Category Archives: Christian Living

Change of Plan: To Change Every Day

With January 1st behind us, we’re still thinking about our New Year resolutions. People bought shiny new planners hoping that this will finally be the year they are punctual and organized. Vows were made never to touch “x” product again, whether it be chocolate, coffee, cigarettes, or the like. Daily Bible reading plans have begun.

However, each year sadly follows the same pattern. Those planners become dusty and shoved to the back of the desk drawer. “X” product gets picked up again. The Bible reading plan keeps getting put off.

We wait expectantly for January 1st, holding off change, assuming that when we wake up that morning we’re sprinkled with magic abilities to change. Sadly, many of us have discovered that there is nothing special about January 1st.

But there is something special about you, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus. You have the Holy Spirit living inside you, who gives you the ability to change daily (Romans 8:1-17).

Christians, we don’t need to wait for a new year in order to grow in our obedience to God. Instead of getting stuck in New Year Resolutions this year, let’s seek to change daily.

But first we must recognize why we need to change daily, how to change, and finally how to persevere in daily change.

Why We Need to Change Daily

First, God calls us to change.

Romans chapter three reminds us that every human on earth is a sinner (Romans 3:10, 23). We don’t simply make mistakes. We sin against the Holy God each day. We selfishly seek to steal his glory for ourselves, we harm other people made in his image, and we rebel against his law seeking to go our own way. And we don’t do this on occasion. We do this constantly. We’re not good people who occasionally misstep; we’re evil at heart (Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 8:21, Psalm 51:5).

Thanks be to God that he didn’t leave us in this sin-stuck state:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

This is the glorious exchange: On the cross, Christ took the wrath we deserved and gave us his righteousness. Those who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised them from the dead, they are saved from condemnation for sin and are counted righteous in Christ before God (Romans 10:9-10).

Romans 8:29-30 reminds us that God has chosen us for the purpose of changing us into the likeness of Jesus, with the goal of one day glorifying us. This is his eternal plan: saving sin-filled man to fill them with the Holy Spirit, to conform them to Christ, and bring glory to his name.

Second, God commands us to change.

This doesn’t mean that we are now perfect as believers. We still sin, because we are still living in our flesh. But when we were saved God gave his Spirit, who enables us to live a life pleasing to God, and the desire to do so (Romans 8:1-11). We’re no longer slaves to sin but to righteousness.

After all Christ has done for us, we desire to live a life that brings glory to him! Although we continue to sin, our lives should be characterized with repentance and turning to obedience.


Change comes with both obedient action and dependence on the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13).
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Not only that, but as believers, we’re called to take careful watch of how we walk. We are commanded to be obedient to God’s law as his children.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

We need to carefully watch how we live, striving to be obedient daily, rather than putting off our obedience until a special day of the year.

How to Cultivate Daily Change

God’s Spirit Works in You.

Change comes with both obedient action and dependence on the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13). When we read God’s Word, he applies it to our hearts and convicts us of what sins we need to repent of. He promises to change our attitudes and renew our hearts with the Holy Spirit so that we desire to do what is righteous (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Strive to obey in faith.

Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) outlines a pattern of change for us to follow:

But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

First, we put off sin, our old self.

For the person who lies, Paul writes that they must put off falsehood (v. 25). In this action, there must be a clear repenting of and putting away sin.

We need to confess how we have sinned against God and then fight against repeating such sin.

Second, we are to be renewed in our minds.

There needs to be a godly motive for putting off sin—a heart change—otherwise you are simply modifying your behaviors like a Pharisee.

For the person who lies, Paul says they need to realize that they are members of the body of Christ (v. 25), and that their lies will harm the entire body.

Thirdly, we are to put on godliness in place of our old self.

For the liar, this is simply telling the truth (v. 25).

What active obedience can you put in place of your sin? Could you replace complaining with thanksgiving? Or anger with kindness? Irritability with patience?

How to Persevere: Remembering Grace for the Daily Battle

We will not always succeed in the daily battle, but instead, will give way to sin. This is the point where the world usually gives up on their New Year resolutions.

