Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mobilizing Women Saints for Ministry in the Church of Christ

Women are women:
We live at a time when gender distinctions are being deliberately blurred by the world. Sadly the church is not just idly watching it, most of the so called evangelical church is either cheering on, or has joined the bandwagon by encouraging women to enter the realm of ministry where they are not qualified. This sad deterioration has been happening ever since the Karl Barth, Manuel Kant, Bultiman et al of what is now known as liberal theology begun their onslaught on the church of Christ, denouncing the authority of Scripture. Should we just watch this? Should hold our arms akimbo as the deterioration gathers the moss downhill?  No we should do something - by both speaking the truth in love and by mobilizing women to the ministry that God has called them to. True evangelicals must not sleep as feminists and homosexuals rage and rant.
The purpose of this article is to mobilize our dear sisters in Christ to His service by pointing out to them what the Bible says about their ministry in the church. I seek to break rank with those who speak as if women in the church are not saints and as if they do not have anything to offer the body of Christ. 
Created man, male and woman, female – Gen. 1:26-28; 2:18, 21-25. This must never be forgotten that men are men and God expects them to be men and women are women and God expects them to be men. Changing the organ that is synonymous with masculinity or femininity cannot reverse the created order! 
·     God created them in His own image. Men and women are equal in the sense that they are God’s image bearers equally. They equally demonstrate the specific image of God in knowledge, righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Those of Galatians 3:28 must know that it is true that before God, in creation, in sin, and in redemption, their is neither male nor female. All are equal before God.
·         Male and female He created them. God created them distinctively different. Men are to lovingly lead  the women to glorify God. On the other hand women are created to support this leadership by being 'fit helpers' for men in yielding glory to God, who made them. It was not good that man should be alone (2:18). The wife was created as a fit helper for man. We see male headship in
ü  Adam naming the creation (2:20).
ü  Eve being made from Adam (2:21,22; 1 Cor. 11:8; 1Tim. 2:13)
ü  Adam naming of Eve
Male headship means that in the partnership of two spiritually equal human beings, man and woman, the man bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction. When God created Adam and (then) Eve to the fulfillment creation mandate (as Adam could not do it alone), He put them in the Garden of Eden with all that they could eat except for one – a garden of dos and a tree of don’t! Man was given the responsibility to lead the woman. This he did by calling her ‘woman for she came from him. He did this delightfully.
Sadly Satan convinced Eve to reverse this important created order. Thankfully, God spoke to Adam to redirect the order. The church is the God-appointed institution on earth to show His glory and wisdom in reinstating this order so that Christian families exemplify it. When a careful observation is made in the Bible, it will be seen that only Christianity has well balanced the gender roles as God intended. This is seen in the following reasons:
1)      Christ placed a high value on women.
How did Christ demonstrate this?
                     i.            By recognizing their intrinsic value as persons
                   ii.            By ministering to them in different circumstances
                  iii.            By according them dignity in His ministry – He employed women as illustrations in His teaching (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31), by teaching women theological truths, and by having women participate in His life and ministry
2)      Christ recognized role distinctions for men and women
The choice of male apostles is a clear indication that as much as He placed a high value on them as men, yet He did not appoint a single one to be an apostle. He did not direct anyone of them to be a leader in the church! As much as He loved Mary yet He did not regard her as an apostle. He did not regard His own mother as the ‘Mother of God’ as many want us to believe.
It is important to note that the Israel was always led by men, that there never was a woman priest, that male prophets are the leaders and that the prophetesses who are recorded are obscure and the exception to prove the rule. Only male kings and when there was the queen mother in reign it was catastrophic!
3)      In the management of the church, pastors also called elders, or bishops/overseers is a masculine office. In fact the women don’t even qualify see 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Even for the office of the diaconate, there is enough scriptural evidence that they were to be men only – see Acts 6:2-3 and 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12. Verse 11 is not conclusive as the context shows a reference to the women of the Deacon-men. Passages to consider:
1.       1 Corinthians 14:33-35:
This regulation applies to all the churches of the saints and not just Corinth as liberals have ranted. The women are required to:
a)       remain silent in the churches because they are not permitted to speak
b)      be in submission as required by the Law
c)       to learn through their husbands at home
d)      it is shameful for a woman to speak (in teaching and in the excise of authority)  in church.
Consider how this passages connects to 1 Timothy 2:11-14
2.       1 Timothy 2:11-14:
a)      Women are required to learn
b)      Women are expected to learn in quietness
c)       Women are commanded to be in full submission
Notice the reasons annexed to these three instructions
a)      Creation order
b)      Entrance of sin
These reasons are universal and eternally binding for women in the churches of Ephesus and Corinth in the 1st Century, as well as women in the churches in Nairobi and Kenya in the 21st century. Let no one deceive you – this is applicable in all the churches of the saints!
3.       1 Timothy 5:10,14 – the ministry is bottom up for women, while man is expected to minister to all in leadership, godliness.
House-keeping, bringing up children, hospitality, ministry to the saints and care for the afflicted, and every kind of good works are part of the paradigms of ministry for Christian women in the church. Here we have a clear exhortation to the women – So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander (v.14). If you are asking what exactly am I expected by my heavenly Father to do in His service, then this is the most clear instruction.
4.       Titus 2:3-5 – older and mature women are to teach what is good and so train the younger women to love their husbands and children and so be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind etc… that the word of God may not be blasphemed
Although these passages may be taken as unfriendly to women but the opposite is true. There is a whole garden of dos and a single tree of don’t, but we are all focused on the tree. Preaching is not the only work. These passages express compassion and an appreciation of who a woman is – they mean: Let a woman not enter into a sphere of activity not suited for her by the virtue of the manner of her creation. Let not a bird venture to dwell under water or fish on land! Let not a woman yearn to be the person that she was not made to be but serve the Lord within her domain – bottom up, providing support and complementing the male headship in the church. This has had kingdom impact, e.g. Rom. 12, Susana Wesley,
Women ministries now: There are innumerable ministries that women ought to be involved in order to faithfully serve the body of Christ. Yes, the possibilities for ministry for women in the church are myriad. Generally speaking, such ministries as these and many others are available for women (and also for men). The garden is rich and splendid with many fruits for every saint to relish the delights of serving the Master. We must not yield to the temptations of the devil to look at the forbidden tree, a tree that will only dishonour the Lord and bring misery to those who eat it.
1)      Home-keeping, caring for their husbands and children (whatever the women do or not do, they must serve the Lord in their homes)
2)      Hospitality, caring for guests
3)      Teaching women and children
4)      Mercy or comfort ministry – caring for the afflicted, orphans, widows,
5)      Support ministries like translations, writing, music, administration
6)      Missions & evangelism
7)      Prayer

God specially planned man and woman with differences that would complement each other. Each was strong, each was fragile in different ways:  each could minister to each other. He designed man to be masculine: harder, physically stronger, less swayed by personal or emotional considerations. He designed woman to be feminine: softer, empathetic, understanding, instinctively more nurturing. He designed the female body to bear and nurse babies. God Himself designed and placed within women the maternal instinct: sensitivity, intuition and compassion. These qualities do indeed provide a reflection of a yet deeper love within God Himself. Women have been created to be helpers, and will be mobilized for ministry as we understand and become enthused with this helper design. The helper design is an exalted one – all the three Persons of the Godhead are referred to as ‘Helper’ in Scripture.[1]

[1] Sharon James, God’s Design for Women, Biblical Womanhood for Today, Evangelical Press, Faverdale North Darlington, DL3 0PH pp.78-79

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