1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 13- Wrap Up

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Wrap Up

As we wrap up our study today, think about the things God has taught you through His Word and how you might apply them to your life.

Questions to Consider

1. Was there anything new God taught you in this study that particularly impacted you? What was it, and why was it so significant?

2. How is your walk with the Lord different after this study than it was before?

3. How has this study helped you to prepare for living as a Christian under persecution? Are there any practical steps you are taking as a result?

4. What have you learned about false teachers from this study? How will you apply this to your personal spiritual life or to your church life?

5. What have you learned from this study about the sufficiency of Scripture, suffering, the church, baptism, and submission to authority?

6. Have there been any passages or concepts in this study that God used to convict you of disobedience and lead you to repentance? How will you walk differently in this area from now on?

7. What have you learned about God and His nature and character from this study?


Homework

Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to show you how to put into practice one thing you learned from this study.

Recite all of your memory verses from this study. Which one is most meaningful to you right now?

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Jenny’s Story

Jenny’s Story

This is more of a testimony within a testimony. I suppose part of my journey and part of the sanctification process that will take from salvation to eternity to complete. It is something that has weighed on my heart for years though never seemed the right opportunity to share or discuss it aside over a cup of coffee at my kitchen table.

My name is Jenny. I am a mother of five and have been married fourteen years. We started homeschooling our clan about 7 years ago. Our marriage has been one that has been rocked by adversity and brought to redemption through the glorious grace of Jesus Christ. However, this will not be about why we homeschool, or how God saved my marriage…this is about how I came to see all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, correcting and training in righteousness.

I was a feminist. Girl Power, women can do everything, and anything, men are idiots and would be dead were it not for women, loud, haughty and always up for a debate. Set on a course like this as a young girl, I looked disdainfully at marriage and children. Why would I want either of those things? I was going to travel the world, be a missionary; a husband and kids would get in the way.

I was a feminist.

I had a worldview written both by man and by God. I loved the Lord; since I was a little girl I had an intense love of Jesus that governed most everything I did, except in areas of my ambition and attitude towards that dirty “S-word” – submission. Submit- HA! I am not a dog! I can do what I want. I can be educated, independent, and preach. And I did. I grew up being taught that women can do anything in the church and I accepted that as truth, with zero hesitation. It affected every part of my biblical femininity. Do not think for a minute that you can walk hand in hand with secular feminism and biblical truth. They collide. That’s what happened to me.

There was a woman who I would see at church softball games. I enjoyed conversing with her dearly. Having come to Christ later in life, she was a testimony of continuing openness of her sanctification through the Word. At this point, I still held a view that, although I had salvation, my behaviors earned blessings or punishments, and that working for the Lord proved my love for Him and could somehow satisfy the debt I owed. She knew what I did for work, she knew I had taught/preached to large groups of men and women in church and college settings; and she never batted an eye when speaking to me. A beautiful example of an older woman teaching a younger woman.

A beautiful example of an older woman teaching a younger woman.

One day she said to me, “I am praying you get fired.” EXCUSE ME!!! We rely on that income! I have a great job. My husband and I both work. We juggle our children between our schedules. I AM MORE THAN A MOM!!!! How dare she! She pointed me to Scripture. I thought, “How archaic. Doesn’t she know it is meant in context of culture and region?”. She gently kept pushing me- that if I am so adamant the Scripture is true, why am I so man-centered in this? I came face to face with the thought, “All scripture is breathed out by God.” But if I accepted this, it would change everything, including my identity. And praise be to God- it has. I have been able to come to see the glorious good workings of God, and the free grace offered through Jesus Christ my Lord. He does not demand anything from me, save my obedience and trust in Him.

My outlook has changed, and it is liberating. Feminism kills Christian women and Christian homes. We miss out on the beauty and strength and glory of God, through our proposed design and structurings, starting with male and female, into marriage, and foremost through the bride of Christ and His church.

This is why we NEED women heeding Titus 2:4-5:

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

No one told me I was maligning the Word of God. I was being cheered on. I was living the Christian American Dream. However, my identity was not in Christ, it was in myself serving Christ the best I thought how.

This verse is not a popular one. It is not often taught in churches and most squirm when it is read out loud. We read Pinterest and blogs and posts that mock housewives, and women that love, rather than bash, their husbands, and who strive hard in the home. We celebrate the chaos running amok and dismiss stay at home moms with the question, “Well, what did you do before that?”.

