Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 15

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Read Ezekiel 33-34

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2. Read 33:1-9. What was the purpose of a (literal) watchman in Ezekiel’s day? Explain God’s charge to Ezekiel in this passage. Who was he to warn, and what was he to warn them about? What would be the consequences for Ezekiel for not warning the people as God commanded? What would be the result for him if he did obey God’s command to warn them?

Are there any general principles we can draw from this passage about our responsibility to share the gospel with the lost? What about confronting sin in a fellow Christian or warning the church against false teachers? Are the consequences Ezekiel faced for warning/not warning the same for Christians warning/not warning against sin and unbelief? Which New Testament Scriptures can you think of that would seem to be in line with, or would indicate a difference from, 33:1-9 for Christians?

Why do God’s people, in Ezekiel’s day and now, need watchmen? What does this passage teach us about God’s perspective on sin and repentance?

3. Did 33:1-9 or the questions in #2 ring a bell? That’s because God originally called Ezekiel to be a watchman for Israel back in chapter 3. Review your answers to #2 in lesson 3 (link above) and compare them to your answers to #2 here. What are the differences or similarities between 3:16-21 and 33:1-9? Why do you think God addressed this twice? (Hint: Who is God’s message for in 3:16 and 33:2?)

4. Read 33:10-20. Explain the heart of God toward sinners. Does God delight or take joy in exercising His wrath against sinners? What is His posture toward sinners? How does this passage explain repentance and God’s forgiveness of sin? How does it showcase God’s mercy toward sinners?

This passage talks a great deal about people’s wicked or righteous behavior. Is this chapter teaching works righteousness (that we can earn right standing with God by our good behavior or obeying His laws)? How do you know – based on specific Scriptures and the fact that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself – that it is not? What is the spiritual motivation for the righteous behavior described in this passage?

Is 33:18 saying that a person can lose her salvation? How do you know – based on specific Scriptures and the fact that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself – that it is not?

How does 33:18-19 show that God’s way of reckoning sin and righteousness is just and Israel’s way is unjust (33:17, 20)?

Imagine you’re one of the few faithful Israelites during this time. You love the Lord and do your best to obey Him. How would this passage comfort you and reassure you as you keep hearing these messages of God’s impending wrath?

5. Did 33:10-20 or the questions in #4 seem familiar? That’s because God already communicated this message, in greater detail, in chapter 18. Review your answers to #3 in lesson 9 (link above) and compare them to your answers to #4 here. What are the differences or similarities between chapter 18 and 33:10-20? Why do you think God addressed this twice?

6. Read 33:21-33. Apparently a few people fled to the wilderness on the outskirts of Jerusalem and hid there when the city fell. Think about all the wrath God has poured out on Jerusalem thus far. Why would any Israelite in his right mind still think he would have possession of the land? How does God spell things out for them in 33:25-29?

Are there any New Testament passages that come to mind as you read 33:30-33? Compare 33:30-33 with these passages and any others you thought of. How does this demonstrate the principle that those who truly love God will obey Him? What are your thoughts on this principle?

7. Read chapter 34. This chapter contains both “near” prophecy (“right now” meaning and application for Ezekiel and Israel) and “far” prophecy (meaning and application for God’s people far in the future).

Who is/are the following, and what is happening with each of them in the “near” prophecy of Ezekiel’s day?

The shepherds

The sheep (34:31)-

The wild beasts-

Reading this passage through the lens of “far” prophecy, who is “my servant David” (34:23-24)?

Carefully examine 33:25-31. Has any of this passage been fulfilled yet, either for the nation of Israel or for the church? If so, which parts? What does this passage point ahead to in general?

Compare chapter 34 to the following passages and any other shepherd/sheep motif passages you’re familiar with. How does God shepherd His people? In what ways is Jesus the Good Shepherd? How are we, His people similar to sheep? How are false teachers of today aptly described by chapter 34?

Psalm 23

John 10:1-18

John 21:15-17

1 Peter 5:1-4

What are some ways the church today can properly apply chapter 34 to itself?


