Holidays (Other), Reformation Day

A RefHERmation Day Study

Reformation Day is Saturday, October 31.

This article is excerpted from my Bible study
Imperishable Beauty: A Study of Biblical Womanhood.

What better way to celebrate Reformation Day and biblical womanhood than to combine the two? Today, we’re going to take a look at some women in Reformation history and in biblical history who exemplified biblical womanhood by influencing others toward godliness.

Choose any of the women below and read their stories (click on their names). Then consider the following questions:

1. In what ways did this woman exemplify biblical womanhood in her culture, context, circumstances, family situation, or church?

2. Which godly character traits or Fruit of the Spirit were especially obvious in her life, words, and actions?

3. Which Scripture passages come to mind as you read this woman’s story? In what ways did she live these Scriptures out (or fail to live them out)?

4. Are there any instances of sin in this woman’s story? If so, how can you learn from what she did wrong and avoid this sin in your own life?

5. How does this woman set a godly example that you can apply to your own life?

6. In what ways did this woman point someone to Jesus, serve the Kingdom, or help God’s people?

Women of the Bible

Esther

Ruth

Abigail

Deborah and Jael

Miriam

Mary

Priscilla

Lydia

Dorcas

Women of the Reformation

Catherine d’Bourbon

Jeanne D’Albret

Marguerite de Navarre

Margarethe Blaurer

Katharina Schutz Zell

Anna Adlischweiler

Anna Reinhard

Katharina von Bora Luther


Christian women, Church

The 5 Church Ladies You Don’t Want to Be

Originally published September 21, 2018

It’s just as easy to fall into a ditch on the right side of the road as it is to fall into a ditch on the left side of the road.

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see how true this is in the Christian life. We can be legalistic or antinomian. Crushed by guilt over our sin, or hard-hearted about our sin. Extending too much grace to unrepentant sinners, or not extending enough grace to repentant sinners.

Abandoning the church altogether, or taking ownership of the church and using it for our own purposes.

The purpose of the local church is to glorify God through worship and discipling the saints. Proper, biblical church membership is not optional for Christians. It is not to be treated as unnecessary by “Lone Ranger” Christians, nor is it to be used as a means toward our own ends. We are to be faithful, invested church members, but we’re to do so in a humble, loving, serving, “others first” way.

I’ve talked about the “left ditch” of abandoning the church:

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

Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly

You Don’t Need the Internet, You Need a Pastor

Today, let’s talk about avoiding the “right ditch” of doing church the wrong way. Here are five church ladies who use the church for their own purposes- to build their own little empires, to impress others, or to make themselves feel better. Church ladies you don’t want to be, and the Scriptures they need to embrace and obey:

Part-time Paula– Paula is involved in lots of different pursuits: travel, hobbies, volunteer work, her kids’ sports/activities/clubs, social events, political events, family gatherings, civic projects…and church is just one more activity on the list. And it’s not even at the top of the list. Paula comes to church when she has time, when she feels like it, and when church doesn’t conflict with one of her other activities, but she doesn’t have any leftover time, energy, or desire to get plugged in, commit to a place of service, or fellowship with her brothers and sisters in Christ. Paula keeps just enough of a foot in the door at church to assuage any guilt she would feel for quitting altogether, or to be able to keep it on her “resume” of activities to impress others.

Paula’s Scripture: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Screechy Sheila– Sheila knows how this church ought to be run: her way. And if you step out of line – not with Scripture, but with her personal preferences and methods – she’ll let you know. Sometimes she’s loud and vehement. Sometimes she’s quiet and threatening. Sometimes she’s nicey-nice and just educates you on the “right” way to handle things. But you’d better get with the program – her program – or else. Sheila uses the church as a platform for being bossy and exercising control.

Sheila’s Scripture: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Cotton Candy– Forget the meat and potatoes of church – sound doctrine and theology, studying the Bible, serving others, and giving sacrificially – Candy is only there for the fluff. She’ll be there for every fellowship, day trip, and fun-filled women’s ministry event, but she wants her “sermons” chock-full of jokes and stories, and her “Bible” studies to be positive, encouraging, self-esteem builders. Candy uses the church as entertainment or to make herself feel good.

