Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women?

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It started with Paige Patterson’s gobsmackingly horrible and unbiblical advice to an abused to wife to return to her husband. Then it was the lurid remarks he made about a teenage girl, with which he regaled a congregation during a sermon. Next came the allegations of his mishandling of two separate sexual assault cases at two different seminaries.

In response to all this turmoil, Beth Moore added to the conversation some vague stories of various unnamed men in Christian circles who had, in her perception, condescended to her or otherwise not treated her as an equal, leaving the impression that there is widespread, systemic misogyny within modern evangelicalism. Jen Wilkin, from a more biblical – yet, troublingly, similarly vague – perspective, joined the chorus, and has been afforded a wider audience for the “they can’t be pastors, natch, but we need more women in church leadership” platform she has been advancing for the past several years. (Which leadership positions or roles? We’re still waiting for Jen to specify.)

And the icing on the cake was SBC pastor, Dwight McKissic, publicly declaring that the way to “heal” all of these woes against Christian women and “right historic patterns of wrong against women” is to elect Beth Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

So this nebulous idea has been introduced that Christian women are getting the short end of the stick across the board in evangelicalism (specifically in the SBC) and that the way to fix things – all the way from genuine abuse and rape on one end of the spectrum to women whose feelings have been hurt because they’re not seen as equal to pastors on the other end – is to make sure, somehow, that women’s voices are heard and validated.

That’s a pretty “big tent” idea. And if it’s going to be a big tent, there’s room under there for everybody, right? To be consistent, compassionate, and fair, wouldn’t these folks have to make space for the voices of, and give influential positions to, any Christian woman who feels she’s been diminished? Let’s find out.

Allow me to introduce you to a group of Christian women who have been silenced and brushed aside for years, often by the very same people who are now hypocritically crying out that women need to be heard in order to keep them from being marginalized.

I give you discerning, doctrinally sound, often Reformed, Christian women.

We are women who have been subjected to insults, and accusations of heresy and hatred of the lost, because we hold to the doctrines of grace. We are women who have been attacked by pastors, pastors’ wives, women’s ministry leaders, and fellow church members for pointing out the false doctrine of popular women’s “Bible” study materials and merely asking to properly be taught the Word of God in our own churches. We are women who have been shouted down or ruled “out of order” at denominational meetings for asking that our Christian retailers stop selling materials containing false teaching. We are women who have been forced out of our own churches for taking a biblical stand against women preaching to, teaching, or exercising authority over men in the church. We are women who have been called haters, legalistic, divisive, threats to unity, jealous, and all other manner of slander simply for holding to Scripture and refusing to budge from it.

All this mistreatment of women at the hands of Christian celebrities, denominational leaders, pastors and other church leadership, and fellow church members.

Do we qualify as marginalized? We’ve been hurt, and in many cases, sinned against outright. No church discipline. No redress or recourse. Nobody wants to make sure we have a voice or a place of power – quite the opposite, in fact. A lot of us saw our own pastors hand-wringingly share Beth Moore’s detailing of her grievances against Christian men even as they pushed us and our biblical concerns aside.

Everybody feels sorry for Beth Moore. Who will cry for us?

We don’t want much, just a return to what’s biblical.

We want sound doctrine in the church and solid preaching in the pulpit.

We want this nonsense about a female SBC President – especially a false teacher like Beth Moore – to stop. Not only is it not biblical, it’s a patronizing toss of a trinket or pat on the head attempting to dry the tears of fussy little girls, and it won’t work to solve any of the real problems that are going on.

We want false doctrine off the shelves of LifeWay, and for LifeWay, the ERLC, and others in leadership to stop organizing and promoting conferences and other events headlined by people they have already been informed (yea, as seminary trained pastors and leaders, should know without having to be told) are false teachers. Among the many things Jen Wilkin has rightly said is that we need to promote biblical and theological literacy among Christian women. When you go on a diet, the first thing you do is go through your kitchen and throw out all the junk food. You’ll never start eating healthy if you have an endless supply of candy bars in the pantry. The only way to begin to properly train women in Scripture and theology  is by “putting off” false doctrine in order to “put on” sound doctrine.

We want LifeWay to demonstrate that it actually cares about the spiritual health of women by putting its money where its mouth is. Ridding the shelves of false doctrine and the event docket of false teachers is going to cost LifeWay a lot of revenue. Women who want their itching ears scratched will quickly find another source of false teaching to pour their cash into. There’s not a lot of money to be made in encouraging women to study straight from their Bibles, sit faithfully under the teaching of a doctrinally sound pastor, and humbly serve the local church. Are Christian women worth it to you, LifeWay?

We want a strong doctrine of sin and church discipline to be understood and taught by our pastors and denominational leaders. The fact of the matter is that a woman who has been genuinely sinned against by a man who has abused her is in a different category from a woman whose feelings are hurt because she’s been told she can’t teach a co-ed adult Sunday School class. The first woman needs compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside her and walk with her as God begins to heal her body and her heart. The abuser needs to be prosecuted to the full and appropriate extent of the law as well as to be placed under church discipline. The second woman is either in sin and rebellion (in which case she may need to be placed under church discipline) or she just hasn’t been taught God’s Word properly and someone needs to disciple her in that area. To put these two women underneath the same “big tent” just because they’ve both experienced some sort of hurt diminishes and confuses their situations and the solutions that would be biblically appropriate for each.

We want pastors and leaders to herald, praise, and validate the biblical role of women in the church. Women should not be taught only the things we cannot do in the church, we must also be taught what we must do in the church – what only women are uniquely and ontologically gifted by God to do. Women need to hear – particularly from the mouths of pastors and denominational leaders – the vital necessity of women discipling other women, women training the church’s children in the Scriptures, women serving in hospitality and mercy ministries, women properly using their administrative gifts, and so much more. Train us to teach. Equip us to serve. Encourage us to use our gifts in obedience to Scripture and for the glory of God.

