QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 80
Isn't God's adoption process the manner in which we become sons of God ? In my mind, Galatians 4:4 through 4:7 indicates that the believers in Galatia setting the pattern for us as believers are children of God by virtue of the fact they have believed, been given God's Holy Spirit and they "are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."
Being adopted and becoming "sons" are not, strictly speaking, synonymous. Contrary to the reasoning of men, Scriptures affirm that it is "sons" who are "adopted," or placed fully into the family -- i.e., "adoption of sons," or "adoption as sons" (Gal 4:5; Eph 21:5). It is something like Israelites really being Israelites, even when they were not in the land of Canaan. However, in another sense, their full acceptance was contingent upon them occupying the land, as seen in those who fell in the wilderness, coming short of the land for which they were delivered.
We now "are the sons of God," as is affirmed in First John 3:1-2. But it is in the "first fruits" sense, for a part of us remains that is still of the earth, and not of Jesus. We are not yet like Him in the sense God has determined (Rom 8:29). That is why John says when we see Jesus as He is, then we will be "like Him" (1 John 3:2).
We are "sons of God" precisely like David was "king" before he actually occupied the throne. He was anointed king, and the Spirit of God came upon him (1 Sam 16:13-14), even though he did not formally occupy the throne -- in fact, Saul remained king for some time after David was anointed king.
Of course, the Holy Spirit has referred to "our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23, NASB). The NIV reads, "our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies," so that the "the redemption of our bodies" is said to actually be "the adoption," or "our adoption." The idea is that it is the completion, or fullness, of our adoption.
The secret is found in the joining of our adoption with our inheritance. That is a point made in the first chapter of Ephesians. Until we obtain our inheritance, the adoption is not yet complete, even though we are really the sons, or children, of God. "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:14 NKJV). The Holy Spirit is also called "the Spirit of adoption" (Rom 8:15) -- the pledge of the coming fulfillment.
The word "adoption" is used four times in reference to our sonship. All of those texts give evidence that "adoption" is not synonymous with "sons." This is particularly shown in Galatians and Ephesians. "To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:5 KJV). "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," (Ephesians 1:5 KJV). The word "adoption" includes the entirety of our persons -- spirit, soul, and body.
Until the resurrection, in which the body will be redeemed, we remain in the "first fruits" stage. We are not yet fully conformed to the image of God's Son. We have a soul that vacillates up and down. We also have a body that cannot even enter into the blessed abode for which we have been made. This state of incompleteness produces the groaning of Romans 8:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:2-4.
None of this suggests we are not really "in Christ," "sons of God," or "justified from all things." It does mean that we must now live "by faith," and that we cannot trust in our status, but in the Living God, and the Lord Jesus, who is bringing us to glory (Heb 2:10). In a sense, this is a great mystery. In another sense, it opens our understanding concerning the nature of our salvation, teaching us not to boast what we have now -- for it is only the pledge of the greater and full harvest to come.
I noticed that one family encouraged their little children to partake of communion. At one point one of the men tried to discourage this and there was a dispute over it.
At the time our blessed Lord enjoined the participation of His disciples in the remembrance of Himself, they still remained in a state of ignorance concerning the fullness of His person and mission. They had not yet perceived that He was going to die, even though He had told them. They did not know where He was going, (John 16:5). They were appalled at the thought of Him being betrayed (Matt 26:22). They had not yet received the Holy Spirit in the sense in they would after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39). They were still learning what it meant to be a servant (John 13:12-16). They had not been endued with power from on high (Lk 24:49).
I realize these conditions have no perfect parallel with the condition of young children. However, they suggest that neither perfect understanding nor regeneration were required by Jesus when He set this feast of remembrance in place -- unless a person wishes to affirm the disciples were actually regenerated before Jesus was glorified. In my judgment, however, such a postulate will be very difficult to support.
Partaking of the Lord's table is a place where wisdom and discretion are to be employed. I do not know how anyone can establish that Jesus can only be remembered by those who are actually a part of His body. That this is the general condition cannot be denied, that it is the exclusive one can be questioned.
We will find it exceedingly difficult to govern participation at this table by rules -- although certain rules have been revealed concerning this table, and are to be duly honored (1 Cor 11:26-30).