But for you, a truly born-again soul, you have God’s grace and his Spirit. When you sin, God not only forgives you, but also gives you the grace to continue striving for change.

His grace doesn’t simply come at salvation, but continues for your entire race of the faith. Don’t lose heart, but let us proclaim with Paul, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).

Let’s strive to be obedient to God every day, giving glory to Christ, all the while resting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Telling the Truth about Man

Genesis 1:26-28Romans 1:18-20

Code: B180117

Evolution’s doctrine of man is fundamentally wrong on two counts. That was the diagnosis Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones delivered during an interview in 1970: “I criticize the modern view of man on two grounds. One is that it makes too much of man. Secondly, that it doesn’t make enough of man.”

Jones’s point was in reference to the two biblical truths that evolutionists emphatically deny. They recognize man as “just an animal” and refuse to acknowledge him as being created in the image of God. Conversely, the secular wisdom of our day pronounces man as morally neutral and refuses to acknowledge what is so painfully obvious—that all people are sinners by nature.

Made in God’s Image

The Bible makes it clear that humanity is not merely one type of animal competing in the fight for survival. Scripture testifies that God made man to be the apex of His creation:

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  (Genesis 1:26–28)

There is nothing pointless or random about human existence. We were originally designed to take dominion over the world God made. Man, as God’s image bearer, carries a divine mission that sets him completely apart from the animal kingdom.

But what exactly does it mean that mankind was created in the image of God?

While the imago Dei is a massive theological subject in its own right, it contains one inherent truth vital for evangelism: Man is a moral creature who is accountable to God. James Montgomery Boice highlighted that critical implication.

An element in being created in the image of God is morality. Morality includes the two further elements of freedom and responsibility. To be sure, the freedom which men and women possess is not absolute. Even in the beginning the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, were not autonomous. They were creatures and were responsible for acknowledging their status by their obedience. [1]

Realizing that we are created in God’s image brings with it a sense of honor but also the realization of grave accountability. Our inherent morality doesn’t vouch for our morals. Rather, it convicts us of our failure to behave morally. Our knowledge of right and wrong, and the fact that we continually violate that morality, point us back to the historical reality of Adam’s fall.

Fallen

Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners? Be careful how you answer that question—it’s not a play on words. Only one answer is biblically true.

When Adam fell in the Garden, his sin was passed on in the natures of all his descendants. It isn’t our sins that make us sinners. Our sins reveal our true sinful natures. John MacArthur elaborates:

All humanity was plunged into this guilty condition because of Adam’s sin. “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). This is the doctrine of original sin, a truth that is expounded by Paul in Romans 5:12–19. . . . We prove our willing complicity in Adam’s rebellion every time we sin. And since no one other than Jesus has ever lived a sinless life, no one is really in a position to doubt the doctrine of original sin, much less deem it unjust. [2]

Original sin is biblical truth that can be empirically proven. When the Bible tells us that everybody is a sinner (Romans 3:23) it reinforces what the sum of our life experience has already proven. Original sin is why we have everything from global wars to locks on doors. It’s why people get sick and die. It’s why we are dying! There is nowhere to flee from the reality and impact of Adam’s first act of defiance in the Garden. And there is no way to get around our own subsequent crimes of complicity.

Guilty and Without Excuse

Man’s failure to honor and obey his Creator has never been due to ignorance on the part of humanity—or the lack of evidence on God’s part. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so [men] are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

When we proclaim the God of Scripture to sinners, we aren’t ministering to their lack of theological education. We are presenting truth that clearly resonates with what they already instinctively know. God’s Word tells us that sinners are not uninformed about the truth of God, but rather, they suppress that truth “in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Put simply, man’s primary problem has always been the love of sin, not the lack of education.

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations” (Romans 1:21). God holds sinful men accountable for their failure to worship Him rightly. And He will call us to account on the Day of Judgment for our failure to do so (Hebrews 9:27).

That judgment will extend to all of our actions (Revelation 20:11–12), words (Matthew 12:36–37), and even thoughts (Matthew 5:27–281 Corinthians 4:5). There will be nowhere to hide and nothing left to conceal on the Day of Judgment.

