Category: Doctrines

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

2 Thessalonians 2 describes the revelation of “the man of sin,” who is believed to be the Antichrist. Paul tells us some of the things he will do, but he says that for now, his identity remains secret until the restrainer is taken out of the way.

But who or what is the restrainer mentioned by the apostle in verses 6 and 7 that is holding back the man of sin from being revealed?

Bible Verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

The Restrainer is the Spirit-Indwelt Church

The Identity of the Restrainer

We know that God is at work restraining evil in general. But the exact identity of the restrainer has baffled expositors with multiple solutions offered. Paul must have told the church at Thessalonica who the restrainer was. He says, “And now you know what is restraining…” (2 Thessalonians 2:6).

However, he does not tell us in this or any other of his letters. What he tells us is that the restrainer is at work until He is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7b).

So, who is this person, or what kind of entity is it that is restraining the appearance of the Antichrist?

Down through the centuries many candidates have been suggested:

  • The Roman Empire
  • The Jewish State
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The Preaching of the Gospel
  • Human Government
  • Satan
  • Elijah
  • An Unknown Heavenly Being
  • Michael the Archangel
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Church

Clues to the Identity of the Restrainer

Saint Augustine was transparent when he confessed not knowing who the restrainer is. But several clues can help us identify the “one who is holding back.”

First, the restrainer holds back the man of sin. Second, the restrainer is referred to with both neuter and masculine verbs (participles). The phrase “what is restraining” uses a neuter verb, suggesting a principle. The phrase “He who now restrains” uses a masculine verb, suggesting a person.

Third, whatever the restrainer is, he or it must be removable. Last, the restrainer must be powerful to hold back the outbreak of evil under the Antichrist.

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These four clues permit only one satisfactory identification for the restrainer – God Himself. In this case, it is God the Holy Spirit who is the restrainer. But that still leaves some loose ends. Why is the Holy Spirit referred to as both a principle and as a person – like a what and a who?

And how can the Holy Spirit, who is omnipresent, be removed from the earth? These are legitimate questions. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and cannot be removed from the earth.

Moreover, millions of people will be saved during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-14). The convicting, drawing, regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential for anyone to be saved both now and in the Tribulation. (See John 3:5; 16:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3.)

So, how can the Holy Spirit be the restrainer? The answer is that the Holy Spirit is at work during this age in and through the church.

The Spirit-Indwelt Church

There are four key reasons for identifying the restrainer to be the church indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

First, this restrainer requires omnipotent power. Second, this view adequately explains the change in gender – from neuter to masculine (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). In Greek the word pneuma (Spirit) is neuter. But the Holy Spirit is also consistently referred to by the masculine pronoun He, especially in John 14–16.

Third, Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as restraining sin and evil in the world (Genesis 6:3) and the heart of the believer (Galatians 5:16-17). Finally, the Holy Spirit uses the church and its proclamation and portrayal of the gospel as the primary instrument in this age to restrain evil.

We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are the temple of the Holy Spirit both individually and corporately (1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19; Ephesians 2:21-22).

The restrainer then is the work of the Holy Spirit through His people in this present age. Amazingly, our present age is described as the age of restraint. The presence of believers in the world exerts a powerful influence upon the wicked world.

Worship with the City Harvest Church with their song “Come Holy Spirit.”

The Removal of the Restrainer

The Rapture will change everything. When the rapture occurs, the Spirit-indwelt church and its restraining influence will be removed. That will release the world to sin as it never has before.

Christians who stand for civic righteousness and law and order will no longer be present exerting their influence. The church’s salt and light will be extracted from the earth. For a time at least, only unsaved people will hold government office. Satan will be able to put his plan into full swing by bringing his man onto center stage to take control of the world.

Evil will erupt and expand unchecked beyond anything known in the history of man. It will be like the removal of a huge dam. The world will be inundated with evil of unimaginable scope and severity.

However, the Holy Spirit’s return to heaven will not be a complete withdrawal from the earth, but a reverse Pentecost of sorts. His activity will be like it was in the Old Testament.

Donald Grey Barnhouse says this:

“During the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will still be here on earth, of course! How can you get rid of God? But He will not be indwelling believers as He does now. Rather, He will revert to His Old Testament ministry of coming upon special people.”

Conclusion

The Holy Spirit (that indwells the believers) is hindering, standing in the way, and restraining the powers of evil. Until He is taken out of the way, and immediately the man of sin (the lawless one) then shall be revealed.

As soon as the church is removed from this world, there will be no more restraining forces against evil. As a result, the man of sin will take over using the powers that will be given to him by Satan. The world will be plunged into darkness such as the world has never seen before, or will ever see again.

The forces of darkness are at work now. But the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church is keeping Satan from taking absolute control over all the earth.


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The End by Mark HitchcockReference: The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock.

The end times have seen a great amount of interest within the last two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and eschatology for more than five decades.

Mark Hitchcock’s book is that comprehensive resource for the twenty-first century The End will do for eschatology what Randy Alcorn’s Heaven did for people’s understanding of heaven.

It will provide a solid biblical foundation for Christians to explore the essential truths around this topic―the end of the world.

The Glorification of the Believers

The Glorification of the Believers

Resurrection Sunday is a day that Christians all around the world celebrate. Why? That’s because Jesus’ resurrection guarantees believers that they too will be resurrected. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20, 52; Acts 24:16).

This doctrine is known as the glorification of the believers (Romans 8:30). When Christ redeemed us, He did not just redeem our spirits (or souls)—he redeemed us as whole persons, and this includes the redemption of our bodies.

Therefore, the application of Christ’s work of redemption to us will not be complete until our bodies are entirely set free from the effects of the fall and brought to that state of perfection for which God created them.

However, the redemption of our bodies will only occur when Christ returns and raises our bodies from the dead. Paul says we eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

The Glorification of the Believers

Redemption of the Believer

The primary New Testament passage on glorification or the resurrection of the body is 1 Corinthians 15:22–23.

Paul discusses the nature of the resurrection body in some detail in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50. He then concludes by saying that not all Christians will die. Rather, some will remain alive when Christ returns and will have their bodies instantaneously changed into new, resurrection bodies. These bodies can never grow old or weak and can never die (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Paul further explains in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 that the souls of those who have died and gone to be with Christ will come back and be joined with their bodies on that day, for Christ will bring them with him.

Several other New Testament passages that affirm the reality of the doctrine of glorification include John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; Romans 8:11, and 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.

Resurrection in the Old Testament

Is there any evidence of hope in a future resurrection of the body in the Old Testament? Yes!

First, even before Jesus was raised from the dead, the New Testament indicates that many Jewish people living at the time of Christ had some hope of a future bodily resurrection (John 11:23-24; Acts 24:15).

Hebrews 11:10 tells us that “Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We also read that many Old Testament saints “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them …” (Hebrews 11:13–16).

The author even says that Abraham “concluded that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).

When we look at the actual teachings of the Old Testament itself, there are indications that Old Testament authors had a strong expectation of the resurrection to come in the future. See Job 19:25-26; Psalm 49:15; 73:24-25; Proverbs 23:13-14; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2.

The Believer’s Resurrection Body

If Christ will raise our bodies from the dead when He returns, and if our bodies will be like His resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 49; Philippians 3:21), then what will our resurrection bodies be like?

Imperishable

The fact that our new bodies will be “imperishable” means that they will not wear out or grow old or ever be subject to any kind of sickness or disease. They will be completely healthy and strong forever.

Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to “corruption,” it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever.


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There will be no evidence of disease or injury, for all will be made perfect. Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of His creation and the appropriate bearers of His likeness and image.

In these resurrection bodies, we will see humanity as God intended it to be.

Raised in Glory

Paul also says our bodies will be raised “in glory.”

When this term is contrasted with “dishonor,” as it is here, there is a suggestion of the beauty or the attractiveness of appearance that our bodies will have. They will no longer be “dishonorable” or unattractive but will look “glorious” in their beauty.

Moreover, because the word “glory” is so frequently used in Scripture of the bright shining radiance that surrounds the presence of God Himself, this term suggests that there will also be a kind of brightness or radiance surrounding our bodies.

That will be appropriate outward evidence of the position of exaltation and rule over all creation that God has given to us (Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3).

Some suggest that these statements might be understood metaphorically. But the hints of the age to come that were seen in the shining of the glory of God from the face of Moses (Exodus 34:35), and, in a much greater way, the bright light that shone from Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2), together with the fact that we will bear the image of Christ and be like Him (1 Corinthians 15:49), combine to suggest that there will be a visible brightness or radiance that surrounds us when we are in our resurrection bodies.

Raised in Power

Our bodies will also be raised “in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43), which is in contrast to the “weakness” which we see in our bodies now.

