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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, October 18, 2019

THE LORD'S LAMPSTAND

“As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”  
Revelation 1:20



Ignorance, chaos, disorder, confusion, lies, and distortions. It is all darkness. Jesus came to a world full of darkness, and only He can overcome it with the Light of His Message, the teachings of His Gospel.

Jesus, our Lord, is the Light of the world, and God’s Word is a lamp and a light that shines in the darkness, directing us to godliness and righteousness.  The light must shine so that we may see what direction to walk amid so much darkness ( John 1:4-9). The Light, our Lord Jesus, shows us the way and illuminates our path, for it provides the Way.  Thus, we’re obliged to show others (those who live in darkness) the Way to illuminate their path and give them direction.  And though many dwell in darkness, they can still see the Light when it crosses their path. Jesus is the Light, and we must shine as lights in this world of darkness. Jesus warned that salt is useless when it loses its saltiness. Our salt is our influence. If we lose our saving influence, we become useless. So it is with light. If it is not shining and is covered up, it is useless. It is sad when we willfully choose to hide our light! 

The letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation are the instructions given to the seven messengers of the seven churches.  We’re not told much about who these messengers were.  Perhaps, they were representatives from each local congregation appointed to minister to John in Patmos to carry messages from John to the saints (Rev. 2:1).  The Lord is aware of what is happening in each of these churches and of the destiny of each one.  The letters describe the performance of each church, what they’re lacking, and God’s warning about what’s going to happen. Christ is telling John to write down all the things that he is to see in visions, things that were happening at that very moment with immediate impact.  Things also that were soon to take place and that the time was near (1:1,3).  The first three chapters of the Book of Revelation shows Jesus standing amid seven lampstands (candlesticks). Those lampstands, in John's vision, were characterized as the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:20). The following two chapters examine the condition of those churches.  Five of these churches didn’t measure up to God’s standards, for they were judged as troubled churches.

If the Lord were to determine or appraise today the performance of the church where you worship, do you think the church would pass the Lord’s test?  Would it measure up to God’s righteous standard?  What do you think?  Would the church where you worship be comparable to the church in Smyrna or Laodicea?  These questions are worthy of our examination.  Why?  Because many of these seven churches displeased the Lord and provoked Him enough that He threatened to remove their lampstand from its place unless they sincerely repented (Revelation 2:5). This message cautions us to examine everything we do or say, making sure we are doing the will of the Lord and measuring up to His principles of righteousness, His standard.  You see, the frightening part is that a local church can reach the point without even realizing it, of losing its first love, refusing to carry out God’s purpose for her. This leads me to another question. What is the church’s primary purpose or function? Indeed, this is a vital question or issue.  Why?  Because most people don’t seem to care! It seems that they have little respect for the real task or function of the Lord's church. Sadly, many see it only as an organization to serve them.  In the Word of God, the church is described with many figures of speech to tell us something about its nature and function.  Consider them.

  1. The church is described as a "temple," focusing primarily on its role in worship.
  2. The church is spoken of as a "vineyard," stressing the need to bear good fruit.
  3. It is called The "house of God," describing the place where God dwells among His people.
  4. The church is also portrayed as the "kingdom," thus establishing its form of government.


I.  THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD:

The lampstand as the only source of light points directly to Christ, for He is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus is the “true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) and the only way for anyone to come to the Father (John 14:6).  Jesus also calls His church the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), because He abides in the church (John 1:4–5).  Christians must shine their light to live godly (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible overflows with examples that contrast light and darkness, believer, and unbeliever through the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:20, Christ says the “seven lampstands are the seven churches.” The churches of Christ must walk in the light of God (1 John 1:7) and must spread the light of the Gospel so that all people may glorify God (Matthew 5:16).  It is interesting that the lampstand in the Old Testament was made of one piece as Christ is One with His church (Colossians 1:8).  The six branches (the number for man) plus the main shaft equals seven lights (7 being the number of completion).  Man is only complete in Christ (John 15:5).  The most important aspect of the lampstand is that it points to Christ as did all the elements of the Tabernacle.  The Bible from cover to cover testifies about Christ and God’s merciful plan of redemption to take mankind out of darkness into His marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9)!

When Jesus described the seven churches in Asia as candlesticks or lampstands, what do you suppose He was trying to communicate?  Did He not expect the church to be His instrument to give light to a world steeped in darkness?  Did God not describe Himself as Light in 1 John 1:5?  Jesus spoke of Himself while He was still alive on earth as “the light of the world” (John 1:1-5; 8:12).  When Jesus ascended to heaven, the Gospel continued to reveal that same Light.  In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Paul declared,
"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded; who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 

Since we Christians have this light planted in our hearts, we must be light-bearers, because we are children of light, not darkness. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5).  Thus the church is the light of the world, because Christians are the light of the world (Matthew 5:16).  The church, therefore, must shine the light of the Gospel, the light of God, everywhere to both individuals and communities. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded this of every individual and every local church.  In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said,
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."

We know that not every physical light shines as brightly as others, no do all churches shine as brightly as others.  Take, for instance, the church at Smyrna and Philadelphia, who appeared to be bright and shining lights amid a first-century world filled with darkness. However, the other five churches clearly showed lesser degrees of light.

  1. The church at Ephesus had left her first love and was in danger of losing her lampstand.
  2. The church at Pergamos fellowshipped false teachers; thus, her light was dim.
  3. The church at Thyatira shined brightly in love, service, faith, and patience, but tolerated evil among themselves.
  4. The church at Sardis was almost dead, but despite this, there were a few who kept the light burning, howbeit dimly.
  5. The church at Laodicea was lukewarm, provoking the Lord to be nauseous, for her light was almost gone. 


The Word of God is the Truth that sanctifies us (John 17:17). The Word of God draws us and points us to Christ, for He is the "light of the world" (John 3:19-21; 8:12).   A church must reflect the Light of God to be the lampstand that God intends it to be. To substitute the Light of God, the teachings or doctrine of Christ for the traditions, creeds, and doctrines of men will only bring darkness (2 John 9). Thus to be the Light of the world, we must preach and teach the Word rightly and faithfully in season and out of season.  The world desperately needs the Light to be guided into the paths of righteousnessThe church holds the Light, for it is the pillar and support of the Truth of God (1 Tim. 3:15).


II.   THE LAMPSTAND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:

In Exodus 25:31, we see the word lampstand for the first time in the Bible as God gives detailed instructions about the golden lampstand to be placed in the tabernacle that the Israelites were building.  God was very precise and gave detailed instructions about how He wanted the lampstand to look.  In the Bible, when God gives detailed instructions, it is because it is very important to Him.  The lampstand had to be made of pure gold, according to God’s decree (Exodus 25:31). Gold was the most valuable of all metals (Psalm 119:127; 19:10). In the Bible, gold is often spoken as being “tested by fire.”  The Bible compares the testing of gold with the testing of the church in 1 Peter 1:7.  The true people of God come out refined when tested (Zechariah 13:7–9; Job 23:10). Those who withstand the “fire” are purified (Numbers 31:23).  The lampstand was to be made and shaped like a tree with the base and center shaft representing the trunk with three “branches” on each side. The top of the shaft and each branch were to be made like an open almond flower, each flower holding an oil lamp (Exodus 25:32, 37).  In the Bible, many passages speak of the almond tree as being always the first tree to blossom and bear fruit in the spring.  The apostle Paul calls Christ the “firstfruits” since Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to eternal life.  Because of His resurrection, all those who have obeyed the Gospel will also be raised (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; Romans 8:23).