We have taught all of our children that the table of the Lord is a most sacred table, and that sloppy manners at this table have been judged by the Lord. We have also taught them that it is intended for those who are in Christ Jesus. However, we have also left the door open for their tender young hearts to feel welcome at this table if they really do want to remember Jesus. Of all of our children, only one participated in this feast prior to being baptized. When we were persuaded of the sincerity of her heart, we did our best to encourage her in the remembrance of Jesus. Her baptism into Christ followed immediately, confirming the power of remembrance.
Having said that, brother Ralph is correct in his observations about "playing church." Our role is not to promote communion by rote, but communion by real participation in the body and blood of our Lord.
Jesus fasted for 40 days. During this time, He was tempted. He became hungry only after the 40 days. Luke 4:2. Why wasn't He hungry? I am hungry within a few hours if a attempt to fast. I am full of vain imaginations when I try to live holier.
True fasting is not merely an attempt to reach a new level, or an effort to subdue the flesh. It is a quest for the Lord that is driven from within. Jesus was not hungry for forty days because He was engaged in intimacy with the Father, readying Himself for His coming ministry among men. he was eating meat the world knows nothing of, as He did at Jacob's well (John 4:32). That nourishment subdued his earthly appetite.
It is noble to "attempt to fast," but it can be accompanied by a fervent quest for the Lord that is superior to the "vain imaginations" you mention. Do not think that because Jesus was not hungry, He only had thoughts of His Father and His work. It is written that He was "there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan, and was with the wild beasts" (Mark 1:13). Luke says, "Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered" (Luke 4:2 KJV). There were also "angels" that ministered to Him during that time of fasting (Mark 1:13). Thus, being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness (Mark 1:12), during the forty days, Jesus was tempted by Satan, ministered to by angels, and full of the Spirit as well (Lk 4:1). The Spirit even states that the reason He was led up into the wilderness was "to be tempted by the devil" (Matt 4:1). It was a time when He wrestled with competitive thoughts -- the downward pull of temptation, as well as the ministry of angels and the mind of the Spirit.
Jesus did not fast to reach a higher level of spirituality, but to neutralize the temptations of the wicked one. He was full of the Spirit when He went into the wilderness, so He was not seeking a higher measure of spirituality. His encounter with the wicked one required all of His energy, and therefore He was not hungry until forty days had passed. That is a condition men cannot make happen, and God does not judge them for that inability.
The expression forty days is repeated in 14 books of the Bible. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Is there a relation to Jesus 40 day fast?
Moses also fasted forty days and forty nights (Ex 34:28; Deut 9:9). This was the time Israel spent surveying the land (Num 13:25). It was the length of time Goliath challenged the armies of Israel (1 Sam 17:16). Elijah also journeyed for forty days and nights to Horeb in the strength of a meal prepared for him by an angel (1 Kgs 19:8). Jesus was with His disciples for forty days following His resurrection (Acts 1:3). These are only a few of such references.
Although a hard and fast doctrine cannot be established from these references, it does appear they highlight times of testing and preparation.
Where was Isaac's step brother Ishmael when his mother received a promised from God that he would become a great nation?
His mother Hagar had put him under some shrubs after she had sun out of water. She thought he was going to die, so went "a good way off" so she would not have to see her child pass away. The Scriptures say she lifted up her voice and wept in sorrow. There, under those shrubs, Ishmael cried also. We are told the Lord "heard the voice of the law," and sent an angel to Hagar. That angel told her "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation" (Genesis 21:18 KJV). When she lifted up Ishmael, God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She quickly filled a bottle with water, and gave her child a life-sustaining drink. This record is found in Genesis 21:14-20.
My questions are...........does the sea here refer to humanity as we know it? And, is the new heaven already here? It seems to me as I glean more and more from the word and from various teachers, that God has already made us new in Christ! Jesus said, "The kingdom of Heaven is within you."
The new heavens and earth are not yet with us. Well after the middle of the first century -- after Jesus had been enthroned at God's right hand, send forth the Holy Spirit, and His body was initially formed among men -- Peter said, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13 KJV).
What we have in Christ Jesus is very real, yet is only the "firstfruits" of the greater harvest to come (Rom 8:23). As long as there are tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain, the new heavens and new earth are not here, for then, such things will forever "pass away" (Rev 21:4). Instead, in the Spirit, we have been raised up to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). While we do not yet enjoy the fullness of our inheritance, what we do possess is infinitely greater than most believers realize. You are correct in saying we are already new in Christ Jesus -- praise God. But the work is not yet finished. There is a part of us that is still waxing old, passing away, growing weaker and weaker, and perishing (2 Cor 4:16-18).
