Archive for July, 2007

BM&W (pt 4)

E.  God gave the man the right to name the woman.  Genesis 2:23, Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”  The same Hebrew word is used throughout Gen 1-2, qara, meaning to call or to name.  After the fall Adam “called” his wife a personal name.  We read about this in Genesis 3:20, The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.  In Genesis, the one who names a thing or a person has the authority or power to name.  If you don’t believe me check out the following examples: Genesis 1:5, 8, 10; 2:19-20.  In our country the parents (not the government, not the elder board, not the in-laws, thankfully); have the authority to name their own children.  Genesis 4:25-26, And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.’  To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.  Genesis 5:3 records, When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.  In unique situations, God changed the names of persons (for an example check out Genesis 17:5, 15).  Dr. Grudem adds this helpful thought, “In every case the person who gives the name has authority over the person who receives the name.”

 

F.  Adam was given the distinct role of representing the human race.  Who sinned first according to Gen 3:6?  It was Eve. Yet who is ultimately held responsible for the fall of the human race? Adam was held responsible.  1 Corinthians 15:22 , For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:45-46 records,  Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;  the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. Paul shares some wonderful truth corresponding to this point in Romans 5:12-21, Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned –  13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.  15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  18 Therefore, as one trespass1 led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness2 leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Man had a unique position as leader and head.  Therefore God holds Adam responsible for the sin of all mankind.  God comes looking for Adam, not Eve, in Genesis 3:9.  But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  Being the “head” is a privilege that carries with it many unique responsibilities.  One day all men will give a special account to God by virtue of their role.  Adam was given the special role of representing the human race. By way of a footnote, the doctrine of federal representation is actually a very good reality because Jesus Christ came and did what we could never do.  Jesus Christ is called in Scripture our 2nd Adam.  In Adam, the world fell.  In Christ, the elect are saved.  Our righteousness is imputed to our accounts through faith in Christ.  The ground of our justification is not our faith but the perfect righteousness of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 5).  Let’s return now to the discussion at hand.

 

G.  God named the human race “Man” not “Woman”.  Genesis 5:1-2 notes, This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.  Genesis 5 records some of the events that happened before the fall.  The Hebrew word translated “Man” is adam.  The word man represents the Hebrew word adam in Gen 2:22, 23, 25; 3:8, 9, 12, and 20.  I would encourage you to check these verses out for yourself.  Dr. Grudem explains the significance of adam, “In the early chapters of Genesis, the connection with the man in distinction from the woman is a very clear pattern.  God gave the human race a name which, like the English word man, can either mean a male human being or can refer to the human race in general.”  Ray Ortlund Jr notes, “God’s naming of the race ‘man’ whispers male headship.”

 

Genesis 1-2 help us see the following observations:

A. God made Adam the central character. 

B. God created Adam first (the creative order). 

C. God formed the woman out of the man. 

D. God created the woman for the man. 

E.  God gave the man the right to name the woman. 

F.  Adam was given the unique role of representing the human race. 

G.  God named the human race “Man” not “Women”. 

Next time we will look at Genesis 3 and examine some of the consequences of the fall.  Don’t forget in all this the first key we observed from the first chapter of Genesis.  Men and women are equal in value, dignity, and personhood.  Different gender defined roles do not undermine that central truth.

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (pt 3)

#2 Men and Women have different roles as part of the creative order.

 

The 2nd part of that statement is absolutely essential.  God ordained specific male and female roles before the fall.  Some of these role differences are solely expressed in the context of marriage.  For example, women are not called to submit to all men universally.  Ephesians 5 does command women to submit to their husband’s headship though.  In other words, men and women have different roles in marriage as part of the creative order.  God created us equal yet different.  Equal in essence but with different gender-defined roles.

 

Biblical womanhood in the words of one female author is, “God’s perfect design for women as revealed in the Bible.”  Biblical manhood then is, “God’s perfect design for men as revealed in the Scriptures.”  This subject is applicable to everyone.  I appreciate the personal testimony of Carolyn Mahaney who wrote, “Although I have not received costly earthly treasures from my mom, she has given me a gift of priceless value, for she was faithful to pass on to me a legacy of biblical womanhood.  Through her teaching and her example she taught me to aspire to these qualities that commend the gospel.”  Men and women this should be our heart’s desire as well.  That we lived our Christian lives in accordance to God’s perfect design as men or as women.