I am forever thankful to the older woman, who was not concerned if I thought she was judging me, but loved me enough to point me back to the Word. I am grateful to the grace of God, Who allowed me still yet a teachable heart, Who has forgiven me for sins of my past, and Who allows me yet to model strength and dignity to my own daughters, so that they can learn who they are through Jesus Christ, and that His banner over them is love!

I am grateful to the grace of God.

I have learned that the ultimate example of submission comes from Christ, through his demonstration on the cross. That the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. I also, would call sisters reading this to remember to be patient with others as Paul teaches, and as Christ is patient with us. Rather than cast down our looks at women fighting for authority and leadership, pray for them. Pray that they would have a Titus woman in their lives willing to speak truth in love, and continue in prayer. Pray that they would submit to Scripture instead of cherry-picking and trivializing it! I am ever grateful to a beautiful soul who cared more about truth than being liked. I am ever encouraged by great examples of the past, from Ruth to Mary to women of today, who share and strive in biblical truth and love.

This is not a popular message, neither in society, nor in the church. But the warning in Titus is clear: “that the Word of God would not be maligned”. And that has become my prayer, that my life would be a pleasing aroma unto the Lord. That I would not be known for works, or remembered by name, but that fragrance left behind the vapor of my life simply, only and always is Christ.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Potty Prayers,” Women as Children’s/Worship Pastors, Solid churches with heretical music, Eternal Security)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


I know this is going to sound silly or troll-like, but I’m serious! I have a habit of praying a quick prayer when thoughts cross my mind, like “God, please help Aunt Pam to feel better from her cold today,” or “Lord, thank You for providing that salary bonus I needed.” Sometimes those same kinds of thoughts and prayers cross my mind when I’m using the bathroom. Is that wrong? Should I wait until I get out of the bathroom to think that little prayer? What about what Deuteronomy 23:14 says about using the bathroom, “that God may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you”?

I don’t think that’s a silly or troll-like question at all, and I’ll bet there are bunches of Christians out there who do the exact same thing and now, after reading this question, are wondering the exact same thing.

First Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing,” which means our hearts are to be constantly oriented toward prayer even though we’re not consciously praying every moment of the day. (Kind of like your compass’ needle always points north even if it’s just sitting in a drawer not being used.) For most Christians, that means we’re intermittently speaking to God, just like you described, throughout the day as things happen, as random thoughts cross our minds, as we see various things. And this becomes such a habit (a good one!) that it doesn’t occur to us to think about where we are or what we’re doing as we utter those prayers in our hearts. Honestly, I think that mindset of reflexive prayer is pleasing to God, because it embodies what it means to pray without ceasing.

Deuteronomy 23:12-14 is part of the Old Testament ceremonial law regarding, in this particular case, the way Israel was to set up camp. When you give the law a good, thorough reading, you’ll notice that the underlying principle of most of the laws is that Israel is to be set apart and holy – different – from the pagan nations surrounding them. And He gives them laws to this effect that touch every aspect of their lives so that, at every turn, throughout the course of their day, there are little reminders, through the law, to “Be holy for I am holy.” This law is just one more of those little reminders: Don’t act like animals like the pagan nations around you, Israel, and just potty willy nilly in the street or the front yard or wherever you take a notion to. Step it up and keep your camp to a higher standard, because God is with you and you are His people.

The Deuteronomy passage is not about offending God by relieving yourself. God has seen every single time every person on the planet has ever relieved himself/herself, because God is omnipresent. If that were offensive to Him, He would not have designed your body to work that way.

Although I don’t think “bathroom time” should be the only time you pray, I don’t see anything in Scripture indicating that God considers it offensive for you to reflexively pray even though you happen to be in the bathroom at that moment. However, if it offends your sensibilities, wait until you get out of the bathroom and then pray.


Would you read 1 Tim 3 1-7 to read women can’t be “overseers/leaders/official” as in they can’t be “Children pastors” or “Women Pastors” in the church with those actual titles or even as directors? The verses only say men and state guidelines on how to choose. I’ve noticed some red flags in my church with a woman Worship Leader, which I don’t agree with since she sometimes teaches in between songs, but they are also giving women the pastor title, but only for children and women.

If I’m understanding correctly, you’re asking:

  • Is it biblical for women to hold a position of leadership over the women’s ministry or children’s ministry of a church?
  • Is it biblical for a woman to be the worship leader of a church?
  • If so, is it biblical to give those women leaders the title of, for example: “Pastor of Women’s Ministry” or “Children’s Minister”?

Here are the fast and dirty answers. Below are a couple of links where I’ve discussed these issues in more detail.