God used Aaron’s rod as a sign to the Israelites of his unique priesthood. When Aaron’s priesthood was challenged, God caused Aaron’s rod to bud and grow ripe almonds overnight to confirm the privilege of being chosen by God as High Priest (Numbers 16:3;17:10).  This was a “shadow of things to come” that pointed to Jesus, our God-ordained, life-giving High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:21)!

In the tabernacle, the lampstand was to be placed in the Holy Place, the first section (Hebrews 9:2). Aaron and his sons were to take care of the lamp so that its light never went out. The lampstand was to provide light day and night (Exodus 27:20–21).


CONCLUSION:

Jesus is the eternal Word, the Message of God.  Jesus is the life, and that life is the Light for all people.  He came as a witness to the Light. The world could not see; thus, John was appointed by God to be a witness to the Light.  And though John was not the Light, he was a witness so that all could believe in Jesus through John’s testimony.  Jesus is the true Light that enlightens everyone. The Light shined illuminating the whole world, for it was not limited.   In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

Indeed, Jesus’ true disciples must be the light of the world.  In verses 14-15, Jesus gives us two illustrations.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Christ’s faithful followers must be lamps that give light to all.  We cannot hide our lamps under a basket. We must put them on a lampstand! The light must give light to all in the house. A true disciple must be a city set on a hill, for they cannot be hidden. Light must shine. In John 8:12, Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

To have light is to have life.  God is the Light,  His Word is the Light that provides direction and guidance for our lives in the darkness.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Is the light of our lampstand burning brightly?  Is our light shining amid so much darkness,  Matthew 5:16?  Are others seeing our good works as we shine our light brightly?  Are we living a righteous life that is distinct from the world, shining as light?  In Philippians 2:14-16, our light is hindered when we grumble or complain.  We cannot be innocent and blameless amid this crooked and twisted generation when we hide our light and fail to exhibit the fruits of Light.  We’re a holy nation, called out of darkness into God’s marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9-12).  Thus we must abstain from the passions of the flesh and keep our conduct honorable amid this crooked and twisted generation.  To shine our light, we must live pure lives before God.  We must refuse to be friends with the world to shine our light brightly.  We must not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them, for we are the light of this world! (Ephesians 5:6-16).  Thus, we must walk as children of light, exhibiting the fruit of lightWe cannot be lights and behave, talk, dress, and party like the world.  There’s enough darkness in our culture already!  We must shine as lights and be distinct! In doing this, we can rest assured that we will influence this world of darkness with graciousness in our words and actions (salt) and shine with our good works, pointing them to the Way to Jesus (the Light).

Our good works make our light shine brightly amid darkness.  We must shine so that others can see and glorify our Father in heaven.  We shine our light to point others to Jesus. Do people look at our marriage and see a God-glorifying marriage? Do people look at our family and see a God-glorifying family? Do people look at us at work and see a God-glorifying employee? Do people look at you on vacation and see a God-glorifying life? Do people look at everything we do, big and small, and see God glorified? That is what it means to be the light of the world!  The Light makes us live radical lives that move people to want to know God, for He is the Light (1 John 1:5-13).  God stands in contrast to darkness, evil, error, and imperfection. Light determines what is right and what is sin. The Light unveils our spiritual identity (John 12:46).  It does not count if one merely claims to be in fellowship with God. What really matters is how we’re living our life, reflecting His light.  There is no such thing as a Christian who lives in habitual sin. The Light must change our way of living, causing us to imitate Christ, for He is the Life that must govern our lives!  We’re walking in darkness when we refuse to follow God’s commands, not walking in the Light. Walking in darkness means that we are not seeking God’s will and striving to obey God’s Law.  We have fellowship with God and one another when we walk in the Light (1 John 1:7).  Walking in the Light is following God’s rules, seeking after Him to do His will. When we walk in the Light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  God’s Grace works with our obedience.
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27)

When we stop striving to live righteously as lights, Jesus’ sacrifice for sins no longer remains. Then the blood of Jesus does not cleanse us from our sins. So it is a great and precious promise given to those who are faithfully living for the Lord, walking in the Light.  We cannot claim to walk in the Light ignoring the reality of sin and sinfulness. If we refuse to repent of our sins, we are avoiding the Light, for we’re breaking fellowship with God because He is Light, not darkness. Walking in the Light means admitting our sins and asking for forgiveness. God is faithful and will forgive us if we repent and bear fruits of repentance. When we walk in the Light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins (1 John 1: 9). 

So, the question at stake again is, What is the condition of your heart? Are you light or darkness?  What is the condition of the church where you worship? What can you do to make the church either a light bearer or useless and good for nothing? Do you not know that a congregation's Light must be as strong as its members' cumulative efforts to carry out Jesus’ commands or directions given in Matthew 5?  And though it is hard to know at what point Jesus no longer recognizes a church as faithful, doing His will, we can still do some assessing, examining our hearts. We can ask ourselves how the local church is viewed in the community where we worship. Is it seen as powerful with strong moral convictions or principles of righteousness? Is each Christian walking in the Light, reflecting that same Light to this world of darkness?  Or, are the members viewed as whiners, unable to get along with one another, tolerant of sin?  Are they viewed as lazy and not hard workers?  Are they seen as a blessing, not a curse?  What do you think?  Sadly, many who are in the church and outside the church isolate themselves, saying, "we're just minding our own business." But, don’t you know, the church is our business, and thus it must be our business to shine our light brightly both in word and deed, for this is the Gospel Light!  Why not start shining the light of God’s Word brightly into the hearts of others? Why not make an effort to teach your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and relatives?  You will not regret it, for you must be working heartily as unto the Lord!  What is the church where you worship doing to shine the Gospel Light? What is each member of the local church doing to enlighten the dark world?  Think about it!

Let us not forget that the Lord, according to Revelation 2-3, is making His own assessment and that our lampstand's status is being weighed in the balances.  Let us not forget that the souls of men are at stake!  And finally, let us not forget that as Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, He commissioned His disciples, and that includes us, to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16) Are you carrying out His commission?  Are you walking in the Light and shining your light brightly?  Are your good works making your light shine brightly amid so much darkness?  Are you hindering the Gospel Message because you are walking in darkness?  Are you pointing others to Christ, the Light, by your godly example?  Is our life distinct from the world, shining as light?  What do you think?

May the light of our lampstand shine brightly amid so much darkness.  May the church hold the Light, for it is the pillar and support of the Truth of God (1 Tim. 3:15).  May others see our good works as we shine our light brightly.  May we point others to Christ, the Light, by our godly example.  May we never extinguish the Gospel Light by walking in darkness.

Luci


Friday, September 20, 2019

THE TRUTH IS PRECIOUS AND WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
Jude 1:3-4


There is a Russian proverb that says, “One word of truth outweighs the world.”  In Romans 3:4 Paul said, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” That, of course, is generally true. All men are liars.  Jeremiah 5:1 challenges God’s people with these words,  “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her.”  In a world full of deceit and half-truths, Jesus and the apostles called on their disciples to defend the Truth as soldiers of the Gospel and accept no false doctrine that surrenders to the darkness of liars.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “... I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Today many who profess faith in Jesus Christ deny the inspiration of the Scriptures.  Some endorse homosexuality and adulterous marriages, calling it "ecumenism!"  They compromise the Truth instead of defending it and loving it!  Jesus never compromised the Truth. He defended it! He confronted the religious hypocrites!
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Matthew 23:23)

It was not a compromise of the Truth when He pardoned sinners and then told those precious souls to go and sin no more! "... Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  (John 8:10,11; read vs. 1-11).  Jesus would not compromise the Truth when He came face to face with false teachers and their teachings! "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:7-9; read vs. 1-20).  Jesus didn't compromise the Cross for "religious freedom!"  (John 3:14-15,18; read vs. 1-21: understanding that "belief" is obedient belief! Cf. James 2:19-24).