We want men – from the heads of our denominations to the newly saved sinner in the pew – to step up and be godly men. We desperately need you to biblically and fearlessly lead the church. Don’t be afraid to stand up and put your foot down squarely on Scripture. Even if it makes you unpopular. Even if it rocks the boat at church. Even if people leave and never come back. As godly women, we can’t do our job if you’re not doing yours.

So how about it, brothers and sisters who are crying out for Christian women to be heard? Do doctrinally sound women get a seat at the table? Do we get to be heard? Will anything be done to correct the mistreatment we’ve received?

Or are there only certain women you want to hear from? Women who fit the popular social narrative. Women the world and most of the church will applaud you for listening to. Solutions that do more to glorify people than to glorify God.

Just how big is that tent…really?

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Throwback Thursday ~ Cleaning House

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Originally published May 5, 2010

 

Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old;…

He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.

He brought in the priests and the Levites and gathered them into the square on the east.

Then he said to them, “Listen to me, O Levites. Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry the uncleanness out from the holy place.

“For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight of the LORD our God, and have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs.

“They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel.

“Therefore the wrath of the LORD was against Judah and Jerusalem, and He has made them an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes.

“For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.

“Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His burning anger may turn away from us.

“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and burn incense.”

Then the Levites arose…
They assembled their brothers, consecrated themselves, and went in to cleanse the house of the LORD, according to the commandment of the king by the words of the LORD.

So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the LORD they brought out to the court of the house of the LORD. Then the Levites received it to carry out to the Kidron valley…

Then they went in to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed the whole house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering with all of its utensils, and the table of showbread with all of its utensils.

“Moreover, all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness, we have prepared and consecrated; and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.”

Then King Hezekiah arose early and assembled the princes of the city and went up to the house of the LORD.

They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. And he ordered the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD…
The priests slaughtered them and purged the altar with their blood to atone for all Israel, for the king ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.

He then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres,…

The Levites stood with the musical instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.

Then Hezekiah gave the order to offer the burnt offering on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD also began with the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David, king of Israel.

While the whole assembly worshiped, the singers also sang and the trumpets sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

Now at the completion of the burnt offerings, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped.

Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with joy, and bowed down and worshiped.

Then Hezekiah said, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD ” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing brought burnt offerings…

But the priests were too few, so that they were unable to skin all the burnt offerings;

There were also many burnt offerings with the fat of the peace offerings and with the libations for the burnt offerings. Thus the service of the house of the LORD was established again.

Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people…

Excerpted from 2 Chronicles 29

You know the history of Israel: bad king, good king, bad king, good king (actually, there were a lot more bad kings than good kings). The bad kings would come in and establish idol worship. They set up altars and made sacrifices to false gods, introduced cult prostitution, and even desecrated God’s house with idol worship and paraphernalia.

Ahaz was one of those bad kings. Second Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28 tell us he not only burned incense and made sacrifices to his gods, he “even made his sons pass through the fire” in worship of these idols. He took the gold and silver from God’s house and used it to try to bribe another king to come help him fight against an enemy. He desecrated God’s altar and tore down parts of the temple. He cut to pieces all of the temple utensils used for making sacrifices to the Lord. He had altars to his own gods placed in the temple, “in every corner of Jerusalem”, and “in every city in Judah”.

Ahaz was one bad dude. In fact, he was such a pustule of a human being that when he died they didn’t even bury him with all the other kings of Israel. That’s pretty bad.

And Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son, became king in his place.

Hezekiah was one of the most Godly kings in Israel’s history. He had seen with his own eyes the evil perpetrated by his father, which had infested God’s holy house and spread throughout the land, and God put it in his heart to turn things around and lead his people back to God.

See any similarities between God’s house then and God’s house now? Between God’s people then and God’s people now? Is it time for us to grieve over the holy things that have been destroyed or taken out of God’s house, and the filth that has been brought into His house?

We’ve got to sweep around our own front door.

Notice that Hezekiah didn’t just go out and get a bunch of guys together and say, “All right, boys, we need to clean house. Let’s get to work.” He went specifically to the priests and Levites – the church leadership, if you will – and said, “consecrate yourselves”.

Consecration was a process of ritual cleansing. As the priests and Levites went through each step of the outward, physical cleansing, they were also setting themselves apart from worldliness and seeking God’s hand of purification in their hearts.

Notice also that the priests and Levites had to consecrate themselves before they would be able to consecrate the temple. Just as Ahaz’s own personal evildoing had trickled down and infected the people, so the temple leadership would have to cleanse themselves personally before God in order for a pursuit of holiness to pervade God’s house and His people.

Those who study revival have noted that the majority of churches which experience revival do so under the leadership of a pastor who has experienced personal revival. If a pastor senses it’s time to clean house at his church, step one is to make sure he has consecrated himself and is walking blamelessly before God. Step two is to get his leadership together for times of cleansing and much prayer, that they may consecrate themselves before leading the people.

Once their personal cleansing was complete, the priests and Levites began to “carry the uncleanness out from the holy place”. The evil done in the temple in Ahaz’s day had harmed families, stirred God to anger, and made His people “an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing” in the eyes of the world around them. Likewise, the worldliness and sin – from gossip and jealousy all the way up to pedophile clergy – we have allowed into the church has brought tremendous harm to countless families and has made the body of Christ an object of ridicule and hatred in the eyes of many of the people we seek to reach for Him. Can we expect that His anger towards us would be any less than his anger towards the Israelites?

When the priests and Levites began to cleanse the temple, they did so completely and permanently. In the same spirit of Jesus’ own remarks that if your very hand or eye causes you to sin, you should remove it from your body, the priests and Levites removed everything – no matter how small, no matter how valuable it may have seemed, or how much its removal might have offended someone – that didn’t belong in God’s house.

Verse 16 tells us they carried all these unclean things out to the Kidron valley. The Kidron valley (or brook, as it was sometimes called when water was running through the valley due to heavy rains) was an area outside Jerusalem where, under Kings Asa, Josiah, and Hezekiah, all manner of unclean items used in idol worship were disposed of, usually by burning. That’s permanent. They weren’t taking any chances that someone might come across these items and bring them back into the temple.