Assuming the woman is doctrinally sound, has a godly character, her husband (if she’s married) is on board, and she’s otherwise qualified for the job, it’s fine for a woman to lead women or children in the church as long as the position she holds (which will vary from church to church) doesn’t require her to preach to or teach Scripture to men, or hold unbiblical authority over men.

No, it is not biblical for a woman to be the worship leader of a church. This is supposed to be a pastoral position.

No, churches should not give any woman on staff the title of “Pastor” or “Minister”, even if she isn’t violating Scripture in her position. Because Scripture doesn’t permit women to be pastors/ministers it is misleading and confusing, and will probably give people the impression that she is violating Scripture and that that’s OK. Neither should the converse be true – churches should not have women on staff in any capacity that violates Scripture (preaching to/teaching men, holding authority over men) and try to conceal that fact by giving her a title (instead of “pastor” or “minister”) like “facilitator,” “coach,” “associate,” “director,” etc.

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Rock Your Role FAQs (see #16, 21)


We have been searching for a doctrinally sound church in the area we moved to, and unfortunately it has not been easy! The few that we have found still use a Hillsong, Bethel or Elevation music. I usually cross a church off the list quickly if they sing from those artists. But like I said, now I am finding even doctrinally sound churches are throwing some of those songs in. Do you have any insight to this dilemma?

It can be really difficult to find a doctrinally sound church these days. Unfortunately even some churches that are fairly solid use music from these groups. The first thing I would recommend is that you check out the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, just to make sure you haven’t overlooked any doctrinally sound churches in your area. There are lots of church search engines there and other resources that might help.

My counsel would be to find the most doctrinally sound church you possibly can (following your husband’s leadership, of course, if you’re married, {and assuming, in this particular case, that he’s saved}), attend for a while to get a feel for whether or not it’s a fit for your family, and set up an appointment with the pastor to ask any questions you might have (check out the articles under “What to look for in a church” at the “Searching…” tab for suggestions of questions you may want to ask). (I would recommend the appointment with the pastor regardless of how perfect the church seems.)

If the church uses Bethel, etc. music, this would be the time to gently and lovingly address it with the pastor, but let him know that this is a reason you’re a bit reticent about joining the church so he’ll understand the seriousness of the problem. I would approach the subject giving him the benefit of the doubt that he simply doesn’t know the problems with these groups (the vast majority of pastors are ignorant of things like this – they shouldn’t be, but it is what it is).

If he seems open, you might want to ask if you can send him some information. (You can find links on all three groups at the “Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends” tab. Pick the 2 or 3 most convincing links for each group and send those rather than sending him the link to that tab. For someone who’s ignorant in the area of discernment, opening up that tab would be information overload, and he’ll tune it out.) If he says yes, send the links and then touch base with him again in a couple of weeks to get his reaction.

The only other counsel I would offer you is to remember that no church is perfect, and God may put you into a particular church to help it with those imperfections.

I would now like to take a moment to highlight this reader’s question for pastors and ministers of music. This is yet one more reason it is detrimental to your church to use music from Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Elevation, any musician connected these groups, or any other musician who isn’t doctrinally sound (after you have thoroughly vetted him/her/them.) regardless of how biblical the lyrics of any particular song of theirs that you’re using might be. You could potentially be turning away solid, mature, discerning Believers who might otherwise be interested in joining your church. The woman who sent in this question is not the first to ask me something like this – not by a long shot. This issue is increasingly of concern to Christians looking for a solid church.

When a visitor walks into your sanctuary for the first time, your worship service is the “face” of your church to her. What kind of a first impression are you making? When you use music by doctrinally unsound musicians, it does not say, “We’re really a doctrinally sound church – honest! We only use songs from these groups whose lyrics are biblical.”. It says, “This church has leaders who aren’t discerning,” or “If this church uses music by these heretical groups, what other doctrinal problems does it have?”. Why put that stumbling block out there when there is plenty of music available with biblical lyrics written/performed by doctrinally sound musicians?

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music

Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel or Hillsong Music (or Elevation or Jesus Culture), and Neither Should Yours

Hillsong’s Theology of Music and Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?


Hello there. I read your blog about Priscilla Shirer being a false teacher. Read some parts of your blog. Found your recommended preachers with sound doctrine. I don’t know what denomination you’re in. But I just wanted to ask if you believe if we can lose our salvation?

