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Posts tagged ‘First Epistle to Timothy’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

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Visions of Christmas: Seeing White.


Visions of Christmas: Seeing White

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.
Acts 2:46

Recommended Reading
1 Corinthians 14:33 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%201%20Corinthians%2014:33&version=NKJV)

Our modern Christian activities are much more elaborate and complicated than those of the early church. That’s not to say their lives weren’t complicated. In any age, the duties of life seem to expand to fill the time and resources available. Yet Luke, the author of Acts, noted something about the early Christians. He didn’t say their life was simple, but he did say they lived their lives with “simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). Is it possible to live with simplicity of heart in a busy season like Christmas? It must be. If the early Christians did it from week to week, we can surely do it at Christmas.

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We don’t know exactly what Luke meant by his words, but it must have something to do with staying focused on the basics which he mentioned in verse 42: teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. What are the basics of Christmas? Love, generosity, worship, service, giving, contemplation, gratitude, and others.

Like a pure white garment (Revelation 19:8), keep this Christmas clutter free by living with simplicity of heart.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
1 Timothy 12 Timothy 4

By David Jeremiah.

What If?.


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5

Recommended Reading
1 Timothy 3:16 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%203:16&version=NKJV )

The late Dr. D. James Kennedy and his co-author Jerry Newcombe wrote an important book in 1994 titled  What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?  In sixteen chapters, they thoroughly document the impact of Christianity on our world: the value of human life, the poor, education, civil liberties, science, economics, the family, medicine, morality, and the arts. It is staggering to consider what the world might be like without genuine Christian faith.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

As we approach the celebration of Christ‘s birth this month, it is also important to consider what our personal lives would have been like without the first Christmas. That is, What if God had not entered into the human realm in the person of Christ? The apostle Paul says plainly that we “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Every human being ever born has been in that condition (Romans 3:23). What if the world today contained only unregenerate people, dead in their sins?

Yes, many are still in that condition, but I pray you are not. If you have accepted Christ, your sins have been washed away, and you have been born again into a new life through faith in the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who came to rescue this world.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Thessalonians 1-3

By David Jeremiah.

I’m a Complementarian, But… Women Can Be Deacons.


Thabiti Anyabwile

I believe answering the question “What meaningful role can and should women play in congregational life?” is as important a practical and spiritual question we can consider. It’s a question that affects at least half (usually much more) of our congregations. It’s a question that touches directly upon gospel-ordered congregational life. It’s a question that potentially restricts or broadens Christian freedom for women in our churches. It’s a question that either employs or unemploys the gifts the Lord himself sovereignly grants to our sisters.

How we answer the question must be shaped and limited by the word of God. But we approach the word of God with assumptions, presuppositions, biases, historical understandings, and personal filters. None of us come to the word as empty slates; we have “tilts” that may or may not be known to us. That’s why humility, openness, and community become so important in discussions like these. We need others to help us see and learn. The way you all have commented and participated in this discussion has taught me much and modeled the kind of conversations Christian people ought to have about potentially contentious issues. Thank you.

Let’s attempt another answer to the question, “What meaningful roles can and should women play in the local church?” In other articles, we will discuss the ways in which women can teach, serve in missions, and pray in public services. Today we turn to an office–the diaconate.

A Personal Note

Since I acknowledge that we come to these issues with historical and personal experiences and assumptions, perhaps I should at least list some of my own. Before my conversion, growing up, we periodically attended a small Baptist church with a senior pastor and deacons. The church’s deacons were all men and their was a kind of “complementarian” spirit in the church. The church held to male leadership but I don’t recall any intentional teaching about it. Women served on a lot of committees (boy, were there a lot of committees!) and there were the “mothers of the church,” a kind of informal office comprised of senior ladies of the church.