Not only did the priests and Levites take all the unclean items out of God’s house, they purified and brought back all of the sacred items used for worshiping God that never should have been removed.

Is it time to carry the unclean things out of your church and down to the Kidron valley? Maybe it’s an unbiblical doctrinal tenet of your denomination. A program that brings glory only to the church members involved and not to God. A person in a position of church leadership who intentionally lives in sin and rebellion. An attitude of your own heart.

What about the holy items of worship that have been taken out of your church? Have sound, Biblical sermons been replaced by ear tickling pep talks and skits? Have Scriptural and doctrinal worship songs been replaced by the vain repetition of fluffy, feel-good jingles? Has prayer become simply a way to bookend your worship services or even disappeared altogether?

Our churches are in captivity to worldliness due to our disobedience. God has chosen our pastors to minister before Him; to lead His people to be consecrated to Him and worship Him. Dear pastor, please do not be negligent about cleansing His house. For the sake of us, the sheep God has entrusted to you, won’t you go into the innermost part of the house of God – your heart, your family, your staff – and through humility, prayer, study of the Word, and sound biblical action, remove every unclean thing, and bring back the sacred things with the help of your church leadership?

Only when God’s house is clean will we be able to offer Him the sacrifices He truly desires:

Thus the service of the house of the Lord will established again, and the people will rejoice over what God has prepared for them.

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 27- Deborah and Rachel

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

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Read Genesis 35-36

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Questions to Consider

1. Study a map of Jacob’s travels, locating Haran, Shechem, and Bethel (35:1). What happened in Jacob’s life at each of these three places (review previous lessons if necessary)?

2. Where (city and nation) was Jacob living when God told him to move to Bethel? In what major way had living in the Shechemite area of Canaan influenced Jacob’s family? (35:2-4) In the book of Exodus, when we see Israel journeying through and into the Promised Land, what is the main offense against God that the Canaanites are guilty of? How did their idolatry impact God’s people?

3. Briefly review previous lessons (links above) in which we examined various reasons Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t want their children to intermarry with Canaanites. Even though the Ten Commandments (prohibiting idolatry) and the Levitical law (prohibiting intermarriage with pagans) had not yet been given, how might Canaanite idolatry have played a role in this? And if idol worshiping pagans weren’t good enough for Jacob’s children to marry, why did his own family possess foreign gods? (35:2-4)

4. Regarding the sin of idolatry, what were the three steps (35:2-3) of repentance Jacob led his family in? How can these steps be a model of repentance for us today?

5. Compare Genesis 28:10-22 with 35:1-15. Why did God tell Jacob to go back to Bethel (35:1)? What are the similarities and differences between the two passages with regard to God’s and Jacob’s words and actions? What promises did God make to Jacob in each passage? Describe the worship that took place in both passages.

6. Who was Deborah (35:8), and about how long had she been with the family? In what ways was Deborah’s death honored and memorialized (using your footnotes, what does Allon-bacuth mean)? Considering that we rarely ever hear the names of servants, much less the memorializing of their deaths, what might we surmise about Deborah, her character, and her relationship with Isaac and Rebekah’s family and Jacob’s family? How can you have an impact for Christ on others by serving them?

7. Refer again to the map in question 1. Where did Jacob travel in 35:16-27?

8. Examine 35:16-26 and review our previous lessons about Rachel. If you were writing Rachel’s obituary, how would you describe her? If Jacob were giving the eulogy at her funeral, what might he say about her? Why do we hear about Deborah’s, Rachel’s, and Isaac’s deaths, but we don’t hear about Leah’s or Rebekah’s deaths?

9. Compare Genesis 30:22-24 with 35:16-26. How was Rachel’s prayer answered? Using your footnotes, what do Ben-oni and Benjamin mean, respectively? Why do you think Jacob changed the baby’s name?

10. Who wrote the book of Genesis? Who was the original audience of the book of Genesis? Why might God have considered the information in chapter 36 important for this audience to know? How is this chapter a fulfillment of prophecy?


Homework

Jacob’s family was influenced toward idol worship by the Canaanites they lived among (35:2-4). Think about the various environments you live in: your community or neighborhood, your church, family, friends, workplace, clubs or organizations, social media, etc. Do any of these environments influence you toward idolatry – putting something in God’s place in your affections, loyalties, priorities, and time? Idolatry is a sin that should be repented of and forsaken. Read my article The Christian Introvert: Putting Off Social Anxiety, Putting On Serving Others to learn about the process of putting off sin, renewing your mind, and putting on godly behavior. Thinking about your own idolatry, write down how you can “put away those foreign gods” (put off), “purify yourself and change your garments” (renew your mind) and “arise and go up to Bethel…and make an altar to God” (put on).


Suggested Memory Verse

Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.
Genesis 35:3

Evangelism Encouragement

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Sometimes a witnessing encounter can leave us discouraged. We’ve experienced the unfathomable joy and peace of being set free from our sin, becoming new creatures in Christ, and resting assured of our eternity with Him, and all we want to do is share with others how they can have all of those riches, too! Occasionally, the fruit is ripe unto harvest, and the person we’re sharing the gospel with repents and trusts Christ as Savior on the spot. But more often than not, the person rejects the gospel, maybe even lambasting us in the process.

It’s no fun to be called names or insulted for the cause of Christ, but we can get used to that knowing what the Bible says about persecution and understanding that it’s to be expected from unbelievers. But how difficult it is to watch people walk away from Christ knowing the futility they’ll continue to live in and the eternity that awaits them.

If you base your success or encouragement in evangelism on whether or not someone immediately trusts Christ, you’ll spend a lot of time discouraged and thinking you’re a failure at sharing the gospel. Here are a few reminders to keep our focus in the right place and our evangelism mindset biblical so we can remain encouraged:

☙God loves and cares for that person infinitely more than you do, and He’s concerned about that person’s lostness far more than you could ever hope to be.