If we want to be saved, it is vital that we love the Truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  When one does not love the Truth found in God’s Word, he can easily be deceived and accept a lie!  To be free from sin and be accepted by God, we must know the Truth and abide in it daily (John 8:31-32).  Is it not enough to just love the Truth? Must we defend it also?  Paul declared he was ready "for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17).  There are many reasons why we must love and defend the Truth against false teaching or doctrinal error. When we allow false teaching, many vital issues are involved. So we must not allow Satan to blind our hearts. The stakes are very high!   The hope of eternal life depends on man's obedience to the Gospel Message.  It is a Message from God, not man!  Sadly, there are some teachers, whose primary purpose (it seems) is to pervert the purity of the Gospel, teaching doctrines that are contrary to the Truth of God’s Word.  So we must defend the Truth against false doctrine!  Why?  


  • Simply because the Truth makes us free from the slavery of sin by providing and equipping men with everything they need to obtain freedom from the shackles of sin.  Man-made doctrines cannot accomplish this.  
  • Because we Christians have been commanded to contend eagerly for the faith, the Truth, when others pervert it and oppose it (Jude 3). 
  • Because we must be ready to answer everyone who may ask why we believe the Message of the cross. They need the knowledge of our hope that brings salvation to those who obey its Message (1 Peter 3:15).  We must show all men why man-made doctrines will not give them the salvation they are seeking but only the Gospel Message.  
  • Because we must prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22).  God expects us to open our minds and of course, the Bible, for He demands that we be able to prove what we believe. Why?  Because our salvation does not depend on what men say, but only on God's Message.
  • Because the church is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  The church which the Lord purchased with His own blood, must not change the Truth of the Bible. She must uphold it!  Man-made doctrines wilfully change what God's Word says as they weaken the pillar and ground of the Truth.  
  • Because Satan and his ministers are busy teaching error, false doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Do you suppose Satan's ministers don't carry their Bibles? You see, most denominational doctrines contain some Truth. You ever wonder why? 
  • Because many are being misled and thus are losing their souls (Matthew 7:21-23). Denominational doctrines lull men into believing a lie, for they think they are pleasing God with what they’re doing. But God calls it iniquity and thus it becomes a grave matter!
  • Because Satan must be exposed (Matthew 7:15,16; Ephesians 4:15).  We must speak the Truth in love, for man-made doctrines endanger men's souls, helping Satan, not God. Those who love the Truth must point out this dangerous wolf to protect God’s sheep no matter the cost! God never promised His faithful followers that it would be easy, or that men would love us for doing so. Thus, we must be courageous and at the same time love men’s souls.  And though God is the one who judges men’s hearts or motives, we Christians must expose false doctrine for what it is. It is fatal to men’s souls!
  • Because we can easily believe a strong delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).  Those who listen to and accept man-made false doctrines have lost their love for the Truth. God will allow them to accept and believe false doctrines as Truth!  So we must stand ready to guide them to God's Truth, for that’s their only hope of salvation.
  • Because false teachers must be exposed (Romans 16:17,18).  We must be ready to teach all people the Truth, for they must learn it to avoid false doctrines that do not measure up to God's Truth. So we must expose error in the light of God’s Truth, allowing them to make the wise choice that pleases God. 
  • Because if we do not continue in the Gospel, the doctrine of Christ, we forsake God and do not have fellowship with the Father and the Son (2 John 9-11). Do you suppose we can believe and practice doctrinal error, false teaching, and not lose our fellowship with God?  What do you think?  Absolutely! Why? Because God connects believing and practicing Truth to having a proper relationship with Him.
  • Because some pervert the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). “Another Gospel” refers to man-made doctrines that can deceive and mislead many souls.  We must never allow anyone to deceive us with a perverted Gospel.  We must keep our noses in the Sacred Book!
  • Because if we add to, or subtract from God's Word, He will remove us from the Book of Life! (Revelation 22:18,19). We must not change God's Word.  Period! What do “church creeds” or man-made doctrines do to the Word of God? They add to, subtract from, or modify them. It is an abuse of the Sacred Scriptures with terrible and eternal consequences, and men must be warned!
  • Because religious division is sinful (1 Corinthians 1:10). Despite the popular slogan that we can just "agree to disagree," God hates religious division.   When we teach the Gospel of Christ but allow another to teach doctrinal error, the end result is nothing but division.  The only remedy for eliminating division is to go back to the Bible and obey the doctrines of Christ.
  • Because worshipping according to men's creeds is sinful (Mark 7:7,8). Man-made doctrines lead to vain worship. Why?  Because we must worship God according to His wishes, not according to men’s wishes!
  • Because many souls are going down the broad way of destruction (Matthew 7:13,14) In this life, we only have two pathways that we may choose: One leads to eternal life; the other leads to eternal damnation. Does doctrinal error, or man-made doctrines lead men in the same direction as God’s Truth?  The answer, of course, is a big NO!
  • Because conversion goes hand in hand with teaching and learning (John 6:44,45).  The hardened and untaught soul cannot be converted.  Can we teach the Gospel plus doctrinal error, or man-made doctrines and still convert men to just one thing? Impossible!  Why?  Because two different messages will result in converting souls to two different doctrines.  It is either one or the other, for only one of the two is right! 
  • Because the Gospel is God's only power to save men (Romans 1:16).  Do you suppose the Gospel and man-made doctrines have the same amount of power?  According to God’s Word, the Gospel Message is the only one that is powerful enough to save souls.  Men's messages fall far short of saving men’s souls.
  • We must use God’s Word when we attempt to reason with men about how to please God (Acts 18:4).  The Bible harmonizes completely without contradiction. Can the same be said of man-made doctrines? Can they agree among themselves? Of course not! The Bible does not fear open examination! Can the doctrines of men make the same claim?  What do you think?
  • Because some men oppose themselves! (Acts 18:6). One of the major problems with man-made doctrines is that they’re constantly changing, finding themselves at odds with certain Bible teachings.   But this will never happen to God’s unchangeable Message, for it is given by an all-knowing God!
  • Because some have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge and are ignorant of God’s righteousness, seeking to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:2,3).  Although many appear to have great zeal for man-made doctrines, they’re still very ignorant of God’s Truth, the divine Message.  They’re ignorant of God’s Message because they don’t handle His Word correctly or rightly.  You see knowledge is wonderful, but it must be God’s true knowledge, not men’s knowledge.
  • Because those who fail to obey the Gospel will pay with their souls for eternity (2 Thessalonians 1:8). When we choose to follow doctrinal error or man-made doctrines, we end up losing our souls eternallyThat is a tragedy! 
  • Because we must understand the value of our soul (Matthew 16:26).  When it comes to the value of our soul, it does not matter what men might think. Our soul is our most precious possession!  Man-made doctrines and teaching jeopardize our soul’s eternal destiny.  Thus, we must be ready always to defend the Truth against all false teaching or doctrinal error, for it will deprive man’s soul of this most precious gift.  


CONCLUSION:

Every faithful disciple of Christ must proclaim the Gospel of Christ in a loving and positive way.  We must proclaim the good news about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.  We must assume that each soul that we find is honest until he should show himself to the contrary.  Jesus wants us to carry on His work in seeking those souls that are lost (Lk. 19:10).  Although Jesus’ intent is for us to seek and teach the lost, He has also given us the responsibility of opposing every false way, every false teaching.  The Lord commands us to defend the Gospel (Phil. 1:16), to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), to reprove, rebuke and exhort (2 Tim. 4:2), and to give an answer to those who inquire about our hope (1 Pet. 3:15). Elders of Christ’s church are commanded to instruct in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict the doctrine of Christ (Tit. 1:9-11).  It is not enough to preach and teach the Truth and be positive, for one must be ready to stand against error to be right with God.