 

This section of my blog is dedicated to answering the following question:  In what ways do we see Adam’s “headship” on display before the fall of man in Genesis 3?  Put another way, did God design Adam to be the leader of his household before the fall or did Adam usurp that role as a result of the fall?  I believe the evidence in Genesis 1-2 proves that God designed Adam to lovingly lead his wife before the fall (Wayne Grudem’s book was very helpful in summarizing these reasons.  I used his book a lot during this section).

 

A. God made Adam the central human character.  In Genesis 2 the actions and events revolve around Adam. I would encourage you to read the chapter for yourself and see if this is true.  Adam first receives revelation from God in v. 16.   The animals are brought before Adam to name in vv. 19-20.  The woman is made from the man (not vice versa) in v. 22. The woman is made for the man in v. 18 and in v. 22. With that said, “From the man, for the man is not a sexist statement.  Man is allowed to name the female (v. 23) and not vice versa.  We’ll examine some of these points more closely in a little bit.  In Genesis 1-3, Adam is clearly the central human character.

 

B. God created Adam first– (the order).  In your own Bibles follow the sequence in Gen. 2:7 and Gen. 2:18-23.  In the words of one scholar, “The creation priority is not an incidental fact.”  Scripture helps us to interpret Scripture.  Sometimes information in other passages of Scripture is clearer.  Paul, wrote some inspired words in 1 Timothy 2:12-15, I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.  We’ll come back to this passage of Scripture at another time but suffice to say Paul understood there was significance in the creative order of God.  The New Testament uses that fact to support the unique role of man as leader and primary teacher in the church (more to come on that passage). 

C. God formed the woman out of the man.  How did God create Adam? Genesis 2:7 says, then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.  How was the woman fashioned?  Genesis 2:21, So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The doctrine of headship and submission is actually rooted in the 2nd chapter of Genesis.  Again let’s quickly note a New Testament passage that provides a little commentary on this matter.  1 Corinthians 11:7-9,  For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.  8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

D. God created the woman for the man.  Verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 11 makes this point rather clearly.  God created man innocent and He created Him in the image of God.  Notice Genesis 2:18; Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”  Genesis 2:22 says, “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”  Before you get big headed over these verses men remember something very important. God is totally self-sufficient!  Adam was the man’s man of all men and he NEEDED something (better said someone) to complete him.  We are not self-sufficient.  That reality should humble us (we are not big shots) and it should encourage us (God provided man with an amazing and wonderful gift). 

The noun “helper” in Gen 2:18 is the Hebrew word ezer.  This word means support or aid.  This is not a belittling role!  After all, God is described as a help to his people (Psalm 54:4, 121), and the Holy Spirit is called our Helper in Jn. 14:16, 26.  Woman was to be man’s helper.  The Hebrew term for suitable to him (kenegdo) literally means “like him” or “corresponding to him.”  Eve was Adam’s counterpart not his inferior!  Sort of like R2D2 was C3PO’s counterpart in the movie Star Wars.  Anyways, Eve perfectly complemented Adam. Her differences helped to complete Adam.  Don’t forget now, our God-ordained roles do not in and of themselves determine our value and worth.  Much more will be said concerning this as well. (TO BE CONTINUED)

BM&W (pt 2)

How can we know what our God ordained roles and responsibilities ought to be?  Before we answer that we need to look at few key issues.

 

The 1st Key Issue that we need to get is: Men and Women are equal in Value, Dignity & Personhood.

 

That is an absolutely foundational statement.  I believe it is an important statement primarily because it accurately reflects the Word of God.  The first book of Moses and the first book of the Bible is Genesis.  Genesis 1:27-28 records, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.  Who was created in the image of God?  Was it just man?  No, it was man and woman.  What does it mean then to bear God’s image?  At the very least it means we humans are relational, we have a spirit (eternal soul), we experience emotions, we have a moral conscience, we know and can worship God. Mankind was created with a will, with a soul, and with an intellect.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we are different from all the other created things.  Men and women are unique and special in God’s sight.  Redemptive history proves this is so.  Did you know that in some ways humans represent God?  The fall, has of course, tainted many of the aspects mentioned above.  Because men and women are created in the image of God we believe we’re equal in value, dignity, and personhood.  The world would be a lot better place if people believed this.