Candy’s Scripture: But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a

Que Será Katie– Katie is a founding member of this church, doggone it, and she’s not going anywhere. Some Katies have been known to say to their less-favorite pastors, “I’ve been here for fifty years, and I’ll be here long after you’re gone.”. Others are more placid, unfazed by unbiblical pastors, faulty doctrine, or spiritually unhealthy practices in the church. They just go with the flow. There’s a lot to be said for a faithful church member who doesn’t cut and run at the least little problem and works hard to help the church become healthier. But that’s not why Katie sticks around. There are biblical reasons Katie should have left this church in the past, but her friends are here, her memories are here, she’s comfortable in these surroundings, and those things are more important to her than whether or not the church is operating biblically. So she stays, loving the church for sentimental reasons.

Katie’s Scripture: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25b-27

Ulterior-Motive Ursula– Ursula has an agenda and the church seems like a convenient gathering of good-hearted people to use for reaching her goal. Maybe she needs volunteers for a community project. Or she’s trying to get out the vote for the candidate she’s campaigning for. Or she needs a client base for multi-level marketing. Or she’s trying to become the next American Idol and needs a pre-fab audience. Whatever the end game, coming to church where a crowd of people is already assembled is easier than staging a rally or phone-blitzing or setting up a free concert. Maybe Ursula is a faithful member of the church. Maybe she isn’t. But she’s using the church to further her own goals.

Ursula’s Scripture: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13

 

The purpose of the local church is not to salve our emotional wounds, or to fill a void in our lives, or to further our own agenda. The purpose of the church is to focus our attention on Christ – how He gave His life for us, forgave us, and made us His disciples. It’s where we come together to praise Him, honor Him, worship Him, serve Him, serve our brothers and sisters, and get equipped in His Word. We’ve probably all been guilty of being Paula, Sheila, Candy, Katie, or Ursula at times. I know I have. But let’s strive to be the godly women at church – and everywhere else – Christ commands us to be.

Complementarianism

Putting on the “You Can!” of Complementarianism

It never really hit me until I started teaching the book of 1 Timothy how many instructions in the pastoral epistles pertain to women, and how weighty those instructions are. The pastoral epistles are the “policy and procedure manuals” for the church, and, far from relegating the ministry of women to nothing more than crafts and tea parties while the men do all the “important” stuff, you come away with the impression that a healthy, well-balanced church actually depends on godly women working hard to carry out the ministries that God has uniquely created and gifted us to fulfill, alongside men fulfilling their own ministries.

These epistles don’t view “woman’s work” around the house of God as trivial or menial, but as a high and holy calling. Vital. Necessary. Honorable.

But is that the lofty perspective of the biblical role of women that the local complementarian church is conveying to its female and male members? Are we, especially those of us in women’s ministry, proactively teaching that the calling of motherhood or the task of discipling other women or serving those in need is qualitatively just as imperative and noble as the calling of pastor or elder?

Intentionally or not, the egalitarian movement has maneuvered biblical complementarians into constantly playing defense. Their offensive squad keeps moving the ball forward by offering women a no holds barred buffet of powerful and prestigious ministry positions. Our defensive line correctly and biblically pushes back with, “No, the Bible says women are not to ‘teach or to exercise authority over a man’  in the church setting.” But often, only two or three members of our offensive squad are dressed out to play, and they never get off the bench and into the game. And as any football fan knows, you have to have a good defense and a good offense if you’re playing to win.

Egalitarians offer women “you can,” but all too often all we complementarians have offered godly women yearning to serve is, “you can’t.” Where is the big, beautiful, biblical showcase of complementarian “you can”?

Not long ago, I was teaching a group of ladies the biblical process of putting off the old self and putting on the new self in Ephesians 4:20-32. We explored how interesting it was that every “don’t” in the passage was coupled with a “do.” We don’t just put off lying, we put on proactive truth-telling instead, and so on. Nature abhors a vacuum in the physical realm, and it would seem this is true in the spiritual realm as well. When we subtract the ungodly, we must replace it with the godly. If we don’t, something will rush in to fill the void that’s been created, and that “something” isn’t usually biblical or fruitful. 

So how can we shift the perspective in our churches from “you can’t” to “you can,” and create an atmosphere, not merely of “put off,” but also “put on”? How can we get our offensive team suited up, on the field, and moving the ball toward the goalpost while at the same time retaining a strong defense?

We can, so to speak, make complementarianism great again. 

As I studied 1 Timothy 5, I was struck by Paul’s description of women who are “truly widows.” These are women who have spent their lives being busy and intentional about the work of the Lord in their homes and in the church. They adorned themselves with the good works proper for women who profess godliness, and they were honored and revered for it by the church. I didn’t come away from this passage with the feeling that these women were frustrated, oppressed, or seen as “lesser” by the church because they weren’t allowed to teach or exercise authority over men. I came away from this passage thinking, “Those women were awesome. That’s the kind of woman I want to be.

