Women in Minstry an Egalitarian View (2)

There is so much material about the roles of men and women in the Church that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start. So I decided to go for a book that tries to see both sides. Therefore the first book I am going to summarise on this subject is Two Views of Women in Ministry. It brings together 4 different contributors and splits the arguments into:

1. Egalitarian – equal and with the same roles 

2. Complimentarian – equal but with complimentary roles

They then make clear that they started the process of looking at this with the following statement: 

We believe one can build a credible case within the bounds of orthodoxy and a commitment to inerrancy for either one of the two major views we address in this volume, although all of us view our own positions on the matter as stronger and more compelling. 

Each contributor wrote an essay and then the others comment and I we will take each essay in turn and I hope to distil them down to something more bite sized. 

The first is Chapter 1 – Women in Ministry: An egalitarian perspective by Linda Belleville.   

It is important to note that these are all the authors points and necessarily not my view but I will write it without saying “she says” all the time.

Introduction

1. There has been a lot of disput about this and the traditionalist view has been selective in its focus on a few scriptures (1 Tim 2:11-15) and missed the wider role of women in scripture.

2. Arguments have become less extreme about the secondary ability of women to lead as a result of feminism and the role of women in the work place. Women are seen by many as having generally the same spiritual gifts as men and are encouraged to take a role.

3. The issue therefore is not women exercising gifts butch they should be in leadership roles

4. This is because while the patriarchal structure has broken down in society it has not in some church’s.

5. The whole arguments comes down to 4 questions:

      a. Does the Bible teach a hierarchical structuring of male and female relationships?

       b. Do we find women in leadership positions in the Bible?

      c. Do women in the Bible assume the same leadership roles as men?

      d. Does the Bible limit women from filling certain leadership roles?

The next section will get stuck into Genesis from Lindas perspective.  

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The role of women in the Church (1)

I like themes in my Bible Study. Completing or working through topics until I feel like I have a good grasp encourages me and allows me to have confidence in what I believe and teach. The words for for knowledge in Greek cover both the theory and practicals and that is exactly what I want to do with my next topic.

The role of Women in the Church! 

In the Church I am in there is a degree of questioning about the roles of men and women in Church. So while I have a view I want to explore the topic completely and make sure that I have explored it from as many different perspectives as possible. However, just a warning, that I am afraid I will not take into account arguments from contemporary culture. I am sure some will disagree with me on that but I believe that it is what the Bible says and not what our culture affirms that matters. 

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The approach I am going to take is to read a series of books (wether I agree with them or not) and summarise them on this blog. I will also keep a record of the scriptures people quote, what they think they mean and make my mind up about what I think God will is.

If you have thoughts to add please let me know in the comments section.

This is going to take a long time, probably 4-6 months so if you would like to keep up with it subscribing is probably the best way forward.

Thanks and please pray for this to be encouraging, unifying and pleasing to God.

The perfect example of patience (Patience 10)

This is our last but one verse on patience and is a brilliant summary of what the word means.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:18-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

There is so much in this verse. The fact that Jesus suffered once for us. It is not something that keep needing to be done but it was finished. However he then rose again through the Spirit, something that marks him as completely and totally separate from anyone else who claims greatness. Everyone else who has died is still dead but not Jesus. For me the resurrection is the greatest reason to believe of them all.  

We then get to the point that has prompted quite a lot of debate and that is did Jesus go to Hell on the Saturday and preach to the dead? Personally, after reading a few different opinions I don’t think so but I don’t think it is essential to all agree on it. 

The key point is that God demonstrated what Biblical patience is in the days of Noah. He had total conviction about what needed to happen. He could see the sin and how it needed to be wiped out. He was hurting day by day as he felt to deep heartbreak that only God can feel when he see the whole picture of sin and its consequences. However he did not act immediately. He waited and held back until the time was right and the details were sorted. He didn’t just miracle up an arc but instead let the natural process of build take its course. He knew that timing is everything and so not a day early or a day late he sent the rain.  

He made sure there was a plan in place and not just an emotional and angry explosion. He saw the bigger picture of how this would impact future generations and so had to make sure each of the life and death, each lesson and message from this would have the most positive impact in the future. Finally he saw the individuals in the story and not just the principles. God saw the few that were still devoted to him and not just the masses. It is so easy to be caught up in an issue and forget the individuals and that they need to be loved through it.

If you are being ‘patient’ or long-tempered about anything and Finlay decide to act make sure:

1. The timing is right, not too early or late. 

2. That there is a plan in place that gives everyone the best chance of success. Who is going to be present, where will you do it etc.

3. Keep a clear eye on the bigger picture. Many people have won a battle only to lose the war as a result of how they fought the battle.

4. Finally, remember that while God deals in principles and with huge numbers He is also concerned with the individual sitting in front of you and so should we be.