Acts 2:41 is the exception, not the rule. The apostles and other New Testament Christians were often severely persecuted and ridiculed for sharing the gospel. Even Jesus’ own “witnessing encounters” didn’t always result in someone immediately getting saved.

Jesus said the “gate [to eternal life] is narrow” and “those who find it are few” (emphasis mine). We should not be surprised when many reject Christ.

☙The outcome of a witnessing encounter is on the Holy Spirit, not you. You cannot convince, nag, or argue someone into genuine saving faith (and you shouldn’t try because it’ll probably produce a false convert). Only the Holy Spirit can do that work on a person’s heart in His own timing.

☙Your job is to present the gospel. If you’ve done that, you’ve successfully been faithful to what God has called you to do. What God chooses to do with your gospel presentation is up to Him, and you must trust Him to handle it.

☙You don’t know how God is working in that person’s heart. Just because he doesn’t trust Christ immediately doesn’t mean God won’t use the gospel you’ve presented to save him tomorrow or next year or in fifty years.

☙God’s word never returns to Him void. It always accomplishes the purpose for which HE sent it. Our purpose is always to see people saved, but God’s purpose for His Word in that moment might be to distinguish wheat from tare, or to allow the person to harden his heart. It is never a waste of time or a failed effort to faithfully proclaim God’s word.

Don’t base your encouragement or success in evangelism on the immediate results, but on whether or not you’ve been faithful to obey God by sharing the gospel.

What are some passages of Scripture or words of wisdom from godly friends that have helped you stay encouraged as you share the gospel with others?

The Mailbag: Is it biblical for women to carry out The Great Commission?

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Last week, I received some questions from a Facebook follower regarding my article Basic Training: The Great Commission. I thought they were very insightful and that other readers might have the same questions, so I’m sharing and expanding on my answers to her here. (I’ve edited/condensed the reader’s questions and comments for the sake of brevity.)

Given my understanding of what Jesus is commanding, and comparing it with other examples in the New Testament, it’s not for women to do the Great Commission. Our role is not to make disciples, teach, or baptize, but to keep the home, edify other women believers, etc. The Great Commission is for men, not women, to do because…

1. The Great Commission requires teaching and baptizing.

2. Jesus was speaking the Great Commission to His disciples, who were all male.

3. We don’t see any specific New Testament examples of women sharing the gospel with the lost through their own witness or example.

4. Because we don’t see any specific New Testament examples of women sharing the gospel or any explicit commands for women to share the gospel, it violates the regulative principle for women to share the gospel with the lost.

This reader’s questions really got me thinking and digging. I love questions that make me think hard and dig into Scripture and theology for answers!

First, let me briefly address the points of this issue that are not in dispute. As I understand her, the reader is in full agreement with Titus 2:3-5 and the example of Lois and Eunice. She agrees with the biblical principles of women training their own children in the gospel and discipling Christian women (already saved) inside the church. Her questions have mainly to do with sharing the gospel with the lost outside the church – evangelism.

Next, before we dive into the reader’s questions themselves, it is very important to distinguish between two types of Scripture:

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of Scripture: descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive passages describe something that happened: Noah built an ark. Esther became queen. Paul got shipwrecked. These passages simply tell us what happened to somebody. Prescriptive passages are commands or statements to obey. Don’t lie. Share the gospel. Forgive others.

If we wanted to know how to have a godly marriage, for example, we would look at passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Corinthians 7, and Exodus 20:14,17. These are all passages that clearly tell us what to do and what not to do in order to have a godly marriage.

What we would not do is look at David’s and Solomon’s lives and conclude that polygamy is God’s design for marriage. We would not read about Hosea and assume that God wants Christian men to marry prostitutes. We would not read the story of the woman at the well and think that being married five times and then shacking up with number six is OK with Jesus.

Descriptive passages may support, but never trump, the clear instruction of prescriptive passages.¹

Now, let’s see if we can come to some biblical conclusions on her questions:

1. The Great Commission requires teaching and baptizing.

Teaching:
Often, when we’re looking at women’s roles in the church and being obedient to 1 Timothy 2:12, people conflate evangelism with teaching. Teaching Scripture to saved people inside the church gathering is not the same thing as sharing the gospel with lost people outside the church gathering. They are two separate, distinct things. First Timothy 2:12 (and other prohibitive passages) only prohibits the former, not the latter. The Great Commission, and the New Testament overall, commands the latter.

As Christian women we want to be sure we keep these two things straight and carry out The Great Commission in the way God has prescribed for women to carry it out. May we share the gospel with a lost man or woman “as we are going”? Yes. If that person is a man, once he is saved is it biblically appropriate for a woman to teach and disciple him? No. If he is saved, he is supposed to be joined to a local church. Once inside the church body, he is to be taught Scripture and discipled by men.

Here are some resources which may be of further help:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs (see #11 for using wisdom on sharing the gospel with men)

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

Baptism:
When it comes to teaching inside the church, we have clear, prescriptive passages that specifically tell us what women are not to do. With evangelism, we also have clear commands in The Great Commission, and elsewhere, that disciples of Christ are to share the gospel.

But when it comes to baptism, we don’t have a clear “this or that person should or should not perform baptisms” passage, so we need to look at the principles and precedents surrounding baptism.

The people specifically named as personally performing baptisms in the New Testament were John the Baptist (who baptized Jesus), the twelve apostles, Philip the Evangelist, Paul and/or Silas, and Paul. All of these were men, and all held pastoral or pastoral/elder-type formal leadership positions in the embryonic or infancy stages of the church. All of them were commissioned, ordained, or set apart to their positions by God, Jesus, or the church. We do not see any New Testament instances of random church members – male or female – performing baptisms, only those in positions of church leadership.

Additionally, baptism is a formal, official, consecrated ordinance of the church, not a casual, personal, relational activity between individuals, friends, or loved ones. It should no more be administered by any church member who wants to do it than the Lord’s Supper should be. Both ordinances should be administered by an ordained pastor or elder of the church. That leaves out women as well as most men. Does the responsibility of pastors to baptize mean that men who aren’t pastors shouldn’t carry out the Great Commission? Of course not. We – men and women – share the gospel with someone, and if that person gets saved, part of our responsibility is to do what we can to get him plugged in to a local church where a pastor can baptize him. We don’t have to baptize him ourselves in order to be fulfilling The Great Commission.

