Note: To properly understand the position of the writer please read the author's message "To The Reader".
Most members of the small, conservative, institutional churches dotting the landscape are made up of sincere, dedicated Christians who faithfully attend church in the same way their parents and grandparents did before them. They neither know nor seek any other way to fellowship or worship. Anything falling outside their tradition is feared and may be viewed as a cult. They desire to serve the Lord but as laymen, i.e. farmers, factory workers, fishermen and carpenters, etc. they feel limited. Church leaders are viewed as highly trained professionals beyond the academic reach of the average member.
The only office open to the working man or woman is that of deacon and this position no longer resembles what it once was. Small, local assemblies often find themselves competing with larger, more affluent, super-sized assemblies. These mega-churches dominate communities the way some national retail giants do to small, local businesses. When a population has been exposed to the institutional church mentality, it becomes difficult to discipline their thinking to early church concepts.
Today, we’ve become accustomed to large houses of worship that play host to a church that often has a large membership. By accepting this custom, we have lost contact with the roots of apostolic tradition. Church assemblies have become an audience for a programmed, spiritually motivated, theatrical performance, led by professionals. Everything about this concept says professional, professional music, animated if not electrifying, professional preachers, backed up by expensive professional sound and lighting systems.
While we’ve succeeded in becoming a mute church audience, we have failed at becoming an intimate church family. No longer does the betrothed of Christ wear the simple, modest dress of purity, but now wears the eye catching, flirtatious apparel of a woman seeking to gain the attention of many. The church was fashioned by Christ to please Him as His chosen bride but man has redesigned her to please himself. Man has adorned her with new and varied programs and facilities designed to attract, please and accommodate as many people as possible. Jesus is no longer the main attraction, the gym or day care center are.
Man’s Traditions Are Dying
One of today’s saddest truths is that, despite a rich history of church tradition, many of the churches of Europe are dying. The bones of their former existence, their elaborate edifices, are being auctioned off for secular uses. Why did they fail? They ceased to function as the body of Christ. How did they fail? They ceased to meet the spiritual and practical needs of God’s people. Large and impersonal, these historic edifices failed as true spiritual families, failed to preach the uncompromised truth and thus, failed to meet the spiritual needs of God’s holy people.
Steeped in denominational customs, these historic landmarks have fallen one by one. They have suffocated in the dust of their long history of denominational traditions. Their extravagant, ornate cathedrals are crumbling before their eyes. Those that survive, offer tours to visitors willing to pay to see their fading man-made splendor. Their oblation has become so rehearsed, rigid and cold that it has lost all passion. Dusty pews in large, cold, dusty buildings have been reduced to common, historical, tourist attractions. The pageantry of royal elegance contained in the clerical dress bespeaks of the pride and vanity that caused its demise.
Most notably, the pretentious, liberal clergy who preach on the shallow values of human morality choose to ignore the true gospel message. They make no provision for its perpetuation by not properly preparing God’s flock for the work of the ministry. Dusty “do good” words issued by dusty clerics dressed in the dusty robes of pretense. Men called to a profession by ambition who were never called to the ministry by God. Men seeking financial gain, intellectual acclaim and vain appreciation from a flock they never feed, a flock starving for true spiritual manna. God’s sheep are starving to death for lack of truth, for lack of God’s word taught, lived and demonstrated. Dusty clerics, dressed in dusty robes of pretense, is it any wonder they and their works have become nothing more than dust in the wind? If Europe is traveling down this road, can America and other nations be far behind?
If the true church is to survive in Europe or any other country, it won’t survive in Goliath sized temples of men’s imaging’s but rather, as the David of God’s design. As surely as David removed the head of Goliath, so has God brought down man’s pretentious towers of Babel. If the churches of Europe or elsewhere are to return to God, they will reappear as the small, loving, apostolic churches that meet from house to house. These will be true churches with real shepherds, David type churches, God’s church for the last days.
Brethren, the church of Jesus Christ has been adrift for two thousand years because it has lost the ability to follow its spiritual compass. It’s not that it didn’t have one; its course was well charted from the very beginning by navigators who were inspired by the Lord. In fact, they were personally taught by Him and more than capable of charting our way through the dangerous shoals of sin, false prophesy and false teaching. They left us the ability to maintain a steady course but many believers chose instead to chart a new course. Their new doctrine slowly changed their direction, one which, if left uncorrected, would lead them to a completely different destination. They had begun following a strange course. Not the course set by apostolic doctrine but a course set by doctrine that would lead them away from it. Their defective compass now pointed to false doctrine and was designed to break them to pieces on the rocky shores of pride, error and division; rocks of destruction placed in their path by men practicing the doctrines of men.
