adherence to sound teaching certainly contributes to a healthy spiritual life.

Paul then gives instruction both for men and women. In verse 3, the older women are to be "reverent" or in other words "dignified". This means that they are to live honorable lives, exhibiting sensible judgment and are to be spiritually healthy. They are not to be known for engaging in gossip and are not to be addicted to wine, enabling them to be clear headed in their thinking. The term "older women" refers to those who were past child-bearing age. These are the women who have plenty of experience behind them, and have been well seasoned in the duties of being a godly wife and mother.

These older women were to be actively involved in teaching the younger women about those things that are pleasing to God. Their lives being well known to exhibit godliness, are an example for the younger women to follow. Their life long experiences of marriage and family leave them with the knowledge to pass along to the next generation. This is instruction so that the younger women can know how to love their husbands and children and how to live pure, sensible lives, being “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). These are qualities and obligations that are essential for all women, they are not optional. It should be obvious that the priority of the wife is to be maintaining her household and all of this instruction is meant to prepare the younger women to fulfill their God ordained role.

I know that the intention of this post is centered on the duties of wives, but I also want to point out that the responsibility of teaching and instruction of the younger men is conversely true for the older men. I think this is important and should be an integral part of the discipleship process of the local church. I often wonder if there is enough of this taking place in many of our churches today. I fear that all too often it is not.

But the primary point of the women’s responsibility is the term “workers at home”. The woman’s responsibility is to be focused on the matters surrounding keeping a godly household. This is to be the woman’s primary responsibility. Paul in 1 Timothy 5, gives instruction that the younger widowed women should marry, bear children and “keep house”. The Greek word translated “keep house” is “oikodespoteo”, and it means to rule or manage, as in the affairs of the family. She is not only to rear the children, but she is also in charge of the administration of the home. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes this type of woman.

The women of this day were just as subject to the worldly notions of feminism. The onslaught of feminist ideas was prevalent then nearly as much as it is today. It is nothing new and the contemporary feminism today is nothing but the same old lies that were perpetrated in the ancient world. It is unfortunate that many women, sometimes even within the church, have been deceived into believing the lies of feminism.

So I believe one of the primary question that need to be answered in reference to women working outside the home is whether or not they are still able to fulfill their obligations in the home. Quite frankly, I am not sure how any woman can maintain a full-time career and still have the time to sufficiently take care of her family and keep order in the home. This is particularly true when there are young children in the home. There simply cannot be enough time available to handle both. And someone needs to be around to take care of the younger children. Children simply cannot rear themselves. Who is there to instill godly principles in their lives?

It is no accident that the youth in our country are in trouble. We are reaching a crisis where youth are committing heinous crimes at younger ages. I am certain that everyone is familiar with the term latch-key children. These are the children that are left to themselves once they get home from school until mom and dad arrive home from work. The question remains, what are these kids doing in the meantime? Are they entertaining themselves with television programs and video games containing objectionable content? Should we then be surprised that children are being negatively influenced by these things? It is becoming commonplace for children to engage in violence that was nearly unheard of two or three decades ago. Just observe how many school shootings that we have witnessed over the last few years. General violence in schools has increased dramatically. This situation did not occur overnight, but the seeds of the problem were planted long ago and the current dilemma was cultivated over time.

Without the godly influence of a Christian mother who endeavors to instill biblical values in the lives of her children, what is going to happen to those children as they grow up? Will they succumb to the worldly philosophies and pattern their lives after the world? I really fear for many of the Christian youth. I am finding that many are adopting the ways of the world rather than seeking to line their lives up with Scripture.

So ultimately the real question is whether employment outside the home will severely prevent or hinder the wife’s obligation within the home. The home must be the top priority. I believe there is a dilemma facing the church today. If our lives begin to look more and more like the world, then what testimony do we have before the lost? We desperately need for our lives to speak to the world through a lifestyle that reflects a biblical world view, and we need to openly and honestly approach Scripture with the intent to allow it to penetrate our hearts and change us.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wider-Mercy Salvation?

This grieved me when I first read about this a long while ago, but to actually hear Dr. Graham say these words is even more grievous.

Here is another video that has this clip in it as well about 3:50 minutes through it. This one shows a little bit of Billy Graham’s earlier years in his ministry. He certainly started out much differently.

Another example of his erroneous philosophy.

This is what happens when we begin to allow the truth to slip and go to great lengths not to offend anyone. Yes, we should not do anything to deliberately be offensive, but we need to remember that the gospel by its very nature is an offense to the lost (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). We are further obligated to give people the truth about their lost condition, preach the Gospel to them as the remedy for their sin, and warn of the eternal consequences if they reject it. It was Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 9:16 who wrote "woe is me if I do not preach the gospel". It is tragic that Billy Graham has veered so far off track. Unfortunately, this kind of teaching bears dire consequences for those who hear this and think there is an alternative way of salvation.