Our resurrection bodies will not only be free from disease and aging, but they will also be given fullness of strength and power. Here on earth, we find that the spirit sometimes is willing but the body is weak. Some devout believers cannot as much attend worship services because of bodily affliction. But in heaven, we will all have strong bodies.

We will have complete human power and strength – the strength that God intended human beings to have in their bodies when He created them. It will therefore be a strength that is sufficient to do all that we desire to do in conformity with the will of God.

Spiritual Body

Finally, Paul says that the body is raised a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).

We must make clear that the phrase “a spiritual body” does not so much as infer that the resurrection body will be composed of intangible substance.

Rather, it means that while on earth, we are occupied to a greater degree with the natural body. Our bodies are engaged chiefly with the activities and the environment of earth.

In our resurrection bodies, we will be occupied with all that pertains to God and godliness. In other words, the spiritual life of man prevails.

Redemption of the Believer's Body

Paul said, “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21, NIV). There was no question that he was truly God’s child by the transforming power of the Spirit. But the natural man was still very much alive in him.

Christians are hindered by the attitude of the natural toward the spiritual. In our resurrected bodies, the higher principles in us will predominate and the full tide of spiritual life will be in control.

The point is that we follow Jesus in His resurrection by sharing the same kind of body that he has, namely, a spiritual and heavenly one.

Conclusion

When Christ returns, He will give us new resurrection bodies to be like His resurrection body (1 John 3:2). 

Although the emphasis of Scripture is on the fact that believers will experience a bodily resurrection, some passages state that unbelievers will also be raised from the dead, but that they will face the final judgment at the time they are raised.

Jesus clearly teaches that “those who have done evil” will come forth “to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29). Paul also said that he believed “that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15; Matt. 25:31–46; Daniel 12:2).


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Getting Ready for the Return of Christ

Scriptures teach that one day Christ will return to earth. Yes, our Lord will come for the believers. But while we wait, what should we be doing?

We can never be sure when God’s purpose for His church will be completed. Nevertheless, we must remain obedient to our Lord’s commands regarding the church.

Jesus made this clear to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. When they asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel at that time, Jesus answered said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7).

In Jesus’ statement, two facts are clear: (1) the date has been set; and (2) we aren’t supposed to know it because we have a responsibility to fulfill in the meantime.

The Certainty of Christ’s Return

After Jesus affirmed His disciples of the future restoration of the nation of Israel, He gave them the Great Commission. He told His disciples they would be “empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Then, to their amazement, He ascended into heaven, leaving them gazing intently into the sky. Two men in white linen (probably angels) appeared and asked, “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

John 14:3 (NKJV)

All too often, Christians today are like the early disciples. We spend more time gazing into the sky and speculating about the Lord’s return than we do serving Him. The angels reminded the disciples that the Lord is sure to return. Thus, we should not waste time and energy worrying about when or whether Christ will return.

Instead, we must be confident that He is coming again on schedule, and get down to doing the Father’s business while we wait.

What Should We Be Doing?

Jesus has left instructions about what we are to do while we await His coming.

1. Witness for Christ Everywhere We Go

In the same way that our Lord told His disciples to be His witnesses everywhere they go, even to the farthest ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), we are also commanded to witness to everyone we come into contact with.

Every opportunity that God gives us, let us share the good news about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross with our family, relatives, friends, colleagues, and to everyone that we encounter along the way.

A video of a cab driver witnessing to his passengers went viral. As the two students sat comfortably behind him, he started sharing with them the love of God. He told them that only Jesus has the solution to all the problems and chaos that are going on around us.

Praise God for the life of this cab driver. May we be encouraged by his boldness and also start sharing the love of God with others.

Witnessing for Christ

2. Go into All the World and Preach the Gospel

This command in Mark 16:15 emphasizes the missionary nature of the church’s ministry during the present era. We are to take the gospel to the whole world.

This does not necessarily mean that we all have to become missionaries, go to the farthest or remotest places on earth, and pioneer a church. We can start right where we are.

It may not always be easy to share our faith with others because some people tend to be non-receptive and sometimes hostile towards the gospel. I heard some Christians say the best tool for evangelism is developing a relationship with the person we want to evangelize.

When people see that we truly care about them and we’re not just trying to convert them, eventually they will

3. Make Disciples of All Nations and Baptize Them

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said all believers are to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Making converts and discipling them in their walk with God is a major emphasis of the church’s mission. We don’t stop at getting people to repent of their sins and receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

New converts must be taught the whole counsel of God, how to live by God’s will, and to grow in their spiritual walk.

Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

4. Build the Church

Jesus told His disciples that He would build His church with such power that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

We usually act as though hell was attacking the church and we were trying to survive. But remember, you don’t attack with gates. Rather, you defend with them. Jesus portrayed the church as being on the offensive and hell on the defensive.

We build the church by using our God-given gifts and skills to serve God and our fellow believers in Jesus. The apostle Paul said this to the church in Ephesus:

“And He (Jesus) Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

5. Occupy till Jesus Comes

In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:13), Jesus said the servants were to put their master’s money to work until the master returned. Likewise, we are to stay busy with the Master’s business until He returns.

This means Christians need to keep working for the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we are to take care of our families, take our jobs and businesses seriously. But we must not let worldly cares and worries take our focus off what matters most – the Father’s business.

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6. Remain Faithful Until He Returns

Our Lord concluded His prophetic message in the Olivet Discourse by urging the disciples to continue in faithful and wise service even though He might be gone for a long time (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:14-21).

As I said earlier, we do not know the exact time of Christ’s return; we do not even know how long it will take before He comes. But we are to continue walking in obedience to God and be faithful stewards over what He has entrusted to us.

Let us not be like the servant who starts beating his fellow servants, ate and drank with the drunkards because he thought his master delayed his coming (Matthew 24:48-49).

Getting Ready for Christ’s Return

Our strongest encouragement to live right until Jesus comes is the hope of His second coming. The apostle John said, “Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

He then goes on to say, “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

The fact that we will face our Lord when He comes again is the ultimate incentive for us to live right.

How do we prepare to meet the Lord when He comes for His bride?

1. Know Jesus Personally

The whole purpose of our Lord’s coming was to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He came to pay the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven and released from the penalty of eternal death.

Jesus is called the Redeemer because He has freed us from God’s judgment against our sin. Peter said we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

2. Receive Jesus as Your Savior

We cannot earn salvation by our good works, nor is it something we deserve. It must be received as a gift from God. The Bible says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

The gospel – the good news – is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The invitation of the gospel calls us to personal faith in those facts.

The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

Final Words

Many things demand our attention in life. Many voices are calling to us and many images flash across the screens of our minds. But no matter what our focus in life, one thing is certain. All of us will face death at some point. We cannot avoid it.

There is no better time to settle the question of your eternal destiny than right now. The clock of human history is ticking away. It just keeps on ticking continually and relentlessly, moving us closer to the end of the age.

John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Would you let Him take away your sin? Bow your heart, soul, and mind before Him, and ask Him to save you right now.

Don’t gamble with your eternal destiny. Your time may well be running out. Make sure you are ready when Jesus comes, “for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).


Reference: Can We Still Believe in the Rapture by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

Can We Still Believe in the RaptureChristian Fiction … or Biblical Fact?

Today, the hope that all believers on earth will be “caught up” to heaven is being challenged in new waves of criticism. Is the rapture really taught in the Bible? Can we really expect Jesus to gather up His followers before the Antichrist is revealed?

In this well-reasoned and thorough defense, prophecy authors Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson examine the concept, context, and consequences of the important and long-expected event known as the rapture. Discover the answers to such questions as…

  • What is the rapture—and is there any historical precedent for it?
  • Why do some believers object to the idea of a rapture?
  • Does the timing of the rapture really make a difference?

As you explore what Scripture says about the end times, you’ll get a grander glimpse of your glorious future and the deepest hope of every follower of Jesus.

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

The Exclusivity and Sufficiency of Jesus Christ

One of the biggest objections against Christianity is its claim of exclusivity. Christianity asserts that it alone has the truth about God and salvation. In other words, it is the only true worldview. Christianity claims that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation and His sacrifice on the cross is sufficient to redeem man from eternal destruction.

But how could there be only one true religion? What about the billions of people in the world who are sincerely worshiping God the best way they know how? How could a good God send them to hell for not believing in someone they have never heard of?

Aren’t all religions the same? Some people believe that all religions may be superficially different but fundamentally the same. However, one of the greatest Christian apologists in the twenty-first century said it’s the opposite. He said all religions are fundamentally different and at best superficially the same.

In today’s post, I would like us to take a closer look at one of the most common Bible verses Christians use to defend their claim that salvation can be attained through Jesus and Jesus alone.