 

So who did God bless in Genesis 1:28? He blessed both Adam and Eve and commissioned them to serve Him as co-regents of the garden.  Man was to have dominion over the other created things.  Technically speaking though it’s not a man’s world or a woman’s world, it is God’s world. 

Male dominance and male superiority is a direct result of sin (not part of God’s divine plan).  Some countries abort females as lesser creations (like in China).  According to one recent Fox News report, infanticide (and abortion) is responsible for 60 million girls missing in Asia alone.  Wanda Franz said, “Abortion is claimed to help women; obviously in these cases, females are the direct victims, because women in these cultures are not valued.”  Unbiblical thinking normally leads to unbiblical behavior.  Male dominance has lead to many unbiblical decisions such as men justifying rape or polygamy; husbands acting as little dictators; women being told they can’t go to school or vote because their an inferior gender.

 

The secular feminist movement is a result of sin as well.  Unbiblical reactions to unbiblical behavior is still sin in the eyes of our Creator.  The radical feminist movement has actually tried to abolish the family (as we know it) and has promoted among many things, lesbianism.  These women believe the institution of marriage holds women in bondage.  The evangelical feminist movement has tried to abolish any role differences between men and women in the home and in the church. We’ll talk more about this issue later on in our study.  As complementarians we must be careful that we do not counter-react to all this folly with additional folly (and thus overreact and possibly sin). 

One of the implications of Gen. 1:27 is that men and women are equally important & valuable to God.  Our God-designed differences never imply that men are superior to women (or vice versa).  We’re equals!  Galatians 3:28-29 says,  28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.  This verse is often misapplied but it does confirm our first Key: men and women are equal in value and dignity.  God choose to create both males and females.  He choose to redeem both men and women; He gives spiritual gifts to both men and women; He gives unique talents to both men and women; He loves both men and women.  The starting point is not to discuss all of our differences as men and women but to express our equality in the image of God (the same is true with race issues by the way).

 

One Para church organization provided a short explanation as to how this understanding should flesh itself out in our marriages: “In a marriage lived according to these truths, the love between husband and wife will show itself in listening to each other’s viewpoints, valuing each other’s gifts, wisdom and desires, honoring one another in public and in private, and always seeking to bring benefit, not harm, to one another.” Let us never forget that men and women are equal in value, dignity, and personhood.

 

This leads us into the 2nd Chapter of Genesis quite well.  One author has rightly commented, “We cannot understand the gender debate among Bible-believing Christians without grasping this chapter’s significance.” Gen 2:18-25 is the counterpart of Gen 1:27-28.  When one accurately interprets Genesis 2 a second key observation can be made:  #2 Men and Women have different roles as part of the creative order.  (to be continued)

The Hardest Sermon You Will Ever Preach

That’s a pretty bold title for a guy who’s only preached full-time for three years. But as I have reflected over the challenging sermons in those three years, no difficult text or exegetical conundrum has ever been as difficult as preaching a memorial service for a close family member. Put any family member in that slot, mother, father, brother, sister, wife, child.

In October of 2006 I got the call that my closest (in age) brother was admitted to the hospital with a brain tumor. After a successful surgery to remove it, we were sucker punched again to find out that this was simply a deposit of a much larger cancer that was in his liver, pancreas and bones. The diagnosis was, “Stage-4, terminal.”

At that moment our family was thrown onto the stage of suffering. To be sure, his immediate family has known exceedingly more pain than any of us have, but as a family, we’ve known joy and grief in ways that are honestly inexpressible. On one hand you are able to rejoice that your brother, who loves the Lord, is going home. It presses you to live and affirm your alien residency. At the same time, like Jesus with Lazarus, you are gripped with the overwhelming grief that sin permeates this world and its effects are real and relentless.

As the weeks unfolded after Tim’s diagnosis I had many excellent talks with my brother. We talked practically about God’s sovereignty in ways I never have before. Honestly friends, “Trust God” can ring hollow in the ears of a person whose entire life has just ground to a halt. All their dreams and aspirations for life with their family have just been cut tragically short. I did a lot of listening, weeping and mourning with him.