What would the climate in our churches look like if women’s ministries and the church at large recaptured that same reverential posture and purposefulness toward biblical womanhood? If, instead of teaching the biblical role of women strictly as, “You can’t eat the fruit from this apple tree,” we followed that admonition with a grand tour of the Garden, focusing on the delicious fruit of the pear tree, the cherry tree that needs a good pruning, the fig tree just waiting for the right woman to come along, harvest its fruit, and make some preserves, the banana tree that needs an expert in fertilizers, and the orange tree dying for someone to water it?

In my experience, what happens in churches of that climate is that – just like the godly widows of 1 Timothy 5 – women are so busy and fulfilled tending the other trees of the Garden, that they have neither the time nor the desire to go apple picking. 

May our churches strengthen themselves and grow to more robust spiritual health by proactively encouraging Christian women to joyfully throw ourselves into the godly “good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” – the biblical “you can” of complementarianism.


Additional Resources

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church

Servanthood

The Servanthood Survey

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 17- The Most Beautiful Girl in the World…er…Bible- Finale

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Read These Selected Scriptures

It’s been a beautiful 17 weeks studying biblical womanhood with you! Today, we’re bringing things to a close as we reflect on all we’ve learned. Links to all previous lessons are located above.

Questions to Consider

1. We started this study by looking at the Proverbs 31 woman (lessons 2-3), often considered the icon of biblical womanhood. In subsequent lessons, we tried to answer the question, “If the Proverbs 31 woman really is the ideal to attain to, how do we get there from here?”. And we’re finishing up today by looking back again at the Proverbs 31 woman. Is she really the quintessential picture of biblical womanhood? How do all the other Scriptures we’ve studied flesh out the ideal described in Proverbs 31?

2. What does verse 10 mean? Consider verse 10 in light of lessons 4-6. How does the fact that you were uniquely created by God (4), that your identity is found in Christ (5), and that you are a vital member of the Body of Christ (6), provide a foundation to build on for becoming the rare, excellent, godly woman?

3. Examine verses 11-12 in light of lesson 11. What are some of the ways you can be obedient to Scripture that will enable you to do your husband good and not harm, benefit him, and enable his heart to trust in you?

4. Consider verse 17 in light of lessons 7-9. How do knowing and loving God’s Word (7), obeying God’s Word (8), and sharing the gospel (9), dress you with strength and make your arms strong?

5. What is the general motif of verses 17, 22, 25? Compare these verses to the concept of “adorning” we studied in lesson 15. With what “clothing” should a godly woman “dress” or adorn herself?

6. Examine verse 26 in light of lessons 13-16. How can we open our mouths with wisdom and teach kindly through our position in the church (14), our portrayal of biblical womanhood in the church (15), and our proclamation of God’s Word (16) in the church? What are the unique opportunities single women (13) have to teach and model wisdom and kindness in the church?

7. Examine verses 27-28 in light of lessons 10-13. How can we diligently look well to the ways of our households and families as daughters (10), wives (11), mothers (12), and single women (13)?

8. In what specific areas has God grown you in biblical womanhood during the course of this study? What would you say was your most important takeaway from this study?


Homework

Go back over the questions in the “Expectations and Presuppositions” section of lesson 1. Have any of your answers changed? How or why? Did you get out of this study what you were hoping to get out of this study (#6)? Explain.


Suggested Memory Verse

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:31

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 16- A Beautiful Proclamation in the Church

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Read These Selected Scriptures

In our last lesson, we examined how we can beautifully portray biblical womanhood in the church. Today, we’ll finish up our section on biblical womanhood in the church by looking at how godly women can beautifully proclaim the Word of God in the Body of Christ.

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lessons 14-15 (links above), noting the instructions God has given to and about women regarding our role in the church. What are the do’s and don’ts God has laid out for us, especially in 1 Timothy 2:12, regarding teaching and authority in the gathered Body of Believers (the church)?

2. Examine the first two passages (Titus 2 and 2 Timothy 2) of Scripture. Recalling that these books are pastoral epistles, to whom are these instructions primarily addressed? To which venue (home, marketplace, church, etc.) do these instructions primarily apply?

