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Month: December 2007

Jesus unequal in prayer?

Jesus unequal in prayer?

In my research for our new DVD on the Trinity I am amazed that the teaching that God has a hierarchy of “roles” has some convinced that it is the Father alone who hears and answers prayer. This is Bruce Ware’s position in his book on the Trinity called “Father, Son, & Holy Spirit”. In email dialog with Dr. Ware, he has made it clear to me that he does not believe that it is a sin to pray to Jesus; however even though it is not a sin, these types of prayers do not go anywhere because Jesus does not have the role of hearing and answering prayer. On page 152-3 of his book he defines the only way to come to God in prayer. One must go to the Father alone in prayer and come through the authority of Jesus. Without coming to the Father alone and praying “in Jesus name, Amen”, at the end of our prayers, (signifying that we are coming in the authority of Jesus) our prayers will not go to God and our words will be empty, vain words.

I asked Dr. Ware to explain why he thought that it was the Father’s “role” alone to hear and answer prayer when Jesus himself said that we can ask him anything in his name and he will do it:

John 14:14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Indeed the Father is clearly glorified when we come to Jesus in prayer. Jesus also said:

John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

We also can see from scripture that Stephen prayed to Jesus when he was dying.

Acts 7:59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”

Bruce’s answer to these scriptures was that the disciples had a close relationship with Jesus so their relationship with him could carry on after Jesus’ death but we are not to pray to Jesus. Really? Is it true that only the disciples could have an intimate relationship with Jesus? 1 Corinthians 1:2 refutes that by telling us that all the saints in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

I asked Dr. Ware how he has a relationship with Jesus if he never talks to him. I did not get an answer from him.

The hierarchical movement has gone so far as to push unbiblical “roles” on the Godhead so now Jesus has been pushed out of a relationship with us with the claims that only the Father has the “role” of hearing and answering prayer. This is the same thing that the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. They too believe that only the Father hears and answers prayers and we are not to have a relationship with Jesus.

With the unbiblical hierarchical “role” distinctions that Bruce Ware imposes on the Trinity, Jesus is no longer equal in prayer with the Father. Bruce Ware takes away our ability to have a relationship with both the Father and the Son. A relationship with Jesus after his death now becomes something that was reserved for only a select few. But this is not the case in scripture. Jesus said:

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

The Father and the Son are equal in prayer and we are encouraged to have a relationship with them both. They come together and they work together and no amount of maneuvering with the text will take away our ability to have a relationship with the Son.

Roar for blogging powerful words

Roar for blogging powerful words

I have been awarded the “Roar for powerful words” award from Cynthia Kunsman at undermuchgrace.blogspot.com. Thank you Cindy for your vote of confidence!

Roar award

As a recipient, I am to choose and distribute the award to five other “blogs I love, can’t live without where I think the writing is good and powerful.” I’m also to define those qualities of writing that I find essential to writing good and powerful blog posts. Here are the three vital elements of powerful writing that I treasure:

Courage: God-given courage to stand against the crowd when the crowd is going down the wrong road. When one shares publicly that courage, it becomes a powerful word.

Truth told with love: While courage to take a stand is vitally important, so is the way that one shares the truth. When truth is shared with love, it becomes a powerful word.

Thinking outside the box: While many are hemmed in by traditions of men that they have accepted but never thought through themselves, when one steps outside of these man-made traditions in order to see things from outside the box, their observations can be a powerful word.

In receiving this Roar Award for Powerful Words, I am honored to award this same Roar for Powerful Words Award to a man who I find to be filled with courage, one who tells the truth with love and one who encourages people to think outside the box when it comes to mere traditions of men.  The first recipient that I bestow this honor onto is Pastor Wade Burleson and his blog kerussocharis.blogspot.com. This blog has caused me to stand up and cheer for Wade’s courageous stand even in the very midst of persecution from his own brothers in Christ.  Wade, you can pick up your award at theshamelesslionswritingcircle.blogspot.com/ and chose any one of the colored awards that you would like.  Much blessings for your courageous and powerful words!


Laying a false argument to rest

Laying a false argument to rest

One of the arguments that complementarians employ against women in ministry is the argument that God only used women as prophets and leaders in the Bible when there were no men available at the time. Is this really a valid argument? Let’s have a look at two biblical examples.