Matthew 15:8, 9
8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’”
The vessel we boarded in Galilee was designed to take us safely into the harbor of the new Jerusalem but to our discredit, we have woefully lost our way. The first word Christ spoke in His ministry was, “Repent”. In Greek, “metanoeo”- to reconsider, to think differently afterwards, i.e. in hindsight. I can think of no verse of scripture that demonstrates the use of this word better than Revelation 2:5, here Jesus instructs us to “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, (think back and reconsider your actions or lack thereof, in hindsight) and repent, and do the first works (change your thinking and do the things you did in the beginning)” i.e. make a course correction.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Have You Noticed?
There is very little resemblance between the institutional church seen today and those small, in house churches which met in the first century. These homes dotted the landscape of cities and towns throughout Asia Minor. How did we get so far off course and how will we manage to find our way back? Perhaps an even more important question would be, are there any among us truly seeking to return to the church of Acts, the simple, loving church of Christ and the apostles?
Why Are There Always So Few?
We live in a world consumed with sin; a world perishing from within; a world consumed by its own appetites. Salvation, though well within the reach of those who perish, simply goes ignored. Why are there so few who recognize their need of a savior? Should we be surprised? Jesus told us that the broad way that leads to destruction is the path taken by the majority and the road that leads to everlasting life is so narrow few find it.
Most professing Christians, if they attend church at all, find themselves safely tucked into the pew of an institutional church and are content to ride the coattails of that institution to its ultimate destination whether on course, off course, adrift or sinking. There are very few who recognize the dangers, few who consult the approved navigational chart, i.e. the bible, or discover the impending error and danger that awaits.
Some, even when they become aware that their vessel has drifted dangerously off course, continue to seek safety in it. Why? The folly of this escapes reason. There is no rational answer. Still, there are others who recognize the need for change, the need for a major course correction and attempt to reason with the ship’s crew, its pilot and officers (the church and its leaders). They soon discover, to their disappointment, that there is a general unwillingness, even in the face of destruction, to admit error and change course. Most, simply resign themselves to accept what they perceive can’t be changed. Others take a more radical approach.
A Daring Few
There are a daring few who risk the perils of the sea and jump ship. They have no idea where they are but firmly know, by the guiding star of faith, in which direction to travel. The journey back will be long and painful and some of their number will be lost along the way, those who become discouraged by its trials and hardships. Will the faithful reach their destination? The Master says, “Yes,” if they hold fast to the end and be not moved away from the one who guides and calls them.
Finding Our Way Back
As the church of Jesus Christ, we must remember from what point we began to drift off course so we can return, find that point and make the necessary course correction. When did the church do its first works? What was its first love? Each of us must answer these questions before we attempt to go on. Our first love must be Jesus Christ; it must not be our denomination, our family, our social position, our wealth, our pride or our desires. Christ alone must sit un-opposed on the throne of our life and we must remain un-threatened by any of those temporal things that hold value in our life.
What were the first works? Would this not be the love and care for the brethren demonstrated in the early church, the New Testament church of the apostles? Who are our brethren if not those who seek to do the will of God? Many consider the book of Acts to be the closest thing we have to the history of the earliest churches, the time and place where the first works were being carried out. The book of Acts has twenty-eight chapters. If we are successful in finding our way to the point where we last occupied the center of God’s will then once again, brethren, we can begin to live the book of Acts; we can begin living Acts chapter twenty-nine.
We find ourselves amid a growing number of believers today who have left the false security of the institutional church to begin the journey back but for many it’s a step into the unknown for they haven’t yet determined where back is or what it is they’re returning to.
In our quest to return to the way, truth and life of the church, we once again find ourselves faced with two choices. Throughout the history of mankind this seems to be a redundant theme. There always seems to be two choices. Should I ignore God and eat of the tree or should I trust God and ignore it? Should I follow the pattern of the apostolic church or the pattern of a new and improved, man-made model? Should I become a part of a house church which imitates the early church pattern of worship or should I seek to return to the New Testament church of the apostles and with it, continue steadfastly in the complete doctrine of the apostles? We must be careful not to be fooled by a look alike early church with a self-promoting leadership.