Warning vs. Wooing

Faithful evangelists never comfort unrepentant sinners. Instead, we are to warn them. We must expose the sheer awfulness and offensiveness of sin by confronting them with an objective standard of righteousness. Since sin is biblically defined as lawlessness (1 John 3:4), John MacArthur advocates for the use of God’s law in the exposure of sin.

Jesus and the apostles did not hesitate to use the law in their evangelism. They knew that law reveals our sin (Romans 3:20) and is a tutor to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). It is the means God uses to make sinners see their own helplessness. Clearly, Paul saw a key place for the law in evangelistic contexts. Yet many today believe the law, with its inflexible demand for holiness and obedience, is contrary to and incompatible with the gospel.

Why should we make such distinctions when Scripture does not? If Scripture cautioned against preaching repentance, obedience, righteousness, or judgment to unbelievers, that would be one thing. But Scripture contains no such warnings. The opposite is true. . . . If we want to follow the biblical model, we cannot ignore sin, righteousness, and judgment because they are the very matters about which the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved (John 16:8). Can we omit them from the message and still call it the gospel? [3]

Some argue that it’s better to preach about God’s love rather than man’s sin. That may sound like a far more pleasant and palatable idea, but Scripture reveals that the love of God finds its very definition in human sinfulness: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). A failure to preach about sin leaves the love of God meaningless and the cross of Christ purposeless.

If we are to faithfully proclaim the gospel, we need to let the glorious light of Christ’s saving work shine against the dark backdrop of man’s guilt. The cross will never be understood as the solution unless the problem is first explained. And the ultimate problem is most graphically displayed in the stark contrast between God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness. The more we polarize these two truths, the more profound the portrayal of Christ’s redemptive work. We’ll consider that next time.

 


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Counting on Mercy in Suffering

From the pits of grief and suffering, the human heart and soul can yearn to know the cause of earthly pain. Did a particular sin bring this suffering upon me, or did I need discipline?

Tender answers might pour into the soul from Scripture—Job was a noble man who suffered and grieved (Job 1:8). And the man born blind in John’s gospel was not provided by Jesus with a personal sin corresponding to his pain (John 9:2-3). We cannot always draw straight lines between cause and effect for our individual suffering (Isaiah 55:9). In How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil, D. A. Carson writes,

It is the uncertainty of reading what is going on that sometimes breeds pain. Is the particular blow I am facing God’s way of telling me to change something? Or is it a form of discipline designed to toughen me or soften me to make me more useful? Or is it part of the heritage of all sons and daughters of Adam who live this side of the parousia, unrelated to discipline but part of God’s mysterious providence in a fallen world? But must we always decide? If a little self-examination shows us how to improve, we ought to improve. But there are times when all that the Christian can responsibly do is to trust his heavenly Father in the midst of the darkness and pain. (Carson 66)

“Must we always decide?” We can heed Carson to welcome needed growth in obedience that “a little self-examination” uncovers. Yet, he also warns that our inability to understand the full purposes of God behind our suffering can cause us sorrow on top of sorrow.

Draw Near to the Merciful Savior

While we sit in the mysteries of God’s providence, there is a promise we can be certain of. It’s a theme Carson repeats throughout his book: “From the biblical perspective, it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Carson 44).

As I grow to have a higher and higher view of God being God—creating and owning me, being pure and dwelling in unapproachable light, and deserving of my unwavering devotion and holy fear, I am increasingly unable to view any of my sins as insignificant or any of my fleshly contributions as meaningful. This principle Carson writes of has been crucial for me, especially in the seat of suffering.


We cannot possibly count what we have in Christ.
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Approaching God for mercy in a manner that communicates, “I’ve got nothing,” is the biblical way (Zuber). Kevin Zuber preaches this approach to God based upon the account of the father who grieves the sickness of his son in Matthew 17:14-15,

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him [Christ] and, kneeling before him, said “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.”

While witnessing the agony of his clearly beloved son—which a mother or father knows becomes the agony of the parent too—this father bends his knees to Christ and asks for the undeserved mercy of God. This is outward evidence of his commendable spiritual posture.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Don’t Forget Your Sin While Suffering

Approaching God for mercy, I am able to draw near to his throne of grace. And this God has, indeed, been merciful. Look with me at the example of Psalm 40.