The word "heaven" is used in different ways in Scriptures. The expanse above the earth is not the "the heaven" into which Jesus ascended and sat down on the right hand of God. He is "far above" those heavens (Eph 4:10).
Our hope is, indeed, anchored in heaven (Heb 6:19) -- the one from which we are looking for the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 3:20). What is more, things in heaven and things on earth have not yet been gathered together. But they will be, for that is God's appointment -- the purpose that will be realized in Christ Jesus. That will happen in the fullness of the time appointed by God Himself. "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:" (Ephesians 1:10 KJV).
In the meantime, we are tasting of the fruits of heaven, and enjoying the powers of the world to come (Eph 1:3; Heb 6:5). This is, however, in a firstfruit sense, or as a pledge. It is not the fullness of the inheritance reserved for us. We are "waiting for hope of righteousness," even though we are enjoying a legitimate sample of it already (Gal 5:5).
I want to be ready to put on my house from Heaven too. I take this very seriously. Is there anything from your experience that you can add to this that might help me in this?
Simply put, it is to become oriented for the things reserved for us in heaven -- to develop and culture and appetite for them. This is what Jesus called laying up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:19-20). That appetite includes such things as a love for the truth (2 Thess 2:10), and the anticipation of a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Pet 3:13). It also includes cutting loose from the things of this world, and putting to death the deeds of the body -- that is, refusing to be dominated by its downward pull (Col 3:5).
You have these qualities. Like the rest of God's people, however, they have not yet been fully matured. Maintain the desires that you have for God, holiness, heaven, etc. Wage relentless war against any competing desires that tend to push those higher motivations into the background. In those efforts you will not be left to yourself. The Lord will strengthen you in those ambitions, for He is looking for such people, to reveal His strength in them (2 Chron 16:9). Wanting what God has for us is the secret to obtaining it.
A person dear to me accepted Christ two years ago. Only, now, this person seems to mock. Is this the sort of thing God is speaking of here? My intentions in sharing God's Word with this person were good. 1 Cor 3:15 says I will suffer loss if this person continues in unbelief. Correct? If I suffer loss, it seems to me that I would have done wrong. God would not reward me with a loss for doing good.
Jesus lost Judas (John 18:9). Paul lost Demas (2 Tim 4:10), and was afraid of the Galatians, lest he had bestowed labor upon them in vain (Gal 4:11). The point of the text in First Corinthians is not to bludgeon laborers with thoughts of who has defected from the faith. Rather, it is to urge us to labor with proper intentions and motivations -- to stabilize people in Christ Jesus, and prepare them to face the Lord. Thus the text admonishes, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed HOW he buildeth thereupon" (1 Corinthians 3:10 KJV). That is the point intended.
My next question is how to prepare and do right...really right. It seems to me that I want to share God's Word if it is possible but it also seems to me that this passage cautions me in this task.
That is precisely correct. It is not intended to diminish the amount of our labors, but to urge us to labor together with God (1 Cor 3:9), for noble reasons, and with proper expectations. Knowing in our hearts that we will suffer some kind of loss if our labors are without meaningful results will change HOW we labor. That is the point of the text.
Correct me if I am wrong, but this means I cannot spread God's Word as if it were grass seed. I need to be prepared and be ready to nurture. How do I know I am up to this task and approved by God to do it?
Remember, Jesus said the sowing of the Word was, in a sense, done indiscriminately -- like sowing on a path, rocky soil, thorny ground, and good soil (Matt 13:18-23). We are also reminded us to preach the Word in season and out of season (2 Tim 4:2). Paul sowed in the marketplace as well as the synagogue, and in the school of Tyrannus as well as the Temple (Acts 17:17; 19:9; 24:12-18). Wherever inappropriate responses were realized, Paul spent no further time with the people (Acts 13:46; 19:9). When favorable responses were realized, he lingered, teaching them more thoroughly the good things of God (Acts 10:31; 18:11; 19:9).
As to how we are able to distinguish appropriate and inappropriate times and people, there is no revealed procedure for such determinations. These are areas in which we must trust in the Lord, and wait for His direction. This will be accomplished by living close to Him, and remaining sensitive to Him. He will direct your endeavors just as surely as He did those of Philip, Paul, Timothy, etc. He will do so through your heart, not your head.
