Our church does not teach that women should wear head-coverings. On the other hand, we teach that women should not teach the Scripture or exercise ministerial authority over men. The two passages where these teachings come from both mention Adam and Eve. So why we do teach the one and not the other? The answer lies in what one of the passages includes.
1st Timothy 2:12-14 says that women should not teach the Bible to men, or wield authority over them. This is because God created Adam first, and Eve sinned first. Of course, these reasons mean little-to-nothing to a liberal, since they don't believe in a special creation of the human race. But Christ was the Son of God, therefore His opinions about creation and the fall of humanity into sin were true.
The apostle Paul didn't teach these things because he was a misogynist; that's progressive slander. Paul was Christ's apostle, so what he wrote was divinely inspired, and as a result without error. Paul also didn't write it because there were some sort of unspoken cultural problems going on in the church at Ephesus (the city in which Timothy, the recipient of this letter, lived and worked). There is no evidence that Christian women in Ephesus were being especially outspoken, or pushy, or rude. There is no evidence that Paul was thinking about local problems at all. That idea is a fiction, invented by those whose goal is to justify women's ordination.
Paul doesn't forbid women from preaching, just from preaching to men. Gifted Christian women can preach, just not to men. He doesn't say they can't share the word of God anywhere. Priscilla, alongside her husband Aquila, shared about God's word to Apollos. Paul doesn't forbid women from having authority,. They can be elected mayor of the town, or own a business. But they cannot have final authority over the men of the local church. That burden is reserved to qualified men, as we read in 1st Timothy 3. Paul's definition of church authority at the end of chapter 2 runs right into his teaching about elders in chapter 3.
But then turn over to 1st Corinthians 11. Paul combines spiritual truths with cultural principles, and it is this which differs the two passages. Paul says that Christ is the head of every man, meaning every Christian man, and specifically Christian husbands over their Christian wives. (Christian men everywhere are not the heads of my wife). Paul did not mean that men were the source of women (taking the Greek word kephale as "source" rather than "overseer"), since God is not the source of Christ (11:3b) -- and anyone who says God is the source of Christ is a heretic.
First, we remember that there is no teaching of head-covering anywhere prior in Scripture. The Old Testament never teaches this, nor does Christ. Second, the only time the Christian woman needed to cover her head was if she was praying or prophesying in the worship meeting (11:5). If she was not praying or prophesying in the worship meeting, it's implied she didn't need to cover her head. So the application is situational.
Third, Paul says it's disgraceful for women to have short hair. But this idea is also not found anywhere else in Scripture, unless, perhaps, it connects generally to the Old Testament's reinforcing of God-ordained gender distinctives. There is no Biblical evidence that short hair on women was or is absolutely disgraceful to God. Historical evidence suggests that it said certain things to the Roman society of the time, that the woman was morally loose. No Christian woman should ever want to be thought of as morally loose; that would indeed be a disgrace to her.
Paul says angels are watching our conduct (11:10). But angels are timeless beings, and they always watch our conduct. The fact that they watch us doesn't reveal what is right, it means they are watching to see if apply God's Word to our lives no matter what century we live in.
But head-covering cannot be a timeless rule just because it was based on the order of creation, because Paul cites a second theological absolute -- that Christian men and women are inter-dependent in the Lord (11:11-12). This truth has just as much authority as the first truth. If citing a theological truth supposedly demands head-coverings forever, then Christian inter-dependency in the Lord would inversely require no head-coverings forever.
Fourth, Paul cites natural consensus, which is a real thing but not a spiritual authority (11:14-15). It's in the nature of things for people to (usually) admire a woman's long hair. But that is what is customary among human beings. It says nothing about God's will or a rule's timelessness.
I hope you can see how different is 1st Corinthians 11:2-16 from 1st Timothy 2:12-14. The addition of other reasons -- a cultural view of short haircuts among women, the principle of respectability, and natural consensus about female beauty -- defined how a Christian woman applied the timeless truth of Adam and Eve's creation at that time, especially in worship-service behavior. Hopefully you also see that Paul never taught that Christian women needed to wear a head-covering all the time, or even throughout the entire meeting. They only had to wear one if or when they audibly prayed or prophesied.
1st Timothy 2 only states the order of creation and fall, and references nothing about public opinion, standard customs, or conduct symbolized by apparel.