In the Titus 2 passage, the Holy Spirit gives instructions for which individuals (1, 7-8)/groups (2, 3, 4-5, 6, 9-10)? Examine the instructions for Titus and for each group. Are they instructed to be something (character), or do something (actions), or both? Why does God instruct Titus and these groups to be and do these things? What is the point of all this godly character and behavior? (“so that”: 5b, 8b, 10b)

Who, in the Titus 2 passage, is instructed to “teach”? (1&7, 3-4) Why do you think God singles out only the pastor and older women with the instruction to teach and train? Who is the pastor to teach? Who are older women to teach and train? (4) Using the context of these verses, what age or station in life would you infer this passage means by “older” women? “Young” women? If it is the responsibility of older women to teach and train young women, what is the responsibility of the young women?

Examine verse 3 carefully. Is this a “do” verse or a “be” verse, or both? Which instruction comes first, “be” (character) or “do” (action)? Would it be biblically accurate to say that older women without the godly character described in the first part of verse 3 should not be doing the action (teaching) in the last part of verse 3 – that godly character is a prerequisite for teaching younger women?

Examine 3b-4a: “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…”. Does this sound like a command, or is it optional/a suggestion? If it is a command, doesn’t that make the character instructions in 3a a command as well? Take a moment to prayerfully evaluate yourself. How are you doing on the “be” and “do” of verses 3-4?

As you continue to examine 3b-4a- is there a difference between “teaching” and “training“? Could it be biblically accurate to say that teaching is to impart knowledge, and training is to show someone how to apply that knowledge to real life situations? (For example, teaching someone the rules and regulations of basketball in a classroom-type setting, versus putting that person on a basketball court and training her to apply those rules with basketball in hand.) Which comes first in 3b-4a, teaching or training? What does 3b say older women are to teach? What do 4a-5a say older women are to train younger women to be and do? Is it possible to train Christian women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,” without first teaching them “what is good” – what the Bible says about how to do these things and why they should do them? Is it wise to attempt to train Christian women in these things without basing them in Scripture?

Even though 2 Timothy 2:15 is primarily addressed to pastors, does it still apply to others who teach God’s Word? How should this verse inform your teaching and training of younger women? Whose approval should you be seeking when handling God’s Word? What does this verse mean when it says “Do your best” so you will have “no need to be ashamed”? What does it mean to “rightly handle the Word of Truth”?

3. Carefully read the 2 Timothy 3 passage. How does the Holy Spirit describe people’s attitudes and actions during the last days? (2-5) Considering what He says these people will do in 5-6a, are the people He’s describing in 2-5 Christians or non-Christians? Church-goers or non-church-goers? What does it mean to have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power? (5a) How do verses 8-9 describe these same people from 5a? What term might we use for people like this today? How are we to regard such people? (5b) Why are we to “avoid such people” (5b), and who are “them” (6a)? Why does verse 6 specify “weak women” instead of saying “men” or “people”? How do verses 6-7 describe these at-risk women?

If the (2 Timothy 3) weak woman, unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth and captured by false teachers who oppose the truth, is one of the (Titus 2) young women in the church, is she going to have a truthful, biblical understanding of how and why “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”? How can the (Titus 2) older woman “rightly handle the Word of Truth” and “teach what is good” to this younger woman? What sorts of good things from Scripture would this older woman need to teach the younger woman? Have you ever seen a scenario like this in your church? How would you apply the Scriptures we’re looking at to that scenario?

4. Look at the final three passages (1 Timothy 2, 2 Timothy 1 & 3). Besides women, what is another part of the church whom women are uniquely gifted to teach? (You may wish to go back to lesson 14 (link above) and re-read the paragraph near the end of the lesson which begins with, “Verse 15 can be a little cryptic…”. ). Who were Lois and Eunice? (1:5) To which child did they teach the Scriptures? (1:2,3:15) What did he go on to do as an adult? Who are some other men from Scripture who had mothers who trained them in godliness? Describe the impact Christian women can have on the church by training children in godliness and the Word.

5. Considering all of today’s passages, which two groups of people in the church has God blessed women to proclaim the Word to? If women were not teaching other women and children in the church, would the church be healthy?


Homework

Egalitarians often cite the women listed in Romans 16 and Priscilla and Aquila’s conversation with Apollos as evidence that God is OK with women preaching or instructing men in the church. How would you answer this argument? Examine both passages. Does Romans 16 say any of the women listed taught or preached? Was Priscilla’s and Aquila’s private conversation with Apollos the same as Priscilla teaching or preaching to the gathered Body of Believers? Would Paul have commended any of these women in Romans 16 if they had disobeyed his instructions in 1 Timothy 2:12?


Suggested Memory Verse

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15