My son called me because he had gotten into an argument with his co-workers at the county fire station. They agreed with him that sodomy between men was wrong, but they insisted that a man sodomizing a woman was ok. I beg to differ. Is there scripture that backs this up? The way I understand scripture is that sodomy is wrong with anyone, male or female.
Sodomy, or sexual perversion, is wrong under any and all circumstances. On the other hand, in marriage "the bed is undefiled" (Heb 13:4). The Lord does not go into a lot of details on this matter. I am persuaded this is because explicit language and records have a way of awakening inordinate lusts.
We should be suspicious of any effort to legitimatize the fulfillment of base and unnatural lusts. Such attempts are not prompted by the Holy Spirit. Within, and only within, the context of marriage, each person must resolve questionable things, or matters concerning which God has not particularly spoken, with the Lord. Our overriding ambition must be to please Him, not our own appetites. I do not believe the men to whom you have referred to seeking to please the Lord.
Why were the 12 apostles told by Jesus to go and preach only to the people of Israel but not to the gentiles until after his resurrection? Thanks
Prior to His death, when Jesus sent out the twelve, He told them not to go into the way of the Gentiles (Matt 10:5). However, when he was preparing to go to Jerusalem to die, He sent messengers before Him into "a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him" (Luke 9:51). On that occasion, the Samaritans did not receive Him because they detected He was going to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52). Jesus Himself preached in Samaria following His encounter with the woman at the well (John 4:40-41). During His ministry, He also told His disciples that He had many sheep who were not part of the Jewish fold. Then, He said, He would bring together with believers in Israel, that there might be one fold and one shepherd (John 10:16).
The reason for restraining activity toward the Gentiles until after His resurrection was that a basis for this outreach had not yet been accomplished. That basis would be achieved in His death for the sins of "the world" (John 1:29). The same death opened the door for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Once sin had been put away (Heb 9:26), the disciples were told to go to "every creature" (Mark 16:16), make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19), to into the uttermost part of the world (Acts 1:8).
What percentage of people fell away in the first century?
We have no idea. If the messages Jesus sent to the seven churches of Asia are any indication (Revelation 2 and 3), it must have been considerable.
Is it right for Christians to serve in the military who could kill people?
Everyone in the military does not kill people. In fact, our government allows for those who have conscientious objections to killing -- even in a military situation. This is an area of conscience, in which the individual must be fully persuaded in their own mind. My personal conscience would not allow me to bear arms in the military.
God has not provided detailed instructions on this matter, and therefore one person cannot judge another in such decisions. It is, however, incumbent upon every person to ask the Lord for assistance to please Him in such decisions.
How do I stay in the presence of God?
By faith -- that is, by living in the awareness of Christ Jesus, what He has done in your behalf, and what He is doing now to ensure your safe arrival in glory.
God has made known the type of people to whom He is drawn, and for whom He looks. They include the poor and contrite of heart, who tremble at His word (Isa 66:2). He has said He dwells "with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isaiah 57:15 KJV). He is also nigh to them that are of a "broken heart" and "contrite spirit" (Psa 34:18). Jesus said the Father and Himself take up their abode in those who love Him and keep His words (John 14:23).
Those are just a few of the Lord's commitments. When you are among those so described, you are in His presence. Believe it.
In today's devotion (Jan 24) you mention that psychiatry is falsely called a "science" and that may very well be true. However, if you have never experienced chronic depression, and as being a man, never experienced life altering fluctuations in hormones -- perhaps you should steer clear of the subject.
I made no reference to chemical imbalance, or other physiological circumstances themselves. The context of my remarks was the attempt of men to excuse sin by appeals to these things. I said what I intended go say -- that psychiatry is a false science. By that I meant that it does not provide a sound basis for the assessment of human deficiencies.
As to the circumstances you described, one of my eleven children has lived with such an imbalance for thirty-five years. His is a most serious condition in which life-long limitations have been realized. I am more than casually aquatinted with it. In the condition we did not consult with a psychiatrist. We first prayed, and were then led to a Christian physician who assisted our son.
As you must know, it is God who made the body, and He does not intend for us to ignore Him in addressing any of its deficiencies. I do not suggest you have done so. I do suggest the subject is not as huge as you infer, and that satisfactory solutions can be obtained through faith and proper direction. Further, however significant the challenge, it has nothing whatsoever to do with sin and transgression -- which was my whole point. I can see from your correspondence that you know this, and are doing your best to live for Christ. I commend you for that.