Integrity is vital to giving a defense of the Truth, our faith and our hope.  Our argumentation or defense must be honest and sound. Any fallacious argument used in defense of the Truth is unworthy of Christ.  The Truth does not need misapplied Scripture and invalid reasoning, for the Truth can stand on its own!  Virtue demands that we attempt to prove our position correctly. Every Christian’s duty is to individually defend the Truth and stand up against apostasy, false doctrines and those who oppose the Truth and promote false teachings that deny the Lordship of Christ.  We must not remain silent while false teachers sweep away others into doctrinal error, perverting the purity of the Gospel as taught by His apostles! The letter of Jude deals strongly with false teachers, declaring that such teachers are not led by the Spirit of God, but are actually motivated by satanic powers (verse 19).  That same letter urges Christians to help those who are caught up in deception and apostasy (verses 22-23) to save them from eternal destruction.

Each Christian is responsible for warning others, especially other Christians, against false teachers and their false teaching which is contrary to the Scriptures.  We must help them turn away from error that they may repent and withdraw from any church that does not rightly divide the Word of God.  And though it might sound harsh, those who genuinely desire to do the will of God, walking in the light of His Word, must not have any spiritual fellowship with those who insist on following a form of cheap and degraded Christianity, teaching the man-made doctrines of men.  God commands us to separate ourselves from all falsehood and sinful practices, or false religion.  We have been given a warning in the book of Revelation (Rev. 18:4-6).  Those who worship God in spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24) must have nothing to do with false “Christianity.”  Faithful disciples of Christ cannot fellowship with those who persistently teach myths, human traditions, outright error, and falsehood.  Today’s “Churchianity” denies the cost that Jesus imposed, and has overwhelmingly become cheap, carnal-friendly “Christianity,” which is nothing but false religion.  When we tolerate and accept such false teachings and practices, we are in grave danger of forfeiting our eternal destiny! 

God has already done everything to bring us to salvation through His Son, our Lord Jesus and He has made it His responsibility.  He has likewise given us His Spirit through His revealed Word so that we can have understanding, and be filled with His love.  But each of us must hunger and thirst for His Word.  Although He loves us and wants the best for us, He cannot keep us from being exposed to false doctrines and being deceived by them.  Rather, He has given us the Truth of His Word so that we may recognize and refute all false doctrines. He has provided “the Spirit of the truth” to guide us and to teach us the Truth of everything that pertains to godliness and holiness and eternal life through Christ.  But we must desire the Word of God earnestly to avoid being deceived by false doctrinesAll disciples of Christ must be growing in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ to enter the gates of heaven. As individual Christians, we must be grounded and built up in the Word of God to resist the corrupting influence of false ministers. It is our own Christian responsibility to diligently study the Word of God to discern truth from error, lest we too be deceived.  In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer urges the brethren to not be babies in their understanding of the Truth, for they were negligent in their responsibility to grow spiritually, to be mature in their understanding, and in their discernment of God’s Word.  They were still babies in need of milk rather than solid food, for they were to be skilled teachers in the word of righteousness able to distinguish good from evil.  These brethren were sharply rebuked because they were not diligently grounding themselves in the Word of God (Heb. 5:12-14).

God's desire is that all Christians grow into spiritual adults and to fully conform to the perfect character of Jesus Christ. We must be like Him if we are to truly be born into His divine family and become His children forever. We cannot become spiritually mature if we neglect to feed on His Word constantly. If we choose to feed on outright error, as taught by false teachers, we will never grow up.  Rather, we must earnestly choose to understand nothing but the whole Truth of God’s Word, that we may grow spiritually into His likeness. Only then will we be able to “discern between good and evil” and thus be able to recognize and refute all false doctrines.  There cannot be true fellowship apart from God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 John, the apostle John wrote,
“That which we have seen and have heard we are reporting to you in order that you also may have fellowship with us; for the fellowship—indeed, our fellowship—is with the Father and with His own Son, Jesus Christ.” (I John 1:3)

The apostle John also said we must “worship God in spirit and in truth” because God is Spirit. True spiritual fellowship is not just a once-a-week event, but an ongoing relationship with God and Jesus, for we must earnestly seek daily to live by every word of God.  Jesus said, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (Matt. 4:4).  Fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ cannot be granted by any church organization, for such fellowship must be founded on a personal covenant with God when each true believer is baptized for the forgiveness of sins.  And while this intimate spiritual fellowship is God’s gift to every Christian, it is our responsibility to maintain that fellowship by walking in the light of His Word.  There can never be a genuinely spiritual fellowship or union with God the Father and Jesus apart from walking in the light of His Word.  We can rest assured that if we continue steadfastly in this intimate and true fellowship with them, we have nothing to fear.  God will not forsake us as long as we remain faithful to His Truth even when we have to stand alone in defense of the Truth.  It is the only way to have fellowship with the Father and the Son!

All faithful followers of Christ must be tested to see if they genuinely love God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said, 
“The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him…. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me.” (John 14:21, 23-24)

Jesus has given us God’s true doctrines. We must remain steadfast in those teachings, His doctrines. If we truly love Him, we will want to build our lives on that foundation, the only true foundation laid by Jesus our Lord.  To receive the gift of eternal life, we must build upon the foundation laid by Christ.
“For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble, the work of each one shall be manifested; for the day of trial will declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall prove what kind of work each one’s is. If the work that anyone has built endures, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone is burned up, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet as through fire.”  (I Cor. 3:11-15)  

Evangelists like Paul build on that true foundation and who hear and obey are the result of that work. We will be tried by persecution, and worldly stresses and temptations, a trial by fire, and some of us will not pass the test.  Those who fail will be burned as chaff, but an eternal reward remains for those who are purged by the fire like gold or silver and precious gems. God will not give us an eternal reward if we fail to do the true works of righteousness, for they will help us to withstand the fiery trials (I Pet. 4:12-19).  The apostle Peter urges us to not be discouraged or disheartened by these fiery trials, turning aside from following Jesus, but rather we must suffer, choosing to remain faithful to His teachings or doctrines.  We can rest assured that in doing this, we will be richly rewarded at His coming.  So we must rejoice in this eternal promise!

So are you willing to follow the example of Jesus our Lord and Savior by remaining faithful to the Truth of God, even if it brings you persecution from your closest friends and members of your own family? Are you willing to hold fast to the true teachings, the doctrines of God’s Truth revealed in the Bible, even if that means you must withdraw from fellowship with your present church organization? Is your membership in a corporate church more important than worshiping God in spirit and in truth?  Will you be numbered among the few faithful?  Therefore, we must remember that our love for God is based on the Truth of His Word and that it must be perfected in each faithful Christian. 
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.”  (I John 4:16-19)

May we defend the Truth and stand up against apostasy, false doctrines, and those who oppose the Truth and promote false teachings that deny the Lordship of Christ and His rule.  May we follow the example of Jesus, our Lord, and Savior by remaining faithful to the Truth of God’s Word, even if it brings us persecution from our closest friends, family, and other Christians.  May we be willing to hold fast to the true teachings, the doctrines of God’s Truth revealed in the Bible.  May we be numbered among the few faithful ones.  Finally, may we love God’s Truth, defend it with all of our breath and remain faithful to His Truth even when we have to stand alone when defending it because this is the only way we can have fellowship with the Father and the Son.

Luci


Thursday, August 29, 2019

CAN A WOMAN TEACH THE WORD OF GOD?

"Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."
1 Timothy 2:11-14


Our decaying culture suffers from the extreme disregard of the roles of men and women that God has declared and clearly defined in Sacred Scripture. The absurdities of modern “gender dysphoria” tend to drive us to other extremes. The screaming “banshees” tempt us to twist the Scriptures to extremely silence innocent women to silence the madness of the guilty. We all feel the discomfort when a woman has crossed the lines of decency in public, the answer is not to invent laws where God has not spoken. Let’s take a moment to calmly consider what the Bible says about these issues.

Recently, a brother in Christ rebuked me in one of my Facebook posts for usurping a man’s authority, for according to him, women are forbidden from teaching any man and must keep silent.  Now, this is not the first time I have been accused of usurping the authority of men by interacting on Facebook and publishing my studies on various Bible issues on Lucia's Blog. According to these brothers, a woman is not even allowed to post a Bible Scripture or say anything spiritual or edifying on her wall, for she is forbidden.  As I said earlier in my public defense 3 years ago, I have no sympathy for women who usurp the authority of men. I honestly and humbly wish to please God and obey His Word. When I post on Facebook and  Lucia's Blog, I try to be cautious with my words to remain within the confines of propriety and accuracy. That way, I can present my thoughts as a resource which men and women may use or ignore at their discretion. So if any of my friends feel that these studies are inappropriate for a man as written by a woman, with all urgency, I ask you to ignore them or disregard them. My words are not intended for you! If you wish to read them and use them for God’s glory, please be my guest, but they are not written to teach or usurp the authority of any man. My only “sin” is to love reading and studying the Bible in-depth for my own good and to share my thoughts with my friends.   Now, I’m forced to do a thorough study in my own defense and for some other sisters who have asked me to do it for them, since many brothers have accused them of usurping the authority of men.  May the Lord bless each of you!

So, can a woman teach the Word of God without usurping the authority of men?  May women be Bible teachers?  Indeed, this is a very critical question and one that demands a correct answer according to God’s Word.  It demands a detailed and in-depth studyThe purpose of my study is to carefully examine the Bible teaching concerning the role of women and the leadership roles of men, to prove all things and hold fast that which is good (1 Thess. 5:21).  I will be examining 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:26-35 and the question of the silence of women or the opposition to women teachersAs with all my studies, I must push myself beyond my knowledge, in an effort to understand and express the Truth with clarity. This question is exhausting! The love of Truth is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man finds. He goes and sells all that he has to buy that field and rejoices to take possession of that treasure. That is how I feel every time I am compelled to dig deeper into the Scriptures seeking God's treasures. I pray that you may feel the same joy.

So the question at stake is, What does it mean for women to keep silent?  What is the meaning of silence, “Let a woman learn in silence?”  Does this mean complete silence in every place besides the assembly? What does the word silence refer to in our context?  What is the real  context of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35?  I will be analyzing each of these questions in their historical background and the spiritual role of women in general.


I.   THE SILENCE OF WOMEN:

  • Women Teachers?
Evidently, women throughout history have played an essential role in the New Testament church.  Women were present and added to the church when the church began (Acts 1:14; 5:14; 8:12; 16:15; 17, 4, 12).  Women labored in the church in various ways, and that included teaching (Philippians 4:3; Acts 18:26; Titus 2:3-4).  In Romans 16, we read of several women who were commended as faithful servants in the church.  Some women had spiritual gifts that allowed them to prophesy and even speak in tongues (Acts 21:8-9).  But it is very obvious that these women had been given limitations in their work.  Why?  Because God did not give them positions of authority and leadership in the church, because leadership is reserved for men.

  1. Jesus, the Head of the church, was a man, Ephesians 1:22-23.  
  2. The chosen apostles were all men, Acts 1:13.  
  3. The elders or overseers of the local church must be men, Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3; 1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:5-6
  4. All deacons must be men, 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:3-6.  
  5. Men were given the role of speaking in all the New Testament examples of preaching to church assemblies and also leading Bible studies in the church, Acts 2:14-40; 11:25-26; 13:14-41; 20:7, etc. 

We have not been given a single example in which a woman stood before men and preached the Word of God.  Women must be subject to men! They are forbidden from taking a leading role over men in the church.  In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, the apostle Paul describes the limitation or restrictions that must be applied to women in the work or worship of the church.
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”  

Women were to learn in quietness and submission. They were not to teach over men, for in doing this, they were usurping authority over men.  These limitations were observed for many centuries.  But as women began to gain momentum in many places, with the coming of the Restoration Movement, the question of the woman’s role in the church became a critical matter of serious study.  As churches relied more on  Bible classes to teach and edify, it was evident that women were more capable of teaching children than men.  Women began to also teach other women, especially at college lectureships and many Bible classes.  As a result of all this, some began speaking in opposition to women teachers, using women to teach publicly at all.  This became a controversial issue with Bible classes since this is where women were often used.  Those who were opposed to Bible classes usually were also opposed to women teachers.


  • Opposition to Women Teachers:
"Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."  (1 Timothy 2:11-14)


    • A Closer Examination of 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

 There are few Scriptures in the Bible that address specifically the subject of women teaching or exercising authority over men in teaching or church activities.  We will be using these verses to confirm the pattern we see in the examples of the New Testament, and then we will draw some conclusions and make applications to this critical issue of women’s subjection to men. So let us start our study with 1 Timothy 2:8-14.

Let us first begin with verse 8,
“I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing.”  

The word “men” does not come from the word “anthropos” (mankind) but from “aner” (male); that is, men (males) must pray in every place.  This certainly includes public praying.  Our text 1 Timothy 2:11-12,
“Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. 12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.”  

Here the woman must be in subjection without exercising any authority over a man.  When Paul stated, “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man,” he was teaching about the silence of womenWhen we examine any context in the Bible, it is critical that we carefully study the context as well as other Scriptures related to the subject that is under consideration.  Some quote 1 Timothy 2:11-15, to confirm that Paul said, “I permit not a woman to teach.”  Also that a woman must also learn in “quietness” or “silence.”  They claim that a woman must not, under any circumstance teach or speak. Not even a children’s class arranged by the church.  But that is not what Paul is saying!  Paul never said that a woman is forbidden to teach anybody nor that she must be silent during a Bible class.  When Paul stated in verse 11, “Let a woman learn in silence,” does that demand complete or absolute silence? Is the context speaking of absolute silence in every place?  Of course not!  The word for “silence” from the Greek word “hesuchia” means “quietness, not meddling.”  The NASB, NIV, and ASV translate this word this way.  I must stress that Paul never taught that women were to learn in absolute silence, rather he said that women must learn in quietness.  The word “silence” is used to point out the disposition of the person in 1 Peter 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and 1 Timothy 2:2 It is not total absence of words but a submissive, undisturbing disposition.  This is in harmony with 1 Timothy 2:12 that states, “with all submission.”  Some argue that a woman can’t even sing songs of praise in the assembly, confess her sins, confess Jesus Christ as Lord, or even say amen at the end of a prayer.  It is absurd, for that is not the case here!  Have they forgotten the command given to all Christians to sing songs of praise, confess their sins to God and one another?  Again, I must stress that Paul is not saying that women must be absolutely silent!