(This is part of a series on Colossians 3:12- Thanks for reading and if it was helpful please don’t forget to like it, comment or follow. Thank you)

It’s a marathon not a sprint (Patience 9)

Life can be terribly unfair and fully of suffering, which can surprise disciples and unsettle their faith. Wether it is our employer, our family, our physical or mental health when suffering hits we would only be human if we ask questions. Today James addresses this head on:

“As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” James‬ ‭5:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬ 
I use the NASB because it seems to me to be closer to the Greek. Just before todays verse he has said : 

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” James‬ ‭5:7-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

People had forgotten that Jesus is coming back and were distracted by worldly wealth. They were arguing and frustrated with each other because they were consumed by themselves and this world rather than the next. If you are finding life frustrating and fractious best take a look at what’s important to you and what you are focussing on, the world or the next? 

James says though to put all that aside and be faithful, to be patient and strengthen in their hearts because Jesus’ coming is near. We don’t know when it is but when we live with it front of mind a lot of issues stop being issues.  

Back to todays verse though because it talks about something really important – suffering with patience.

The greek is kakopatheia which means to experience affliction that seems bad (miserable) from an earthly perspective but in actuality is sent by God to accomplish His greater(eternal) purpose. Even the truly horrible things that happen if we believe Romans 8:28 will be worked by God for the good of those who love him. When we are not thinking of heaven and that the harvest of all our illnesses, mistreatment’s and misfortunes are accomplishing a greater purpose, then all we have is this world to fight for. That’s why it the result of forgetting this is an argumentative Church. They have nothing left to focus on. How are you doing keeping the main thing the main thing? 

To be frank I am okay with this for a while but it is the patience that makes the difference. For many of us we don’t become disciples and then go straight to heaven. It can happen, but most of us have had or possibly will have many years before heaven and that is going to take a long-suffering heart that learns from others. I don’t want to be negative but realistically it is a marathon and not a sprint. Are you in it for the long-haul?

(This is part of a series on Colossians 3:12- Thanks for reading and if it was helpful please don’t forget to like it, comment or follow. Thank you)

The secret ingredient we need to add to faith (Patience 8)

The life of a disciple should be a thrilling adventure that gets better and better as time goes on.

However that isn’t always the case and unfortunately it can have significant consequences. Today’s verse gives us an insight that I don’t think is shared elsewhere but is perhaps the difference that makes the difference.  


“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrews‬ ‭6:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

I think faith on its own leaves us exposed. We can be really excited and inspired and yet it can wear off without patience. Interestingly the word translated as ‘lazy’ literally means to be slow or sluggish. Faith without patience gives up and leads to a sense of spiritual apathy and dullness. 

At work we talk about the Stockdale Paradox which is based on the ideas of an American soldier in the Vietnam war who was taken prisoner. He said that it was the optimists who died first. The optimists had great faith for a while that they would be set free but they then set a deadline for it to happen. However when it didn’t happen on their time scale their faith died and sadly they soon followed. His view was that you need to believe you will overcome and that some day you will look back on this as ultimately positive but that you do not set a deadline for that to happen. Faith with patience saw them overcome.  

You know this is something to repent of if you have stopped praying for God to do something that you used to really cry out for. Or if you are lacking the sense of adventure and possibility that you used to feel but it seems to have drifted away.  

Something I wish I had listened more closely to (Patience 7)

Quite a few years ago I was a pointed an Evangelist in the Church I am part of. It was an amazing time, it had taken many years of training and was just before my wife and I went on the mission field. The words spoken to me by a wonderful Brother were the first two verse in this passage (highlighted). However in retrospect I do wish I had listened more to the end of verse 2:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 

So the direction Paul gave to Timothy was really clear and I think in various ways applies to everyone who considers themselves a disciple of Jesus:

We should preach – which literally means to speak publicly with conviction as one sent by God speaking Gods words. This is not just about at church but also in our daily interactions. How are we doing with this? Are we bold and public, knowing that what we share is literally the eternal word of God or do pull our punches to keep below the radar and not offend anyone? 

What we preach should be the word – which in Greek is Logos and means reasoning expressed by words and is from the word for speaking to a conclusion. When we speak publicly with our friends and family we should make sense and reason with logic not just repeat mantras. We need to be able to answer peoples questions sensibly and with evidence where it exists. Can you share a reasoned and logical argument for God and description of his message? Paul would expect us to. 

As we do this we should ‘be ready’ – the greek of which means to stand upon, ready for action and is even translated as to assault something because it means to be on your feet ready to act. God puts opportunities in our path and it is up to us to be ready to act. Imagine a servant standing to attention ready to please every request of their master. Is that you and your attitude towards doing the work of Jesus? 

Of course opportunities don’t always fit with our diary and so Paul charges disciples to be ready ‘in season and out of season’. So often God puts opportunities in my path but I must say I feel really convicted about how often my own not Gods agenda decides wether I will do good or not. We need to be open to the Spirit so He can direct our activity and that means giving Him priority, even  over our diaries.

So lets assume we are good to go with the above what are we supposed to be doing: 

We need to be willing to ‘correct’ – which means to convince with solid, compelling evidence, especially to expose something as wrong. We need the kind of relationships in Church that mean we are open to correction by others. Not just because people say so but because there is a substance to their arguments. We also need to step out in faith and be actively engaged with helping others but again with a solid and compelling argument not just a vague thought. 