I have a Christian co-worker who has been very supportive but when she found out I was baptized only as an infant she questioned if I was really saved. I do not feel God's direction in this, i.e., should I baptized again? Does the Bible say you can't be born again and saved if you haven't been baptized by full immersion as an adult?
First, I ask for your forgiveness for this belated reply. Your question was a critical one, and demanded an instant answer. I somehow had overlooked it in the mass of mail I have received.
Concerning the baptism of infants, there is no suggestion in the Word of God that this is in any way acceptable to God. Baptism is something that is accompanied by the one being baptized "believing." Thus Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16 NKJV). It is also accompanied by repentance. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 NKJV). When a man from Ethiopia asked Philip what was stopping him from being baptized, Philip said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:37-38 KJV).
Baptism is a burial, or a planting, as proclaimed in Romans 6:2-5. Baptism is outwardly "the form of the doctrine" (Rom 6:17) -- or an external depiction of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ -- which is the doctrine itself. Such a depiction cannot be seen in the sprinkling or pouring of water. It is the person who is baptized, not the water. However, it is water that is sprinkled or poured. Thus in baptism the person is baptized, or buried with Christ.
The Bible does not say you cannot be born again without being baptized. It does say you are baptized into Christ (Gal 3:37), and into His death (Rom 6:3). Peter said that baptism "saves us," declaring he was speaking about baptism in water (1 Pet 3:21). When it became evident that the household of Cornelius had been accepted by God, Peter "commanded" them to be baptized (Acts 10:48). He would do the same today.
The question is NOT whether you can be saved without being baptized. Rather, it is whether you can please God and fulfill all righteousness without being baptized. Jesus Himself -- an adult -- insisted that John the Baptist baptize Him, even though John was reluctant to do so. "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented" Matthew 3:15 NIV). That is reason enough for us to do the same -- particularly when Jesus commanded that disciples (not infants) be baptized (Matt 28:18-20).
You should be baptized as soon as possible. When you are, your questions will be answered satisfactorily, and your heart will confirm to you that you have done the right thing. Peter referred to baptism in water as "an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21 NASB). Make that appeal now, and see if God does not grant you a pure and refreshing conscience.
What does this mean: These messengers told Lot, we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it (Gen 19:13). Who was cryng and what were they crying? The people of Sodom did wickedly so how could it be that they cried to the Lord to destroy them?
The "crying" was not like a crying baby, or the cry of those who were being hurt or oppressed. The word "outcry" better describes what it meant. It was like a shout hurled at the face of God, in which they were declaring they would do their own will, even though they had been warned they were in the wrong. It was like crying "against" something of someone (1 Kings 13:2; Jonah 1:2).
Elsewhere, Scripture tells us that Lot was vexed every day with the foul manner of life that was being lived in Sodom (2 Pet 2:8). Those in Sodom also suggested he had been rebuking them, and they did not like it (Gen 19:9).
The people of Sodom were not crying out for God to destroy them. Rather, they cried against God, an outcry of insolence against His servant Lot. That wicked outcry moved God to destroy they. They were crying out in defense of their reprehensible conduct, for which no defense could really be offered.
How do we Christians sense when the Lord is speaking to us and what He is telling us...no matter if it's through His Word, or a person, or a difficult situation we're going through. I've been unemployed for 5 months now, and several times have broken out in tears to the LORD over my need for employment. Is He trying to tell me that I need to lay down in green pastures for now (Psalm 23)? Is He telling me that none of the places I've applied at are where He wants me employed at? Is He telling me that I'm having a lack of faith? Is He telling me that I need to have patience?
The Lord speaks to us through His Word, through His people, and through the circumstances of life -- all of them. He also speaks to us through our conscience, which can be tuned by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).
God speaking to us is one thing. Recognizing it is another matter, as you have found. This is where your personal faith and commitment to the Lord comes in. As you become more acquainted with Him, and fellowship more with Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9), you actually become more sensitive to Him. In this acquaintance and fellowship, God and Christ become dominant in your life. Even though you may endure great hardships, and things that tend to frustrate you and discourage you, you do not allow them to turn you from the driving desire to know the Lord. Paul expressed this kind of desire in Philippians 3:7-14. As the Lord to help you experience that text.
I am not able to tell you precisely what is to learned by your circumstances. Further, I do not believe that is where you should focus your attention, for it tends to make things more confusing, as you have already found out. Here is one of the principles of the Kingdom -- one which I have learned the hard way, but in an effective way. The main thing is to understand God, not what is happening to us. That is taught in Jeremiah 9:23-24, First John 5:20; and Philippians 3:10. When we develop a close fellowship with Him, THEN He directs our paths and shows us things that cannot otherwise be known. That is expressed in the Psalms, "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant" (Psa 25:14). It is also expressed in the Proverbs: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov 3:5-6).