A woman’s role, as commanded by God, is “submission.”  Although our text states that a woman must learn with all submission and is not permitted to “have authority over a man,” it does not demand that a woman not speak to or teach a man.  We’re given an example of a woman teaching a man in Acts 18:24-28.  Her name was Priscilla, and she taught a man named ApollosA woman can teach as long as she is under subjection without taking authority over a man.  Again, although the word “silence” means “quietness” and "submissiveness," it does not refer to not speaking at all.  A woman is not to be in authority but in submission, whether she is learning or teaching.  From the very beginning, these admonitions have been established (verses 13-14).  The Old Testament Law taught this as ordained by God, and no one is authorized to change this principle.  Again, our text, 1 Timothy 2:12-14 does not forbid a woman to speak in any assembly or any Bible class, for she is admonished to sing songs of praise, confess Christ and her sins.  But she is commanded to speak in a submissive, non-dominant way, taking a leading role in teaching or authority.  And though our text forbids a woman to have authority over a man, having some Scriptural restrictions and limitations, she definitely has a place in teaching God’s Word.  Aged women are commanded to teach younger women in Titus 2:4.  She can also teach like Priscilla, according to Acts 18:26If it was out of an assembly, it was obviously a Bible class!  Wherever there is a student and a lesson in progress, there is always a class, call it whatever you will!  In the New Testament, a woman can teach as long as she respects the restrictions given in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, without exercising dominion over a man.  Teaching over a man implies usurpation of authority and power.  When a woman usurps the authority she is wrong!  A woman can usurp authority in the church when she teaches without the approval of the men or the elders.  Also, when she refuses to submit to the headship of her husband and be in subjection.  But she may Scripturally teach as long as she is not usurping the authority.  Consider the following.
  1. All women are commanded to teach their children.  Timothy was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother, 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15.  
  2. All Christians, women, and men are commanded to teach the Gospel to all men, Acts 8:4Priscilla and Aquilas taught Apollos, Acts 18:26.  
  3. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we read, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  Here the word “men” (anthropos) is generic and means “persons.”  So it includes both men and women.  All faithful men and women must be taught that they may teach others also.  
  4. In 1 Peter 3:15, “but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.”  This passage does not address only men (males) but also women, for each must give a defense to every man of their hope with meekness and fear.  
  5. Hebrews 5:12, “For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.”  Our text includes women also.  
  6. Jude 3, “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.”  This passage also includes women.  
  7. As I said earlier in my study, women must sing songs of praise, Ephesians 5:19; Col. 3:16When she is singing, she is not silent.  When she is singing, she is also exhorting or teaching according to Col. 3:16Is she in absolute silence when she is singing?  What do you think?  Can she teach when she is singing?  Of course!  And though she is not allowed to lead in singing, for she would be exercising authority over men, she still can teach and exhort as she sings and is submissive.  
  8. A woman can speak, write articles in a blog or a wall in Facebook, express her faith to encourage others to be more faithful according to 1 Peter 3:15 as long as she is not violating or usurping the authority of men as ordained by our Lord in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.  She must do it with a submissive spirit. Timothy 2:13-14, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.”  Here Paul is pointing out two things to show the need for a woman’s subjection.  A woman must not exercise any authority over a man in the church or any other place.  

    • A Closer Examination of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35:

Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. 35 And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.”  (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

In 1 Timothy 2, we studied the principle of a woman’s subjection, whether in the assembly of the church or any other place1 Corinthians 14 deals with the kind of violation that takes place in an assembly in which the church came together.  This is evident in verse 26, when Paul said, “When you come together.”  This is an instruction given to the assembly when we come together on Sunday morning, where everyone who is speaking before the congregation is either leading or teaching.  In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is talking about specific problems regarding spiritual gifts in congregational assemblies.  He rebukes their division, confusion, and competition over who was the greatest or had the greatest gifts.  Thus he urges them to have order in the assembly, giving them the instructions necessary to that end.  So do these principles apply to only spiritual gifts?  Since they have ceased, do they no longer apply to us?  In verses 1-19 of our text, the church was to do all things to edify others and to edify they had to be understandable.  Verses 12, 19 we have a general principle which Paul applied to tongues and prophecy, pointing out why prophecy was more useful than tongues (verses 2, 5, 9, 12, 13, 15, 19).  But we must stress that this principle also was to be applied to prayer and singing, verses 14-15The church needed mature understanding, verse 20.  So they were to be understandable when the whole church came together in one place, verse 23.  This will convict unbelievers also. Is this still a general principle for us today?  In verses 26-36, Paul urges them saying, “Whenever you come together… let all things be done to edify.”  Here Paul is giving specific instructions to achieve edificationThose who spoke different languages were to be silent unless there was an interpreter.  Speakers were limited and spoke “in turn” verse 29Whenever someone spoke, the rest were to keep silent and listen to whoever was speaking, verse 30.  The purpose was to encourage everyone, verse 31.  As a result, there was peace instead of confusion, for God is not the author of confusion or chaos.  This applied to all churches, verse 33Paul applied all these principles to spiritual giftsBut have these principles ceased today or must we still apply them in churches?

Now in verses 34-35, women were commanded to keep silent “in the churches,” for they were not permitted to speak but to be in submission.  When they had a question, they were to ask it at home, outside the assemblyWhy?  Because "it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church."  The purpose was for order and edification in the assemblies instead of confusion and division.  There must be proper authority to maintain order, for someone must be in chargeSo the men should lead in the church.  So if it was shameful for women in congregational assemblies then, does that not mean that it is still shameful today or was this applied only to spiritual gifts?  In verses 37-40, Paul concludes saying, that these are commands from the Lord, and everything must be done “decently and in order.”  So do these commands still apply today in the church?  May we apply them to verses 34-35 to our assemblies today?  The only thing that has ceased is the application of these instructions or principles to spiritual gifts, for they have ceased, but these principles have not ceased and continue to be binding.  The silence of women in congregational assemblies is based on the principle of the subjection of women toward men.  God demands male leadership in the church.  In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, the principle of male leadership is applied more broadly than just in church assemblies, for the argument is that the principle of women’s subjection is a lasting and universal principle.  So to limit this principle only to the era of spiritual gifts is a misapplication of the Scriptures.

Women are told to keep silent.  Does that mean that they cannot sing in the assembly?  Confess Christ?  Confess sins?  No, they can do all those things and must do them!  So if “keep silent” is conditional, what are the conditions?  The conditions are the same as 1 Timothy 2, for the tongue speaker and the prophetShe must keep silent in terms of leading the church, the assembly, teaching or usurping authority over a man, interrupting or disrespecting the man or men who are supposed to be leading.  Verses 34-35 are similar to 1 Timothy 2.
  1. “Let your woman keep silent.”  
  2. “It is not permitted for them to speak.”  
  3. “They are to be submissive.”  
  4. “As the law also says.”  

Sadly, many brethren teach that a woman must be silent, in absolute terms, not allowing her to make a comment when asked by a man,  or read or even ask questions during informal Bible classes.  There is a difference between the assembly of the church and the Bible classes.  The purpose and order is different by common agreement of the brethren. So if there is no difference between the two, would it be okay to partake of the Lord’s Supper and collect the contribution while we’re having a Bible class?  What do you think?  If you say no, then you’re acknowledging that there is a distinction between the assembly and Bible class.  Thus, 1 Corinthians 14 does not apply to Bible classes.  If your answer is yes, then you’re acknowledging that the method of teaching Bible classes is the same as the divine pattern of coming together as a church in one place.  The Bible class is not the assembly of the church!  Yes, the woman must be in subjection while she is in Bible class.  I don’t deny that often the participation of many women, sisters, during Bible class does not edify but cases more harm.  Why?  Because there are some women who want to dominate and rule over men, rejecting the divine order of submission, thus usurping over the authority of the men.  Some think of themselves as superior, believing that they know more than the one who is teaching, thus taking over the class while they’re seated.  Amazing!  A woman must not take control or dominate during a Bible class!  Period!