Sometimes though we need to even rebuke – which means to properly, assign value as is fitting the situation. Essentially we do not always see things as significant and as serious as we should. Rebuking is when we help people to truly see how serious or important something is. Is there someone you know who needs to get just how serious something is and are you willing to risk the reaction to help them?

Finally he challenges Timothy to ‘exhort’ others – the greek is rooted in the same word that is used of the Holy Spirit and means to be right beside people and calling words of support and encouragement. I love the idea that correction and rebuking are all in the context of companions walking together and encouraging each other.

All of which link to the bits I had wished I had listened to more, which are that it is all to be done with complete long-tempered patience and teaching. The Greek is not focussed here on practical knowledge but rather that you do actually know your stuff, that you have a comprehensive understanding of your topic. It is so easy to think heart is all you need, whereas Paul also expected disciples to study as much as they can. Are there areas of knowledge you need to take responsibility for and to decide to study yourself?

What areas would God ask you to grow in from this list?

Our lives are the message (Patience 6)

Have you ever noticed that the nearer you get to some people the more you are inspired by them and in some situations it is the opposite effect. Personally I have always been the kind of person that doesn’t draw people to him at first glance. The way it usually is what someone once said to me that ‘now I have got to know you I like you’! It was a bold piece of feedback that actually made sense to me. Even the lady who was going to be the love of my life took a while to get to that point.

However I have been in a ministry for quite a while now and for the first 6-8 years I was totally out of step with everyone else, or at least that’s how it felt. No influence, no support in the leadership and someone I respect made it clear that in the ministry I had joined nobody had a good word to say about me. 

This was hard to hear and I had to take a long hard look at myself and verses like todays really made a difference. 


“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.”  
‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:10-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬ 

Paul was appealing to the fact that Timothy knew about his life and that his life was his authority.  

The word translated as ‘know all about’ is in fact literally to walk closely beside. We can have an impact because of our reputation or writing or sermons or even our status in society and talents. However the real question is do those who walk with you everyday, who truly know you when you think you are not being watched, want to follow you? How would those people describe your character and life style?  

Paul decided to make it a bit more emphatic by listing the things he thought Timothy would have noticed: 

1. Teaching – the greek word means ‘properly applied teaching’. It is not his theology but application and usefulness. I think we sometimes feel we need to be scholars to help people. It is actually more about how practical and useful you can be. 

2. Way of life – the greek means leading or guiding and focusses Timothy on the way he lead his life. It was about the choices he made and how they inspired those who saw them. Do you call others higher by your choices?

3. Purpose – this is hard word to get as it refers to the showbread in the Temple. Which came to mean setting in front of and also predetermination and purpose. Essentially the word challenges us to ask what we are working towards? What is in front of you that inspires and drives your behaviours? Do people get that your destination is heaven from your choices and that your purpose and focus is Jesus?

4. Faith – in this context it means to be fully persuaded and living with a guarantee. There is a certainty that a disciple can live with. Confidence and certainty can be ours if we choose to be persuaded about Gods power and involvement. Do you lift others by your confidence at the key moments?

5. Patience – as we have been talking about this is the long tempered approach to conflict and disappointment. This for me is the key point, fully of conviction but expressing it at the right time and in the right way. Paul was under incredible pressure and constantly dealing with being miss-understood and miss-quoted yet he could say remember my patience. I am not sure I could.

6. Love – there are differ though words fo love in Greek so it is helpful to know which one we are dealing with. This one means to have a deep preference for something and is usually used to refer to Gods love. What a bold thing to do to use the word for Gods preferences and loves to describe ourselves. Could you?

7. Endurance – next Paul talks about his ability to stay in the fight, to endure. The word literally means to remain (endure) under the pressures and challenges of life. Is there any area of the spiritual battle that you have left the field and stopped fighting?

8. Persecutions – we are almost at the end and Paul uses a word that means ‘the hunt to bring someone down like an animal’. That is what happened to him, he was hunted and perused like an animal by the enemies of God to such an extent that he used it as proof of his character. I have never been hunted like and animal although I have sometimes lost perspective and thought I was.

9. Suffering – finally Paul uses a word that actually means ‘strong feeling which should result in knowing Gods glory’’ to describe his life. How amazing to see his deepest and most challenging emotions as suffering that draws him closer to God. How are you seeing the deep emotions you are experiencing?

Which of those would be like you and what other words would be used by your closest companions? It might be something that you could ask them.  

The key insight that I took away from the hard feedback I received was that I needed to focus on the things I could control like my life, like sacrifice and closeness to God and allow God to do the rest. Amazingly, enough things have changed a lot. Once I stopped focussing on who was following and started to try and be someone worth following I found my leadership impact was transformed. 

Is there any relationship or situation that you have trying to change by focussing on what others need to do and be like rather than your own character and what God is teaching you through it? 

My encouragement is that God can change others and blow through any roadblocks we just need to be the kind of people he can use and let Him do the rest.