Whether a real Christian can fall away from the Lord is a very hot subject among Christians. One passage that we discuss is Hebrews 6. I can't speak to the whole question in just one short post, but I would like to comment on this passage, which I will break up into quotes below.
"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to [c]maturity,"
This introduces the writer's goal -- he wants his readers to press on to full spiritual maturity. This shows the writer's shepherd heart. A true shepherd wants Christians to grow and become mature in their faith. In chapter 5, he had criticized the readers for lagging behind in maturity. Their immaturity was shown in their desire for simplistic, basic Bible teaching, plus a lack of discernment about good and evil (see 5:11-14).
"not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment."
The writer (probably Paul and Barnabas, in my opinion) had already thoroughly taught the readers very basic Christian teachings. Like a seventh-grade teacher who doesn't want to go back over the ABCs again, the writer didn't want to lay those basic foundations of faith with this congregation all over again. He wants them to move forward in knowledge and insight.
3 "And this we will do, if God permits."
We who are pastors should never forget that all of our successes in serving other people come with God's help. As the apostle Paul says elsewhere, "Who is adequate for such a thing?" 2 Corinthians 3:5.
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Now, the writer speaks of a a special category of person. This is a person who has been once-for-all enlightened regarding the Gospel. This person has experienced the Holy Spirit. "Taste" means to experience; for example, Christ tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). They have experienced blessings from God's good word (see Psalm 119:103), and the powers of the age to come This latter fact could refer to the ministry of the twelve apostles, who had ministered to the people of this congregation according to 2:3-4.
The writer is describing a non-believer who has experienced the gracious blessings of God and His word, and has fully, clearly understood the Gospel.
6 and then have fallen away,
To "fall away" is used of different types of people. Jesus said that a false convert will always fall away when persecution comes (Matt. 13:20-21). Jesus' disciples also fell away from Him on the night of His betrayal (Matt. 26:31), but, unlike the stony-ground hearer, they all immediately repented and came back.
it is impossible to renew them again to repentance,
Everything the writer describes embodies the renewing , prevenient influence of the Spirit of God on an unbeliever. Where once he was blind, the Spirit made him see that Jesus is the Christ. He experienced the blessed power of the Spirit, drawing him to repentance. It is impossible for him to be renewed by God again to repentance. Saving repentance was the goal, but a goal he never reached. Why is it impossible?
[d]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
Because of the enormity of his sin against Jesus Christ. God shows abundant mercy to the spiritually ignorant, like Paul (1 Timothy 1:13). But when the spiritually-enlightened person still rejects Christ, it is as if they are siding with those who wickedly crucified Christ, which was the greatest sin of all history. It is as if they are driving the nails into His hands and feet all over again.
7 For ground that drinks the rain which often [e]falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close [f]to being cursed, and [g]it ends up being burned.
If an unbeliever responds back to the prevenient mercies of God with faith, which then by its very nature grows the good fruit of godliness, God blesses him or her. But if an unbeliever responds back to the prevenient mercies of God with full, conscious, willful unbelief and sin, he shows himself to be a worthless person (Matthew 25:30). God could curse that person on the spot, and in the end God will cast him into the lake off fire.
The Hebrews 6:4-6 person is a non-Christian who receives many renewing graces from God and then, fully enlightened, spits in Christ's face. This interpretation is further strengthened by the writer's following words, where he says he is convinced of better things of his readers, things that accompany being a saved person (6:9).
Verse 9 shows the group from verses 4-6 is a group different from the readers; and the reason the readers will not act that way is because they were saved people.
Antinomianism is a deadly spiritual disease.
The Evangelical Free Church was formed on the principle that the Gospel is bigger than certain doctrinal distinctives. This isn't an easy philosophy to navigate, since one man's secondary can be another man's essential.
On one end of the spectrum, you can have a statement of faith that is so brief, loose, and undefined that it harbors all kinds of liberalism. On the other end of the spectrum you can have a statement of faith that is so dense and filled with detail that it generates endless fighting. I've read both kinds.
One area that the EFCA agreed to set somewhat to the side was Calvinism/Arminianism. In our early days, eternal security became a hot issue. Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Seminary taught it strongly, but there were many in the EFCA who either weren't sure where they stood on it, or thought it was possible for a Christian to completely apostasize.