Homework

• Add 33:29, 34:27, 30 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.


Suggested Memory Verse

Church, Encouragement, Ministry, Top 10

Top 10 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors During Pastor Appreciation Month

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
Show your pastors some love, care, and appreciation! 

Originally published October 13, 2017

I’m so glad somebody thought up the idea of Pastor Appreciation Month and made it a thing. If you’ve never been a pastor (or been married to one), it’s difficult to adequately convey just how simultaneously challenging, joyful, devastating, frustrating, and fulfilling it can be. If you have a good pastor, who rightly divides God’s Word and is a man of godly character, you are very blessed. And that goes for your minister of music, associate pastor, youth pastor, etc., too. Be sure you show all of them (there’s nothing worse than being left out while everybody else is being appreciated) your appreciation for their hard work, and your encouragement, support, and love not just during Pastor Appreciation Month, but all year through. Here are ten ways you can do just that.

1. Pray for your pastors.
Time and again, when pastors are surveyed about what their church members can do to bless them the most, the number one answer is, “Pray for me.” Your pastors need you to pray for them personally, in their work, for their marriages and families, and for the health of your church. Pastor Appreciation Month is a perfect time to make a commitment to pray for your pastors on a regular basis. (And don’t forget to periodically tell them you’re praying for them!) Need some suggestions on how to pray? Check out my article Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor.

2. Words of encouragement
Pastors get a lot of complaints, criticism, and words of discouragement. Brighten your pastor’s day by telling him something specific you learned during the sermon. Tell your minister of music you really enjoyed the choir anthem this morning. Repeat to your youth pastor something positive your child has said about him or the youth group. Drop your pastor a note, e-mail, or social media message of support. Make a point of looking for ways – all year long – that you can offer “a word fitly spoken.”

3. Babysit
If your pastor and his wife have young children, offer to babysit so they can have a date night or go Christmas shopping for the kids. 

4. Gift cards
Perhaps along with the offer to babysit, you could give your pastor and his wife a gift card to a local restaurant. Gift cards to his favorite specialty store (outdoorsman stores, music stores, etc.), a Christian retailer, or one of his favorite online stores (or a more general site like Amazon if you’re not sure of his preferences) make great tokens of appreciation, too.

5. Honorary offerings
Is there a certain missionary or mission project that’s near and dear to your pastor’s heart? A crisis pregnancy center? A church plant he’d like to support? What about donating Gideon Bibles? Put out the word to the congregation, take up a special offering (or simply give as an individual), and make a donation in your pastor’s name.

6. Make sure his needs are met.
Your pastors shouldn’t be living like televangelists, but they shouldn’t be struggling to survive, either. Surprisingly, many people have unbiblical opinions about pastors’ salaries, from the notion that anyone in any kind of ministry should be doing it for free, to the downright evil concept of keeping the pastor near the poverty level to make sure he stays humble (yes, really). The Bible says pastors have a right to make their living from preaching the gospel, and that a workman is worthy of his hire. Check with your church’s finance and/or personnel committee. Is your pastor making an appropriate salary? Are his housing and insurance needs being met? Is he receiving adequate vacation and sick days? If not, see what you can do to help rectify the situation.

7. Conferences
There are lots of fantabulous Christian conferences out there that your pastor would probably love to attend, but it’s not in the church budget and he can’t afford it, personally. Find out his favorite or choose a great one (make sure you vet the speakers first to make sure they’re doctrinally sound), take up a special offering, and send him there, all expenses paid (conference admission and fees, travel, meals, lodging, and some extra “walking around money” for purchasing books, gifts, souvenirs, etc.).

8. Volunteer
One of the things that can be stressful for pastors is empty positions that need godly people to fill them. Volunteer to teach that Sunday School class, play the piano at the nursing home, help chaperone the youth trip, work in the nursery, get trained and run the sound board. Find out where you’re needed at your church and jump in and serve.

9. Help out around the house.
Pastors have those “fix it” needs around the house just like everybody else does. Are you good at repairing cars, fixing roofs, mowing grass, maintaining air conditioning units, cooking meals, or another special skill? Save your pastor some time, money, and effort by putting your experience to work for him at his home. 