I would suggest that your prayers focus on these things first. Ask the Lord to show you what these verses mean, and to actually help you to experience them. If they are difficult to believe, then ask the Lord to help you believe them -- He wants you to do so. When the father of an oppressed child came to Jesus for help, Jesus told him if he could believe, all things were possible. He responded, "I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
Take care not to be unduly hard on yourself. Satan will use such thoughts to beat you down with guilt and shame -- neither of which are necessary in your case. God is good, and He seeks for your good. Here is a promise you must do your best to appropriate. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jer 29:11).
Now, for some practical considerations. One of our sons had a brain tumor. The tumor was highly malignant, but God was gracious to him, and the cancer was removed. However, it left him with some disabilities. He must take medication regularly to avoid having repeated seizures. Due to the effects of surgery, and the medication he takes, he cannot learn some things as quickly as he would like. He is not retarded, but lives with conditions that make it difficult for him to obtain employment.
Here in Missouri, we found an organization that works with people like our son, helping them to obtain employment. The agency is run by the State. Those with handicaps of all sorts are assisted, including those injured in accidents, those wounded in the military, those with natural handicaps, disease, and so forth. This organization works with companies who have agreed to include such people among their employees. It is a wonderful service, and they have been able to find employment for Benjamin that he is able to handle well. They actually worked with him in a special facility for three weeks, accessing what he enjoyed doing, and was able to do.
There must be such an organization in Indiana also. I think it would be best for you to seek to work through such an organization rather than attempt to find employment on your own. In my judgment, God has provided such groups as a help, and there is every reason to take advantage of them. In our son's case, all of the assessment and training were provided at no cost to us.
WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE ASSEMBLY
However I noticed that in the assembly you have women leading prayers and singing. I am not so arrogant to believe that my understanding is correct but would that not violate 1 Cor 14 as well as 1 Tim 2. Please if you could would you explain what you understand these passages to be talking about.
I appreciate your inquiry, and understand where you are coming from. For many years I held to a view of the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians and the second chapter of First Timothy that forbade women to speak in the assembly. This was not my personal conclusion, for, candidly, I had never earnestly sought to have a godly perspective of those texts. My understanding was shaped by what my peers taught, even though I was quite unwilling at the time to admit this was the case. Obviously, I no longer see those texts as I once did. I am glad to share with you why I now see them differently.
1. First, neither of the texts are about women in general. Both are about wives. In First Corinthians, women seeking for understanding were not to interrupt the assembly, but ask their husbands at home (14:35). In First Timothy, the argument is based the relationship of Eve to Adam, not women to men in general. The reference to childbearing further confirms he is speaking about wives (2:13-15). Both texts are speaking of wives, and have to do with upstaging their husbands in the assembly. The First Corinthians text specially is speaking about the interruption of prophets, who are speaking one at a time (14:29-32). If, during one of them speaking, something was made known to another prophet, the first could hold his peace while the other spoke. However, as verse 34 affirms, women were not to interrupt them -- particularly with questions. The text in First Timothy is also in the context of learning, not general speaking: "Let the woman LEARN in silence with all subjection." These are not texts that spell out general assembly procedures for all women. In the assembly, the woman was to give due honor to her husband by not seeking to obtain an understanding independently of him, or seeking to upstage him. The primary context of this was interruptions and confusion, not merely speaking, particularly if it was "unto edifying."
2. Second, I know of no text of Scripture that affirms all women are subject to all men, particularly in the church. Women are only said to be subject to their "own husbands." These are not an assembly procedure bound upon all women. If it was, in fact, the will of God for all women to be forbidden to speak in the assembly, it would have been a consistent teaching in the Epistles of Paul, who wrote to Gentile churches. Nowhere are all women in the church told to subject themselves to all of the men in the church. The text in First Corinthians fourteen affirms that women are to "keep silence . . . as also saith the Law" (1 Cor 14:37). Where did the Law say all women were to conduct themselves in this manner in an assembly? From Adam through Moses, laws concerning women related to their husbands, not the general male populus. From the beginning, God said her "husband" would rule over her, not all men.