In this psalm, David speaks of being in a pit—a miry bog of suffering. As the Psalm progresses, two variations of suffering are mentioned—personal sins (Psalm 40:12) and a near-death experience at the hand of others (Psalm 40:13-14). Note that the latter doesn’t appear to correspond to a particular sin David has committed, for David openly declares that the sins of others are to their shame.

For evils have encompassed me

beyond number;

my iniquities have overtaken me,

and I cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my head;

my heart fails me. (Psalm 40: 12)

 

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!

O LORD, make haste to help me!

Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether

Who seek to snatch away my life. (Psalm 40:12-14a)

In such suffering from others who seek to take his life, David makes a theological step in his thinking that is often unnatural to those in pain. David does not forget about his own sin (Psalm 40:12). He does not forget about the grander biblical perspective for his life—that before God, is not exempt from being in need of mercy.

As those later in history than David, we can think of the new covenant by Christ’s blood and the suffering brought upon Christ on the cross on the basis of sins. To me, there is no clearer correlation in Scripture between suffering and sin—and none more helpful to my posture before him—than in the case of Christ. It’s my sins that held him there.

Find Joy in and Praise His Mercy

Meditating upon what God’s mercy meant for Jesus on the cross, the believing soul yields praise in suffering and grief. David does not withhold his own:

I have told the glad news of deliverance

in the great congregation;

behold, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O LORD.

I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;

I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness

from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:9-10)

David doesn’t seem to be praising God here for deliverance from his physical suffering—from those who were pursuing him. For in the last verse of the Psalm, David asks God to “not delay” (Psalm 40:17). His request for physical deliverance still stands. Yet, he doesn’t underestimate God’s spiritual deliverance—from the edge of death, he speaks about this good news. When suffering abounds, his joy in who God is and who God is to him multiplies countlessly more.

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,

your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

none can compare with you!

I will proclaim and tell of them,

yet they are more than can be told. (Psalm 40:5)

“None can compare with him!” writes David. Does your perspective yield this praise while suffering? We may count the number of days we have been bereaved, the manifestations of our suffering and pain, and the people who have inflicted evil upon us, all the while sitting in the unknown about God’s full purposes behind our sorrows. But, we cannot possibly count what we have in Christ.

In David’s suffering that was directly caused by his sin and in his event of running from those who sought to snatch his life, he held to a singular stance before God. He leans on mercy.

In my times of illness and grief, I am not troubled by the mysterious providences of God. For my suffering here, no matter how severe, could never graduate me from being utterly, moment-by-moment requiring of God’s mercy. To not be presently consumed by his wrath is evidence I look upon often—and do not fathom. And this is mercy Christ suffered for me to joyously receive.

Indeed, none can compare with him.

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Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpit

It’s important to forgive repentant pastors, but not to restore them to pastoral office for years or perhaps ever (depending on the nature of the sin) because Paul’s qualifications pertain to the character. A pastor is an extraordinary ordinary Christian. A pastor is a teacher and a pattern setter. An example. Therefore, he must be above reproach and trustworthy.

Many Christians struggle with what it means to forgive a pastor who has committed a grievous act. Recently, a Memphis megachurch pastor admitted to a “sexual incident” with a high school student 20 years ago in Texas. I’m not in a place to render judgment over another church’s matters. Yet how should we think about forgiveness of a pastor?

Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?”

I side with the second group.

A pastor occupies two offices, or roles: the “office” of pastor and the “office” of church member. The requirements for these offices are different. To be a pastor, you at least need to meet the qualifications Paul gave to his disciple Timothy: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Tim. 3:2-3).

“Above reproach” doesn’t mean a pastor is sinless. It means that if everything about his life is brought into the light, people would still trust him and follow him in the way of godliness.

Typically there are two requirements of holding the “office” of church member: that one be baptized and repentant.

Forgiveness ordinarily (not always) involves two things: forswearing resentment (subjectively) and restoring a person to their previous office or role (objectively).