One night as I was driving home from his house (about 90 miles away) my wife asked me the question I hoped no one would ask, “Do you think they will ask you to do the funeral?” You see, I’ve done three funerals. Honestly, they are very difficult for me. I am VERY emotional and I’ve struggled to get through the service when it’s been a close friend. How could I possibly do my brother’s funeral? Our answer was a steadfast, “No!”

But in time, God worked in my heart to show me what I would be missing. Hundreds and hundreds of people would be there – my bother was a popular guy. Most of my extended family would be there. Many of his friends and business associates would be there, mourning the tragic events that shortened this father of four’s life to a mere 47 years. Questions would abound – Why him? Why so young? Maybe even, “Why would God allow this?”

After preaching through John I came to realize that God often uses the stage of suffering to make himself known to the unbelieving world. Jesus said it would happen and even prayed that God would do that in chapters 16 and 17. So as I prayerfully considered my significant failings at emotional services, I realized that this was too great an opportunity to pass up.

Who cares if I blubber my way through parts of it? Who cares if it’s the worst delivery I’ve ever given? What mattered most is that many in this crowd were hopelessly lost in their sin. I had the only answer to cure their hopelessness and I had a captive audience, gripped by the nearness of eternity. I had the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. How could I not tell them the good news? So, by God’s good grace, I took up the mantle and prepared my sermon for my brother’s memorial service.

What makes it the hardest sermon you’ll ever preach is the emotional tug of war that will go on within you. On one hand you’ll know that your brother is in glory, no pain, no cancer, no tears and sleepless nights of agony. You’ll smile and shout, “Hallelujah!” Yet on the other hand you’ll look at the faces of his wife and kids, your mom and dad, your brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and know that no Thanksgiving will ever be the same, no Christmas will ever be the same. There will always be one empty chair and you’ll miss his renditions of the favorite family stories. You’ll miss his laugh and smile so much. You know you’ll see him again soon, but for the moment, the vapor that is this life will seem like an eternity. In the midst of all of that, you’ll have to preach words of hope and comfort to lost and dying souls.

Next week I hope to share with you the process and product of God’s work in the service.

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (pt 1)

I have been taking our young marrieds/singles class through a series on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  Because things have been quiet around here i will post these notes here on E.T.

Besides the Word of God, I am going to be using many different resources.  Namely, Wayne Grudem’s “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”  Grudem’s “Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth.” Srauch’s “Equal-Yet-Different.”  Duncan’s “Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.” MacArthur’s “Different by Design” to name a few. Before we jump into this Bible study we need to ask an important WHY question.  WHY should we invest time on this particular subject?  Why spend one or two quarters going over biblical manhood and womanhood?  Here are a few answers right upfront (in no particular order):

#1. Because this subject is the source of much debate among the Christian community today. 

            An ongoing debate between Biblical complementarians & Evangelical feminists (egalitarians) continues to wage.  Let me briefly define those seminary level descriptions for you.  Complementarians teach that God created men and women as equals yet with different gender-defined roles.  In short they say, men and women are fully equal in personhood, dignity, and worth but that God designed men and women to function in different roles (which in no way negates the later statement).  Egalitarians teach that God created men and women as equals with no distinct role differences.  In short, they believe that true equality requires equal ministry opportunities for both sexes.  Egalitarians can also be referred to as evangelical feminists.  I will refer to them using both titles.

            Our church believes the Bible supports a complementarian view in regards to gender roles in the church and home. Much, much more will be said to support this position in the weeks to come.  All that to say, this is often a hot button topic of discussion in Christian schools, churches, seminaries, and even in some Christian homes.  I believe if you survey the Christian landscape you’ll agree this topic is both relevant and important.

            So why should we invest time on this particular subject?  #1. Because this subject is the source of much debate among the Christian community today and is an important issue for us to understand. 

#2. Because the Bible addresses this subject in a number of different passages.