10. Set the example of a healthy church member.
What could be more encouraging to a pastor than biblically healthy church members? Study your Bible. Be faithful in your church attendance. Pray for your pastor and the church. Serve where you’re needed. Don’t complain or criticize your pastor and others over petty matters. Avoid controversies and personality conflicts, and be a peacemaker. Walk in humility and selflessness, and give glory to God. Show appreciation for your pastors by setting a godly example for other church members and encouraging them to do the same. 

💥Bonus!  💥 Get on social media, e-mail, or the phone and share this article around so your pastors don’t have to!

What are some other good ways we can show appreciation for,
and encourage, our pastors?

Christmas, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should My Church Participate in Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Ministry?

Originally published September 23, 2019

Please read this entire article – especially the addendum section – before commenting.

I lead the children’s ministry in our small rural church, and for years our children have participated in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox “ministry.” It has come to my attention that this program may be quite ineffective in spreading the gospel. In fact, I have read that many missionaries refuse the boxes because it causes such chaos and confusion. I would like recommendations of legitimate world mission organizations [we could donate to instead] that would allow our children to look past our sheltered life here to what God is doing in other parts of His creation.

Wait…what? Christmas? It’s only September!

Yep. Christmas will be here sooner than you think, and your church staff and committees are probably already planning for it. And if your church usually participates in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) but might decide to do something different this year because of the information in this article, they’re going to need some time to get their ducks in a row.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of (Franklin Graham’s) Samaritan’s Purse organization, an evangelistic “international relief” outreach. Each fall, churches across the U.S. encourage their members to fill an OCC shoebox with small gifts and hygiene items. OCC collects the boxes, tucks in a gospel booklet, and delivers the boxes to children in various locations around the world. At an OCC shoebox distribution event, an OCC representative shares the gospel with the assembled children and then distributes a box to each child.

There are two separate questions in this reader’s e-mail:

  • Should my church participate in Operation Christmas Child?
  • What are some other good international ministries my church could participate in instead?

Should I/my church participate in Operation Christmas Child?

I want to clarify this question a little bit. I understand what the reader who sent this e-mail means when she mentions missionaries reporting “chaos and confusion” resulting from shoebox distribution, because prior to receiving her e-mail, I had already been reading reports (maybe the same ones she read) of exactly the same thing.

The issue is not that Samaritan’s Purse is doctrinally unsound*, or that there’s some sort of false doctrine being included in the shoeboxes or being preached by OCC staffers at shoebox distributions. Although I may not necessarily agree with every point of theology Samaritan’s Purse subscribes to, as far as I know, they are basically doctrinally sound*, as are their materials and gospel presentations. The main issue the reader is asking about is whether or not the shoebox distributions are the most efficient, effective, and biblical way to share the gospel and undergird missionary efforts.

*(Update 9/30/20– Unbeknownst to me at the time I scheduled it, the 2020 rerun of this article coincided with Franklin Graham’s “Prayer March 2020”. At, and in connection with this event, he partnered and joined in prayer with numerous heretics and false teachers, including TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), Matt and Laurie Crouch (heads of TBN), Jonathan Cahn, Jentzen Franklin, Robert Morris, and Paula White, among others, and then unashamedly platformed them on his Twitter feed. This was not a little “oopsie” with one person he disagrees with on baptism or eschatology. These are people who are blatantly immersed in New Apostolic Reformation and other egregious false doctrine. It is inexcusable for a professing Christian of his stature and influence a) not to know this, or b) to know it and ignore it, defying Scripture’s many commands not to associate with such reprobates.

Until/unless Franklin Graham publicly repents of this sin, it is my recommendation that you not participate in or donate to Operation Christmas Child, nor have anything to do with Franklin Graham, nor either of the two organizations of which he is president and CEO: Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.)

So the question is not whether or not participating in OCC is overtly sinful. The questions are: Is this the wisest way to steward our church’s resources – could we get more gospel bang for our buck another way? Is this a biblical model for sharing the gospel? Do shoebox distributions cause problems for missionaries and the communities they serve in?