3. Third, among Gentile churches there were often those who were "leading women" in the community (Acts 17:4,12,50). Yet, there is not so much as a syllable in any of the Epistles that suggests such women could no longer be leaders or speakers. In fact, Paul refers to a number of leading Christian women in the sixteenth chapter of Romans. Priscilla and Aquila are described as Paul's "helpers," with Priscilla being mentioned first (16:3). Junia, together with her husband, were "of note among the Apostles" (16:7). Tryphena and Tryphosa are said to "labor much in the Lord" (16:12). Julia, wife of Philologus, and the sister of Nereus, together with Olympas, are mentioned as a group with whom others saints were associated. To say such language referred to the ministration of food, care, and the likes, cannot be justified. There were some who were noted for such ministries -- "Mary . . . bestowed much labor on us . . . Phebe . . . a succorer of many, and of myself also" (16:1,6). But that is not the manner in which he speaks of the women who labored with him, were of note among the Apostles, and labored much in the Lord.
4. Fourth, the very first thing Peter declared on the day of Pentecost included the public articulation of women. He further affirmed that this was foretold by the prophets, so that there should be no question or doubt about it. ". . . your sons and your daughters shall prophesy . . . and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). Peter announced this text was being fulfilled before the very eyes and ears of those before him. If this was so, "daughters" and "handmaids" were in some way articulating the Word of God. It is inconceivable that the day of salvation would be launched by activities that would be strictly forbidden from that time forward. I do not know how a person could support such a postulate.
5. Fifth, the very first person who declared the Gospel of a risen Christ was Mary Magdalene, to whom Jesus first appeared, and whom He sent to the Apostles to declare the good news (Mark 16:9-11; Lk 24:24). Further, when Jesus later appeared to His own disciples, he rebuked them for not believing the women He had sent to announce His resurrection (Mark 16:14). Additionally, when the child Jesus was dedicated in the Temple, the first person to publish the good news was the aged widow Anna. She went out and "spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38). I do not believe those who hold to the total silence of all women in the assemblies would have allowed such texts to be put in Scripture. The Holy Spirit, however, put them there.
6. Sixth, there were women in Corinth who prayed and prophesied in the assembly. Paul instructs them to do so in due honor of their husbands. He does not forbid them to pray or prophesy (1 Cor 11:5). He allows for them praying or prophesying if they are duly covered. He further declares that her "hair is given her for a covering" (11:15). They spoke with the Divine order in mind -- God, Christ, man, woman (1 Cor 11:3). Christ is subject to God, yet speaks. Man is subject to Christ, yet speaks. Women is subject to man, but cannot speak? Such reasoning is not sound.
7. Seventh, Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). It seems to me to be a stretch of ones imagination to say they were forbidden to prophesy in an assembly. I know of no Divinely given gift, or valid insight into the truth of God, that is forbidden to be spoken in the assembly. No such suggestion is made in the Word of God.
8. Eighth, even under the Law, priests and key men appointed by the king went to Huldah the prophetess to obtain understanding (2 Kings 22:14-20). The response of Josiah the king was that he gathered together "all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem," and earnestly sought the face of the Lord (2 Kings 23). God directed them through a woman, even though many men would never have chosen to do so.
9. Ninth, the solemn injunction to all assemblies is, "Let all thing be done unto edifying" (1 Cor 14:26). There is not the slightest hint in Scripture that a woman is inherently incapable of edifying the brethren, that God has withheld from them the right to edify, or that He has declared it unlawful for them to edify. Neither First Corinthians nor First Timothy are speaking about edification. Both are speaking of learning, not delivering things that edify. If, in fact, any person actually edifies the people of God, it is because they have been given power to do so, for that ability can come from God alone (2 Cor 13:8,10). The Thessalonians were commended for being able to comfort and edify one another. IS there any suggestion that this was a reference to men alone? If, therefore, there is any among us who are capable of edifying or building up the saints of God, men do well not to forbid them to do so. That, in my judgment, would be a sin of the greatest magnitude. If men choose to say edification cannot come from a woman, then they are faced with a gargantuan task. That postulate must be supported from Scripture, which will involve getting rid of Acts 2:17-18.