Bible Verse: John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

What is Jesus saying here? Whom is He saying these words to? First, we need to read the entire passage beginning from verses 1 to 6 of John chapter 14. It reads:

John 14:1-6

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Going back to chapter 13, we read the scene where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. That was before the feast of the Passover when He already knew that His hour had come to go back to the Father (John 13:1).

Jesus then revealed this to His disciples (John 13:33) which made them very sad. So, when we go to chapter 14, we read Jesus comforting them. He tells them to not lose heart because He’s not abandoning them. He is going back to the Father but promises to come back for them once everything in heaven is ready.

Jesus had been preparing His disciples to deal with this event (His leaving them and going back to the Father). Yet, they failed to grasp the reality that it was going to happen sooner than they expected.

Thomas then asks where Jesus was going and how they can know the way (John 14:5). To which Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Christianity’s Exclusivistic Claim

While people who hold to a different worldview criticize Christians for their claim, the truth of the matter is every religion makes an exclusivistic claim. Exclusivism is not only true of Christianity; it’s also true of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and every other religion. This is why there are no Buddhist Christians or Islamic Hindus.

What makes Christianity different from the rest of these religions? While all the other worldviews hold to a work-based salvation, in Christianity you are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). You are saved by placing your faith in something God has done, not something you can do.

No one can earn their way into heaven no matter how they try to live a good life. No one is good enough. Perhaps, using man’s standards, some would qualify. But based on the standards of God, no one will be able to meet the requirements. The bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

Jesus is the Way to the Father

Notice that Jesus said He is the way. He did not say, “a way,” which could mean “one in many.” Jesus specifically said He is the way, as in “the one and only.”

Here’s a video of Oprah Winfrey in one episode of her show wherein she denied that Jesus is the only way. Thankfully, someone in her audience boldly argued that what the Bible teaches is clear; that there is one way and only one way and that is through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to come to the Father?

1. To Obtain His Favor

To come to the Father is to obtain His favor. 

God’s favor generally refers to His acceptance and approval. Well, who does not want God’s approval? Who does not want to make the Father proud? If children do all they can to have their earthly father’s “thumbs up,” how much more do God’s children want to please Him? In short, it’s about what we can do.

But almost everywhere in the New Testament., the word favor is translated as grace. God’s favor is not necessarily material or financial. It’s simply the undeserved kindness of God. We do not have to do anything for God to bestow upon us His blessings

Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

2. To have Access to His Throne by Prayer

To come to the Father is to have access to His throne by prayer.

Jesus’ teaching for us to pray in His name is explicit in Scriptures such as John 14:13-14 and John 15:16. By teaching us to pray in His name, Jesus is claiming to be the mediator and reconciler between man and God. It is only through praying in Jesus’ name that believers can approach God.

Paul acknowledged this in 1 Timothy 2:5 when he said, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

Romans Catholics believe they can pray to Mary, making her a co-mediator and equal with Christ. But there is no biblical support for this. It is only through Jesus that we can approach God’s throne of grace.

3. To Enter His Kingdom

To come to the Father is to finally enter His Kingdom.

Where is the Father and where is His Kingdom? The Father is in heaven. We see this stated in Isaiah 66:1 and repeated in Acts 7:49. However, this does not mean that God’s access is limited.

God is transcendent; He is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Jesus’ understanding of Himself as to how we can approach God is exclusive. He said this in John 10:9 (NIV), “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”

No other options are open. If you want to gain access to the Father in heaven you must go through Jesus, not Mary, or anyone else.

Jesus’ audience clearly understood this. Peter clearly understood this that’s why he said in Acts 4:12 (NIV), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

No man can obtain any of these things except by the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. It meant coming in His name and depending on His merits.

All Roads Lead to Rome

There is an old saying that “All roads lead to Rome.”

This is often used as a way to understand different religions; that they each lead to God in their own way. Oprah Winfrey argued that people may not necessarily call it heaven. But at the end of the day, no matter which path we choose to take we will all end up in the same beautiful place.

That cannot be further from the truth. I would like to use a maze, as an illustration, to prove that there can only be one way to heaven. If you choose the wrong path, you will surely end up in a different place.

Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?

There are only two destinations for man after his life on earth: heaven or hell. There’s no such place as purgatory. When a person dies, his fate has been sealed and cannot be reversed. His final destination has been decided (Hebrew 9:27).

In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, heaven is a real place and so is hell. But do you know that most people who believe in literal heaven refuse to believe in a literal hell?

They say that hell is just a “concept;” that hell is the darkness inside of you. Again, that is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus talked a great deal about heaven but he talked three times more about hell than He did heaven.

Does God Send People to Hell?

If Jesus is the only way, what about those who have never heard of Jesus? Will God condemn them to hell for not believing in someone they have never heard of?

In one of Dr. Frank Turek’s apologetics lectures, somebody in the audience asked the same question. Dr. Turek said there’s something wrong with the question. People are not condemned to hell only on the occasion of not believing in Jesus; they are already condemned because of sin. (See John 3:17-18.)

We have to understand that we’re not going to hell because we do not believe in Jesus. It’s like asking, “Am I going to die because I did not go to the doctor?” No! You will die because you have a disease! So no, you will not go to hell for not believing in Jesus, you’re going to hell because you sinned (Romans 3:23).

Let’s get this crystal clear. God doesn’t send people to hell. Hell is not God’s choice for men, heaven is. Hell is the choice of men who want to reject God. When God created man, He created him with “free will.” We were not created to be robots!

So ultimately the choice we make for eternity is made by the submission of our will to our heavenly Father. God will not violate our will because it is a sacred gift that He gave to us.

Going to Hell is a Choice Quote

Jesus is the Truth

When Jesus said He is the truth, you must understand that He is not just referring to an idea. The TRUTH here is a person – the Lord Jesus Christ! (See John 8:32, 36.)

Jesus said He is the truth. So if Jesus is the truth, it doesn’t matter what other people think and believe because truth is truth whether we believe it or not.

Earlier, we asked the questions: How can Christianity be the only true religion? What about the billions of religious people around the world who are sincerely worshiping God in the best way they know how?

What makes faith valuable is its object, not its sincerity. If the object is false then sincerity is irrelevant. Should believers be sincere in their beliefs? Absolutely! But sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true.

If I believe that two plus two equals five, I’m dead wrong, no matter how sincerely I believe it.

People who hold a different worldview, such as the Muslims, acknowledge Jesus to be a morally good person; they believe in His virgin birth and that He performed miracles but they do not believe He is the Son of God and that He is God.

What one believes about Jesus is crucial. In Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20), Jesus asked His disciples the most important question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Why Christianity is True

Jesus is the Life

Christ is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal. Eternal life in heaven is made possible only through Christ.

Let’s take a look at these Bible verses:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Conclusion

If Jesus is not the exclusive way to salvation, but just one way, then why did He have to suffer and die? In fact, why did He live at all?

For what possible reason would God become incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, live a life of perfect obedience, service, and self-denial, suffer torture, and then executed in one of the most horrible ways imaginable if there were other avenues to God?

The truth of the matter is, no one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness can come to God the Father except through Jesus. We cannot save ourselves from eternal damnation in hell through our own efforts. We cannot attain eternal life no matter how much we try to live a moral life.

Salvation in Christianity

Is salvation exclusive to those who will put their faith in Jesus Christ? Absolutely! Is Jesus’ sacrificial death sufficient to redeem us? Absolutely! Jesus said, “It is finished!” He has conquered death and emerged victoriously and we too can have the victory in Christ. But have we surrendered our lives completely to Jesus?

Jesus doesn’t merely point the way, He is the Way. Jesus does not teach us truth, He is the Truth. Jesus does not represent one avenue to life, He is the Life. “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, NASB).


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel

The Case for Christ by Lee StrobelIs there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist Lee Strobel takes an investigative look at the evidence from the fields of science, philosophy, and history.

In this revised and updated bestseller, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis, asking hard-hitting questions – and building a captivating case for Christ’s divinity.

Strobel asks challenging questions like:

  • How reliable is the New Testament?
  • Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible?
  • Is Jesus who he said he was?
  • Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?
What About the Contradictions in the Bible?

What About the Contradictions in the Bible?

One of the common arguments against the inspiration of the Bible is the “supposed” contradictions. Many skeptics ask how Christian scholars and theologians can explain away these contradictions.

The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, thus, God is the one who is responsible for its content. Since this is the case, we need to address the matter of the so-called contradictions that are contained within its pages. If the Bible contains errors then it is inconsistent with the God it reveals.

How can the Bible, the written Word of God, disagree with itself?

The Law of Contradiction

What constitutes a contradiction? The law of non-contradiction, which is the basis of all logical thinking, states that a thing cannot be both A and non-A at the same time. In other words, it cannot be both raining and not raining at the same time.