And for the answers to those questions, I would encourage every church and individual considering participating in OCC to read all of the information at the OCC website and compare what you read to these missionaries’ first hand accounts¹ of how shoebox distributions were handled and how the distributions impacted their work and communities. Then, prayerfully consider whether or not you or your church should participate.

“What happens when the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ
is associated with dollar-store trinkets from America?”

“In some places, we haven’t been well-received because the missionaries who went there before us presented gifts….and we have no gifts. When those missionaries left, their ‘converts’ also returned back to their old faith and were waiting for the next gift presenters.”

Opening Up Christmas Shoeboxes: What Do They Look Like On the Other Side?
and
Sometimes the Starfish Story Doesn’t Work
These articles (the second is a follow up to the first) are both by Amy Medina.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“When Saddam Hussein was terrorizing the Kurds…an American was in Baghdad meeting with the Minister of Health. The minister abruptly said “I have to go – do you want to come with me? I have to do something for our leader’s birthday.” The American goes with him. They go to a warehouse in Baghdad, and there sit piles and piles of Samaritan’s purse Christmas Shoe Boxes. The Minister of Health is supervising minions to deliver all of them to the Children’s Hospital as gifts from Uncle Saddam for his birthday….a bunch of Iraqi kids got wonderful gifts from Saddam by way of Franklin Graham at Samaritan’s Purse.”

13 Things I Want American Christians to Know about the Stuff You Give Poor Kids by Rachel Pieh Jones

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

…the Operation Christmas Child boxes had reached the warehouse in Ndola and…the Mansa churches needed to come up with eight kwacha per box for 5,000 boxes to receive their shipment. That’s $4,000USD…comments from the pastors ranged from, “We don’t have this kind of money,” to, “Aren’t these boxes supposed to be free?” to, “Next year, let’s just refuse the boxes all together!”

boxing up expectations: reflections on OCC and the church by Bethany Colvin

What are some other good international ministries I/my church could participate in instead?

Whether you’re looking for a ministry to donate to or a way to tangibly serve others, the first thing I would recommend is that you ask your pastor what the needs are in your own church (remember, we serve the needs of our own church members first before serving others). It’s not biblical to overlook the needs of the brother or sister down the pew from you in favor of strangers half a world away.

If everyone in your church is taken care of, your pastor may be able to suggest a local or international ministry that could use your help. Many churches donate directly to various individual missionaries and local and international ministries, and I think you should support your church and its leadership by donating to the ministries they have chosen before looking for other ministries to donate to.

Some of the articles linked above include information on alternatives to OCC.

My suggestion would be to give what people need the most: God’s Word:

Bible League International

Gideons International

Pocket Testament League

Whichever ministry you choose to serve or donate to, make sure to vet its theology, and make sure they are sharing the gospel along with whatever relief or goods they are providing.


Addendum: After the original publication of this article, most of the feedback I received was thoughtful and positive. However, I was shocked at the number of nasty, enraged comments and e-mails I received – from professing Christians, mind you – that seemed to elevate participation in OCC to an idolatrous level. What you prayerfully decide to do about participating in OCC is between you and God, but if you are angered by the information in this article to the point that you strike out at me or one of the missionaries who has simply stated her honest experience with OCC, you need to check your heart against Scripture. You are idolizing OCC over loving your brothers and sisters in Christ, and you’re acting in a way unbecoming of a professing Christian.

If you are considering responding to this article with nastiness or rage, please save yourself some time and don’t bother. I will not publish comments like that anywhere on my blog or social media, and I will immediately delete (without reading, and certainly without responding) any such emails.

OCC Shoeboxes: Answering the Arguments


¹These specific articles are provided for their attestation to experiences with OCC, only. I do not endorse any of these sites which deviate from Scripture or my theology as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

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 contact me. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Discernment, False Teachers, Men

Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do

Originally published September 22, 2017

Confession time: Sometimes – OK, often – I think my brain works more like a man’s than a woman’s. You’ve got a problem? Suck it up- here’s the solution. The mall? A perfectly horrifying way to ruin a Saturday. And why do we have to hug people hello and goodbye when we see each other multiple times a week?