Hi there! I’m a Reformed Southern Baptist. You can read more about my denomination and my beliefs at the Statement of Faith tab and the Welcome tab (both in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

No, I do not believe genuinely regenerated Christians can lose their salvation because that’s not what the Bible teaches. I discussed this at length, including the relevant Scriptures, in my article The Mailbag: Can unforgiveness cause you to you lose your salvation?.


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.

Book Reviews

Congratulations to the Winners!

Last week, I shared with you Thomas Coutouzis’ excellent guest post, A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”. Thomas graciously offered to give away two copies of his own book, Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude. Congratulations to the two winners!

Abuse

4 Ways Christian Advocates for Victims of Abuse Need to Get Biblically Back on Track

Abuse. There’s no other word in evangelicalism these days that evokes as much passion – and compassion. And rightly so. Abuse – sexual or physical – is one of the most egregious sins a person can commit. It ravages the victim’s body and soul and leaves scars that never completely vanish. It is evil, and abominable, and horrifying, and something I wish no one on the planet ever had to experience.

For Christians thinking with the mind of Christ, our perspective on abuse ought to be reflexive:

•love and sympathy for the victim

•a desire to help the victim come to biblical healing and wholeness (and salvation if she is lost)

•hatred for the sin of abuse and the pain it caused

•a desire to see the perpetrator brought to justice

•a desire to see the perpetrator repent of his sin and be redeemed by Christ

I don’t know of a single genuinely regenerated, Bible-believing Christian who wouldn’t take this visceral approach to abuse. It’s when we start acting on various aspects of this perspective that things can go awry – in many different directions.

Victim advocates have helpfully explained one direction in which we can react inappropriately to cases of abuse. Victims have been told the abuse was their fault, or that they just need to forget about it and get over it. Abusers have had their sins and crimes overlooked or covered up. Grace-extending Christians have believed abusers’ fake repentance and unwittingly allowed them access to more victims.

It is good that these things have been exposed and that we now have a more heightened awareness of them in the church so we can respond to cases of abuse more carefully, wisely, and biblically. We owe a debt to courageous victims for telling us their stories, and to victim advocates for making sure we hear them, because their experiences help us to take helpful, rather than harmful, action. We cannot prevent or respond appropriately to that which is invisible to us.

And because of that, it’s important that we make visible and be aware of another way in which our approach to the abuse issue can take, and unfortunately, in many cases has taken, a wrong turn. As Christian victim advocates have helped me and so many others see inappropriate ways to respond to abuse, I hope advocates who desire to advocate for and serve victims biblically will find this article helpful in bringing to their attention other inappropriate ways to respond to the abuse issue. This is what we do as Christians. When we see a brother or sister getting off track, we lovingly come alongside him or her, point back to where the track is, and walk back to it together.

Here are four ways I’ve seen Christian victim advocacy getting off the biblical track lately…

1.
The abuse issue is giving false teachers
a new avenue into the church.

I’ve said many times that the two primary ways I’ve seen false doctrine and false teachers creep into relatively solid churches is via the worship music (Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Elevation, etc.) and via women’s “Bible” study (Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, IF: Gathering, etc.). The abuse issue seems to have opened a new, third door for unbiblical teachers and teaching to be welcomed in.

I discussed this issue at length in my articles From Victimhood to Victory: Biblically Helping Abused Women Heal and Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help. In a nutshell, multiple high profile false teachers are in the spotlight of the abuse issue. Many have been telling their personal stories of abuse for years, and are now speaking at conferences on abuse, instructing pastors and churches on how to minister to victims, etc. Because these women are in the spotlight, they are the “experts” pastors, women’s ministry leaders, and others turn to for resources on ministering to victims. And when these false teachers walk through the victim advocacy door of your church, they bring their false doctrine on everything else with them.

Getting Back on Track:

Churches must exercise discernment and vet the experts they listen to on this and all other issues, remembering that just because someone claims to be a Christian, is an evangelical celebrity, has written lots of books and is on the conference circuit, is sold at major Christian retailers, is endorsed by other evangelical celebrities, and really cares about victims of abuse does not guarantee that person is teaching and behaving in accordance with sound doctrine.

Victim advocates must also carefully vet the evangelical celebrities they point victims to, whose materials they use, or whom they choose to share a stage with, recalling that Scripture forbids Christians from yoking in ministry with false teachers, and that to point victims to false teachers is to victimize them a second time.