Elijah thought that he alone was left as a prophet of God because he alone was serving God yet God corrected him by saying that he had seven thousand others who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

Romans 11:3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.”
Romans 11:4 But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.”

God has always had a remnant who followed him and thus God has never been without a man to serve him.

Let’s look at another example. Huldah was used by the Lord to bring a message to King Josiah yet God also had men available to be used. The prophet Jeremiah had been prophesying in Judah since the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah (see Jeremiah 1:2) and it was the 18th year of the reign of King Josiah (see 2 Kings 22:3) when Huldah was consulted as a Prophet of God to bring a message to King Josiah. So a woman, Huldah, was used by God even though Jeremiah was available and Jeremiah had already been prophesying in the land for five years. Even though Jeremiah was available, God used Huldah to speak his words to the king.

2 Kings 22:12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant saying,
2 Kings 22:13 “Go, inquire of the LORD for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the LORD that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
2 Kings 22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her.
2 Kings 22:15 She said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to me,
2 Kings 22:16 thus says the LORD, …

The fact is that God uses women for his own purposes and it is not biblically correct to say that God only uses women when God has no man available. Let’s once and for all lay this false argument to rest. God uses women because it pleases him to use women and God still uses women today for his own glory and honor.

Women teaching, men's prejudice and God's glory

Women teaching, men's prejudice and God's glory

Many complementarians have been so used to hearing what women are not allowed to do in the body of Christ rather than what scripture says women should do as followers of Christ, that the focus has become automatically set to see restrictions when the subject of women in ministry is discussed.  With this post I would like to lay out some of the allowances for women in ministry as well as the obligations of mature children of God including God’s female “sons” so that we can contemplate on God’s own instructions.

What should be the attitude of women who are dedicated, mature and reverent followers of Christ?  In 1 Peter chapter 3 Paul has been writing about how women followers of Christ are to show their love for their Lord in the respectful way that they treat their husbands.  Men followers of Christ are also to show their love for their Savior by treating their wives with love and respect as fellow heirs of the grace of God.  Then in verses 8-17 Peter continues on to speak to both men and women about their attitude, their behavior and actions and their obligations.

1 Peter 3:8 (NASB) To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9  not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:10  For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
1 Peter 3:11  “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
1 Peter 3:12  “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”
1 Peter 3:13  Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
1 Peter 3:14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

Since Peter says that this is written for “all of you”, let’s focus on what we can see about God’s will for women from these verses.  Peter writes in verse 8 that women are to be harmonious (of like mind with all believers) humble in spirit, kindhearted, brotherly (fond of the brethren which is the body of believers) and sympathetic.  How does this work out in practice?  Peter writes in verse 9 that women are not to return evil for evil or insult for insult but they are to practice giving a blessing even when they are reviled because women in Christ are called for the purpose of inheriting a blessing.

Peter goes on in verses 10-12 to encourage women to keep from speaking evil words and women followers of Christ are to do what is good and to pursue and seek after peace.  When women followers of Christ live this way they have the eyes and ears of the Lord Jesus toward them because the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears hear their prayers.

In verses 12-14 Peter writes that God is against those who do evil so that if women are zealous for doing what is good that God will be on their side and look out for them regarding those who do evil to them.  Women are told that even though they may suffer for doing what is good, God will bring them a blessing for suffering for the sake of righteousness.  God tells women that when they are reproached for doing what is good, they are not to fear the intimidation of those who are against them.  God tells women they are not to be troubled when they suffer for doing good and they are not to fear those who try to intimidate them, instead these women are to be prepared to defend their faith in God.  Verse 15 says:

1 Peter 3:15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

Women are not only allowed to give a defense to everyone who asks them to give an account, but they are commanded to do so.  They are not told to be prejudiced against men but to give a defense to everyone.  Women’s obligation is to be ready with a gentle and reverent spirit to give an account to whoever challenges them on their faith in Christ.  When Jesus gifts and equips a woman she is to use these gifts without fear.  In 1 Peter 4:10,11 Peter records that each one of us has been gifted and we are commanded to use our gifts for the use of the body of Christ.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If God has gifted a woman to speak she is commanded to speak as one who is speaking the very utterances of God.  She is to do this because it pleases God to gift her.  When she uses her gift God will strengthen her in that gift because this brings honor to Jesus.  Whenever she uses her gift she is bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ her Lord.