The EFCA national leaders decided to set that to the side. There are definite drop-off limits to this kind of tolerance -- to some Arminians, we insist that justification is by faith alone, not faith plus a lifetime of faithfulness and Gospel good works. To some Calvinists, we insist that election doesn't narrow God's love down to only the elect, or nullify the mandate for world evangelism.
It's also true that individual preachers, and congregations, will probably have convictions about Calvinism/Arminianism. Some will call themselves Calvinists, some will call themselves Arminians. Some will call themselves "Calminians", some remain undecided, and a few are uninterested by the whole thing. It's likely that entire EFCA congregations will have an over-all "drift" in certain directions (this will be true about a lot of different subjects, I bet).
There are loud people who will claim that Calvinists are all fatalists who don't think that choices make a difference, or that Arminians are all closet humanists who believe in self-salvation. In almost all cases, these are false, distorted cartoon versions of the truth. I have found that people who talk like this barely understand the other side's teachings, or are parroting what some preacher somewhere told them.
Biblically-knowledgeable Calvinists and Arminians agree on all the Christian foundations. James Arminius taught the unbelievers are spiritually dead, and that all positive movement toward God is excited by God's unmerited grace. On that subject, Arminius was far more Scriptural than some Christian people today who call themselves "Arminian."
John Calvin in his commentary taught that Christ propitiated the sins of the world without exception (he also taught particular atonement elsewhere in his writings, so I think he was self-contradictory, but nevertheless his comments on 1st John 2:2 are well-known). John MacArthur, a strong Calvinist, wrote a book a few years back about God's love for the world, a book which was aimed against hyper-Calvinism.
If we are solid on the fundamentals, and show each other grace, and pray for each other, we can model Christian unity.
This story came up in a recent class: a grieving someone was told at a funeral that their deceased loved one passed away because God willed it so. The cringe factor on this story is high. As Solomon once said, there is a proper time and season for everything. There is a time to have knotty doctrinal discussions about hard subjects, and there is a time to just give someone a hug.
But it's good for us Christians to understand what we're talking about when we say "the will of God." The Scripture uses that phrase in different ways. It's wise not to mash them up.
The Scripture speaks of God's commandments and promises as the "will" of God. For example, 1st Thessalonians 4:3 says, "This is the will of God, your sanctification." It is God's will that unbelievers come to Christ. Romans 12 lists a whole series of God's commandments about many matters. Theologians often call this God's "moral" will. They tell us what we should or could do.
Wisdom is a part of God's moral will. The Bible tells us to be wise (Proverbs 8:33). Biblical wisdom gives us more decision-making leeway. It's never okay to commit adultery. But choosing which college to attend, or what house to buy, or the best strategy to approach a difficult conversation, may allow more options.
We can make a list of pros and cons. There might be more than one acceptable choice. God promises to give us all the wisdom we need for these situations, in James 1:5.
God's "will" can also mean His preferences. Read Ezekiel 18. God's moral will was for Israel to repent. Otherwise God was going to inflict severe judgment on the nation. God draws no pleasure from the death of the wicked. We know from other passages (like the Parable of the Prodigal Son) that He draws great pleasure from repentance. Nevertheless, in spite of His preferences, He will pass judgment. Some theologians in past centuries called this God's will of "disposition."
Lastly, God's "will" can refer to His eternal plan. In Ephesians 1, Paul said that God works all things according to the "counsel of His will" (verse 11). Peter said that Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, did whatever God's hand and plan had predestined to take place (Acts 4:27-28).
Christ's death was no accident. Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Romans, and the unbelieving Israelites all played their parts. They did what they did out of their own reasoning. But God and His plan were in control. This is often called God's sovereign will.
The paradox here is that God includes human decisions in His eternal plan that, on the moral level, He condemns. God is morally against kidnapping. But He planned to use Joseph's kidnapping to save Jacob's family from famine (Genesis 50:20).
Or, in reverse, sometimes a person does the right thing, but God proceeds with His own plan. The priest Eli did the right thing to warn his wicked sons. But God hardened their already-rebelling hearts, because God had already decided to kill them (1 Samuel 2:1-25).
This is what I mean by being clear. The fact that God plans includes humanity's sins, and then He uses those sins in mysterious, paradoxical ways to bring about His secret plan, never means He causes or approves of sin.
There are at least two more errors to avoid. One is to say that God has nothing to do with bad things that happen. That's not true, God isn't a helpless by-stander in His own universe. The other error is to mix up God's moral, preferential, and eternal wills into one big lump.
