Daily Archives: July 25, 2014

Questions about the Church: What Roles Can Women Fill in Ministry?

 

Women in ministry is an issue upon which Bible-believing Christians can and do disagree. The point of separation centers on the passages of Scripture that forbid women to speak in church or “assume authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34). The disagreement is whether or not those passages were relevant only to the era in which they were penned. Some contend that, since there is neither “Jew nor Greek … male nor female … but you are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28), women are free to pursue any field of ministry open to men. Others hold that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies today, since the basis for the command is not cultural but universal, being rooted in the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:13–14).

First Peter 5:1–4 details the qualifications for an elder. Presbuteros is the Greek word used sixty-six times in the New Testament to indicate “seasoned male overseer.” It is the masculine form of the word. The feminine form, presbutera, is never used in reference to elders or shepherds. Based on the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1–7, the role of an elder is interchangeable with the bishop/pastor/overseer (Titus 1:6–9; 1 Peter 5:1–3). And since, according to 1 Timothy 2:12, a woman should not “teach or exercise authority over a man,” it seems clear that the position of elders and pastors—who must be equipped to teach, lead the congregation, and oversee their spiritual growth (1 Timothy 3:2)—should be reserved for men only.

However, elder/bishop/pastor appears to be the only office reserved for men. Women have always played a significant role in the growth of the church, even being among the few who witnessed the crucifixion of Christ when most of the disciples had run away (Matthew 27:55; John 19:25). The apostle Paul held women in high regard, and in many of his letters to the churches he greeted specific women by name (Romans 16:6, 12; Colossians 4:15; Philippians 4:2–3; Philemon 1:2). Paul addresses these women as “co-workers,” and they clearly served the Lord to the benefit of the whole church (Philippians 4:3; Colossians 4:15).

Offices were created in the early church to fit the needs of the body. Although many modern churches interchange the positions of elder and deacon, they were not the same office. Deacons were appointed to serve in a physical capacity as the need arose (Acts 6:2–3). There is no clear prohibition against women serving in this way. In fact, Romans 16:1 may indicate that a woman named Phoebe was a respected deaconess in the church at Rome.

There is no scriptural precedent that forbids women from also serving as worship leaders, youth ministers, or children’s directors. The only restriction is that they do not assume a role of spiritual authority over adult men. Since the concern in Scripture appears to be the issue of spiritual authority rather than function, any role that does not bestow such spiritual authority over adult men is permissible.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Salvation: What Is Free Grace? What Is Free Grace Theology?

 

Free Grace Theology is essentially a view of soteriology grown from more traditional Baptist roots. It was systematized by theologians such as Dr.’s Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges in the 1980s, mainly as a response to its antithesis, Lordship Theology or Lordship Salvation, which has its roots in Reformed theology. Today, Free Grace is still going strong, supported by such Christian voices as Tony Evans, Erwin Lutzer, Bruce Wilkinson, Dallas Theological Seminary, and the Grace Evangelical Society.

The basic teaching of Free Grace Theology is that responding to the “call to believe” in Jesus Christ through faith alone is all that is necessary to receive eternal life. This basic, simple belief brings assurance of “entering” the kingdom of God. Then, if a person further responds to the “call to follow” Jesus, he becomes a disciple and undergoes sanctification. The follower of Christ has the opportunity to “inherit” the kingdom of God, which includes receiving particular rewards based on works accomplished for God on earth.

Free Grace theologians point to a number of passages to validate their distinction between having saving faith and following Christ, mainly from the Gospel of John and the Pauline Epistles. For instance, Jesus’ explanation to the woman at the well of how to receive salvation—that she simply ask Him for it (John 4:10)—is compared to Jesus’ words to the disciples a few minutes later—that they must “do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34).