10. Tenth, the most compelling thing that changed my own mind on this was that God Himself did not honor the law I once embraced. He made provision for women to speak in the assembly through Joel's prophecy, and Paul's tutelage. Not only that, we do have an incident in Scripture of Jesus dealing with woman teacher. She was in the church at Thyatira, and was soundly rebuked for teaching Christ's servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Jesus did not rebuke the church for allowing her to teach, but suffering her to teach His servants to do the things He had forbidden. He does not command her to stop teaching, but even gives her "space to repent" -- not repent of teaching, but to "repent of her fornication." It was her doctrine, not the act of teaching, that was her transgression (Rev 2:20-24). That would have been an excellent time for our Lord to declare the sin of women speaking in the church -- but He did not.
Well, good brother, that is some of the reasoning that has led me to cease placing restraints upon sisters who can edify the brethren. Incidentally, the same requirement to speak unto edification applies to men. I cannot begin to tell you how many miserable words I have heard emit from men in the public assembly. Deplorable meditations at the table of the Lord, flawed and foolish sermons, class teaching that bore not one hint of edification, prayers that were foolish and childish, and on and on. In our assembly, to the best of our ability, we do not allow things to be said that do not edify. We also refuse to forbid words to be spoken that make for edification. We consider such a procedure to be a sin against God, for every spiritual ability is given "for the profit of all," or for the "common good" (1 Cor 12:7). If anyone chooses to affirm that God does not give things "for the profit of all" to women, they simply have chosen wrongly. There is no truth to such a supposition, and even a cursory knowledge of the Word of God will confirm this to be true.
May the Lord bless you as you think upon these things. The rule here is simply this: "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom 14:5). You must honor your own conscience, all the while avoiding any temptation to bind that conscience upon others (which is the whole point of Romans 14). God will help you in this matter, and I have ever confidence you will come to a conclusion that is satisfying to you and honoring to the Lord.
I am tired of the legalistic games played by many Church of Christ preachers, like flying all over the globe trying to win converts to the one container doctrine when other brethren have already been there converting them to Christ - why do our preachers feel the need to export our divisions - needless divisions that are rooted in a legalistic mindset. I just have sooo many questions, IF you have any expert advice and wisdom to impart to me - I am all ears.
First, I am not a member of the Church of Christ, although I have been more than casually acquainted with key members of their group for nearly 55 years. I have also been affiliated with the Restoration Movement for over fifty years.
You are correct in your assessment of the legalistic tendencies among these people. I also have been discontent with that condition for several decades, and have spoken and written about it. Actually, those who are dominated by this mindset have more in common with the Old Covenant than they do with the New Covenant. Your familiarity with them will confirm their near-total absence of any emphasis on love, grace, justification, glory, heaven, edification -- and above all, God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. Yet, these are the matters that are consistent thrusts of Scripture. Add to that the fruit that has been produced by erroneous emphases, and you have the reason for your discontentment with what is found among them. You have seen something of the glory of salvation and the marvelous grace of God, and that has caused the messages they declare, and the issues about which they haggle, to chaff against your spirit.
You owe no allegiance -- not in any measure -- to a movement that does not place the emphasis upon the Lord Jesus Christ, what He has done in our behalf, what He is doing in our behalf, and how He will gather us to Himself. You have honored God by turning away from any person or system that treats Jesus as secondary to their movement, position, or cause.
You must honor your heart and conscience. You owe it to yourself to withdraw from any influences that make it difficult for you to prepare to meet the Lord and hear His appointed assessment of yourself. God has provided you with all of the resources you need. Your personal faith can appropriate them, and they will come to you in the envelop of grace. They will satisfy your soul, glorify God, and honor Jesus. All of them will be expounded in Scripture, and opened to your by the Lord. These are the things for which Paul prayed for the church (Eph 1:17--20; 3:15-20; Col 1:9-11; Heb 13:20-21).
As you engage in the pursuit of what God has prepared for those who love Him, you will find there are many more precious souls doing the same thing. You will probably find as I have, that few of these people are found within the Restoration Movement. Some of them will be faulty in their understanding of things you have seen, but their love for the truth will enable them to receive what they probably have heard very little.
I suggest that you ask the Lord to help you see kindred spirits where you are. Fasten your attention upon them, and form a close association with them. You need the fellowship of those who are going to glory at any cost, and are not willing to beat the air in an attempt to prove they are the only Christians, or have a monopoly on the truth. Refuse to be sucked into controversies that are not actually found in God's Word.
I have been where you are, and know exactly how you feel. I am also here to assist you in any way possible. If you are close to Joplin Missouri -- or even far away -- you are welcome in our home. If you desire to know more about myself, my website will introduce you to myself and the things I delight to declare. http://wotruth.com
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