If one can demonstrate a violation of this principle from Scripture, then and only then can he prove a contradiction. For example, if the Bible said (which it does not) that Jesus died by crucifixion both at Jerusalem and at Nazareth at the same time, this would be a provable error.

Contradictions in the Bible Explained
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Dealing with Alleged Contradictions

One of the things for which we appeal concerning possible contradictions is fairness. We should not minimize or exaggerate the problem, and we must always begin by giving the author the benefit of the doubt.

This is the rule in other literature, and we ask that it also be the rule here. We find so often that people want to employ a different set of rules when it comes to examining the Bible, and to this, we immediately object.

Contradiction vs. Difference

When facing possible contradictions, it is of the highest importance to remember that two statements may differ from each other without being contradictory. Some fail to make a distinction between contradiction and difference.

Let’s look at some of the commonly quoted Bible passages.

The Blind Men at Jericho

Matthew relates how two blind men met Jesus (Matthew 9:27-31), while both Mark and Luke mention only one (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43). However, neither of these statements denies the other, but rather they are complementary.

Supposed you were talking to the mayor of your city and the chief of police at city hall. Later, you see your friend Henry and tell him you talked to the mayor today. An hour later, you see your friend, Jake, and tell him you talked to both the mayor and the chief of police.

When your friends compare notes, there is seeming contradiction. But there is no contradiction. If you had told Henry that you talked only to the mayor, you would have contradicted that statement by what you told Jake.

The statements you made to Henry and Jake are different, but not contradictory. Likewise, many biblical statements fall into this category. Many think they find errors in passages that they have not correctly read.

The Healing of the Two Blind Men
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The Death of Sisera

In the book of Judges, we have the account of the death of Sisera. Judges 5:24-27 is supposed to represent Jael as having slain him with her hammer and tent peg while he was drinking milk. On the other hand, Judges 4:21-22 says she did it while he was asleep.

However, a closer reading of Judges 5:25-27 will reveal that it is not stated that he was drinking milk at the moment of impact. Thus, the discrepancy disappears.

The Angels at the Tomb

How many angels appeared to the women who came to the tomb of Jesus on Resurrection Sunday?

While Matthew and Mark mention only one (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8), Luke and John seem to mention two (Luke 24:1-7; John 20:1-2).

But notice that Matthew and Mark do not say there was only one angel. To have a contradiction, Matthew or Mark would have to say that there was only one angel, which they didn’t. Luke and John say there were two, but wherever there are two, there is always one. This simple truth must always be kept in mind.

The gospel authors may have made different statements as a result of them focusing on a particular issue. But there was no contradiction.

Inaccurate Translation

Sometimes two passages appear to be contradictory because the translation is not as accurate as it could be. Knowledge of the original languages of the Bible can immediately solve these difficulties. We must understand that both the Greek and Hebrew languages, like all languages, have peculiarities that make them difficult to render into English or any other language.

A classic example concerns the accounts of Paul’s conversion.

What Did Paul Hear?

Acts 9:7 (KJV) states, “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” Acts 22:9 (KJV) reads, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”

Bible Contradictions Explained
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These statements seem contradictory, with one saying that Paul’s companions heard a voice, while the other account says no voice was heard. However, a knowledge of Greek solves this difficulty.

As the Greek scholar W. F. Arndt explained:

The construction of the verb “to hear” (akouo) is not the same in both accounts. In Acts 9:7 it is used with the genitive, in Acts 22:9 with the accusative.

The construction with the genitive simply expresses that something is being heard, or that certain sounds reach the ear; nothing is indicated as to whether a person understands what he hears or not.

The construction with the accusative, however, describes a hearing which includes mental apprehension of the message spoken. From this, it becomes evident that the two passages are not contradictory.

Acts 22:9 does not deny that Paul’s associates heard certain sounds; it simply declares that they did not hear in such a way as to understand what was being said. Our English idiom in this case simply is not so expressive as the Greek.

Final Thoughts

We have looked at just a few examples of the seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible and how to deal with them. It must also be stressed that when a possible explanation is given to a Bible difficulty, it is unreasonable to state that the passage contains a demonstrable error.

Some difficulties in Scripture result from our inadequate knowledge about the circumstances and do not necessarily involve and error. These only prove that we are ignorant of the background.

While all Bible difficulties and discrepancies have not yet been cleared up, it is our firm conviction that as more knowledge is gained of the Bible’s past, these problems will fade away.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Reference: Josh McDowell Answers Five Tough Questions

Recommended Resource: The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe

The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas HoweThis comprehensive volume offers readers clear and concise answers to every major Bible difficulty from Genesis to Revelation, staunchly defending the authority and inspiration of Scripture.

Written in a problem/solution format, the book covers over 800 questions that critics and doubters raise about the Bible. Three extensive indices-topical, Scripture, and unorthodox doctrines-offer quick and easy access to specific areas of interest.

Multipurpose in scope and user-friendly in format, “The Big Book of Bible Difficulties” offers the resources of five books in one:

  • a critical commentary on the whole Bible
  • an apologetics text
  • a Bible difficulties reference
  • a theology manual treating important doctrines
  • a handbook on verses misused by cults
What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 2)

In part one of this article on the role of women in the church, it was made quite clear that God’s original design for mankind, both male and female, when he created them was to “co-rule” the earth and have dominion over everything in it.

We also examined the role of women in both the Old and New Testaments and how God equally used them in significant ways. I do believe that the most important means of God’s validation on the role of women was when He used them, instead of Jesus’ male disciples, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection.

As we conclude this topic, I would like us to look into the passages that most Christians today use to defend the view that women should never take leadership roles in the church; that women should not be allowed to teach and preach in churches.

Rather, women should “keep silent” in obedience to what the word of God clearly instructs.

Problematic Passages 

As mentioned earlier, Jesus gave His Spirit and gifts to men and women equally on the Day of Pentecost – in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Yet there are some scriptures in the New Testament about women in the Church that can seem confusing.

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”

Should Women Teach in the Church

How could Paul write such a thing? Does he seem to contradict himself at other places in Scripture, when he instructs women how to speak, pray, and prophecy in the church?

In one verse Paul seems to be saying women are to be silent in the churches. Then in another verse (1 Corinthians 11:5), he instructs how they are to pray and prophesy in the churches. In one verse, he commands women to keep silent. In the other, he tells them how to pray and prophesy.

Are women never to speak in church, or are they to pray and prophesy? Which did Paul mean? Let us examine this more closely.

Paul’s Intent in Writing

First, we must consider why Paul was writing to the Corinthian church.

On his second missionary journey in about A.D. 50-51, Paul had established a church there and he kept in touch with them after he left (Acts 18:1-8; 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 12:14).

After some time, he received some disturbing reports about moral and spiritual problems among the believers in Corinth. They were struggling with such things as divisions, spiritual immaturity, the role of men and women, immorality, and the improper use of spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us why Paul wrote this letter: “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

There were confusion and disorder in the church in Corinth. So, Paul wrote to encourage the believers as to what was appropriate behavior for Christians. He wrote to teach them about order in the church. Again, Paul’s number-one concern in writing to the Corinthians was order in the church.

Order in the Church

In chapter 11, Paul is addressing the problem of Corinthian social customs. A woman who appeared in public with her head uncovered was considered to be immoral, even a temple prostitute (1 Corinthians 11:5).

In that culture, a woman with her head properly covered meant she was either married and in proper submission to her “head” (her husband), or single, and in proper submission to her family. A man’s head uncovered showed that his covering was the Lord.

Both represented a proper spirit of submission in places of public worship. So, Paul has no problem with women praying or prophesying, as he is telling them how it is to be done appropriately in 1 Corinthians 11. The issue is that it be done in order, with a heartfelt submission to those in authority.

The Role of Women in the Church

It is important to realize that in Jewish tradition women had not been allowed to take part in a religious ceremony. They were forbidden to speak in the synagogues. Women were not even allowed in the court of worship in the Jewish temple.

When these women come to Christ, they are thrilled and excited about their forgiveness and about being restored as “co-heirs.” It may take time for them to adjust to their new freedom. It also may take time for them to learn appropriate behavior in public worship services.

Women’s New Found Liberty

In contrast to the old Jewish system where women had always been kept in the outer court, Christian women during Paul’s day were allowed to come inside the churches. For the first time, women could see and hear everything that went on.

The women might not have understood everything that was happening, yet they were overjoyed to be part of the ceremony and worship. They might have been tempted to ask questions or even discussed what was taking place among themselves right during the meeting.

The women may not have yet learned the proper order for church involvement. As a result, they may have been blurting out whatever they thought or felt. Perhaps they were arguing with the men over what they were hearing from the pulpit, and in so doing they were challenging their husband’s authority and shaming them in public.

Perhaps the women wanted to teach the men ideas which they felt had been revealed to them, without an appropriate time of learning and testing.