Basic Training: Baptism

2. Jesus was speaking the Great Commission to His disciples, who were all male.
Yes, they were all male. They were all apostles, too. But first and foremost, they were all disciples – followers of Christ – just as Christians are today. Our identity in Christ – who we are, spiritually – trumps what we are, physically (male or female), and what we do (different roles and behaviors) as a result of who and what we are. Galatians 3:28 tells us:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Christ, there is only one type of being: Christian. There is only one kind of spiritual DNA. There’s no XX and XY. There’s just X. Ontologically, Christians are all the same kind of spiritual being.

The Great Commission is based on who the disciples, and we, are – followers of Christ – just as many of the other things that Jesus taught His disciples were. For example, when the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” and Jesus responded with the Lord’s Prayer, did Jesus mean that only the Twelve, or only men should use it as their model in prayer? When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, did He mean that only the disciples or only men should serve one another in humility? When Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive, did “seventy times seven” apply only to Peter, only to the disciples, or only to men? Of course not. Christ’s instructions to His followers apply to all who follow Him. It is in the way in which we carry these instructions out that Christ differentiates and delegates divergent and discrete responsibilities to men, women, and church leadership.

As disciples, we are to carry out The Great Commission. As Christian women, we carry it out in a different way from men and pastors.

3. We don’t see any specific New Testament examples of women sharing the gospel with the lost through their own witness or example.
We don’t see any specific verses that say something along the lines of “Miriam shared the gospel with Simon, and he got saved,” that’s true. But how about these…

✢The woman at the well in John 4: “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’ They went out of the town and were coming to him.” (28-30)

✢The widow (and townswomen) of Nain in Luke 7: “Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’ And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.” (16-17)

✢The friends of Tabitha in Acts 9: ” And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (41-42)

✢Lydia in Acts 16: “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well…” (14-15)

1 Corinthians 7:12-16: “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife…For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?”

1 Peter 3:1-6: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”

The first four examples imply that various women, to one degree or another, were pointing people to Jesus. But, again, these are descriptive passages. They lend a bit of support to the idea of women sharing the gospel with others, but we build doctrine on prescriptive passages like The Great Commission. The last two examples are prescriptive passages instructing women in sharing the gospel with their lost husbands. These passages are supportive of women sharing the gospel.

4. Because we don’t see any specific New Testament examples of women sharing the gospel or any explicit commands for women to share the gospel, it violates the regulative principle for women to share the gospel with the lost.
Well, as I mentioned above, we do see descriptive passages that at least hint at women sharing the gospel, and we also see prescriptive passages that explicitly instruct women in sharing the gospel with their lost husbands. But The Great Commission and other passages that are general commands to all followers of Christ to share the gospel are the strong and emphatic passages we draw doctrine from, not the more tangential passages. So even if the regulative principle did apply to evangelism, it would be supported by Scripture.

But the regulative principle doesn’t apply to evangelism as the full terminology – the regulative principle of worship – helps us to understand. The regulative principle applies to the corporate worship service, not evangelism, not marriage, not finances, not employment, not parenting, nor any other biblical issue. Just corporate worship.

 

Are women to carry out The Great Commission? Yes. We are to carry it out in the way Christ has prescribed for godly Christian women.


¹Rock Your Role: Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Basic Training: The Great Commission

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For more in the Basic Training series, click here.

Have you ever heard the phrase “The Great Commission“? Do you know what it means? If not, you’re not alone…


photo courtesy of barna.com

The Barna Group recently conducted a study asking churchgoers if they had previously “heard of the Great Commission.” In their report, 51% of Churchgoers Don’t Know of the Great Commission the results of the study were summarized thusly:

“…half of U.S. churchgoers (51%) say they do not know this term. It would be reassuring to assume that the other half who know the term are also actually familiar with the passage known by this name, but that proportion is low (17%). Meanwhile, ‘the Great Commission’ does ring a bell for one in four (25%), though they can’t remember what it is. Six percent of churchgoers are simply not sure whether they have heard this term ‘the Great Commission’ before.”

Now, if you know anything about statistics, you know how important it is to structure your questions carefully and get a representative sampling of the population you’re surveying in order to get the most accurate results. What does “churchgoer” mean? Is it possible people have never heard the term “The Great Commission” simply because churches don’t use this particular phrase any more? It’s important to take things like this into consideration because it affects the results of the survey. (You can find out more about Barna’s structuring process for this study at the end of the article linked above.) But even if the numbers of the Barna survey aren’t exact, I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of people out there in churchland who aren’t familiar with The Great Commission.

Just for fun, let’s see what the results would be if we surveyed readers of my blog:

The Great Commission refers to some of Jesus’ final words to the disciples before His ascension and is cited from Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

With these words Jesus commissioned the eleven remaining disciples to go out into the world and carry on His mission. Since every Christian is a disciple, or follower, of Christ, this is our commission from Him as well. Let’s examine what it says.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
Before commissioning his disciples, Jesus reminds them that everything He’s about to say is founded on and imbued with His authority. Jesus alone has the divine authority to establish the church and to dictate the way in which His church is to be set up and to grow.

We 21st century Christians would do well to keep forefront in our minds and hearts the authority of Christ over His church. There is no need for churches to “cast vision” or come up with mission statements. Christ is the head of the church and has already given us His vision for it. The Great Commission is His mission statement for the church.

Go therefore
“Therefore” in this little phrase refers back to what Christ has just said about His authority. In other words, because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me, I am telling you to go.

“Go” is a very generic verb in English. We can “go” into the kitchen or we can “go” to the moon or we can “go” out and conquer the world. We can “go” anywhere from our own personal microcosm to the edges of the known universe. And that is the same sense the Greek word πορεύω captures: as you “go your way,” as you “go forth,” as you “walk”, as you “pursue the journey on which [you have] entered.” Wherever life takes us, whether it’s across the street or across the world, we go as ambassadors of Christ, carrying the good news of the gospel with us.

