Tuesday, January 3, 2012
No Apologies - Introduction
You may wonder why I chose No Apologies as the title of this book. During my entire adult life I have been made to feel as if I must apologize for teaching a Biblical view of womanhood. What God has to say to women is highly unpopular today. Yahweh’s instructions to wives, and all women in the church, flies in the face of political correctness and societal norms. The Biblical definition of a godly woman is offensive to the fallen human nature. God’s instructions to women in both the Old and New Testaments are viewed as backward, chauvinistic, and the undesirable offscouring of an ancient patriarchal society.
Having served as a Bible teacher for many years, whenever I have taught on this subject I have felt as if I needed to justify doing so. My approach has been one of much timidity, fearing the backlash that I expected to come, and it has come time and time again. I was like a man who had been injured by an exploding object he had been working on. Forever after he would approach similar objects with timidity, inching forward, reaching hesitantly to touch them, fearing lest he should experience an explosion once again.
It is impossible to fulfill God’s call on my life to teach faithfully the truths of His kingdom if I am afraid of the reaction with which I will be met. I am reminded of Paul’s words of exhortation to Timothy.
II Timothy 1:6-8
For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord...
Christ has appointed me to be a teacher to the body of Christ, to women as well as to men. There is much in the testimony of Christ that offends, but I will not be ashamed of His words. I will own them, proclaim them, defend them, and I will make no apologies for teaching Christ’s counsel on this, or any other topic. Those women who desire to know the mind of Christ deserve no less than the complete truth.
My aim is to be bold, but not brassy, courageous but not crass. The goal before me is to speak the truth in love. I wish to avoid a watered down truth. I would resist the temptation to embellish, or to diminish, the counsel of God; eschewing all pressure to make truth more palatable by altering, or removing, that which offends.
Many were offended by Christ’s words spoken in the days of His earthly ministry. The Son of God did not change His message to make it agreeable to the heart of sinful and selfish men and women. On one occasion when great multitudes were following Christ He spoke a very difficult word. Many were offended. Most deserted Him. Even among His disciples a large number left and would follow Yahshua no more.
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can receive it?" When Yahshua knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
God’s ways are not man’s ways. That which mankind esteems is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16:15). The opposite is also true. That which Yahweh esteems is detestable in the sight of man. Should I then apologize for teaching accurately the things of God because they offend? Christ did not. The Son of God was not timid in proclaiming the mind of the Father. Neither must His appointed ministers be.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ..., in no way alarmed by your opponents...
At the same time, I would be humble in setting before you the truth. I recognize my own weakness. There are things Christ speaks that are uncomfortable to my soul. Christ’s testimony to me requires the crucifixion of my own flesh. I can only take up the cross after having crushed my soul with its passions and desires. This is accomplished with great difficulty. I know the battle. I would show empathy, and manifest patience, toward others who struggle.
On the cover of this book you will find the image of a hand extended as if to offer the word of God to others. This is what I seek to do here. The Scriptures contain many admonitions for women in the church. Following is an example.
I Corinthians 14:34-38
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
Paul’s words appear a little testy. He speaks in a harsher tone than I would normally choose in my communications. Yet, I am persuaded that Paul did so for a purpose, and that his words and attitude were approved by God. They have been included in the Bible. Peter in another place calls Paul’s words “Scriptures.”
II Peter 3:15-16
Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
Paul was gentle when gentleness was all that was needed to persuade the people of God of the counsel of Christ. Yet, when there was stubbornness and opposition, Paul wrote with greater force and emphasis. The subject of women’s roles and proper conduct among the body of Christ has always been one that has elicited protests. The spirit of Jezebel has found a home in the church (Revelation 2:20). When Paul encountered this spirit he dealt with it forcefully. Like Jehu in the Old Testament, he did not bandy words with Jezebel. He simply commanded that she be cast down.
The apostle Paul has had more than a few detractors over the years, and they continue to this day. Many decry him as a misogynist, a hater of women. This is an unjust judgment. Paul was zealous for the truth. Paul had equally harsh words for men who were rebellious and obstinate. This did not make him a man-hater. He labored to see carnal men and women transformed into spiritual beings. This transformation requires hard labor, more than a little suffering, and a willingness to sink lower. We must decrease that Christ might increase in us.
Many reject the suffering of the cross wherever they encounter it. If they cannot distort the message of Scripture to make it less painful to the human nature, they will instead attack the messenger. The faithful Bible teacher has three possible responses: He can be intimidated, and retreat into silence; He can change the message to conform to the desires of carnal men and women; or he can face those in opposition to the truth with boldness and courage. The latter was Paul’s response. He gave no apologies for speaking Christ’s commandments, even when carnal men and women opposed them. After giving instructions for the conduct of women in the church, Paul says:
I Corinthians 11:16
But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
In other words, the contentious can object all they want, but there is no other practice that the apostles of Christ have delivered to the churches of God. Paul would offer no concession to those who found the counsel of Christ disagreeable. Take it, or leave it.
I do not wish to appear crass, for I do care very much whether a woman accepts the counsel of Christ, or rejects it. There is a tremendous amount at stake. I would do all in my power to persuade my sisters in Christ to embrace the afflicted path that leads to life. Regarding this path Christ said, “Few there are who find it.” The path to life is the low road. It is the path of servitude, of humility, of voluntary suffering, requiring the exercise of much patience and self-control.
To teach the truth to my sisters in Christ I must lead them to the cross. It is not the cross Christ bore that I refer to, but the cross Christ invites His disciples to bear.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
On the cover of this book, there is a cross on the Bible in the hand of the man. I know what I am offering to my sisters in Christ will require them to bear the cross. It is because Christ’s instructions require a woman to die to the desires of her soul, that these words offend. The cross is an affront to mankind. The fleshly nature does not want to die. To the mind of the natural man the preaching of the cross is folly.
I Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Many have judged the teaching presented here to be “foolishness.” To the majority this book will reek of the stench of death. Yet, a remnant will perceive in this teaching the aroma of life. These understand the necessity of dying to self, they recognize that humility always precedes honor. These few will find wisdom and life in what is set forth.
II Corinthians 2:15-17
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Paul was not trying to sell people anything. He offered them the truth. Some were of the opinion that his message had in it the stench of death. In today’s vernacular some would say that “It stinks!” I do not refute this opinion, nor do I believe Paul would do so. There is truly in God’s counsel to women the smell of death. The Adamic nature must die. Some see only this experience, and being carnal they refuse to die. They do not look beyond death to that resurrection life that awaits those who embrace the cross. There can be no resurrection without a death first. The woman who refuses to die to her own will and desires will not enter into that resurrection life found in Christ.
So here, in a straightforward and unapologetic manner, I set forth before you the counsel of God recorded in the Scriptures for all women who aspire to godliness. I invite you to be courageous, and humble, in examining the message before you. It will require courage to walk contrary to the ways of a dark and sinful world. It will also require much humility, that much despised and maligned virtue that finds great favor in the eyes of God. Do not be afraid of what you will encounter here. Perfect love casts out all fear.
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