I’ve always been more comfortable around men, and when I was single, I had mostly male friends. They’re generally¹ less mysterious and easier to figure out than women, and they don’t usually play those manipulative emotional games some women can be notorious for. If a man says he wants a cheese sandwich, there’s no hidden “you don’t bring me flowers often enough” meaning there. He just wants a cheese sandwich. I like that. It’s pretty much how I operate.

Which makes me the perfect person for God to plunk down smack dab in the middle of women’s ministry, right?

Harrumph.

God just has this way about Him of stretching us and growing us beyond our comfortable little confines. I used to be terrified of walking into a room full of women (They’re so unpredictable! You never know when a big emotional scene might break out!) But after years of teaching and discipling women, developing close friendships with women, serving and ministering to women, I now walk into that room and see precious sisters, created oh so tenderly and intricately by God’s loving hands.

God purposefully and intentionally made each woman unique, but with common traits and perspectives that bind us together as sisters and differentiate us from men. And because men aren’t wired by God the same way women are, sometimes they’re just not going to get the way women think about things, approach people, or respond to issues. Sometimes (shopping, flowers, hugginess) that’s no big deal. They can shrug their shoulders, extend grace, and make space for the women in their lives to think, feel, and react differently than men would without really taking the time to understand why.

But there’s at least one biblical issue women respond to differently at the core level of their spiritual DNA than men do. And men, it’s crucial that you get it on this one. You’re the pastors. The elders. The husbands. The fathers. The ones responsible before God for leading your churches and your families in doctrinally sound spiritual growth. You’ve got to get this for the sake of the girls and women you lead:

Women respond differently to false teachers than men do.

And, ladies, we need to understand this about ourselves, too.

It started, not with the advent of modern feminism, or the church age, or even the Fall. It started in the Garden.

Genesis 3 begins…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman

Have you ever wondered why the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam?

Before sin entered the world, before that snake in the grass even thought up his dastardly plan of deception, there was a void in the world. None of the animals or birds could fill it. Neither could Adam. God determined that, in order to make His creation complete, there was a need for woman to fill that void. So He reached down with His own two hands (so to speak) and personally crafted a woman.

God had made both animals and Adam out of cold, dead dirt. Not so with woman. God made woman out of soft, warm, living flesh, already coursing with life. God made man to tend the ground from which he had come. God made woman to tend the man from which she had come.

And in the same way God used a different method for creating man and woman and gave them different modes of work, He also gave them different mental and emotional makeups.

God created women with some incredible strengths. Women are usually much better nurturers than men. We’re often better at negotiating, compromising, and making peace between opposing parties. We’re more sensitive to what others are going through and how to treat people in a kind and compassionate way. We bear up under certain pains and stressors better than men do. We’re usually better communicators than men. And, frequently it’s much easier for women to trust, love, and give the benefit of the doubt to others.

And along with those unique strengths come unique challenges that we have to watch out for and that men need some insight about.

We’re kinder and more compassionate, so we have to be careful about people who would take advantage of that. Nurturing is great for raising our children, but if we baby them all their lives, that’s not healthy. Being trusting is a fantastic character trait, but it’s imperative that we be vigilant not to put our trust in the wrong person.

Could it be that the serpent approached Eve instead of Adam because he thought she would be more trusting, give him the benefit of the doubt, and thus be easier to deceive?