To “forgive” a pastor means we don’t personally hold his sin against him and that we restore him to his office of church member. If he is repentant, he meets the qualification of membership.

That doesn’t mean we should restore him to the office of pastor. Our forgiveness does not mean he magically meets those qualifications. His life, quite simply, is not above reproach.

By analogy, new-installed President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. Ford didn’t explicitly make a distinction between Nixon as president and Nixon as citizen. But the pardon effectively pardoned Nixon as citizen. It prevented him from being indicted and sent to jail. It did not restore him to the presidency.

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The Bible has no comfort whatsoever to give to people who are not Christians

“The Bible has no comfort whatsoever to give to people who are not Christians – none at all; indeed the exact opposite. The Bible has nothing to say to such people except to warn them to flee from the wrath to come. It tells them that the sufferings of this present hour are not worthy to be compared with the sufferings they are going to endure, that these are but a foretaste of what is coming to them, that the account of the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all similar calamities are but faint pictures of the suffering that is going to come to those who do not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no comfort here for an unbeliever – none at all.”

– Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Romans – The Perseverance Of The Saints

Source: The Bible has no comfort whatsoever to give to people who are not Christians

It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.

Why believe the devil instead of believing God? Rise up and realize the truth about yourself – that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ, and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. O let us remember that it is sin to doubt God’s Word. It is sin to allow the past, which God has dealt with, to rob us of our joy and our usefulness in the present and in the future.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Spiritual Depression – Its Causes and its Cures, Eerdmans, 1965, 76

The Work of the Holy Spirit

The work of the Holy Spirit is to take corrupted image-bearers who cannot glorify God, in whom the divine image is so marred that they will perish in hell—to take those marred and scarred people and to restore in them the likeness of Jesus Christ.

John MacArthur
Strange Fire – Session One

Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

“God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else.”

In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The context here is church leadership, an instruction that continues into chapter 3. A woman is not permitted to be a pastor in a church (elder, bishop, overseer, etc.). Only a man can be a pastor.

This instruction is not limited to the time-period in which Paul was writing. It applies to all people in every place at every point in the history of the church. How do we know this? Because Paul goes all the way back to Genesis with his explanation: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (verses 13-14).

So the first reason the role of pastor is to be filled by a man is because Adam was formed first, and Eve was formed from Adam as his help-meet. The differences between the sexes and the different roles they are assigned are not a result of the fall. They were established at creation and have applied to all people in all cultures at all times.

The second reason a pastor is to be man is because Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but the woman was deceived and transgressed the law of God. This might seem unfair because Adam certainly sinned as well, and death came to all men because Adam sinned (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21). But Adam wasn’t deceived, and Eve was. So whether we’re talking about a perfect, sinless world, or the fallen, sinful one we currently inhabit, God intends that a man be the one to shepherd the flock of God (pastor means “shepherd;” see also 1 Peter 5:1-5).

Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “As in all the churches of the saints, 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. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak at church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

This doesn’t mean a woman is supposed to have duct-tape over her mouth from the moment she walks into church to the moment she walks out. The context is teaching the church, or administering the authority of the word of God over the gathered people of God. The role as overseer is set apart for specifically a man to fill.

This also doesn’t mean a church that obeys this instruction is oppressing women. Heavens, no! A woman sitting in that church during a gospel sermon is no more oppressed than any man in the congregation. The truth does not oppress those who listen to it — it sets them free (John 8:31). It is a woman’s delight to learn quietly with all submissiveness, and she does this in honor of the Lord.

Women serve an incredibly important role in the church. If a church was all men and no women, that would be a dysfunctional church (see Titus 2:1-8). The church is to be made up of men and women, young and old, complimenting one another in their strengths and weaknesses, working and growing together so that we may be a functioning body of Christ.

But each according to their own purpose. God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else. We all submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Bad Arguments for Women Pastors
Over the weekend, a friend got into a discussion over this topic with a feminist, and the feminist retorted with a list of names — women of the Bible who were more than just “helps” but, in her view, were qualified to be pastors. That list was as follows: “Deborah, Hannah, Miriam, Ruth, Esther, Jael, Proverbs 31, Wisdom personified as woman in Proverbs 8 (present with God at creation), Phoebe, Lydia, Prisca, Mary, Mary Magdalene, [were] all just there ‘to help’?”