All nations
Revelation 7:9 tells us that God will save people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” So that’s who we share the gospel with as we go our way. Everybody. Regardless of where they’re from, what they look like, or how they talk. We are not to withhold the gospel from anyone, and we’re to make sure the church is proactively carrying the gospel to every populated geographical location on earth.

Make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you
Notice the language Jesus uses here. He doesn’t say “make converts” or “make Christians”. He says “make disciples.”

Think about what the disciples did while Jesus was on earth. First, they answered His call to follow Him. Then, they began the journey of following Him wherever He went. He trained and equipped them day and night. They loved Him and worshiped Him. They imitated the things He did and said. They carried on His work after He ascended. Jesus is saying to the disciples, and to us, “Replicate yourselves. Make more like you.”

That means that the Great Commission starts with sharing the gospel with a lost person, but it doesn’t end there. There’s more to our mission than just evangelism. We are to train and equip Christians to follow Jesus daily, to love and worship Him, to imitate Him in obedience, and to carry on His work.

Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
After salvation, baptism is the first step a new Christian takes on the road of discipleship. It is not optional. Baptism publicly identifies a person – to the church and to the world – as a Christian, and is a personal pledge to follow Christ obediently all the days of one’s life.

Being baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” carries several layers of meaning.

💧Again, pay careful attention to the language in this phrase. Jesus does not say “in the nameS” – plural. He says, “in the name” – singular. This is a boldly Trinitarian statement directly from two of its members: Jesus, who spoke these words to the disciples, and the Holy Spirit, who breathed them out through the pen of Matthew. This is God Himself telling us who He is. Jesus spoke these words to good Jewish boys who were born and bred on the shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” There was to be no confusion for new Believers back then, Believers today, or to the onlooking world, as to who these Christians are following. They are not following three different gods. They are following the one true God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the whole ball of wax.

💧Names meant far more in biblical times than they do to us today. We see God changing people’s names – Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, etc. – when He commissioned them for a new mission or phase of life. Being baptized “in the name of” the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit echoes that tradition of God changing people’s names. You are no longer your own, you are Christ’s. You are no longer “Sinner”, you are “Saint”. You no longer go forth in your own name, but in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as their emissary, endowed with the power and authority of God to live for Him and to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world.

💧Because Christians are, by definition, Trinitarians, and because baptizing a Believer is commissioning her to go forth into the world as a representative of Christ, it’s appropriate for pastors to take this verse literally when performing a baptism and verbalize its words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Basic Training: Baptism

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
What a sweet promise, both to the disciples and to us today. Obediently following Christ in our daily lives, sharing the gospel, and making disciples can be lonely, exhausting, and discouraging at times. But we don’t have to do it alone, and we don’t have to do it in the flesh. Christ is with us and He knows all too well how hard it can be. God has given the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower Believers to live for Him and to carry out The Great Commission.

Additional Resources

What is the Great Commission? at Got Questions

The Great Commission by John MacArthur

The Great Commission by Burk Parsons

Throwback Thursday ~ Facing the Furnace

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Originally published July 28, 2010

Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?

“Now if you are ready…to fall down and worship…very well; But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.”

He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.

The…king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.

Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.

“Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

Daniel 3:14-29

What a great story. It’s almost Disney-ish in the telling. Three boys rise from virtual anonymity to high and respected places of power and influence. Next– oh no! –there’s a brief period of drama and suspense. But then, as we knew it would, comes the happy ending. Cut and print. That’s a wrap.

Hang on. Rewind.

If you grew up in church like I did, you probably can’t remember a time when you didn’t know the happy ending to this story. Check that. This wasn’t a story. This was a historical event. It was a real situation that happened to real, flesh and blood people, with real feelings, just like you and me. And just like you and me, when these boys were in the middle of their circumstances, they didn’t know what was going to happen next or how things would turn out in the end.

I think we forget that sometimes. We forget how frightening it must have been for Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to stand up to this megalomaniacal king and say, “Regardless of the outcome, we’re not going to worship an idol.” They served in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. They had seen what this guy did to people who disobeyed him. Cruel and unusual punishment was his specialty.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego weren’t out to be heroes. They didn’t know that they would be written about and set an example for Bible-readers for thousands of years to come. Their only concern was personal obedience to God. Whether they lived or died. Whether or not anyone else noticed. They were in it for God, and God alone.

But since they were written about, what can we learn from their example?

Truly following and obeying God means trouble is coming our way.
How’s that for an advertisement for Christianity? Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Me so you can have ‘your best life now’.” He said, if you want to follow Me, you’d better realize from the get-go that you’re going to have to deny yourself and prepare to be crucified daily (Luke 9:23). He said, “Look, the world hates Me. If you follow Me, they’re going to hate you, too.” (John 15:18-20) He said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33). Following Jesus is not a skip through the park.

Gird up. Now.
Where do you think Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego got the spiritual fortitude to stand against Nebuchadnezzar? These weren’t guys who just attended church, read the Bible, prayed whenever they happened to feel like it, and had a lackadaisical attitude towards their walk with God. You know how I know that? Because people like that don’t do great things for God. People like that fold when faced with the furnace.

These guys were firmly rooted in the Word and in prayer. They were serious about obeying God, even when it came down to meal time (Daniel 1:8-15). They had such an awe and reverence for God that they feared His judgment more than the furnace. They were able to stand firm because they were already girded up in the faith.

Don’t kick against the trials, embrace them.
God is sovereign. Any circumstance that comes into your life was put there, or allowed there, by Him. Even if it’s a circumstance that is confusing, horrific, or heartbreaking, He is allowing it into your life for His glory and for your good. Maybe He’s trying to reveal something to you about Himself, such as His faithfulness or His power. Maybe He’s disciplining you so that you will repent and obey Him. Maybe He’s trying to teach you a skill, such as patience, endurance, or persistence in prayer. Whatever it is, what greater blessing could there be than the God of the universe wanting to work in your life?