First Timothy 2:14 echoes this idea. In 1 Timothy 2:11-14, God explains that women are not to teach men or exercise authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church. He gives two reasons for this in verses 13-14. The first reason (13) is the Creative order: “Adam was formed first, then Eve”. God’s second reason is in verse 14:

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

It’s interesting that verse 13 refers to the specific woman, Eve, but verse 14 uses the more generic term “the woman.” Are women, as a whole, more likely to be victims of deceivers than men are? Scripture seems to point us that direction.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns Timothy that people – including those in the church – will become more and more degenerate during the last days. There will even be those who have an outer facade of godliness but are not operating by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (5). In other words: false teachers. Verses 6-7 tell us that among these false teachers are those…

…who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

In verse 16 of this same chapter we read that “all Scripture is breathed out by God,” and we know that God never makes mistakes or chooses His words haphazardly. So we know there’s a reason God uses the words “weak women” here. Not weak men, not weak Christians, not weak people – weak women. God graciously gives a warning to women not to be taken in by these false teachers, and an exhortation to men – particularly pastors, since this is a pastoral epistle – to protect the women of their churches and families against those who would prey upon tenderhearted, trusting women.

One reason these women are weak is that they’re led astray by various passions. Today, the word “passion” or “passionate” often has a sexual connotation, but that’s not the only meaning, especially not here. Dictionary.com defines passion as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate; a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Merriam-Webster says passion is, “the emotions as distinguished from reason; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

As with so many other valuable characteristics God has blessed women with, passion is a two-edged sword. God wants us to have a passion for holiness, pursing Christ, and biblical ministry to others, but we have to be extremely careful to steward that passion with the reins, bit, and bridle of discernment and knowledge of the Scriptures. Otherwise, we will pour our passion – our powerful and compelling loyalty, enthusiasm, fondness, and love – into the wrong teachers and doctrines.

Which brings us full circle to Eve, because that’s where her train jumped the tracks.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:4-6 

Notice the serpent doesn’t invite Eve to something blatantly evil. “God knows…” “…you will be like God.” He’s tempting her to do something she thinks is godly. Then Eve takes her eyes off God and His word and looks instead at the tree.

🍃It was good for food The fruit would satisfy a felt need. It was practical. She and Adam needed supper. Here was an easy solution. And, besides, it looked delicious and nutritious.

🍃It was a delight to the eyes– The fruit appealed to Eve’s sense of beauty. It looked good to her.

🍃It was to be desired to make one wise– Eve had a passion to grow in wisdom and godliness, and this beautiful, appealing, practical, attractive fruit seemed, in her eyes, the best and most enjoyable way to reach that goal.

This is the same way women are being deceived today. The attractive “tree” (Ever notice that most false teachers are at least somewhat physically attractive – “a delight to the eyes”?) extends a branch with lovely-looking, supposedly nutritious fruit on it which she says will lead to godly wisdom and growth (even though her teaching conflicts with God’s written Word). And it’ll be delicious too. Those who bite the apple will feast on love, positive thoughts, encouragement, and self-esteem-building teaching. It’s too appealing to the woman’s senses – and she’s too weak in her knowledge of Scripture and her desire to obey it – to pass up. She succumbs to the passions of her senses, plucks the fruit, and eats.

And then a fascinating phenomenon begins to take place. The weak woman feeds her passions with the fruit of false doctrine, and then she begins to pour that passion – that intense, compelling loyalty, love, fondness, and enthusiasm – into the false teacher herself. As anyone who has ever tried to gently open a devotee’s eyes can attest, hell hath no fury like a confronted Beth Moore disciple. I have seen women defend their favorite false teachers – against clear Scripture, mind you – with a viciousness I’m not sure I could muster to protect my own children against physical harm.

Men may enjoy a particular false teacher, but women worship them.

And this is the crux of the difference that men rarely grasp when the topic of discernment comes up. I’ve talked to countless pastors who don’t understand why simply preaching and teaching sound doctrine from the pulpit and in the Sunday School class isn’t sufficient to protect their churches from the infiltration of false doctrine and false teachers. This is why.

Maybe a man will hear hear a biblical truth, realize the preacher he’s been listening to conflicts with it, and simply walk away. A woman won’t. Because, not only has the teaching a woman listens to inextricably wrapped its tentacles around the very core of her soul, she has also formed an emotional bond with the teacher that’s almost impossible to break. She loves her. And she will nearly always choose that loving, bonded “relationship” over biblical truth, giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and making excuses for her every step of the way.