Are Women to be Silent?

Before we examine 1 Corinthians 14:35-36, we must look at the entire passages surrounding them.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes to the church in Corinth to address the order of ministry in the meetings. Notice that all were speaking in tongue in the church (1 Corinthians 14:23) and Paul says that all may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:24). Again, “every one of you” means “all.”

Then Paul says for the fourth time, “For you can all prophesy…” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

Nothing could be clearer than Paul saying all (men and women) are to participate in the ministry gifts during church service. Paul discourages the confusion of everyone trying to speak or prophesy at once. But he still encourages every person to participate.

But while writing that all should participate in the ministry, Paul suddenly says, “Let your women keep silent in churches … for it is shameful for women to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

Word Study on the Passage

Three words in the passage need to be studied to understand what Paul was teaching the Corinthians. These three words are: women, speak and says.

The word women in 1 Corinthians 4:34-35 is the Greek word gune, which can mean a wife (not just any female). Given the context, Paul’s instruction is probably directed to wives.

The Greek word used for speak is laleo, which means to talk. This word can imply an extended conversation. Says comes from the Greek word lego, which means to lay forth (an idea or doctrine) in words usually of systematic or set discourse (“ … as the law also says”).

“Lego” (says) involved the teaching or preaching of something the speaker had prepared and carefully thought about. This type of “speaking” was encouraged.

On the other hand, “laleo” (speak) was a talking that interrupted the speaker or was not spoken at the right time; this was discouraged. It could be calling out questions or discussing the weather. The point was that it was not an appropriate type of speaking out in a church meeting.

So, if the passage was expanded to include the true meanings of the words in the original Greek language in which the Scriptures were first written, it might read something like this:

“Let the wives not interrupt (laleo) the meetings of the church with extended talking: for it is not permitted for them to interrupt or to call out to others with their questions; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also it is taught in the doctrine.

And if they desire to learn about anything, let them wait and ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for them to have conversations during the church service.”

Should Women be Pastors

Interpreting the Passage

Paul was not telling women they could never pray, prophesy, or otherwise minister in the church. He had just been teaching them all (men and women) how to minister in orderliness just a few verses before. Paul was teaching the women, and the men, that there needed to be order in the church.

You will notice he also told the men to be silent at times as well (1 Corinthians 14:28, 30). He instructed them all when it was appropriate to speak in tongues, prophesy, and otherwise minister in the church.

He also told them to listen with silence when the Word of God was being taught. Paul was concerned for the witness and testimony of the Corinthian church in their community. He desired that they learn to walk in the Spirit and properly exercise the gifts God had given them.

The Corinthians could be loud and unruly. They even got drunk in their observance of the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-26). This behavior certainly did not bring glory to God, or speak well of their newfound Christian faith.

These problems of lack of manners, civility, common courtesy, and appropriate behavior were the issues in Paul’s writings. He was not trying to keep women from participating in an orderly fashion in the church. Paul’s concern was for ORDER in the church, that all things be done decently and non-offensively (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Should Women Teach in the Church?

Another portion of Scripture that is often used by some to not allow women to teach in the church is 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

It is important to note that Paul wrote this section of Scripture as a letter to young Timothy, who was in charge of the church in Ephesus. He was helping Timothy deal with problems of doctrinal error, qualifications for leadership, and improper behavior by those in the church.

Timothy faced challenges in Ephesus much like those Paul addressed in Corinth. There were thousands of religious prostitutes at the shrine of Diana in Ephesus. They were taught that fornication linked people with the gods, and immorality was encouraged.

Most women were not educated or trained in those days and knew nothing about God. It was considered virtuous for a woman to be ignorant (which is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches in Proverbs 31).

So Paul is writing to Timothy to help him correctly lead and provide order for the new Christians, both men, and women, at the church in Ephesus.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Women in the Church, A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo.

Women in the Church by Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir KjesboStudies of key biblical passages on women’s roles in the church fill entire bookshelves, if not libraries. But in Women in the Church, Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo offer the first in-depth theological study of this issue–one of the most bitterly contested issues of our day.

Carefully considering the biblical, historical and practical concerns surrounding women and the ordained ministry, this book will enlighten people on all sides of the issue. But Grenz and Kjesbo make no secret of their bold conclusion: “Historical, biblical and theological considerations converge not only in allowing but also in insisting, that women serve as full partners with men.”

Thorough and irenic, Women in the Church bids to take an intense discussion to a new plane.

Giving Instruction to Women

Notice the kind of issues Paul addresses first in 1 Timothy 2:9-10.

Paul finds it necessary to give instructions about very simple matters, such as how a godly woman should dress, act and wear her hair. He emphasizes modesty, no worldly display, and that her true attractiveness is her character. He reminds her to not be loud and out of order. (See 1 Peter 3:1-6.)

The women of Ephesus had very little understanding of even the most basic godly priorities and values. They needed much instruction on proper behavior in the church and their personal lives. The clothes, jewelry, and behavior of a temple prostitute were not acceptable in the church.

Paul then goes on to tell Timothy, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission” (1 Timothy 2:11).

Let Women Learn in Silence

It is important to look carefully at the first part of the verse again. “Let a woman learn…” Paul is telling Timothy that it is important to let, or allow, a woman to learn! Remember, in this culture, it was not normally acceptable for women to learn or be taught anything. They were incorrectly told that ignorance was virtuous for a woman.

But Paul writes to say that the women “need to learn,” especially about the things of the Lord. But how is it best to learn? In silence (quietly) and with all submission.

When you want to learn something, you must be willing to sit quietly. You must accept and learn from the person teaching; you must not argue, but submit and listen. So, it is important to “let the women learn.” But we must encourage the women, just like the men, to sit quietly and listen to the teacher while they are learning.

The women of Ephesus had much to learn about God, about living a godly life, and about functioning as part of the church body. How better to learn than quietly receiving what the teacher or pastor is saying.

God’s Order in Leadership

We have seen in his letter to Timothy that Paul was reminding women they may be tempted to step out of their place in God’s order. They may even desire to take over the man’s place of God-ordained rulership.

But what did Paul mean when he said, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” (1 Timothy 2:12)? Didn’t Paul, in Titus 2:3-4 (KJV)), tell older women to “teach” the younger women? Yes, he did.

And didn’t Priscilla – with Aquila – teach Apollos, the “eloquent man” who was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24, 26)? Yes, she did. But in 2 Timothy 2:2 we read: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Does Paul mean only men should learn and teach others?

Should Women Allowed to be Church Leaders

Word Study on 2 Timothy 2:2

The Greek word for men in 2 Timothy 2:2 is anthropos, which means mankind – both men and women. So Paul is instructing Timothy to teach the men and women, and then encourage them to teach others also.

So when Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach…” what is it he was telling Timothy? The word teach is the key to understanding this problem verse. The original Greek word used for “teach” is didaskaleo, which means “to instruct or teach doctrine.”

Women were not authorized to establish the doctrinal standards, as apostolic teachers. That was a function handled by the apostolic councils (see Acts 15). “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The apostolic councils set the doctrinal standards, and the women who ministered were to respect those standards and not teach to the contrary. This rule was not just for women, but for men as well. We read this in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, “… Hymenaeus and Philetus … who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”

These two men departed from the apostles’ doctrine and were condemned.

Interpreting the Passage

Given all of the above understanding, an expanded translation of 1Timothy 2:11-12 using the original Greek meanings would read something like this:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach doctrine contrary to that established by the apostles, or to try and take the authoritative office of apostolic teacher, or to try and rule over a man; but to remain undisturbed, and learn in stillness.”

Paul’s exhortation, then, is consistent with his other words regarding ministry and order in the church. It is also consistent with the rest of Scripture, which does remind women (and men) that they are to be yielded and submitted to God’s order for relationships and the Church.

The ideas and opinions formed in human reason, and the deceptions of false religions, are not what ministry in the Church is based upon. Ministry in the Church is based solely upon the whole counsel of God through His Word.

Pure ministry flows out of a willingness of both men and women to submit and yield themselves and their ideas to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, His Word, and His ways.

Should Women be Church Leaders?

Whatever conclusions one reaches about the role of women in the church, consider these final points of review:

First, the Old Testament contains many accounts of anointed women leading, ministering, prophesying, and praying in the Name of the Lord. Second, the New Testament also gives us many examples of women taking the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to those around them. It tells us of women who ministered through teaching, prophecy, prayer, and evangelism.

Women of the New Testament were considered Christians of equal standing to men: believers, followers of Christ, witnesses for Him, messengers of the resurrection, and soul-winners for Jesus’ sake.

Third, Jesus our Lord fully accepted and showed loving kindness to both men and women. They were both associated with His life and ministry. He spoke to them, forgave them, healed them, and encouraged them in doing works even greater than His own (John 14:12-14).