Just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the furnace, accept that God has the right to use whatever means He deems necessary to work in your life, and thank Him for even wanting to. (Romans 5:3-5)

Trials allow us to know God in a new way.
It’s one thing to know, “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) just because the Bible says so. It’s another thing entirely to know it because you have walked it with your own two feet. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would never have come to know the manifest presence of God had it not been for the furnace, we cannot know Him as Provider without experiencing desperate need. We cannot know Him as Healer without facing disease. We cannot know Him as Comforter without experiencing crushing loss. It is not until we are in the furnace with nowhere else to turn but to God that we can experience the fullness of His promises.

What about Bob?
Or Joe or Mary or Nebuchadnezzar and all his cronies? What effect does the trial you’re going through, your reaction to it, and God’s handling of it, have on the people around you who need to know Jesus? Maybe it’s not just to grow you, but to bring someone else to salvation.

In verses 2, 3, and 27, Daniel gives a detailed list of the heads of state who witnessed this event. That was no accident. In His mercy, God brought each of these officials to Babylon to show Himself to them. Through Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s obedience and subsequent suffering, God’s glory and power, and the fact that He was the only true God, were displayed for all to see. Look at the reaction Nebuchadnezzar had in verses 26-29. In verse 26, this idol builder does a 360 and calls God, “the most high God”. In verses 27 and 29 he says, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”

Trials aren’t any fun. They can be scary. They can be heart-wrenching. But if God gets glory, how small a sacrifice and how great an honor is our suffering.

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 26- Dinah

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

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Read Genesis 34

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Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 25 (link above), as well as Genesis 30:20-21 and 33:18-20 to refresh your memory on the events leading up to today’s passage. Connect the names mentioned in 33:19 to the names mentioned in chapter 34. How had Jacob and his family become acquainted with Shechem and his family? (33:19) What nationality (33:18) was Shechem’s family?

2. From whose perspective is chapter 34 written, Dinah’s or the men of Jacob’s and Shechem’s families? Do we hear anything from Dinah or Leah? (1) Considering the story arc of the Bible, the customs and culture of the era, and the Bible’s emphasis on men leading and protecting their families, what might be some reasons God chose for this story to be told from the perspective of the men rather than Dinah’s and/or Leah’s perspective?

3. Examine verses 1-3 and 26b. If Dinah were telling her side of the story, what details from these verses would she include in her account?

4. Did the events of chapter 34 take place before or after the Law (i.e. the 10 Commandments, Levitical law, etc.) had been given? How did Dinah’s brothers react to the news of her rape? (7) If the law had not yet been given, how did they know Shechem had done something wrong, and why were they angry? What does this tell us about the universality of sin and its consequences?

5. Examine the words and actions of Jacob, Jacob’s sons, and Shechem, and describe each of their attitudes about Dinah. If someone were to instruct all of these men in how to regard and treat women in a godly way, what would be some good (Old or New Testament) Scriptures to use?

6. Examine verses 8-17 in light of both Abraham and Isaac eschewing the idea of their sons marrying Canaanites, and review question 2 from lesson 18 (link above). Aside from their anger over Dinah being raped, why else would Dinah’s brothers not have wanted her to marry Shechem? What might the future ramifications of possessing the Promised Land (Canaan) have been if Jacob’s child(ren) had intermarried with Canaanites and had descendants who were partially Canaanite? Examine verses 20-23. Why did Shechem’s tribe want to intermarry with Jacob’s tribe?

7. Do you remember what the name “Jacob” means? List the ways in this story that Jacob’s (now Israel’s) sons personified his old name. How did they respond to the situation with “deceit” and “cheating”? What was Jacob’s reaction to his sons’ actions? (30) Why did he react this way?

8. Study verse 31. What did Simeon and Levi mean when they said Shechem had treated Dinah “like a prostitute”? What are some other synonymous words that could be substituted for that phrase? “Should he treat our sister ______?” Clearly, Dinah’s brothers valued her. What are some biblical ways fathers, husbands, brothers, and brothers in Christ can demonstrate care for and value of their sisters in the home and in the church?

9. Currently, it is being suggested in some Christian circles that the way to fix the problem of (real or imagined) misogyny in the church is to elevate more women to unbiblical positions of leadership. Is this the way Jacob and his sons handled what happened to Dinah? Did they unbiblically elevate Dinah, or did they deal with the specific sin a certain man had committed?

10. Where is God in chapter 34? Do we see God speaking to anyone? Anyone crying out to God for help or direction? Jacob speaking God’s words to Dinah or his sons, or his sons speaking God’s words to Shechem? How does the concept of “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” fit into chapter 34? What happens when you experience a terrible situation and God is not part of the equation? For God’s people – both in chapter 34 and today – how should tragedies and trials point us to God?


Homework

Imagine Dinah is a friend of yours at church and she tells you this story of being raped. List three specific ways you could show kindness and compassion to her, and three passages of Scripture she might find comforting. In what ways – through your words or actions – could you encourage her to trust and pursue Christ as He heals her from her pain? Is there a Dinah you could reach out to at your church?


Suggested Memory Verse

But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”
Genesis 34:31

Favorite Finds ~ June 12, 2018

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Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

I honestly teared up a couple of times listening to the Get Up and Eat! with Rachel Jankovic episode of Sheologians. Sometimes I feel like the lone voice in the wilderness crying out for women to ditch the canned Bible studies and simply pick up the Bible and study it for themselves. It was nice to hear somebody else saying it.

 

I love the designs Scripture Type creates for Bible verses and Christian quotes. They have lots of lovely items you can purchase, and they also have a Freely Given page where they post designs that are free to download for use as wallpapers, lock screens, and printable coloring pages. It’s a great way to help you memorize verses!