            True Christians, in all places and in all times, have treasured the Bible because it truly is God’s Word.  As Christians we acknowledge the authority of God over our lives.  One of the ways we submit ourselves to Christ’s Lordship is by humbling ourselves before the Word of God.  God’s revealed will for our lives is preserved for us in One Book and in one Book alone (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible is a lamp onto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119).  God expects that we diligently search out the Scriptures and that we seek to understand and apply it to our own lives (Acts 17:11).  The Bible addresses this topic in both the Old and New Testaments so it’s important we study it and that we seek to apply it’s truths to our lives as well.  Some of the key passages include Genesis 1-3, Ephesians 5, Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 7, Galatians 3:28, and 1 Corinthians 14.

Which leads us to #3:  Because this teaching personally affects all of us in many different ways.  

            To make sense of this point, check out the Wayne Grudem’s attachment at the end of this handout. Much more will be said concerning this subject so please come this summer as often as you can.  If you review the chart you’ll see how this mindset affects one’s behavior in many different ways.  We probably won’t find ourselves on the extreme edges but we may uncover some aspects where we’ve drifted away from the Biblical center.

  #4. Because teaching on this subject is normally full of heat but often very short on light. 

            I will try my best to clearly distinguish for you what the Bible teaches and what my personal opinions are.  I will try and let you know what other people’s opinions are as well.  Let’s be straightforward on this:  Human opinions are normally take or leave it type things (E.G. How to best care for your lawn; Whether its wisest to buy a new car or to buy used cars; whether or not Pete Rose should be admitted into the Hall of Fame; Whether or not you should try and breast feed or use a baby formula; Whether or not one should vote for a Mormon politician, etc, etc).  Some opinions are helpful and wise while others are just opinions.  If we stay close to what the Scriptures teach concerning this topic we’ll be right on track.  

I think it’s important for all of us to:

(A) Know what the key passages of Scripture are regarding this topic.

(B) Understand what the passages say.

(C) Meditate on how that understanding should affect our lives.

(D) By God’s grace, seek to implement change in our lives.      

            After we finish this series you should be able to answer the following questions:  What are the biblical roles and responsibilities for both Christian men and Christian women?  Is it permissible to ordain a female pastor?  Can a woman teach or preach to other men? Other children? ladies? Why or why not?  Were the author’s of Scripture ever sexist?  Did Jesus contradict the prophets or the apostles in regards to this topic?  How can we avoid the unbiblical extremes that often dominate this discussion? What does Biblical manhood really entail?  What does Biblical womanhood mean?  Why does this subject matter so much to God?

    

Observations on “Pastoral” Preaching

In light of our last post on “common pitfalls” here are a few more observations (both negative and positive) on the intersection of pastoral ministry and our preaching:

  1. Preaching great sermons should not be a cover for poor shepherding (1 Peter 5).
  2. Beware of preaching that is not applied personally.
  3. Beware of preaching that is not applied publicly.
  4. Don’t make an idol out of a theological system especially if it prevents you from making specific conclusions about special issues in the text.
  5. Preaching that encourages pure doctrine to the exclusion of pure religion is sub-christian (James 1:27).
  6. Learn to preach in weakness, fear and in much trembling….the opposite is a kamikaze pride (1 Cor. 2:3).
  7. Show the congregation that your preaching is dependent on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
  8. Learn to embrace anything (e.g., “thorn”) that will keep you from exalting yourself (2 Cor. 12:5-7).
  9. Don’t hide behind terms like “missional” and “contextualization” in order to justify worldly desires and carnality (2 Cor. 1:12).

Common Pitfalls with Expository Preaching

Here are a few things we all struggle with at times. These are items to either avoid or amend in our expository preaching (in no particular order):

  1. Not taking enough time to observe the text of Scripture.
  2. Observing things that are not there or are not significant.
  3. Not checking and double-checking your observations.
  4. Rushing exegesis for the sake of exposition.
  5. Being slavishly dependent on commentaries.
  6. Preaching too long.
  7. Preaching too short.
  8. Missing the point(s) of a passage.
  9. Abusing the aorist tense .
  10. Losing site of the context.
  11. Having all heat (passion) and no light (content).
  12. Having all light and no heat.
  13. Flattening out a text for the sake of a theological system.
  14. Erecting a theological “mountain” in the place of a mere theological “hill.”
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