This is a very common tactic when arguing for why women deserve to be pastors: throw out the name of a woman from the Bible. Boom! But that name is always taken out of context. There are no examples of a woman serving as a pastor in the church. None of the apostles were women, for that matter. I can say “period” and leave it at that. The instruction in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is clear.

But for the sake of teaching, I’d like to go through that list of names and explain why they’re actually bad examples. While they are not examples of women pastors, most of them are certainly great examples for being strong women of God.

Deborah
The book of Judges captures a very dark time in Israel’s history. In those days there was no king in Israel, and the people did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). But God gave them judges to be their leaders, decision-makers, and deliverers.

The pattern of the story of Judges goes like this: the people sinned and worshiped false gods, the Lord sent an enemy to punish and oppress them, the people cried out for mercy, so God sent a judge to conquer their enemies and deliver a semi-repentant Israel. Wash, rinse, repeat. Three of the most famous judges were Samson, Gideon, and a woman named Deborah.

Deborah was a prophetess and a God-fearing woman who judged during a time when there were no God-fearing men. In Judges 4, Deborah confronted Barak, commander of the Lord’s army, who was reluctant to do what God had told him to do: gather his troops and fight the Canaanites. Instead, Barak told Deborah, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” So Deborah mommied him and led him by the hand to get him to obey God.

If you had been reading through Deuteronomy and Joshua, by the time you got to Judges 4, you’d recognize Israel’s digression in faith and obedience. In Deuteronomy 1:15, the tribes of Israel had wise and experienced men as heads over them. In Joshua 24:1, these men met with Joshua to renew their covenant before God. But within a generation, Israel began worshiping the Baals and forgot what the Lord had done for them (Judges 2:10-12).

It got to the point that the men weren’t doing what the leaders of Israel were supposed to do. So God placed a woman over them as though to say, “Sure, I’ll deliver you from your enemies. But to your shame, I’m going to send a woman to do what no man will do.” It was an embarrassment that Deborah was judge, not a high achievement (consider Judges 9:53 where it was to Abimelech’s shame that he was killed by a woman and not a man). In Deborah’s song of victory, she praised the tribes that stepped up to fight and lambasted those who stayed home (Judges 5:14-18).

Isaiah 3:12 says, “My people — infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them.” It is the judgment of God upon a nation when women occupy the roles that should be filled by men. Barak should have been the judge of Israel, following in the footsteps of Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar before him. But because he was kind of a weenie, God gave Deborah to do what Barak wouldn’t.

So using Deborah as an argument for why it’s okay for a woman to be a pastor really isn’t a good move. It would be to admit, “There are no godly men here, so a woman is going to have to do this job.” When a woman is pastor, the church is immature and disobedient, just like Israel was when Deborah was judge. She is a great example of a God-fearing woman. She is not an example of a pastor.

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 01/13/2018

Moody Bible Institute President, COO Resign Amid Board’s ‘Unanimous Decision’ for ‘New Season of Leadership’   Jan 10, 2018 11:50 pm

CHICAGO — The president and COO of Moody Bible Institute have submitted their resignations amid controversy over the direction of the historic institution, and in light of the board’s “unanimous decision” for “new leadership.” The Moody Board of Trustees accepted the resignations of President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck on Wednesday, according to an email…

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Paula White Urges Followers to Give ‘First Fruits’ Offering of a Day, Week or Month’s Wages   Jan 08, 2018 02:30 pm

APOPKA, Fla. — Prosperity preacher Paula White, who also serves as the chair of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, is urging her followers to give a “first fruits” financial offering with the start of 2018, stating that there are “consequences” for those who don’t do so out of “ignorance or direct disobedience.” “As you remember the Lord your God,…

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School District to Pay Girl Who Identifies as Boy $150,000 for Not Being Allowed to Use Preferred Restroom   Jan 12, 2018 05:34 pm