 

If you found helpful the put off – renew your mind – put on concept for changing behavior from my recent article The Christian Introvert: Putting Off Social Anxiety, Putting On Serving Others, then you’re really going to like Clint Archer’s recent article series over at The Cripplegate. In his Just Stop It articles, he applies the same biblical concept to various sins you might be struggling with:

Just Stop It: Instructions on how to repent

Just Stop it, Part 2: How To Repent Of Lying

Just Stop it, Part 3: How To Repent Of Anger

Just Stop it, Part 4: How to Repent of Stealing

Be sure to subscribe to or follow The Cripplegate for any future installments Clint might write.

 

Are you a Southern Baptist (or a curious onlooker) who couldn’t make it to the annual meeting in Dallas this year? Keep up with what’s going on via live stream or at your convenience on demand. And please don’t forget to fervently pray for the SBC. We are facing some serious issues in these days. The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is being held today and tomorrow (June 12-13).

 

One of those serious issues we’re currently dealing with in the SBC is that a vocal few are pushing the idea of electing a female president (Beth Moore’s name has been floated). Pastor Tom Buck has written a phenomenal series of articles dealing with this issue from Scripture. Even if you’re not Southern Baptist, you will find Pastor Buck’s careful exposition of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 extremely helpful in his articles Will the Next SBC Resurgence Include a Redefining of Complementarianism?

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4 

The Mailbag: How can I grow to love Jesus more?

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I have been a born again Christian for many of years. But how do I get so in love with him?? Please can you help me.

This could possibly be my favorite Mailbag question ever. How can I love Jesus more? What a sweet and precious thought. I should be asking that question every day. We all should.

The first thing you will have to determine in your own heart, through prayer and study of the Word, is exactly what you mean by your question. Do you mean:

“I’m a Christian, but I consistently have no affection for Christ whatsoever. I just don’t really care about Him one way or the other, but I see other Christians who seem to genuinely love Him. How can I get those feelings for Jesus?”

or:

“I’m a Christian. I love Christ, but I want to develop an even greater love for Him. How do I do that?”.

If your meaning is closer to the first question, I would counsel you to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved as 2 Corinthians 13:5 instructs us. Except in extreme cases of emotional or mental disorders, someone who has genuinely been born again should have some sort of affinity, love, gratitude, and affection for Christ because of who He is and all He has done for her. If you honestly don’t give a flip about Jesus, that’s a big red flag signaling that you might not be saved, even if you think you are. I would strongly recommend working through my Bible study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up as well as setting up an appointment with your pastor, a trusted, spiritually mature Christian friend, or a biblical counselor for counseling.

If you’ve compared your heart and life to Scripture and you’re certain you’re a genuinely regenerated Christian who wants to grow in the love she already has for Jesus, it’s simple. Just do what His Word says:

Study Your Bible

I would urge you to put away all of the “canned” studies (books, DVDs, etc. written by others) and simply pick up your Bible, choose a book, start at the beginning, and work your way through to the end. I cannot stress enough how much more rewarding studying the Bible for yourself is than relying on someone else’s materials, and how much closer it will draw you to Christ. If you’ve never studied the Bible on your own before, try taking notes on the text, or use one of my studies (see the “Bible Studies” tab at the top of this page) as “training wheels” to get started. Here are a few other resources that may help:

Bible Study Articles and Resources

10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study

Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Bible Reading Plans

You’re Not as Dumb as You Think You Are: Five Reasons to Put Down that Devotional and Pick Up the Actual Bible

Pray

You can’t grow in your love for Someone you’re not spending time with. Set aside a designated, uninterrupted time of prayer each day in which you can take all the time you need to pour out your heart to God, worship Him, praise Him, and thank Him. But talk to the Lord throughout the day, too. “Lord, I have to discipline my child right now. Help me do it in a godly way.” “Father, thank you that these peaches I needed were on special today!” “I see Julie coming toward my office. Lord, she’s so hard to love. Please help me show her Your kindness.”

Resources on Prayer

Basic Training: 8 Things You Need to Know about Prayer

After this Manner, Therefore Pray

Can We Talk?

Be a Faithful Church Member

Find a doctrinally sound church that preaches and teaches the Bible well. Become a member. Faithfully attend worship service and Sunday School (aka: small group, Bible study, etc.) each week unless an emergency comes up. Find a place to serve, and get plugged in. Make friends with other members of your church and spend time in fellowship with them outside of church activities. Being fed the Word, serving the Body of Christ, and bonding with brothers and sisters in Christ will build your love for Him.

Basic Training: 7 Reasons Church is Not Optional and Non-Negotiable for Christians

All Word and No Play: The Importance of Fun and Fellowship in the Doctrinally Sound Church

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Remind yourself of what Jesus did for you – the sin He saved you out of, the forgiveness, cleansing, and peace He freely gave you, the power the indwelling Holy Spirit gives you to resist sin and walk in holiness, the home in Heaven He has promised you.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

That’s what Jesus did for you. You. How could you not love Him more and more every time you think about that?

Basic Training: The Gospel

Be Thankful

Make it a habit to thank God for things throughout the day, especially the things you often take for granted. Can you read? Do you have enough food to eat and clean water to drink? Do you own a Bible in your native language? Do you have a car? Clothes to wear? Family and friends? Air conditioning? Chocolate?

Everything good in your life, every blessing you experience, comes to you straight from the hand of God. Think about what you really deserve for your sin and rebellion against God. Then think about the fact that He not only sacrificed His precious Son for you, but that He continues to bless you abundantly. Every thing you thank God for is just another reason to love Him more deeply.

Top 10 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks

25 Things I Forgot to Thank God For

Give it Time and Be Patient

My husband and I have been married for over 25 years. Everything I feel about him – my love, trust, respect, admiration, everything – has grown deeper since the day I married him. But it has taken years of walking through “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health” together to get to where I am in my love for him today. And if God blesses us with more years together, my love for my husband will continue to grow beyond where it is today.

It’s the same way with your love for Christ. Developing a deep, mature love for Him doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. There are going to be “for better” days and “for worse” days, but if you continue walking with Him – studying His Word, praying, investing your life in the church, remembering all He has done for you, and being thankful – over the years, your love for Christ will continue to grow and grow.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.