Listen below as John MacArthur confronts this “wider-mercy” salvation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Peril of Turning Away

“ 1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:1-6; NASB)

The exhortation here is that the Hebrews embrace saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Many were sitting just at the brink of saving faith, but were not taking the next step and embracing Jesus as Savior. In fact, they were slipping back into the Old Testament teaching, rather than moving “on to maturity”, that is, salvation through Jesus as Savior. The Old Testament teaching was only meant to lay the foundation for faith in Jesus as the Messiah. The Old Testament teaching could be revisited if it was used to help them move on to faith in Christ (“if God Permits”), but it is only God who can enable that faith to take place (John 6:44-65).

It has been proposed by some that this passage indicates that one can lose their salvation, which is how they interpret verse 6. However, if that is the case, then it is also true that person can never come back to the Lord (“it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”, v. 6). Yet those who take the position that once someone is saved that they can fall into sin and lose their salvation, constantly plead with people to repent. So it should appear obvious that this passage does not mean that. Furthermore, there are numerous passages elsewhere in Scripture that speak of the believer’s security in Christ (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:38, 39; John 10:27-29).

But the real intent of this passage is not directed at Christians who fall into grievous sin, but rather the peril of rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior. In fact, the overall focus in Hebrews is on illustrating that Jesus was the appointed Savior prophesied and spoken of throughout the Old Testament.

The term “maturity” also translated “perfection” in some translations (KJV & NKJV), is the Greek word “teleiotes”, and means moral and spiritual perfection, an accomplishment achieved. Here it is referring to the accomplishment that Christ achieved through the cross to declare us righteous through His finished work. In other words it is speaking of salvation. It is not referring to spiritual growth in Christian character and sanctification in daily living, though that should become apparent once someone comes to genuine faith in Christ.

The problem with many of the Hebrews addressed here is that they were in danger of ultimately turning from the truth of God’s saving grace, drifting back into Old Testament teaching. Apparently they seemed like they got off to a good start, giving the appearance that they were true believers. This is similar to the description of those in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23. Verse 20 describes the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, but falls away once trouble ensues. In a similar fashion, many of the Hebrews had wonderful spiritual encounters, but soon fell away. Just like the seed planted on rock never is able to take root, so these people were never were able to become grounded in the faith. They were “enlightened”, receiving instruction in biblical truth and were able to at least understand on an intellectual basis. They had a “taste” of the “heavenly gift”, but seem to not have feasted on and digested it. They were in some sense “partakers” or “shared” (NIV& ESV) in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, even witnessing His mighty work, or even falling under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but fell short of experiencing salvation. Even the presence of signs and mighty works does no necessarily mean that those involved are genuine believers, as Jesus warned in Matthew 7.

Those who willfully turn from the knowledge of the truth of the gospel, defecting from the faith are apostates and no longer have a sacrifice that provides a covering for their sins. There is no sacrifice for sin apart from Jesus Christ. To disregard the finality and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice is to hold Jesus in contempt and is “insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29), essentially committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31, 32).

Once the gospel is refused, a hardening of the heart sets in and once that hardening takes place, the heart is no longer receptive to the truth. Earlier in Hebrews, they were exhorted not to harden their hearts as their ancestors did in the book of Numbers (Chapters 13-14). There, the children of Israel witnessed the mighty work of God, but allowed unbelief to settle in and slipped into grumbling and complaining, resulting in their turning away from God (Hebrews 3:7-19).

The rejection of God’s offer of grace after receiving the full instruction and enlightenment of the truth is a sin that inhibits their restoration to a place of forgiveness. Repentance becomes impossible for them (Hebrews 6:6; 10:26). In this state, “they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” placing themselves in the same position as those who crucified Christ, treating Him as a mere man that deserved to be crucified.

The more that I read of the final necessity of Christ’ s sacrifice and the strong exhortation of the Jews to receive Jesus as Savior, the more grieved I am over the blunder of men like John Hagee who wrongly teach that the Jews are covered under the Old Testament Covenant. How can anyone misunderstand this? Have they not read Hebrews and Romans? I just cannot fathom how anyone could teach that the Jews can be saved any other way except through Jesus Christ.

But I believe that there is a strong exhortation here, not just for the Jews, but for anyone who comes to the brink of saving faith, but turns and essentially dismisses the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is vital to respond in faith to the Gospel. To reject the Gospel is to create a hardening of the heart and places that individual in the peril of sealing their fate for eternity.