The Holy Spirit gets it. He understands the power false teachers wield over weak women and the destruction false teaching in general brings upon the church, so He inspired Paul to write Titus 1:9:

[A pastor] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Pastors who only preach sound doctrine are only doing half their job. And notice that this verse doesn’t merely say to “rebuke teaching that contradicts sound doctrine” in a generic sort of way. It says rebuke “those who” contradict it. “Those who” are people. Specific people. People with names.

Many pastors and teachers don’t want to name names of false teachers. They’ll quote false teachers, allude to them, describe them, and drop hints as to their identity, hoping against hope their church members will figure out who they’re talking about and stop following them. But they don’t want to call specific names. I understand the fear of naming names. It opens pastors up to attack by the aforementioned disciples of false teachers. I’ve experienced their venom, and believe me, nobody wants to go through that.

But guys – pastors, teachers, husbands – I’m telling you the women you’re preaching to, the women who are in the tightest clutches of false teachers aren’t getting it. They are not going to hear your veiled allusions to “some Christian authors who say…” or “the pastor of one of the largest churches in America teaches…” and think you’re talking about the false teacher they’re following. They think you’re talking about somebody else. The guy their neighbor is following. That crazy preacher on TBN. But not my favorite Southern Baptist “Bible” study teacher who’s a best seller at LifeWay and is touted on social media by well known pastors.

It takes courage – manly courage – to stand up in front of your congregation, class, or wife and warn them against specific false teachers, but that’s what godly men – who love the women in their churches and families and want to see them spiritually healthy – do.

We need your help, men. The church needs your help. Your family needs your help. Please get this so you can help other “Eves” not to be deceived and weak women to become strong followers of Christ, not false teachers.


¹If it’s not abundantly clear from context, please understand that I’m speaking in generalities in this article. Naturally, individuals vary.


Additional Resources

Only Men May be Pastors at Founders Ministries

Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ A Pox Upon Our House: Three Chronic Diseases Plaguing Women’s Ministry

Originally published December 1, 2017

“What’s the number one problem in women’s ministry today?”

It’s a question I was recently asked in an interview; one I can’t get off my mind. There are many good and wonderful things I see trending in women’s ministry, which are creating an increasing number of biblically strong, godly Christian women. But those women are still a tiny minority – a remnant, you might say – in contemporary evangelicalism. The problems, on the other hand? Overwhelming. Discouraging. Pervasive.

In fact, it’s a huge problem just to sit down and sort out exactly what the problems with women’s ministry are because they’re not in nice, neat little linear compartments. There is no one single most important problem in women’s ministry. The issues are interwoven and exacerbate one another, which leads to declining spiritual health for Christian women as a whole.

There’s a name for that in medical jargon: multimorbidity. Often seen in elderly patients, it’s a term used for someone who has multiple chronic medical problems: heart disease, diabetes, and COPD, for example. Each disease may work against the body in different ways, but they all work together to put the patient in a condition of overall poor health.

Fortunately, when it comes to the pox on God’s house – the Body of Christ – the Great Physician has written us the prescription for a cure that’s one hundred per cent effective. All we have to do is be good patients and take our medicine exactly as prescribed.

Possibly the most foundational disease in women’s ministry is the simple fact that there’s a large contingent of “Christian” women who aren’t Christians – they’re false converts. Their hearts aren’t diseased or even failing; they have dead, lifeless hearts of stone. These women might think they’re Christians, look like Christians, tell you they’re Christians, and go through all the right, outward Christian motions, but because they have never truly repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ for salvation, they are not genuinely regenerated, born again, new creatures in Christ, Christians. And people who are unregenerate exhibit the symptom of being unregenerate: they prefer sin to Christ. When there are unregenerate women in your church – and they’re in nearly every church – their symptomatology is going to affect the women’s ministry and the overall health of the Body.

Congenital. Exacerbated by easy believism, mass sinner’s prayers, and the seeker driven movement.