Photo Credit: Transgender Law Center MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — A school district in Wisconsin has agreed to pay $650,000 in attorneys’ fees and $150,000 to a female former student who identifies as male, who sued in 2016 after being prohibited from using the boys’ restroom. The Transgender Law Center says that the $150,000 payment is for “harms … experienced as a…

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Paula White Reps. Scrub Web Page of Language Urging ‘First Fruits’ Offering of Day, Week, Month’s Wages, ‘Consequences’ for Not Giving   Jan 11, 2018 07:07 pm

APOPKA, Fla. — Following media reports and public backlash over the matter, representatives for false teacher Paula White, who also serves as the chair of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, have scrubbed a page on White’s website of any mention that she had urged followers to give a “first fruits” offering of a day, week, or month’s wages—and that…

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Former Teacher Has Certificates Suspended for Speaking Against Sin of Homosexuality on Facebook   Jan 09, 2018 09:45 pm

NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Education has suspended the teaching certificates of a former high school teacher who came under fire seven years ago for speaking against the sin of homosexuality on Facebook. As previously reported, Jenye “Viki” Knox, 56, first came under fire in June 2011 after she posted comments on Facebook decrying the…

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Ohio’s Largest Abortion Facility Launches Billboard Campaign to Claim: ‘Abortion Is a Blessing’   Jan 06, 2018 02:29 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The largest abortion facility in Ohio has launched a billboard campaign in an effort to urge readers “to reflect on the powerful role that abortion plays in people’s lives.” The facility, called Preterm, has purchased 16 billboard locations around the Cleveland area to “spark conversation” surrounding its belief that abortion is necessary as…

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US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Mississippi’s Freedom of Conscience Act   Jan 08, 2018 11:37 am

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” a bill meant to shelter residents from punishment when acting in accordance with their religious convictions in regard to the institution of marriage. The court denied the…

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HIV Positive Teacher’s Aide, Track Coach Accused of Molesting 42 Youth Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse Charges   Jan 06, 2018 11:38 am

WALDORF, Md. — A former Maryland teacher’s aide and track coach accused of sexually abusing 42 youth between 2015 and 2017 has accepted a plea deal after being charged with over 200 offenses, including the attempted transmission of HIV. According to reports, Carlos Bell, 30, was first investigated in December 2016 after a parent contacted authorities in…

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Gideons No Longer Allowed to Offer Bibles at Kansas Elementary School Following Complaint   Jan 07, 2018 11:05 pm

HERINGTON, Kan. — Representatives for Gideon International will no longer be allowed to make Bibles available to students at an elementary school in Kansas following a complaint from a national humanist organization. The American Humanist Association (AHA) recently sent a letter to the superintendent of Herington Schools and the principal of Herington Elementary…

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U.S. Department of State Announces Annual Notation of World’s Most Egregious Violators of Religious Freedom   Jan 07, 2018 08:27 am

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of State has announced its annual designation of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) based on observance of ongoing violations of religious freedom. “In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief,”…

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Attitudes of Effective Evangelism”

Luke 10:1-4

Code: B180112

What makes evangelism effective? Is it a particular proven strategy, a clever way to pitch the promise of the gospel, or a personality that makes the message more palatable?

In his sermon “Attitudes of Effective Evangelism,” John MacArthur argues that it’s the motivation of the missionaries—not the cleverness of their message—that drives the work of evangelism and advances the progress of the gospel.

And let me tell you this: If you’re going to do evangelism, if you’re going to be a missionary, if you’re going to proclaim the kingdom of God, if you’re going to tell people about the King, the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s going to start with an attitude. It’s going to start in the heart. You could train people till you’re blue in the face. You can give them all kinds of information, you can load their theological gun, you can give them strategies and methodologies. But effective evangelism is done by highly motivated people. Understand that. It’s not about training, it’s about motivation. It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you feel; it’s about what drives you.

John goes on to highlight five necessary attitudes and motivations that the Lord highlighted when He commissioned the seventy evangelists in Luke 10:1-4. It is those attitudes—compassion, prayer, urgency, vigilance, and trust—that inform and undergird the work of Christ’s kingdom missionaries.

Moreover, John MacArthur has encouragement for believers who don’t think they are called to the work of evangelism; that they don’t possess the necessary abilities and aptitudes to be missionaries for the kingdom of God.