Concluding Words

Women were certainly allowed and encouraged) to educate, proclaim truth, and exhort (prophesy). (For biblical review, see Acts 2:17; 18:26; 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; Philippians 4:3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14,15; and Titus 2:3-5.)

It is clear that the idea of women just sitting in church services and not participating or serving the Lord is NOT found anywhere in Scripture. Women should share in the ministry of soul-winning, prayer, prophecy, worship, and miracles. They should fully function in all the gifts and callings the Lord freely gives to those who are His.

Christ lives in any person who receives His gift of salvation through His cross and resurrection. He fills them with His Holy Spirit; He serves through them; He speaks through them; He loves and ministers through them.


Read part 1 of this article here >>> The Role of Women in the Church 

Note: This is an excerpt taken from the book “Women in Ministry” by Shepherd Staff.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.


What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

What is the Role of Women in the Church? (Part 1)

There are various opinions about women in ministry. Some say women should never take leadership roles while others say they are allowed to do so. But it is vitally important to examine what the Bible actually says.

What is the role of women in the church? Should women be church leaders? Are women allowed to pastor a church? How do we interpret passages that say women should be silent in the church?

God’s Original Design

There are passages in the New Testament that might create questions and confusion regarding the place of women in the body of Christ. But before addressing those crucial issues, we must first understand God’s original design for man and woman.

In the creation story, it was clear that God created both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). God created them to “co-rule” over creation (Genesis 1:28), meaning, they had equal authority and position. Man and woman were charged to carry out God’s ultimate rule and authority.

But when mankind (male and female) fell as a result of their sin and rebellion, they lost the privilege of rulership and lost their intimate fellowship with God (Genesis 3:14-24). Although Eve was not directly cursed, she was part of God’s general curse. She was told that “her desire should be for her husband and he shall rule over her” (Genesis 3:16).

Garden of Eden
Photo Credits: TrumpetCall.Org

Some believe that because the man was to “rule over” woman, God would only speak to or through a man from that time on. But Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” The word company is the Hebrew word tsaba which can be either masculine or feminine gender, thus, representing men, women, or both.

The verse is then rightly translated, “The Lord gave the word; great was the mass of men and/or women organized for warfare that proclaimed it.”

Another important verse is Joel 2:28-29, which Peter repeated in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Women in the Old Testament

God desires to use both men and women to declare His wondrous works. Now, let us look at some examples of God speaking to and through women in the Old Testament.

Miriam

We first read of Miriam in Exodus 2:1-10 when Pharaoh commanded that all newborn Israelite males are to be killed. In Micah 6:4, she is mentioned along with her brothers Moses and Aaron as one of the three that led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and into deliverance.

This shows us the very important role of authority and influence given to the woman Miriam, by God. After the army of Pharaoh drowned in the waters of the Red Sea and the Israelites were safely in the desert, a great worship celebration took place.

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea’” (Exodus 15:20-21)!

Miriam’s prophetic anointing and musical gift made her an effective praise leader and prophetess. Like David some 500 years later, she sang the song of the Spirit with boldness.

Deborah

“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:4-5).

Deborah held three important positions: wife, prophetess, and judge or ruler.

Through prophetic insight, the prophetess Deborah called for the Israelite General, Barak, to go out with only ten thousand men against the Canaanites. It is believed the Canaanites, led by General Sisera, had almost 100,000 men and 900 chariots of iron!

Deborah courageously accompanied General Barak into battle. With God’s power, the much-outnumbered Israelites defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4:6-24). Under Deborah’s leadership, the children of Israel were delivered from 20 years of oppression from this alien army. And she knew the source of victory was the Lord God!

Deborah was wise and courageous. She was mightily used by God in the dramatic deliverance of Israel from oppressors. And the people of Israel enjoyed 40 years of peace following her rule.

Why, then, does much of the Church today prevent this biblical kind of leadership from being released through women?

Esther

Though Queen Esther did not have a specific title of “ministry,” she was instrumental in saving the entire Jewish nation.

She was steadfastly committed to living out godly principles. She was wise in her influence on her husband. This allowed God to use her for His purpose and glory (read more about it in Esther 2-10).

Women in the New Testament

In ancient Israel, women were considered to be members of the “family of faith.” Men, as head of the family, presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family (Leviticus 1:2), but the wife could also be present.

Women attended the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:14), the yearly Feast of the Lord (Judges 21:19-21), and the Festival of the New Moon (2 Kings 4:23). Women could enter into most of the areas of worship.

But by the time of Christ, the view of women had changed. Jewish women were no longer active in Temple or synagogue worship. They were often put into inferior and subservient roles. But this was not something God said to do; rather this was human works.

Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a good and godly woman. She was a person of incredible faith in God. How else could she have responded in such a beautiful song of praise and trust after such a bewildering announcement (Luke 1:26-55)?

Mary truly did fulfill a ministry calling of the highest order, that of motherhood. What an incredible privilege God has given women in allowing them to bring forth life!

Moreover, the prophecy of Jesus’ coming (Genesis 3:15) and victory over Satan was enhanced by the fact that God would allow a woman, Mary, to be the vessel through which He gave to us a Savior!


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Anna

After seven years of marriage, Anna’s husband died and she dedicated the remainder of her life serving in the Temple (Luke 2:36-37).

Anna had an important part in Jesus’ birth and dedication. God used her to confirm that Jesus truly was the expected Messiah-Deliverer for which Israel had waited.

Anna’s anointed ministry during her later years of life gives hope and promise to older women. God will always minister through sensitive, obedient and available vessels, regardless of age. The potential is great for those who are more mature to influence and shape future generations.

The Women at the Tomb

On that morning of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary Magdalene was at the tomb with Simon Peter and John. There were at least the three of them at the tomb. The two men went into the tomb to see if Jesus was truly gone, as Mary Magdalene had said. When they saw He was gone, the discouraged men went home (John 20:5-10).

We don’t know why, but for some reason, the resurrected Christ didn’t appear to the two men while they were at the tomb. Jesus waited, and appeared to Mary Magdalene later as she wept outside the tomb (John 20:11-14).

Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene. He gave her the very important job of proclaiming His resurrection (John 20:15-18). A woman was the first one told to preach the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead. This charge proclaimed her equally worthy to give out the New Testament message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

If Jesus gave the awesome job of preaching the first message of the Gospel to a woman, what then should our response be to women whom God has called to preach that same Gospel today?

Women at the Upper Room

Women were among those who had assembled for prayer to receive the promised power spoken of in Scripture (Acts 1:8). As that group of men and women prayed, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

There was to be no question that all (both men and women) were empowered to do the work of ministry and evangelism. The power was NOT just for those in special positions of spiritual authority, but for ALL flesh!

Phoebe

In the church at Cenchrea, there was a woman Paul calls “a servant of the church” and “a helper of many” (Romans 16:1-2).

Some Bible versions translate the word “servant” (diakoneo) used in this verse as deaconess. Others use the word minister since this same Greek word is used in different places in Scripture as minister.

The historian Eusebius says that Phoebe oversaw two churches and traveled extensively in ministry. Many scholars believe it was Phoebe who carried the written book of Romans to the congregation in Rome.

Note: Though most of the spiritual leaders mentioned in the Bible are men, there are also many examples of anointed, consecrated, chosen women of God in both the Old and New Testaments. These women were never denied leadership roles or the right to function in a God-given gift or calling.

It is indeed a mystery why the place of women in ministry is a problem in so much of the Body of Christ.

What did Jesus Think of Women?

At a time when ministry teams that combined men and women were not allowed by the religious leaders, Jesus welcomed several women into His team of traveling ministries (Luke 8:1-3).

Also in Luke 8:43-48, we read of an outcast, unclean woman. She is poor, weak, and afraid. Yet Jesus responded to her faith, spoke to her as His daughter, and healed her!

Jesus encouraged Martha and Mary to sit at His feet and be discipled (Luke 10:38- 42). He considered them among His close friends (John 11:5).

What did Jesus Think of Women

Jesus’ respect and concern for women was something strikingly new. His attitude was very different from the other men’s attitudes of His time. His view of women was especially different from the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, and Sadducees.

Through Christ’s redemptive work, all of the partitions have been broken down. Every believer, regardless of race, sex, or other distinction, now has equal access to God (Ephesians 2:14). In Jesus, all divisions have been smashed between Jew and Gentile, between men and women, and between priests and laymen (Revelation 1:6).

We are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28), hallelujah!


Continue to part 2 here >>> The Role of women in the Church

What is the Biblical Definition of Love?

What is the Biblical Definition of Love?

One of the exciting parts of high school life is filling out slum books and answering questions such as “What is love?” It was quite interesting to read different answers.