A perfect example of this is the death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus got sick and died because God planned for it to happen. Christ could have healed Lazarus from a distance; He chose not to. Christ deliberately waited extra days, so that Lazarus would definitely be dead by the time He got back.
Christ did this, even though He knew the emotional suffering this would causes Mary and Martha. Christ then reminded Martha of His moral will (meaning, His promises of everlasting life to those who trust in Him). Then, in spite of His sovereignty and knowledge, Christ still wept. This showed the disposition of His heart.
Every dimension of God's "wills" -- God's all-powerful sovereignty following through on the plan, spiritual teachings that call for response, and Christ's heart-sentiment -- can be found in this story.
Thank the Lord we're only responsible to know and follow what God has told us in His word, and to live wisely! God will take care of the secret plan by Himself!
Pray for God to turn back the tide of corruption and perversion engulfing the West, and especially the United States. And don't be deceived in thinking it can't happen! Satan wants you to think:
1. That human free-will is so supreme and almighty that there's nothing God can do. This is a lie. God's arm is not short, and humans are not sovereign over anything. God cannot be hemmed-in by His own creations, and He doesn't paint Himself into corners.
2. That the end-times are upon us, so we just have to passively hunker down and wait out the apocalypse. This is false. 2 Thessalonians 2 says that the sign of the end-times is the Beast/man of sin seated in the re-built Holy Place, declaring himself to be God. Most specifically, the end-times begin after the Rapture, which obviously hasn't happened yet.
3. That America's hope rests in a Republican politician. You must be kidding me! Our hope is in the Lord, and in Him only. We shall trust not in kings.
4. That the sexual rebellion against God can't be stopped. God can stop anything. We aren't allowed to use any violence, but God can do whatever He likes. Read Habbakuk -- God smashed the corruption in Israel by physically killing His enemies. In other times in history, God eliminates His enemies through repentance and revival. God has unlimited methods at His command. Pray for God to turn enemies into friends, or to overthrow His enemies.
Christ wants us to know:
They didn't die. Only their body died. John 11:26. The soul of a Christian is infused with God's own life, when he or she trusts in Christ. The Christian soul is made immortal by the life and power of God, and as a result the Christian soul never experiences death.
The Lord takes them instantly to Heaven. They don't go to sleep, or purgatory, or limbo. We read this in 2 Corinthians 5:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
In other words, no one in Heaven is sad that they left us. Christ brought them safely home! They're joyful, and all they need to do is wait for us to catch up and join them.
God doesn't take the passing of any of His children lightly. Psalm 116:15: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Christ knows what it felt like to die. He doesn't treat us like a gruff drill-sergeant.
Christ's resurrection is our assurance of our Christian loved one's survival and glory: 1 Corinthians 15 -- 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
We grieve for any suffering they experienced in life, or suffering in the process of leaving us; but the Lord also assures us that all that suffering is swallowed up in the wink of an eye, as soon as they enter glory.
Romans 8:18 -- I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
No one in Heaven is sad, or brooding over the memory of sufferings of their earthly life. There, every tear is wiped from every eye. All memory of mortal suffering disappears, like one little drop of iodine disintegrates when dripped into the Pacific Ocean. Our short time of pain is engulfed by an eternity of future happiness.
So, we do not grieve in the same way that unbelievers grieve, that is, in despair and without hope. Christ's birth brought Him into this dying world, Good Friday took Him out, Easter brought Him back immortal, and that's how He gave us all hope.
I know many fellow Christians who have experienced the loss of loved ones -- loved ones who passed away without confessing faith in Jesus Christ. Christ clearly believed in heaven and hell, so this is a serious matter. The Bible consoles Christians when believing loved ones pass. But does it have anything to say when non-Christian loved ones pass on?
I would encourage Christians who lose a loved one with the fact that we usually don't know what happened between a person and God in the hours, or minutes, or even seconds, before life is done. I'm confident that Heaven has many people in it whom the Lord snatched like a stick out of the fire. The thief on the cross became a saved person in his last moments of life, and the same possibility exists for anyone. Luke 23:43. So, there is always hope of that having happened.
I think it's also important to believe in God's fairness. When Abraham was negotiating with God regarding Sodom's judgment, he said, "Far be it from You to kill the righteous along with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Abraham knew something about God that is very important. God will not treat any man or woman unfairly. Even though this truth is not like the rejoicing we experience over a soul saved, that confidence in God's integrity is important.