2.
Scripture is being abused by the
“abuse hermeneutic”.

Ruth was an abuse victim. Rahab was an abuse victim. Mary Magdalene, and the woman at the well, and the Syrophoenician woman, and Bathsheba, and Gomer, and Hagar were abuse victims. Every biblical passage that talks about male headship, or says that wives are to submit to their husbands, or that women are not to serve or function as pastors and elders is only and always a “potential for abuse” passage.

Are there victims of abuse in Scripture? Undoubtedly. And we know this when the Bible clearly tells us someone was abused. Have abusers sinfully twisted headship and submission and pastoral leadership passages? Of course. But that doesn’t mean we should try to hide them in the closet and ignore the good and holy purposes for which God breathed them out.

And one of the good and holy purposes for which God breathed out the passages about the biblical roles for men and women in the home and in the church is to protect women and children from abuse. As many godly pastors, husbands, churches, and the women who love them could tell you, a proper teaching and understanding of these passages results in Christian men who value and treasure women for all that God created them to be. Men walking in obedience to the headship and pastoral leadership passages would never think of being abusive or sexist. They lay their lives down for the protection and flourishing of the women and children under their care.

Is it the fault of these godly men that sinful men twist and abuse these passages? Is it the fault of God or His Word that sinful men twist and abuse these passages? No. Just like it’s not the fault of the woman when a sinful man abuses her. To fault or punish God for putting those passages in the Bible, or complementarianism for upholding those passages, or godly pastors for teaching those passages, or godly husbands for living in obedience to those passages, or to place the guilt anywhere besides on the man sinfully twisting and abusing Scripture is victim-blaming. Because all of the godly are victims when sinful men – and women – abuse Scripture for their own purposes. Even for the purpose of victim advocacy.

Far too many Christian victim’s advocates see nearly every passage of Scripture through the lens of the abuse issue. This does violence to the text and a disservice not only to their own understanding of Scripture and their growth in the knowledge of Christ, it also teaches abuse victims to use this same hermeneutic and stunts their sanctification every bit as much as New Apostolic Reformation heresy, the prosperity gospel, works righteousness, or any other false teaching. It’s a hermeneutic that warps the user’s view of God, Scripture, the church, the family, and the fellowship of the saints.

Getting Back on Track:

For the sake of their own spiritual lives as well as the spiritual lives of the victims they minister to, it’s important that victim advocates learn to submit to and carry out Scripture’s admonition to rightly handle the word of Truth, to stop reading abuse into Scripture (eisegesis) when it isn’t there, and to trust that our almighty God is powerful enough to work through a proper reading and teaching of what Scripture does say about abuse to convict the abuser and comfort and heal the victim.

3.
Abuse is the only, or most important,
issue for pastors and churches.

If you just read that sentence and you think it says, “Abuse is not an important issue,” despite what it actually says and despite what I said earlier in this article, it might be because you believe abuse is the only, or most important, issue in the church. It isn’t. There isn’t just one important issue in the church, there are lots of them, including abuse, and they all need to be handled biblically as they arise. God did not intend for the church to center around, and focus all its energy and teaching on abuse, or abortion, or homosexuality, or discernment, or feeding the hungry, or the environment, or any of the other issues that may be especially meaningful to any one of us.

But I have seen some victim advocates who are so solely focused on the abuse issue that they practically expect every church and pastor to be focused on abuse to the exclusion of nearly everything else. And if they find a church or pastor who doesn’t focus on abuse to that extent, they proclaim that church to be an unsafe place for victims, or a place that doesn’t care about abuse, or even a place that harbors abusers. I recently saw this outrageous statement by a victim advocate on Twitter: “If a pastor asks a serious but sincere question about whether or not church meetings really violate CDC guidelines [regarding COVID-19], chances are that pastor cares only about not being able to preach AND likely also disputes the seriousness of sexual abuse and domestic violence in the church.”

That kind of thing is wrong, and it’s slanderous and verbally abusive toward pastors and churches who do care about handling the abuse issue – along with all the other issues they’re facing – biblically.

Additionally, regarding the abuse issue as the only or most important issue worthy of spotlighting minimizes the very real suffering of others in the church. Yes, abuse victims have suffered horribly. So have people who have lost a child or spouse, people who have a terminal disease, people whose spouses have been unfaithful, people who have lost everything in a natural disaster, and so on. Everyone suffers. The Bible says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together,” not that only one type of member suffers.