But if you are looking for the best definition and illustration of love, you may want to open your Bible to John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The Love of God

We see in this text a perfect example of a “cause and effect” relationship, wherein one event causes another to happen. It is a combination of action and reaction.

A cause is something that produces an event; an effect is what results from the event. In this case, the cause is God’s love and the effect is Him sending His only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world.

God created man out of love and it is also out of love that God chose to save man from eternal condemnation. You see, there was no need for God to create man; God did not need man.

The Biblical Definition of Love

This is exactly why Hillsong’s “What a Beautiful Name” isn’t theologically sound. There is a phrase that says, “You did not want heaven without us, so Jesus, You brought heaven down.” This is a complete fallacy and has no biblical standing at all.

The Triune God is complete within Himself. In the community of the Trinity, there is a perfect love relationship, unity, and fellowship. So, why did God create man? It’s because God is love.

God created man to be the object of His love, the apple of His eyes, and the joy of His heart.

Love: God’s Motivation

In the story of creation, we read that before God created man, He prepared everything first. God made sure that the environment was comfortable and convenient for man and the only thing left for man to do was to take care of the rest of God’s creation (Genesis 2:8-15).

God planted Adam in the beautiful Garden of Eden and gave him full dominion over everything else. And when God saw that Adam needed a “suitable partner,” He immediately put him into a deep sleep, took out one of his ribs, and created a woman out of it (Genesis 2:21-23).

Again, God did this out of love. Adam didn’t have to ask. God determined that man needed a “suitable partner” and immediately took action (Genesis 2:18).

But after everything that God did for man, what did man do? He willfully and deliberately disobeyed God. Yet, because God is love, merciful, and gracious, He still chose to forgive man.

We know the rest of the story. Man got caught up in this cycle of rebellion and repentance. And throughout history, we see God’s love for His people manifested over and over and over again.

God was in no way morally obligated to save man (human beings, male and female). But He did it out of love. We must understand that God is not full of love; He is love.

Love is God’s character; it’s one of the things that make Him God. God’s love motivated Him to give His Son for the world.

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Mutual Love Between the Father and the Son

For us to understand the depths of God’s love for us and the world, we must first realize how much the Father loves the Son.

John repeatedly emphasizes the mutual love between the Father and the Son in several passages (John 3:35; John 10:17; John 14:312; John 17:24), revealing an intimate relationship; an affection expressed in self-giving sacrifice. To save the world He so loved; God was willing to endure the pain of losing His Son.

Parents, can you bear to see your only child getting punished for somebody else’s fault? Let alone see your child suffer and die knowing that he/ she hasn’t done anything wrong?

Can you punish your only child for his schoolmates’ sin? I don’t think so! It is the instinct of parents to protect their children at all costs.

Years ago, a story broke about a mother who was willing to go to prison for her son’s crime. Accordingly, a young man accidentally killed their neighbor after a heated argument. He went home and told his mother what had happened. When the police got to the crime scene, they found the mother with the murder weapon.

If our earthly parents will do everything for their children, how much more our heavenly Father. Imagine the pain that the Father experienced at the sight of the suffering and death of His Son that He, the Father Himself, inflicted.

At the cross on Calvary, God poured out His wrath upon His Son (the cup). God watched as Jesus suffered and died to satisfy God’s justice. We must never forget that God is love but He is also just.

For Whom Did Jesus Die?

Going back to our text, we see that the object of God’s love is the “world.” But who or what embodies the “world?” There are different interpretations from Bible teachers, scholars, and denominations. Some argue that God’s special love is only for Israel. Others say it’s for the church and still, others believe it is for the elect.

But several passages tell us that Jesus sacrificed Himself for everyone. He shed His blood not just for some special groups of people but for all as we read in passages such as 1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 3:9 and Galatians 3:28.

However, let us be careful not to get sucked into the assumption that because God gave His Son for the world then everyone is automatically saved. This just means that salvation became available to anyone.

If we read John 3:17, God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to condemn; the world was already in a state of condemnation as a result of man’s sin.

The great news is, God provided the gift of salvation for all and it’s free. All we have to do is choose to either receive or reject it. One must believe and continues to believe in the Son of God to avail of the gift of eternal life.

The Wholeness of God

The Father Gave His Begotten Son

I cannot overemphasize the biblical truth that God’s love caused Him to sacrifice His only begotten Son. But let us look more closely at what the term “begotten Son” means and what is its significance.

If you are reading from a modern Bible translation such as the NIV, NASB, ESV, etc., the phrase used is “one and only Son,” which was especially appropriate for a particularly beloved child, normally, an only child.

Interestingly, this same phrase was used to highlight Abraham’s obedience to God when asked to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering unto the Lord on the altar he was asked to build at Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:15-16). But before Abraham could slay his son, the Angel of the Lord stopped him and provided a ram instead.

The story of Abraham and Isaac was a foreshadowing of what was to take place at Calvary many years later. God provided a ram for Moses to sacrifice in the place of Isaac but He provided His only Son as an atoning sacrifice for all (1 John 2:2).

People say “I love you,” all the time but oftentimes they don’t mean it. Actions speak louder than words, right? Well, God did not stop at the words, “I love you.” He demonstrated His love by sending His only Son to suffer and die for us. And He did it while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8).

This is the biblical definition of love – sacrifice.

The Justice of God

I would like to pick up where I left off on the justice of God because this is where many Christians struggle and sometimes stumble.

We understand pretty well the phrase, “God is love.” We all agree that God loves us so much; He loves us unconditionally and He sacrificed His only begotten Son to save us from destruction out of His great love.

But when we read that Jesus had to suffer and die to satisfy God’s justice, we can’t seem to comprehend why. Most people think that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ were inflicted upon Him by Satan.

Of course not! Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? To appease God’s wrath and satisfy God’s justice. What do you mean?

God is Just

Let me say it again, God is love but He is also just. There was no way God would just sit back and let the sinner go unpunished. Man sinned and he needed to pay. Sins have consequences.

It’s like when you commit a crime, you have to pay the penalty. You go on trial and when convicted you’ll be sentenced according to the heinousness of your crime.

The punishment for man’s sin (rebellion against God) is eternal condemnation, i.e., death or separation from God (Romans 6:23). But because God is love, He wasn’t going to let man be condemned forever. So, He came up with a solution – He sent His Son to pay the penalty instead.

The Father Crushed His Son

Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Lord to crush Him…” Crushed who? His Son! How did the Father crush the Son? By pouring out the fullness of His wrath upon Jesus.

What was Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? For the Father to take the “cup” away from Him (Mark 14:36). But what’s in the cup? The wrath of God. When the cup was poured out on Jesus, He took upon Himself the sins of the world and the punishment from God. And when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) the penalty was paid in full.

The Bible tells us that during those three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, there was darkness all over the land (Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44-46), which tells us how horrible Jesus’ death was that God had to conceal it from the people.

Conclusion

Are you still in search of true love? Look no further. Come to Christ in repentance and receive His gift of eternal life. God sacrificed His one and only Son so that you and I could enjoy eternal life with Him.

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

But just like any other lover, God desires for us to love Him back. And if you truly love the Lord, you are to love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You are also to love others as yourself (Mark 12:28-31).

These two are better known as God’s Greatest Commandments.


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When Christians Backslide

When Christians Backslide

Do you know someone who used to be a strong Christian but for some reason has ultimately abandoned the faith? When Christians backslide, people can’t help but wonder if they are still saved or are forever lost. What future awaits those who came into the saving knowledge of Christ but in the end chose to go their own separate way?

In this post, we will have a Bible study on backsliding. What does it mean to be a backslidden Christian? What are the causes and results of backsliding?

Biblical Definitions of Backsliding

Before going any further, it is important that we first discuss what backsliding really is. What does it mean to say that one is a backslidden Christian?

The Cambridge dictionary defines backsliding as “going back to doing something bad when you have been doing something good, especially to stop working hard or to fail to do something that you had agreed to do.” 

But what does the Bible say?

1. Backsliding is turning away from God.

We read in 1 Kings 11:9-10 that “the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded.”

As we can see in this particular text, backsliding starts with the heart setting its focus on someone or something else other than God. It could be fame, wealth, power, and whatever it is that the world has to offer. The person who is on the verge of backsliding may not even be aware or could be in denial until it’s too late. 

This is a reminder for us to not only guard our hearts (Proverbs 24:3) but also to rend it and make it subject to the Word of God. Why? It’s because our heart is deceitful and could lead us astray (Jeremiah 17:9).

Guard your hearts

2. Backsliding is growing cold and leaving your first love.

Revelation 2:4 says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

In Jesus’ letter to the church in Ephesus through the apostle John, He specifically rebuked them for not loving Him and each other with the same intensity that they used to. Their love has become lukewarm and God said He does not want lukewarm Christians.