What about if someone challenges a woman follower of Christ that women are to be prejudiced against men and must refuse to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of the men in the body of Christ?  What if someone says that teaching the bible for the benefit of men is an evil act and not allowed for godly women?  What if someone says that women followers of Christ are sinning against God if they refuse to turn away men from hearing them teach the bible?  Peter instructs the women to keep a good conscience and in doing the good works of a mature follower of Christ, if she is slandered by those who hate her good works and who say that her good works are evil, these ones who have slandered her will be put to shame by her good behavior in Christ and her gentle and reverent spirit even during her persecution and her suffering.

1 Peter 3:16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

God’s word for women followers of Jesus, is do not fear intimidation and do not be troubled.  Be glad that you are counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Lord.  Do not return evil for evil or return insult for insult but keep on doing what is good.  Teaching God’s word is good.  Using your God-given gifts is a good thing.  Scripture never once tells women to turn their backs on men and to refuse to use God’s gifts for the benefit of men.  That is prejudice and prejudice is not a godly thing.  God’s way is to use your gifts for God’s glory without prejudice.  Do this good work in a gentle and respectful manner without responding back with evil words if you are insulted and slandered by your brothers in Christ.

Let me tell you a story about our ministry partner Lorri MacGregor.  Lorri was a Jehovah’s Witness for 15 years and when she came to Christ and had come to a full understanding of the truth of God’s word, God called her to teach the scriptures especially to Christians who had no idea how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Lorri was faithful to go wherever the Lord called her even though she had many barriers put up in her pathway because she was a woman.  God caused her testimony to be heard by men and women, lay people and Pastors alike.  Many Pastors were so impressed by her testimony and her ability to teach Christians how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they allowed her to teach on this subject even though they have never allowed a woman to teach the bible to the congregation before.  Lorri’s ability to make the gospel clear and to teach difficult subjects like the Trinity and make these teachings understandable to the average Christian was clearly noted and she was asked into many churches to share her testimony and her special gift of teaching.  Lorri never refused to teach anyone because of their gender nor did she act in a prejudicial way to the men in the audience.  When some objected to her teaching on the platform, she asked if she could teach from the floor using a music stand instead of a pulpit.  Her humility and her respectful manner allowed her to receive a hearing and because of this many men and women were equipped to share their faith in a way that brought much fruit and brought Jesus much honor.  Lorri’s ability and her gifts were strengthened by her experience coming out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pastors saw the benefit of her teaching as a unique gift.

Because Lorri’s desire was to use her gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ and it was not her desire to elevate herself or stand in open opposition to the tradition held by many Pastors and many churches, the doors opened to her for her to teach what is good.  In fact her teaching was so clear and so easy to understand that Lorri was invited into the pulpit in places that had never before allowed a woman to teach the congregation.  Lorri did not make an issue of being a woman teacher, she just used her gifts in a God-honoring way that benefited both men and women followers of Christ.  She was not deterred by those who tried to stop her and who tried hard to put up a roadblock in her pathway.  Lorri stayed the course and followed Jesus through every open door that he provided.  The Lord provided ways for Lorri to serve in her gifts because she trusted him to make a way for her to serve him.

My path has been somewhat different than Lorri’s.  My focus is not to go around the roadblocks but to respectfully and methodically dismantle the roadblocks with the gifts that God has given me.  I deal with the opposing arguments head on and I use God’s word in context using God’s inspired words and his inspired grammar to understand God’s will for women.

If you are a woman who has been called to serve Christ in teaching the bible, yet you have been told that this work is forbidden to women unless women are willing to turn their back on men and refuse to use their gifts for men’s benefit, you need to see the hard passages in scripture on women in ministry in their context.  I would encourage you to get a copy of my 4 DVD set called “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?” so that you may have a tool to help you give a defense to everyone who demands of you an answer and this DVD set can help you give an answer with gentleness and reverence.  Do not let anyone stop you from doing the good works that God has prepared for you.

Matthew 5:16 (NASB)  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter 4:14  (ISV) If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God is resting on you.
1 Peter 4:19  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should entrust their souls to a faithful Creator and continue to do what is good.

1 Peter 2:15  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
Colossians 3:24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Don’t stop doing what is good.  Do your godly works in a respectful way and trust that God will open the door for you to serve him in exactly the way that he has called you.  If we can be an encouragement to you on this blog community, we are at your service.

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