The instruction and the interaction that Jesus has with the seventy is very helpful for us because we are virtually called to the same responsibility. We are witnesses to Christ in the world. That’s really the reason we’re here. As I’ve said on many occasions, we’ve been saved, and that’s partly to enjoy fellowship with God and with each other, but the fellowship is imperfect here, it’s not satisfying to us or God. We are saved to be obedient, but the obedience is limited, it’s neither satisfying to us or God. We are saved to worship, but the worship isn’t all it should be. It’s not perfect; neither does it satisfy our hearts or His. Why does He leave us here? Why not perfect fellowship, perfect obedience? Because there’s one thing you’ll never do in heaven and that’s evangelize lost people. The primary task of the church then is that. That’s why we’re here. And so we are, as it were, an extension of the seventy. We can’t be apostles, but we can be at this level.

The work of God’s kingdom is the task every believer has been called to. Just as Christ commissioned the seventy evangelists in Luke 10, He has likewise equipped and called us to the preaching of the gospel and the work of His kingdom.

Click here to listen to “Attitudes of Effective Evangelism.”

 


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Albert Mohler Blog: “Moralism is not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is)

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discuss the problem of moralism in evangelical theology. Mohler writes:

“We sin against Christ and we misrepresent the Gospel when we suggest to sinners that what God demands of them is moral improvement in accordance with the Law. Moralism makes sense to sinners, for it is but an expansion of what we have been taught from our earliest days. But moralism is not the Gospel, and it will not save. The only gospel that saves is the Gospel of Christ. As Paul reminded the Galatians, ‘But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons’ [Gal. 4:4-5].”

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5 Boundaries to Save You From Unhealthy Relationships and Manipulative People

Do all you can to live at peace with them, but if they refuse to live at peace with you, then live your life in peace without them. This “tough love” can be so difficult, but sometimes someone will simply refuse to be in a relationship with you unless they’re pulling all the strings and you’re jumping through their hoops. Do all you can to live at peace and be one who builds bridges instead of tearing them down, but if this person isn’t willing to do their part, then you might need to love them from a distance. Don’t let them manipulate you or control you or steal your joy.

I recently sat down with a young couple who is going through a very serious struggle in their marriage because of someone outside their marriage. You might assume I’m talking about a mistress or an emotional affair, but this has nothing to do with wrongdoing on the part of either spouse. Their struggle has to do with an overbearing parent.

The husband’s mom (and the wife’s mother-in-law) has bombarded the young couple with pressures, demands, emotional pleas, tantrums, threats, bullying, name-calling and a myriad of other unpleasant tactics to get her way and to manipulate the dynamics within the family’s relationships. She seems to see their marriage as a threat to the relationship and influence she once had with her son. See seems to view her daughter-in-law as competition for her son’s attention rather than a beloved new addition to the family.

This young couple seemed exhausted by their dealings with what seems to be a narcissistic and emotionally unstable person. They want to honor and respect her. They want their young daughter to have a relationship with her grandmother. They want peace and no drama, but they also don’t want to be a doormat to her unhealthy demands. Sadly, their struggle is a very common one.

It’s very common for a couple to face an overbearing parent (or parents) in their marriage, but dealing with overbearing and emotionally unhealthy people can happen in all parts of life (work, school, home, etc.). Not if but WHEN you find yourself in a relationship with someone who is bullying, manipulative, unstable or unhealthy in any way, for the sake of your family and your sanity, PLEASE implement the following boundaries.

Five Boundaries to save you from unhealthy relationships and manipulative people (in no particular order)...

  1. “Teach” them how to treat you by how you treat them AND by how you allow them to treat you.

Make sure you’re not responding to negativity with negativity. Don’t sink to their level, because you’ll lose. It’s been said that when you wrestle with a pig in the mud, you BOTH get dirty, but the pig likes it! Be kind and respectful even when it’s not returned; not as a reflection of their character but as a reflection of yours. If the difficult person continues to bully, you might need to remove them from your life to protect yourself and your family until they change their toxic behavior. This leads directly into #2.

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