My next church experience was very similar. Again, a senior pastor accompanied by a strong group of elders who “ran the church.” This second church was slightly different in this respect. In the first church, “pastor was in charge” and the deacons largely assisted him, though they determined things like salary and housing stipends. In the second church, there was no mistaking the authority of the deacons in the governance of the church. Women were not deacons in this church either, and there were no “mothers of the church.”

Then there came a stint with a church plant. My family and I had the privilege of serving with the core group of families who helped launch the church. I had the further privilege of helping to adopt the church’s statement of faith and constitution, which identified two New Testament offices: elders and deacons. The church had a healthy emphasis on a plurality of elders and made important distinctions between the work of elders (prayer, teaching, oversight, etc.) and that of deacons (practical care of the body). Women neither served as elders or deacons in this work.

Afterward, as most of you know, I spent several years as a member and elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Like the church plant, CHBC has elders and deacons. The elders lead through prayer, teaching, oversight, etc., while the deacons are assigned to specific areas of ministry (i.e., child care, audio/video, etc.). At CHBC, the eldership is restricted to qualified and gifted men. However, women serve as deacons.

Finally, I have the joy and honor of serving as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Here, too, the congregation is led by a plurality of elders and served by deacons assigned to particular areas of ministry (i.e., finance, school, etc.). And here, women may and have served as deacons.

So, that’s the background I bring to this discussion. The Lord has given me the privilege of being in a range of settings, witnessing a range of approaches on the question of women serving as deacons. All of these churches would in some way define themselves as “complementarian,” yet they had differing views of how sisters could serve.

So, can women be deacons?

The short answer to that, in my opinion, is “yes, women can serve and ought to serve as deacons.” That won’t be controversial for a lot of you. You’re currently involved in churches where this is the practice and understanding of the Scripture. But for some of you, that may be a new idea or it may not be the practice of your church. So, let me offer just a sketch of the biblical support for this position and then offer an important caveat.

A Brief Case for Women Deacons

First Timothy 3:8-13 contain some key instruction on this matter. For me, the issue turns in part on verse 11: “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything” (NIV). Or as the ESV renders it, “Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”

Both the NIV and ESV contain marginal notes for the word “wives,” indicating the term may be translated “women.” So, the text could either have in view the wives of deacons (if you accept the supply of “their” in the verse), women deacons, or women who assist deacons but are not themselves deacons. Because “their” is not explicit in the text, and the word “likewise” seems to indicate another category in the list, I lean with many others in understanding this verse to refer to women deacons or at the least women who assist deacons.

Moreover, there are instances elsewhere in the New Testament that seem to indicate the apostolic church had women deacons. I think of Romans 16:1 where Phoebe is described as a “deacon.” True, the word “deacon” has a range of meanings wider than the office itself. Paul could refer to his own ministry as an apostle using the word “deacon” (1 Tim. 1:12). Most of the prohibitions have to do with the qualifications for male deacons-“husband of but one wife.” But if the assumptions I make in the previous paragraph are correct, then it would seem the Bible does not forbid women from playing this role.

An Important Caveat

As I recounted earlier, I’ve been a member at churches that do not have elders but are governed by a group of deacons. If the church does not have elders and deacons perform the teaching and oversight responsibilities biblically belonging to elders, then women should not serve as deacons. I’m a complementarian, so I believe the basic pattern of qualified male leadership in the church should be maintained in joyful obedience to the Lord.

But having said that, the more important “fix” to such a situation is not to restrict women from serving in what may be a permissible area of service in the church, but to conform the church itself to the New Testament pattern of governance. We shouldn’t restrict women in an effort to maintain irregular governance; we should conform our governance of the church to the word of God and deploy women to serve wherever and whenever appropriate.

The pattern of leadership in the church should be qualified men serving as elders. 
This is not at odds with women serving as deacons.

But if the church does not have elders, and instead deacons perform 
the teaching and oversight that biblically belongs to elders, 
then women should not serve as deacons.