A heart transplant via the proclamation of the rightly handled biblical gospel. We must make sure we don’t assume that just because someone attends church or says she’s a Christian, she’s been born again. We also can’t assume everyone knows the biblical gospel. The gospel has been so twisted and watered down in our culture that many people think they’re saved because they repeated a sinner’s prayer, got baptized, go to church, or are “good people.” Pastors must preach and teachers must teach the hard edges of the law, man’s guilt, God’s wrath, and eternal Hell so that they will know what they’re being saved from, as well as God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, so they will understand what they’re being saved to. Only those with new hearts of flesh can contribute to the spiritual health of the church.

Ezekiel 36:26: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Many Christian women starve themselves spiritually without even knowing it. She’ll lay an elegant table of women’s ministry activities with the fine china and flatware of women’s “Bible” study books and DVDs, but when you glance over at her plate, she’s pushing one measly little piece of a Bible verse around with a fork.

And wondering why she’s so hungry.

Christian women today don’t know their Bibles. And it’s not because the pure milk and meat of the Word aren’t available for them to consume. It’s that they won’t eat. Sometimes it’s the aforementioned “heart failure” of being unsaved. (It’s only natural that a lost person would have no interest in studying God’s Word.) And sometimes it’s because they’ve spent their formative years under pastors and women’s “Bible” study teachers who starved them by never properly feeding them a well balanced diet of Scripture.

When an anorexic doesn’t eat, her entire body begins to shut down. Every organ, every body system, is affected. It’s the same way with women who starve themselves of God’s Word. There are heart problems: lack of love, trust, and belief in Christ and His Word. The digestive system becomes unable to handle a healthy meal of Scripture. The immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off the pathogens of false teaching. The brain can’t think biblically. Women’s ministry becomes a battle of a few healthy souls trying to coax the stubborn starving masses. “Just try one bite? Please?”

Exposure to pastors, teachers, Christian retailers, and Divangelistas who tell Christian women that the lacy tablecloth and the flowery centerpieces and the crystal stemware of Bible-flavored fluff are all they really need to keep them alive.

Nutritional therapy with copious helpings of Bible. These women have never even seen what a full plate of healthy spiritual food looks like, so they don’t know that’s what they need – to feast on God’s Word. They need pastors and teachers who will feed them regular, well balanced meals of in context, rightly handled Scripture and train them to feed themselves at home between therapy sessions.

Job 23:12: I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

Deuteronomy 8:3: And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

This pernicious disease develops as women ingest, over time, the poison of false doctrine fed to them by the “Christian” leaders they follow. Sometimes led poisoning can be a cause of anorexia scriptura – a woman gobbles up the sweet paint chips of unbiblical teaching, thinking she’s filling up on Scripture, and is left with no appetite for the real thing. Sometimes led poisoning can be an effect of anorexia scriptura – a woman is so starved for God’s Word that she’ll consume anything that tastes good in order to fill the void. And sometimes it’s yet another symptom of heart failure – a lost woman who prefers even a toxin to God’s Word. In any case, the result is a sickly patient with multiple systems failure who often infects others by enticing them to follow the leader.

Environmentally transmitted. Strikes women with itching ears and flaccid discernment. Highly communicable to those with compromised immune systems due to improper biblical nutrition.

Chelation therapy – a process of ridding the body of the toxins she’s been led to. Discerning pastors and teachers must patiently, clearly, and unapologetically expose unbiblical teaching, including warning women away from false teachers by name. Symptoms of led poisoning include hearing impairment and learning disabilities, so the diseased patient isn’t going to get it if a pastor is hinting around about false teachers without giving specific names. He’s got to be loud and clear about exactly who is a false teacher and exactly how her doctrine and practices conflict with Scripture if he wants to cure the patient. Prophylactic treatment with regular inoculations of sound doctrine should also be prescribed.

Titus 1:9: He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that He may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

2 Timothy 3:5-7: [People] having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

 

These are just three of the serious diseases that are an epidemic in women’s ministry today. The cure is simple: the gospel, sound doctrine, and the study of Scripture. The prognosis is sure: spiritually strong and healthy Christian women. It’s just what the Doctor ordered.