Can a woman speak to a man taking authority and control?  Is she submissive?  No!  What about Sunday morning, can she stand up and rebuke the teacher publicly for what he’s teaching and proceed to teach her view?  No!  She is not in submission.  You see that is precisely what was happening at Corinth!  The prophets’ wives were asking questions, thus interrupting the instruction of the assembly.  In doing this, they were taking the lead and authority.   She was to keep silent and not have authority over a man.  A woman is submissive as she keeps silent, quiet.  This silence is not only regarding the assembly but also as a wife with her husband.  She must not take the lead or assert her will or authority over a man!  Taking the lead in the assembly, having authority over, and teaching over men is what 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 condemn.

We have other examples of women speaking in an assembly without usurping and taking authority over a man as in the case of the daughters of Zelophad when they addressed the whole assembly, Numbers 27:1-11 and Joshua 17:3-4.  In 2 Chronicles 34:22-28, the prophetess Huldah spoke as the mouthpiece of the Lord.  So what is the rule?  That a woman cannot speak or teach in any assembly where she is exercising authority over a man, for this is her restriction.  But as long as she doesn’t violate this, she can speak, or write, whether it is a blog or Facebook, ask questions and make comments but she must do it with submission and a meek and quiet spirit.  Again, a woman can ask and answer questions in Bible classes as long as the whole church is not together to worship.  The rule forbidding women to speak applies only “in church” when the whole church is together, functioning as a church.  Period!  I’m not sinning or usurping or ruling over a man’s authority when I write on my Facebook wall or write for my blog as long as I’m doing it with a submissive and quiet spirit!  All Christians are commanded to share their knowledge of the Gospel of Christ in obedience to the great commission to others.  So sharing my knowledge of the Truth in my Facebook wall and my blog is not usurping or having authority over men.   Edifying others and "making disciples of every nation" is not usurping authority over a man either, for it is my right and responsibility based on the great commission as ordained by God in Matthew 28:18-20.   In Acts 8:1-4, "the disciples went everywhere preaching the word." Facebook and the internet are not considered a local congregation.  Again, 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14 apply only to a woman's role within the local congregation.  Remember, that we have other Scriptures that show that a woman may discuss the Bible with men in places other than just their private homes and with men other than their husbands.  We must stress again, 1 Timothy 2 applies to spiritual teaching and leadership roles between men and women in general which says that women must act and speak quietly in submission.  On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 14 applies explicitly when the church comes together to assemble, to worship, forbidding women to speak.  It is specific regarding the circumstances and restrictions on women’s conduct in congregational meetings for worship.


CONCLUSION:

This study of the Word of God has been very rewarding as it deepens my understanding in the light of God’s Word.  As with all my studies, I push myself beyond my knowledge to find the answers and wisdom that flourish from God's precious Word.  I learn by writing my thoughts down when I’m in doubt and need to grow in Grace.  At the same time, I long to share those thoughts and of course, my faith with others that they may grow in knowledge, wisdom, and faith that they might be edified as I am when I dig deeper into God’s everlasting Word.  I hope and pray that my studies might benefit you and strengthen your faith to God’s glory.  All these charges against me about usurping the authority of a man, I take a little bit hard because of my tender conscience. I’m very sensitive to the perception that I might be out of place because I write on a wide variety of Bible subjects, many of which are controversial. After further study and prayer, I have decided to keep on doing what I love the most, which is writing to the glory of my God.  The support I have received from my brethren has encouraged me and given me more confidence, but at the same time, it has made me more aware and careful about the manner and approach of my writings.

Over the past number of years, a large movement has affected churches, and even the Lord’s faithful churches, causing conflicts within, arguing that it is sinful for women to teach the Bible even to children in the class arrangement when the church comes together.  They also argue that a woman must keep silent, for if she doesn't, she will violate Paul’s instructions for women to “keep silence” in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34).  Some of these old debaters responded to this argument in this way.  Their contention was over the Greek word “sigao,” which is “keep silence,” demanding absolute silence, not a sound at all.   So they reasoned that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 did not pertain to normal church meeting because of their inconsistent prohibitions regarding regular church meeting, e.g., singing, etc.  So, they reasoned that this context must not be applicable in our time. In creating this argument, they thought they would avoid a conflict between women teaching children’s Bible classes and 1 Corinthians 14:34.  Sadly, some today are making this same argument, but with a different purpose. They want an expanded role for the woman in the church assembly. They also see 1 Corinthians 14:34 as an obstacle to their desired practice of women worship leaders. So, again, the context is dismissed as irrelevant to today.  Such an argument is not sound and is erroneous today.  So what kind of silence does 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 demand?  The answer to this question rests on the meaning of the Greek verb “sigao,” which does not demand absolute and unqualified silence.  Rather, the nature of such silence must be determined by the context.  A careful examination of the word reveals that the context describes or determines the nature of the silence under consideration.

Take for instance, how terrified the Israelites were when the Egyptians were pursuing them, arriving at the Red Sea.  They complained to Moses of their plight.  But Moses told them that Jehovah would fight for them.  So they were to “hold [their] peace” (i.e., be silent; Ex. 14:14).  Obviously, that didn’t mean that they were forbidden to speak at all. Rather, the kind of silence commanded was that they must cease their faithless whimpering and whining.  Another example was David when he described certain hardships associated with his transgressions, he “kept silence” as his bones wasted away (Psa. 32:3).  But David was not speaking of general or absolute silence but of keeping silence regarding his sin.  Moreover, after the disciples witnessed the transfiguration scene, they “held their peace” (i.e., remained silent; Lk. 9:36). That doesn’t mean they didn’t talk at all, absolute silence. Rather, they did not speak or discuss with others what they had seen on the mountain.

In the context of 1 Corinthians 14, the verb “sigao” occurs three times.  One who has the gift of tongues is to keep silence, if he had no interpreter for his audience, 1 Corinthians 14:28.  If a brother is speaking and another receives immediate revelation, the former is to keep silence, 1 Corinthians 14:30.  And finally, women are to keep silence (1 Cor. 14:34). The first two prohibitions demanded silence only in the matters being discussed. They do not forbid these men to otherwise speak consistently with their divine obligationsThe same was the case with Paul’s instructions to women.  His instructions did not command that they must absolutely be silent.  Rather, the woman was not to speak or teach in such a way as to violate her gender role.  This harmonizes with what Paul taught in 1 Timothy 2:12-14Why?  Because a woman must not occupy the position of leadership as a public teacher, to stand before the church and function as one where there are adult men.  In doing so, she has stepped beyond her authorized sphere, thus violating the Scriptures.

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (I Cor. 14:34,35).  

This passage is usually linked with 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and must not be kept separate in their application We must stress that it is critical that we examine the context of any Bible passage to understand it correctly.  To fail to understand what the apostle Paul is teaching by regulating men and women speaking under special conditions, i.e., during the exercise of spiritual gifts in the assembly of “the whole church,” is to miss the point and give it an improper application. To apply the passage to all women under all conditions leads to several complications that are too important to be ignored. For example, if we were to apply this concept the incorrect way, it would be that no woman could sing (Col. 3:16) or confess since the passage prohibits vocal utterances and imposes utter silence.

“Let the women keep silence in the churches” (v.34).  

It is essential to understand that not only the women but also the men were commanded to remain silent under certain conditions. Note verse 27,28, “let him keep silence” and verse 30, “let the first keep silence.” Only two or at the most three were to speak at any one assembly. The others were to remain in silence and “discern” (v.29). Obviously, God did not command all men everywhere under all circumstances to remain in silence! Likewise, the women (perhaps wives of the prophets and inspired men) who were contributing to this confusion while the spiritual gifts were being exercised in the assembly of the whole church were to remain silent under the conditions stated.  If they wanted to learn more, they were to ask their husbands at home and to be in subjection to their husbands as the Law commanded (Gen. 3:16, I Pet 3:6-7, I Tim. 2:11) When they caused conflict or confusion they were bringing shame on their husbands.  They were bringing shame upon their husbands by causing confusion, trouble. So to make such a command general and applicable to all men and women under other conditions is to bind where God did not.  Take heed!