A Plea

To my brothers serving in churches without elders and with ruling deacons, for the blessing of a well-ordered congregation, for the liberty of our sisters, and for the flowering of gospel ministry, re-examine why you currently neglect so clear a New Testament office as elders, which was established in all the apostolic churches (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). And test yourselves to see if the failure to obey the Lord’s word on elders gives opportunity for denying our sisters an opportunity to serve their Lord and their churches as deacons. Structures do matter. Sometimes the wrong structures prevent spiritual growth, service, and gospel advancement.

 

Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Cayman Islands. Pastor Thabiti is the author of What is a Healthy Church Member?The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, and The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Preachers. He also blogs regularly at Pure Church.

 

Staying Free.


The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7

Recommended Reading
1 Timothy 6:6-10 [ http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%206:6-10&version=NKJV ]

If a new “toy” caught your eye — boat, car, a recreational vehicle of some sort — but the cost was beyond your reach, how would you respond to this offer from the salesman: “I can work out a way for you to make the purchase, with only one stipulation: You and your family will become my slaves for the duration of the six-year loan. It won’t be that bad. It just means you’ll have to get my permission before you spend any money — even a penny — for the next six years.”

Listen to Today’s Radio Message [ http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo ]

What would you do? Without thinking, we enslave ourselves every time we borrow money to buy something we actually can’t afford — if we believe Proverbs 22:7 (NIV), that is: “the borrower is slave to the lender.” We wouldn’t think of letting someone enslave our family, but Proverbs 25:28 suggests how it happens: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Lack of self-control in any area invites others to enslave us. Without self-control, we buy what we can’t afford. With the resulting debt, we enslave ourselves to the lender.

Ask God today for the protection of self-control when it comes to spending, and for the resulting freedom to be no one’s servant except His.

The alternative to discipline is disaster.
Vance Havner

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Matthew 23-24

By David Jeremiah.

A Valuable Lesson.


I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Philippians 4:12

Recommended Reading
Proverbs 30:8-9 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2030:8-9&version=NKJV )

For many people, the silver lining in the recent economic cloud was a wake-up call concerning personal indebtedness. The housing market had skyrocketed and many people took on more debt than they could handle. And when the housing bubble burst … well, everyone is familiar with what happened.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

It wasn’t just housing debt — credit card debt had soared to record levels before the downturn began. The last several years have been a reminder that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). What is the source of debt? Most often, debt arises when we live beyond our means. It happens when we are not satisfied with what God has provided. The apostle Paul discovered the secret to living within one’s means: contentment. And the key word in his description of contentment is “learned” — being content is not something we do naturally. Sometimes it takes a hard experience to learn this valuable lesson.

If you feel envious today, ask God for discipline and insight to learn the secret of contentment.

To be content with one’s possessions is one of the most strongly worded exhortations in Scripture.
Jerry Bridges

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Matthew 21-22

By David Jeremiah.

The Go-Between.


For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:5

Recommended Reading
John 3http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%203&version=NKJV )

“Mom! He pinched me!” As children we often ran to our parents when a disagreement broke out between us. Sometimes our parents would tell us to sort it out ourselves, other times they would step in as a mediator, helping us mend our relationship with one another.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

When sin entered the world and the relationship between God and man was broken, man had no one to mediate and mend his relationship with God. Only a being who was both deity and human could bridge the gap between man and God. We were stuck, unable to renew our relationship with God.

Aware of our inability to rectify our relationship to Himself, God chose and appointed a Mediator. He sent His son, Jesus, to earth, clothed in the flesh of humanity to become our Savior and Mediator and pay the penalty for our sin. When we believe in Him, our relationship with God is healed and our future destination is secured. Through Christ we can have an intimate relationship with God on earth and throughout eternity.

Jesus [Christ] stands between us and God, and for that very reason he stands between us and all other men and things. He is the Mediator … Since the whole world was created through him and unto him … he is the sole Mediator in the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Joel 1-3

By David Jeremiah.

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