If you find yourself growing cold in your love for God, that should immediately raise a red flag. One of the signs that Jesus mentioned when His disciples asked Him about the signs of His coming is that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). 

Are you still zealous for God and His kingdom? Do you still find joy laboring in God’s vineyard the same way you did when you first came into the saving knowledge of Christ? The apostle Paul exhorts us to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11, NIV).

3. Backsliding is turning away from the simplicity of the Gospel to salvation by law.

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

Most of us may not be aware that one of the signs that someone is backslidden is when they start questioning the sufficiency of the finished works of Christ and argue that good works are necessary for salvation. But we are warned that teaching work-based salvation is contrary to the gospel that Paul and the apostles preached. 

When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30),  it meant that God’s justice has been satisfied and His wrath appeased. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and He paid it in full. We do good works and try our best to live in accordance with the will of God as evidence that we are truly saved; not to add to what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross at Calvary.

4. Backsliding is separation from the Lord because of sin or iniquity.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

When you find yourself committing the same sin over and over again, that is an indication that you are no longer listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Either your heart has become callous or you are choosing to willfully and deliberately disobey God’s word. 

Causes of Backsliding

Although there are several outward causes of backsliding such as covetousness and love for the world, and the things that are in the world, we will focus on the true reasons why Christians choose to turn away from the Lord go back into the world.

1. Failure to pray.

Prayer means talking or communicating with God and consistent communication with Him is what strengthens our relationship. I remember my senior pastor saying, “No communication means no relation.”

How is your prayer life? Do still enjoy spending time with God, talking with and listening to Him?

To fail to pray is also a form of pride. When we do not consult with God in regard to any decision we make, we are saying we do not need His guidance and we do not care about His will.

2. Failure to read the Bible and meditate on it.

If you sincerely want the Lord’s will to be done in your life, then you need to feed on God’s Word. As I often say, “The Word of God is the will of God.” Watching preachers on TV or the internet is not the same as reading the Bible for yourself and asking God what He wants to tell you in His Word.

In the same way that our bodies need food, our spiritual life also needs spiritual food which is the Word of God. Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:4 hold true and remain to be true for every one of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus. how much time do you spend daily reading and meditating the Word of God?

Man shall not live by bread alone

We need to pray and read the Bible at the same time not only to be informed of the will of God and enlightened, but also to be encouraged and strengthened.

Note: Regular daily time spent alone with the Lord in prayer, praise and worship, and meditating the Bible is referred to as quiet time. And backslidden Christians who have come back to the Lord say that they lost out with God in their quiet time.

3. Failure to attend church.

Be sure to go to church at least once a week. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

You can’t expect to grow and mature spiritually without church fellowship. Many Christians who stopped coming to church eventually abandoned the faith and went back to their old sinful life.

4. Failure to obey the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is what convicts us of sin and when we do not obey Him, He is grieved. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Hebrews 10:25).

Note: As I already mentioned, willfully and deliberately disobeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit is a strong indication that we are turning away from the Lord. So, when you find yourself going against what God has said in His Word, know that you are heading towards destruction.

5. Failure to confess Christ.

We are given a stern warning in Matthew10:33, “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

One of the many things distinguishing a new believer from those who have been Christians for a while is their boldness to declare Christ as their Lord and Savior to the world. Sinners who just came to faith in Jesus are so pumped up and overwhelmed with the amazing grace of God that they want to let the whole world know how Jesus saved them despite their wickedness.

When was the last time you confessed Jesus as your Lord before a hostile group of people?

6. Failure to walk in the light.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God has called Christians out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Thus, we are to not only walk in the light but are also to be the light in this world of darkness (Matthew 5:14). 

Note: Generally speaking, backsliding is growing cold, losing interest in the Lord, Bible reading and meditation, prayer, church attendance, and witnessing, and turning toward or going back to the world.

Heres a song to remind us of the commitment we made to follow Jesus.

Results of Backsliding

1. Backsliding will result in the loss of power, a loss of peace, a loss of joy and happiness. Murmuring and darkness will begin to cloud the daily pathway.

2. Backsliding will result in the loss of salvation.

Consider the following passages:

“Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him a warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:20).

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).

See also Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:10-11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21.

Does this mean that a backslidden Christian is forever lost? No! God’s unconditional love and amazing grace compel Him to constantly call and invite people to return to Him, accept His forgiveness, and be in fellowship with Him. One just needs to repent and receive God’s invitation.

Conclusion

We must understand that nobody backslides suddenly.

I am reminded of a church-mate who used to be very active in the church. She was the leader of the Dance Ministry and always sat on the front row for many years. Until one Sunday, she came to church but opted to not join her ministry for praise and worship. 

Surprisingly, she sat on the third row (or was it the fourth?) instead of her regular spot which is the first row in the music and dance ministry sitting area. The following Sunday she sat near the very back row. This continued for several Sundays until such time that she stopped coming. 

To end on a positive note, this sister was restored, praise God! The church leadership came to her rescue, counseled, and prayed for her. It turned out that her fiancé called off their engagement because he wanted to marry another woman. She has gone through a difficult ordeal but God is faithful.

He promised to “complete the work He has begun in us until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

Let us then “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).


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An Overview of the 4 Gospels

An Overview of the 4 Gospels

Do you sometimes wonder why the New Testament contains four different gospels of the one authentic gospel? Isn’t one gospel account of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ enough? How should we understand the Gospels as works of literature? And what do the Gospels tell us about Jesus?

Any one of these Gospels alone would not do justice to Jesus’ life and ministry. Each Gospel writer wrote about Jesus to a different audience for a different purpose to give a unique perspective on His life. Together, the four Gospels give us a more complete picture of who Jesus was and what He accomplished during His ministry.

Different symbols for the Gospels are often used to communicate the distinctive of each account. A lion, symbolizing Matthew, represents strength and royal authority, a bull, representing Mark, portrays service and power, the figure of a man, for Luke, stands for wisdom and character; and eagle, John’s symbol, represents deity.


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The following capsule summaries of the Gospels will help you understand the distinctive of each Gospel.

Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew is written to a Jewish audience to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. The key expression is “that it might be fulfilled” (Matthew 1:22; 8:17; 12:17; 21:4) and it quotes more from the Old Testament than any other Gospel.

It uses alienating sections of teaching and narrative material to emphasize Jesus as Teacher. A major theme in Matthew’s Gospel is the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God – God’s rule in the world and human hearts.

Other dominant themes are the church (Matthew 16:18; 18:19), the Second Coming of Jesus (Matthew 25), and the ethical teachings of Jesus (Matthew 5–7).

Overview of the 4 Gospels

Mark

The Gospel of Mark is probably the first Gospel written, and Matthew and Luke may have used Mark as a source. It focuses on Jesus as a servant who ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of others.

Mark’s Gospel is the shortest; it is written to a Gentile audience, particularly Roman citizens. It uses brevity in accounts, with rapid movement, to give a sense of urgency to the Gospel message. The key expression is “immediately” (Mark 1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 28, 31, 42).

Mark’s purpose was to show that Jesus was the Son of God; a Roman soldier’s words at Jesus’ death were, “Truly this man was the Son of God (Mark 15:39).

Mark 1:10 (NKJV)

Luke

This was written by a Gentile writer for Gentiles, to give the full story of Jesus’ life, from His birth to the birth of the church. It records many of Jesus’ parables not found in the other three Gospel.

It is universal in outlook, portraying Jesus as the compassionate Savior of the world, with love for all people, whether rich or poor, Jew or Gentile; He reaches out especially to women and the poor and the outcast of society.

Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and the central place for prayer. The key expression is “it happened” or “it came to pass” (Luke 2:15; 5:17; 17:11, KJV).

Overview of the Four Gospels

John

The Gospel of John focuses on the theological meaning of Jesus’ actions, rather than on the actions themselves, and emphasizes who Jesus is, rather than what He did.

It includes many lengthy discourses of Jesus around which narrative is woven, and uses many keywords, such as “life, light, love, witness, glory, water, and truth,” to portray Jesus as God’s eternal Son.

It also presents Jesus as God incarnate through seven miraculous sings. The key expression is “believe” (John 1:7, 12, 20:31).

John’s clear purpose in writing is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

An Overview of the Four Gospels

Final Thoughts

The first three Gospels were first labeled the Synoptic Gospels by J. J. Griesbach, a German biblical scholar, at the end of the eighteenth century. The English adjective “synoptic” comes from the Greek “sunovyi” (synopsis), which means “seeing together,” and Griesbach chose the word because of the high degree of similarity found among Matthew, Mark, and Luke in their presentations of the ministry of Jesus.

These similarities, which involve structure, content, and tone, are evident even to the casual reader. They serve not only to bind the first three gospels together but to separate them from the gospel of John.