In 1 Timothy 2:11, the word “silence” comes from the Greek “hesuchia” and “denotes quietness” (W. E. Vine). It is like Paul is saying shut up and stop causing confusion. The American Standard Version makes a distinction by using “quietness” in 1 Timothy 2:11 and “silence” in 1 Corinthians 14:34“sige,” meaning total muteness. “For it is not permitted unto them to speak” (v.34).  The word “speak” is from “laleo” and means “to make vocal utterance to babble, to talk, in the New Testament, absolutely to exercise the faculty of speech.” (Vine, p. 243) Thus, the women commanded to be silent in this passage were not to utter a sound. If Paul meant all women in every situation, then all women in every situation must remain mute. But God commanded women to sing (Col. 3:16) and to teach (2 Tim. 2:2; Titus 2:3-5). They did teach (Luke 2:36-38; Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:16; Acts 18:26; 21:9, 1 Cor. 11:5), and they can teach now as long as they do not violate 1 Timothy 2:11, 12. The kind of speaking prohibited is that which creates confusion and violates God’s principle of headship, for she must be in subjection.  In the churches; “Church” is from the Greek “ekklesia” meaning “called out” (Vine). Not as one called out, but when the “whole church, the assembly of the church.” It does not specify any particular assembly but does specify “when the whole church be assembled.” Unlike 1 Timothy 2:12, this passage is limited in it’s application to the assembly. The woman can speak at home or in other situations. 1 Timothy 2:12 does not specify any condition but regulates the woman under every situation. As Paul says of the men in 1 Timothy 2:8, “I want men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands.” When Paul says in verse 9, “likewise in the same way I want women everywhere to dress proper.” Then through verse 10, Paul is commanding them to dress properly to show respect to men, verses 11 and 12“Let them be in subjection, as also saith the law (v. 34).  Paul is giving us the reason why God imposed silence on certain women under the mentioned conditions. Their speaking was to be in subjection to men.  God’s intent has always been for a woman to be in subjection to a man (Gen. 3:15; 1 Tim. 2:12) and be ruled by him.  And though a woman may teach men (Anna, Luke 2:36-38; daughters, Joel 2:28; Priscilla, Acts 18:24-26; Phillip’s daughters, Acts 21:8,9) and speak in an assembly of men and women (Acts 5:1-11; 12:12-16), she must never do it usurping the authority over a man, for that would be violating her subjection to men (1 Tim. 2:11,12).

The question at stake here is, “Does 1 Timothy 2:11-12 teach that any woman today must remain silent under the stated conditions when speaking violates the principles of subjection to man and when it causes confusion in the assembly?  Does this verse prohibit a woman asking a question or making comments in Bible classes, writing on her Facebook wall or page and a blog?  Not at all, if she does it in the spirit of quietness and subjection (1 Tim. 2:11,12).  The silence that was commanded in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, does not apply to Bible class arrangements, writing on a Facebook Page or wall, a blog since the whole church is not assembled together.   Therefore, the silence imposed on women in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is only binding “when the whole church be assembled together.”  For she must refrain from speaking in such a way as to violate the two stated principles: Headship of man, “let them be in subjection as also saith the law.” Orderliness, “God is not the God of confusion but of peace.” “Let all things be done decently and in order.”  The focal point of both 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is submission, not that women cannot speak or be mute.  We must be careful not to make 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 say too much, or more than what God has said.  When we say, “silence is silence!”  Then we are adding to God’s Word.

Writing on my wall and my blog is not usurping authority over a man. A woman is not allowed to teach in the assembly or during worship, but she can teach her children (Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:14; 2 Tim. 1:5).  She can teach other women (Titus 2:3-5).  She can even teach her husband (1 Cor. 7:14-16; 1 Peter 3:1-3).  She can teach everybody within the restrictions established in 1 Timothy 2:11-12).  She can teach the Gospel to the lost (Acts 8:4).  She can be like Priscilla and her husband, who taught Apollos without violating the command given in 1 Timothy 2:12She can defend her faith, the Gospel, her hope to anyone (Phil. 1:27).   All faithful men, women, must be taught, that they may teach others also.  In 1 Peter 3:15, “but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.”  This passage does not apply only to men (males) but also to women, for each must give a defense to every man of their hope with meekness and fear.  Hebrews 5:12, “For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.”  Our text includes women also.  Jude 3, “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the which was once for all delivered unto the saints.”  This passage also includes women as well.

God highly honors and values women for their work, even as He does men.  Women are joint heirs of eternal life with men.  Women in the Bible have been used for important spiritual workMary was honored to be Jesus’ mother, Luke 1:26-56.  Mary and Martha were Jesus’ closest disciples, Luke 10:38-42 Other women followed and provided for Jesus, Matt. 27:55-56; Lk. 8:2-3.  Women like Dorcas, Lydia, Phoebe, and other godly women are commended for their good works, Acts 9:36-42; 16:11-15; Rom. 16:1-2.  We have other passages that mention women who were disciples, naming them sometimes, Acts 2:42; 5:14; 8:12; 12:12-17; 17:4, 12, 34; 2 Tim. 1:5.  Several godly women are considered godly examples from the Old Testament:  Sarah, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, etc., 1 Peter 3:5-6; Heb. 11:11, 31.  We have many other passages that explicitly make mention of the many good works that women can do, 1 Tim. 5; Titus 2God values us for our service, not our authority, Matt. 20:25-28Women who serve in harmony with God’s Word and will are considered equally valuable as men, regardless of the difference in authority.  A woman can teach children and other women without violating God’s Word, Exo. 15:20-21; Prov. 31:1; 1:8; Lk. 1:39-56; 2 Tim. 1:5; Titus 2:3-5We must stress that women are not only allowed to teach but are commanded to do so!  But God’s Word does limit their role.

And though God limits their role, that does not deny that they have an important role in teaching God’s Word.  To restrict women in fulfilling their God-given role, would be to utterly contradict the Word of God!  Women can discuss and impart Truth in small group discussions with men as long as they do not exercise authority over men, Luke 2:36-39; 10:40-42; John 4:19-26; 4:28-30; 39, 42; John 11:20-27; Lk. 10:38-42; Matt. 28:1-8; Lk. 24:9-10; John 20:16-18; Acts 18:26; 2:17; 21:8-9.  All of these Scriptures show women in spiritual discussions with men.  They asked and answered spiritual questions and even imparted spiritual Truth to men in some cases.  But the Bible nowhere teaches that a woman can impart God’s Word in the congregational assemblies, when the church comes together, the synagogue assemblies or any situation in which they were exercising authority over men.  The leadership roles in the church were only given to men.  A woman must not preach or take a leading role in church worship assemblies!  A woman must not lead any Bible study or act of worship in which men are participating.  Women are forbidden to speak out in any meeting when the whole church comes together or assembles as a church.

May we women love and honor God as we follow His pattern for the worship of the church.  May God be glorified as we observe both the opportunities and the limitations or restrictions established in God’s Word in connection with our role as women in the work of the church.  May we women obey the restrictions, commanded us as teachers, as listed in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.  May we never teach in such a way as to exercise dominion or authority over a man.  May we teach the Gospel to others with all of our heart and strength without usurping authority.

Luci