Other verses in John’s Gospel mention the act of belief as the sole requirement for salvation, including John 3:16 and John 5:24. And John 6:47 says, “The one who believes has eternal life.” The fact that works lead to rewards in heaven may be seen in passages such as Matthew 5:1–15; 1 Corinthians 3:11–15; and Hebrews 10:32–36, particularly verse 36, which reads, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

Many Reformed theologians are appalled by the assertions of Free Grace theologians, accusing them of “easy believism” or even antinomianism. Antinomianism is the heretical belief that a Christian is under no law whatsoever, whether biblical or moral, and thus may do whatever he pleases. The fact of the matter is that Free Grace Theology can make it easier to arrive at antinomianism. However, Free Grace teaching is not antinomian per se. Free Grace theologians consider their position more biblical than Lordship Salvation, which they consider to be a works-based theology. According to Free Grace theologians, Lordship Salvation holds that saving faith includes inherently the “act” of accomplishing radical internal change leading to good works.

This leads to the Free Grace emphasis on assurance of salvation, again based on the basic promises in John’s Gospel, that belief is all that is necessary for salvation. To the Free Grace theologian, this is a simple, cut-and-dried issue—if you believe, you are saved. For the Lordship Salvation camp, assurance of salvation comes through the observation of change in the professing believer, i.e., that he is accomplishing good works. Each camp views the other as possibly leading to heresy.

Although Free Grace Theology and Lordship Salvation are terms that have developed only recently, they represent concerns that have been around since the beginning of the church. At the end of the day, there is no question about the basic salvation of those who hold either view—which is ironic, since their disagreement is about salvation! Both views are within the limits of orthodoxy. Still, this does not mean it’s an insignificant discussion. One’s beliefs in this matter can change his view of himself, God, and salvation a great deal.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Topical Bible Questions: What Is Spiritual Manipulation?

 

To manipulate is to negotiate, control or influence for one’s own advantage. Spiritual manipulation is a technique used by some abusive churches and cults to control individuals and acquire gain, all the while giving the impression that their teachings are based on the Bible.

Some religious groups take Scriptures out of context in order to support their beliefs. They isolate “proof texts” and “cherry pick” verses to persuade the uninformed that their interpretation is right, even to the extent of claiming they alone have “the truth” and everybody else is wrong. Some have even altered the Bible and produced their own translation to support their religious bias.

Some denominations use scholastic dishonesty to manipulate. They will use partial quotations from first-century Christians and eminent Bible scholars in suggesting that they agree with their views. Take, as an example, the booklet “Should You Believe in the Trinity?,” published by the Watchtower Society. Page 7 includes a partial quote from Justin Martyr: “Justin Martyr, who died about 165 C.E., called the prehuman Jesus a created angel who is ‘other than the God who made all things.’ He said that Jesus was inferior to God and ‘never did anything except what the Creator … willed him to do and say.’ ” What’s missing from this partial quotation is significant. Justin Martyr said that the “Son, who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.” Nowhere did Justin Martyr say the pre-human Jesus was a created angel.

Some individuals manipulate Scripture for their own personal benefit. An authoritarian husband might demand that his wife submit to him as the head of the house and quote Ephesians 5:22 (“Wives, submit to your husbands”). But that same man might purposefully overlook verse 26, which says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Instead of taking the bits of Scripture he approves of and using them to lord it over his family, he would do well to read 1 Corinthians 13 and practice the type of love that is patient, kind, protects, trust and perseveres, etc.

During a conversation between Christians, someone might say, “The Lord has told me that.…” This phrase essentially shuts down the conversation because it implies that, since God has spoken a word, there can’t be any further discussion. Don’t be fooled by this trick; it is a form of spiritual manipulation. Or a preacher says, “Sow into my ministry, and God will repay you. Sow, and you will reap! God is no man’s debtor.” Could such preaching simply be an exploitive appeal for money? Is the preacher trying to influence people for his own financial advantage? If so, it is spiritual manipulation.

Another form of spiritual manipulation occurs when abusive churches and cults twist Scripture to give more authority to the leadership and keep the members under their control. One example is the use of Hebrews 13:17 as a basis for demanding unquestioning loyalty and obedience to the leaders. Some religious groups view questioning the leaders as tantamount to questioning God. Some leaders claim to have divine authority and approval; thus, to disobey them is to disobey God. This is perhaps the most pernicious form of spiritual manipulation, and it has no place in a true church.