God also deals with people individually. He once said to Ezekiel, "Every soul is Mine" (Ezekiel 18:4). I think this is important because it's in my nature to think of someone as my mother, my father, my sister, or my friend. But to God, that person's most important relationship was to Him. God made them for Himself (Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:16). God, as God, has a special claim on that person which supersedes everyone else.
I think it also matters quite a bit that God finds no enjoyment in passing judgment on anyone. He said this clearly, forcefully, in Ezekiel 18:32. He showed it with tears in Luke 19:41. God is no monster. He judges because He's righteous. God is love, even in His role as Judge.
This truth strongly implies that God doesn't cause anyone to sin. For instance, God says forcefully about the Hebrews, "They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." (Jeremiah 32:35). The Hebrews' sins were entirely their own doing.
God didn't sovereignly, irresistibly cause them to sin, and then play-act that He was appalled. God's relationship to sin is that He ordains it (in the sense that it's part of His over-all plan) but He doesn't cause it (James 1:13-14). In other words, God didn't cause my non-Christian loved one to be unbelieving; God didn't cause my loved one to die in unbelief.
We can't force anyone to repent and believe in Christ, and the passing of a non-Christian loved one reminds us of that. We share in the apostle Paul's unhappiness over the stubbornness of blood kin (see Romans 9:1-3). The Lord wants us to do what we can in this life, even if that's limited to prayer, and then we trust that God, being God, will always do the right thing.
Advent Meditation from 1st Corinthians 13:
Love is patient – God took centuries to prepare the way for the Savior.
Love is kind – God took pity on all of us in our sins and sorrows.
Love is not possessive – Christ did not cling to heaven’s privileges.
Love does not brag – Christ never boasted.
Love isn’t arrogant – Christ came to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Love doesn’t act unbecomingly – Christ was born and lived without sin.
Love doesn’t seek its own – Christ sacrificed His glory for us.
Love isn’t provoked – In spite of all the ways the human race provoked God through the centuries, God sent His Son for us anyway.
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered – Christ forgave and accepted people from the groups who had killed Him.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth – God’s opposition to unrighteousness led Him to save us from it.
Dear Lord, You say You are love, and in Your Son’s birth we see Your love on full display. Your love, born as a man. Lord, we don’t deserve your love, and we can’t earn it, but we gladly receive it. Let this candle remind us of the love-light that You lit that amazing morning.
Here are five signs of a proud heart:
1. A proud Christian will seldom, if ever, admit to actual sin. He might talk about sin in the abstract, "sin" as a doctrine or a concept, but it's often deflected out onto the "world", as if evil is always external to himself. In extreme cases, he might hold to a doctrine of sinless perfection, or claim the sin-nature can be eradicated in this life. Some Christians talk too much about their sins, sometimes to a squirming degree of unwanted detail. But, to the proud person, admitting actual sin is humiliating. Proud people seldom, if ever, admit to needing daily forgiveness. Ecclesiastes 7:20.
2. A proud Christian seldom, if ever, admits to needing help. Self-reliance is taken to an extreme, sometimes a harmful extreme. Even though the Bible tells us to carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), which implies a degree of weakness in all of us, the proud man or woman won't accept help, or even admit needing it. This is because because admitting weakness is embarrassing. It reveals them to be less than what they want to believe about themselves, or want other people to believe about them.
3. A proud Christian wants to control, but at the same time habitually rejects authority. Like arrogant Diotrophes (e John 9-10), he is driven by a desire for the preeminence, but he also rebels whenever authority is applied to him. He wants accountability for others, but never wants it for himself. The proud Christian chafes against not being obeyed.
4. A proud Christian resents other Christians' gifts, positions, or accomplishments. Like Saul becoming jealous of David's victories (1 Samuel 18:8), the proud person sees other Christians' achievements as a personal slight. The other person's victories diminish them, in their own eyes. They feel threatened by people who are better than they are. The reverse of this was John the Baptist, who was content for Jesus Christ's fame to grow as his own fame diminished (John 3:30).
5. Using Saul is a pride-indicator, pride leads to a paranoid perspective. Saul's jealous resentment over David's victories immediately led Saul to convince himself that David was scheming after the throne. There was no evidence that David had that in mind. Saul was "projecting" what he would do were he in David's shoes. This can happen because the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9); the proud heart lies to itself first among all.