Getting Back on Track:

Have you ever heard someone say that even a good thing can become an idol? It can. I know from firsthand experience because I’ve been guilty of that sin. Advocating for victims of abuse is a good thing. It is a worthy and necessary thing. But if you’ve gotten to the point where the abuse issue is the only thing you can see and that perspective is causing you to sin, you need to get alone with God and His Word and ask Him honestly and objectively to reveal to you whether the abuse issue has become an idol in your life. Because maybe it has. And that’s not going to help you, or the victims you’re trying to minister to, or the churches you’re trying to advocate to. Repent and ask God to help you prioritize your passion His way. And remember, God tells us that the Body is made up of many parts – different people with different passions – and He’s the one who created it that way. “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” Let’s strive to each do our part in the Body and cheer on other “body parts” as they do their job so the church can be balanced and healthy – addressing all issues in a biblical way.

4.
Looking to secular abuse experts first can undermine the authority of Scripture and the church.

More and more I’m hearing Christian victim advocates tout the virtues of seeking out psychologists, victim help groups, legal agencies, and other secular professionals and organizations because pastors “aren’t properly trained” to help abuse victims. That may be the case (and it may not be – in one interview I heard with a Christian victim advocate, she made it sound as though any pastor who isn’t an expert in every aspect of abuse with years of training under his belt isn’t “properly trained”), but the solution to a problem in the church isn’t to give up and look outside the church, it’s to biblically fix the problem in the church.

In other words, if pastors need more training than the pastoral counseling training they’re already getting in seminary, let’s get them trained – biblically. Not in psychology (which, as someone who has a degree and a half in psychology and counseling, I can tell you is humanistic at its core), not by non-Christian abuse experts – by doctrinally sound, biblically knowledgeable, experts in biblical and pastoral counseling.

“But women who have been abused won’t go to a man for counseling!”. Then get some godly, spiritually mature women from your church trained so they can minister to women who are hurting.

And really, I am all for training because we should strive to do everything with excellence, but I want us to stop and think about something for a minute. Are we over-educationalizing this? Christians have been ministering to hurting people for 2000 years with Scripture, prayer, and godly counsel, and without benefit of specialized secular experts or even seminary training. And it has worked, because God has worked through those prescribed means to help and heal those people. Any Holy Spirit-indwelt, spiritually mature, biblically knowledgeable, humble, obedient to the Word Christian can come alongside an abuse victim (or anyone else who’s struggling) and listen, work through Scripture with her, pray with her, cry with her, and be there for her, because the help and healing that victim needs is not dependent on the person helping her, but on God working through the person helping her. God calls Christians to do those things, and those are the means spelled out in Scripture through which He works. You will not find a passage of Scripture that tells you that godly, mature pastors, elders, and older women can’t rightly help the hurting because they haven’t been “properly trained,” and especially not by non-Christian “experts”. Abuse is an issue of sin for the abuser. For the victim, it’s about finding healing, wholeness, and, eventually, the ability to forgive in Christ. That’s not something the best trained non-Christian expert in the world can help with.

Are there sometimes things we can learn from non-Christian experts that don’t conflict with Scripture? Yes (particularly the legal ins and outs of the abuse issue). But pointing victims and “untrained” pastors and church members outside the church to non-Christians as their primary, or “first line of defense” source of help is wrong-headed, unbiblical, and ultimately detrimental for all involved, because long before abuse is a legal or advocacy issue, it is a spiritual issue. And putting a spiritual issue in the hands of unbelievers is never the right answer. “Don’t look to the church for help, look to the world,” is not the message we want to send anyone.

Getting Back on Track:

I’ve said that “Holy Spirit indwelt, spiritually mature, biblically knowledgeable, humble, obedient to the Word Christians” are equipped to help abuse victims. Perhaps part of the reason Christian victim advocates suggest looking to the world for help and training is that the “churches” they’ve most often worked with don’t grow Christians like that. And that would not surprise me. Many churches have devolved into entertainment centers with unqualified “pastors,” no gospel, no serious training in the Word, and rampant false doctrine. Basically, they are the world.

Pastors must take seriously Scripture’s charge to preach the Word, and to train their people in Scripture, prayer, and growth in holiness. Biblical training for ministering to abuse victims is great, but that training isn’t going to stick or be effective if it’s not carried out by godly, genuinely regenerated people.

 

Ministering to and advocating for victims of abuse is a challenging task – even more so for Christians than for the world because we are obligated to seek to do so in a way that pleases God and is obedient to Scripture, not just in a pragmatic way. When we minister to others, we’re going to get things wrong sometimes (something else I know from firsthand experience), but when we turn back to the standard of God’s Word, see things from His perspective, and trust Him to do His good work through His prescribed means, we will find that He works through us to minister His heart to the hurting.