Victims of spiritual manipulation seldom realize what’s happening to them. Here are some indicators of a spiritually manipulative church:

Legalism Demands for obedience Unquestioning submission Punishment (loss of privileges, shunning or expulsion) Misplaced loyalty Emphasis on performance Exclusivism (“we alone are right, and everybody else is wrong”) Isolation (refusal to associate with anyone but spiritual brothers and sisters) Humiliation of the “disobedient”

Abusive churches train members to block out any information that is critical of the group. With enough thought and information control, the leaders can get those under their control to defend their new identity against their former identity. The first line of defense is denial—“What you say isn’t happening at all.” Next comes rationalization—“This is happening for a good reason.” After that, justification—“This is happening because it ought to.” Finally, wishful thinking—“I’d like it to be true, so maybe it really is.”

A characteristic of spiritually abusive systems is that a misplaced sense of loyalty is fostered and even demanded. This is not about loyalty to Christ, but about loyalty to an organization, church or leader. Because authority is assumed or legislated, following that authority must also be legislated. This is accomplished is by setting up a system where disloyalty or disagreement with the leadership is construed as disobeying God. Questioning leaders is not allowed. After all, the leader is the authority, and authority is always right. Such spiritual manipulation denies the truth of Ephesians 1:22, which says that Christ is the Head of the church. Our loyalty is due Him.

All Christians need to be alert to spiritual manipulation and follow this example from Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Did the apostle Paul take offense when the Bereans researched to ensure that his preaching was based on Scripture? Of course not, because Paul knew his preaching would stand up under exhaustive scrutiny. Likewise with all teaching and preaching—we must hold it up to the light of God’s Word before we accept it. Any religious group that prevents its members from doing independent research, or from challenging what the leadership says, must have something to fear.

Jesus told His disciples they would be like sheep among wolves and instructed them to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The Master’s yoke is easy, and His burden is light. He gives us rest and is gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:28–29). That is the Christlike example all who shepherd Jesus’ flock must exemplify.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Do Not Be Surprised…This ‘n’ That (25 July 2014)

 

  • Yes, but were they spontaneous baptisms? Those are the only kind that count, right?
  • I don’t think Charisma’s Jennifer LeClaire has any idea what John MacArthur is actually best known for—probably because her charismatic self wouldn’t recognize sound teaching if it smacked her in the forehead.
  • What’s wrong with Reiki?
  • My friend Lori Williams and her husband, Vince, of Falsified Ministries, visited Craig Groeschel’s Lifechurch for some of his summer ‘At the Movies‘ sermon series. Yes, Lori, we all think you’re crazy.
  • Will the next John MacArthur please stand up?
  • Sometimes it feels like you have to have blinders on your eyes wherever you look.
  • I’m happy Meriam Ibrahim is free, but really? Her first stop on the road to freedom was to see the pope?
  • I posted this Phil Johnson sermon last Fall following the Strange Fire conference, but in light of yesterday’s article, I am posting it again. Thanks to reader Colette for reminding me of it. Providence is remarkable:

Source

 

GAZA WAR UPDATE, Day #17: Is ceasefire at hand, or close? Rocket fire dropping, but terrorist tunnels remain serious threat. Here’s the latest….

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

As I write this, the Israeli security cabinet is meeting to consider a seven-day ceasefire proposal by Secretary Kerry, even as Palestinians are rioting in the West Bank and Hamas is calling for a “third intifada.”

The big question Israeli leaders are wrestling with is this: Has the IDF destroyed enough of the terrorists’ rockets, missiles, launchers, tunnels, weapons stockpiles and command and control centers to justify stopping now, or do they need more time to accomplish the nation’s objectives of establishing several years or true calm and stability?

  • The good news: Israeli defensive measures have kept civilian deaths in Israel low (2 so far), and rocket fire has dropped from 190+ a day near the beginning of the conflict to 63 yesterday.
  • The bad news: the terrorist tunnel network is more extensive and dangerous than Israeli intelligence realized.
  • The challenge: Iron Dome is working extremely well at neutralizing the rocket threat…

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Consequences of False Teaching: Driving People from Christ

Steak and a Bible

You might have noticed the theme for the past couple days has been false teaching here at Steak and a Bible. I’d like to focus today on consequences. There are serious consequences for false teaching: judgment from God upon false teachers and also the real possibility of people remaining in their sins and unbelief because they have not heard the true gospel and been converted. The price for false teaching is high.

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“Pay no attention to the signs, folks”

If your church doesn’t talk much or at all about Bible prophecy, why not? Did you know that a third of your Bible is full of prophecy? Some has been fulfilled, and some is yet to be. But we can be sure of one thing: Every prophecy God has given has or will come true.

So if someone is teaching you to pay no attention to the prophecies and signs that Jesus said would be evident, run!

The question I often ask is, why are post-modern churches turning a blind eye to this huge part of God’s breathed-out Word? We’re going to ask a pastor that question.

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End Times Prophecy Headlines: July 25, 2014

End Times Prophecy Report

End Times Prophecy Report Headlines: Bible prophecy in Today's headlines. Bible prophecy in Today’s headlines.

End Times Prophecy Report
HEADLINES
July 24, 2014

CommentaryAnd OPINION

===INTERNATIONAL

RUSSIA: Pentagon – Russia firing artillery into Ukraine

RUSSIA: Disenchanted with Putin, some Russians flee the country

ISRAEL: Riots in West Bank

Israeli security forces have shot dead two Palestinians during a massive protest in the West Bank, according to medical officials.

The protest came hours after 15 people were killed and more than 200 injuredwhen a UN school in the city of Beit Hanoun was hit by an artillery shell.

ISRAEL: US voters favor cutting aid to Israel, Palestinians to force peace – Peace will only come when Jesus returns.  Not the imposter who is even now on his way;  Jesus Christ: the Son of the Living God! Even now, one suspects that, like Santa, Satan is making a list and checking it twice of all those who proclaim the truth.

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The vacant presidency – Charles Krauthammer

The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached from the world’s convulsions. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement.

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America: Then vs Now; How Far Have We Drifted?

It’s almost unbelievable how far we’ve drifted.

Newsweek magazine, on Dec. 27, 1982, in an article entitled, How the Bible Made America, had this revealing statement, “Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our Founding document.”

To understand the core values of a nation, one must simply look to the beliefs set forth during its conception. Judge for yourself how far we have drifted from the original intent of early Americans. Consider the following:

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The return of the axis of evil Analysis: After Syrian civil war created rift between Hamas, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Gaza conflict may be bringing them all back together

The return of the axis of evil Analysis: After Syrian civil war created rift between Hamas, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Gaza conflict may be bringing them all back together

Khamenei: Keep arming Palestinians until Israel is destroyed

The “Zionist regime” must be destroyed, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. This should be achieved “by a referendum of the people living there,” but until that happens, there should be “total armed resistance” against it.”
He said that anyone who is capable should help arm the Palestinians.

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The Great War, Again?

Today, similar divisions dominate headlines from Europe to the Middle East. The civil war in Syria, hostilities between Israel and the radical Hamas movement in the Palestinian territories, and Russia’s ongoing troublemaking in Ukraine are just the most public symptoms of a deeper, and deeply alarming, ailment: the unraveling of the existing global order.

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Over 700 Syrians Were Killed Last Week — But Jews Didn’t Do it, So the Media Doesn’t Care

From reading the international and national news you would probably never have known that last Thursday and Friday alone, over 700 people were killed in Syria at the hands of jihadists and pro-Assad forces. Muslim on Muslim, Arab on Arab, human on human, whatever you like to think of it as – Western media is doing an awful job of reporting these abhorrent incidences – and I think I know why.

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