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
One path is broader than the other, easier to travel with fewer obstructions. The other, as always, is narrower, curved, mountainous, fraught with obstacles, difficulties and dangers. The choice between the two seems obvious. It appears to be an easy choice, and this obvious easy choice, is the one most often chosen, but it’s the wrong one. In the Lord, the easy way is most often the worst choice. We must learn not to think with the mind of Lot who chose the easy life on the planes of Sodom and Gomorrah but rather think with the mind and heart of Caleb, that tough old man, who, in his old age, chose the hardship of the mountain with all its difficulties. Why did Caleb choose the mountain? Because he knew in this, he would need to depend wholly on the Lord, and that depending on the Lord would lead to ultimate salvation and victory.
12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.
Over And Over
As Christians, if we attempt in any way to improve upon God’s plan for the church, we make ourselves superior to God. The very notion that we could improve anything that God has designed or built is the ultimate vanity. Even Satan never saw himself as being superior to God. His enormous ego only permitted him to see himself as equal with God.
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
We must remind ourselves, over and over, every day of every month of every year, if necessary, that the church is not ours! It belongs to Christ, He bought it, He feeds it and He’s coming back for it. Things that belong to us we have the lawful and moral right to change but what belongs to another, is not ours to add to, subtract from or change in any way.
The church has been built through the sacrifice and labor of Christ’s hand picked ambassadors. He has described it as a spiritual house. Christ is the founder, the firstborn of the church and the first block laid in its construction, which is to say, that He alone is the chief cornerstone. This spiritual house sits on the foundation of His apostles and prophets and no man can lawfully build on any other foundation than the foundation He has already put in place. Brethren, we are the living stones that build up the walls of this spiritual house and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
1 Corinthians 3:11-13
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
1 Peter 2:5
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
The gates of Hell have often prevailed against the so-called churches we’ve built, churches built on pride, vanity, disunity, bigotry and selfishness. Our houses of brick, stone and mortar, wood, glass, steel, gold, silver and precious gems stand in ruin they now serve as head stones for churches that failed. Institutional unity that collapsed, brought down by false teaching and denominational division. This poor imitation wasn’t built on solid rock but rather on the shifting sands of man’s ever changing ideologies.
The house that Jesus built has room for all who place Him first in their lives. His church teaches His doctrine, the same doctrine He passed to His apostles. His doctrine was never intended to please men but rather to please God. It was never meant to skirt issues we find uncomfortable, but rather designed to teach God’s truth, complete with those instructions, commandments and traditions necessary to fashion us into the image of Christ. Why then, are we trying to conform His church to our image?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, a smorgasbord is a meal prepared in buffet fashion. It offers its guests a wide variety of foods and prepared dishes to choose from. In this way, each guest may add to their plate what they like and leave the rest. Many who have withdrawn from the institutional forms of worship, in favor of the informal, intimate setting of the home, have sadly adopted smorgasbord theology. They want to select from the doctrines and traditions of the apostles those they like and leave the rest. Some seek to customize or individualize the teachings of their church, fashioning them to conform to their personal criteria. If they find a doctrine or apostolic tradition that makes them uncomfortable, they simple dismiss it on one of the following five (5) grounds.
1. This tradition or doctrine was meant to be applied in the first century only.
2. This tradition or doctrine was given to the particular ethnic people to whom the epistle was sent but not meant for other churches in other locations.
3. These doctrines or traditions applied then because of the educational or geo-political conditions of that time but are no longer applicable today.
4. This doctrine or apostolic tradition was the individual opinion or practice of the biblical writer but does not truly reflect God’s heart.
5. Such doctrines or apostolic traditions were never intended to be applied to a modern society or church and if applied, could only be regarded as legalistic.
I’m sure if we were inclined to do so, we could think of many other justifications for not following the doctrines of the apostles and unfortunately many are inclined to do so. For all our modern advances, those professing believers under discussion are described in very old biblical terms at the end of the book of Judges. When we fail to obey the word of the king, we have no king!
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
If we gather in a private home the way they did in the early church, if we eat a meal together, pray, praise and listen to God’s word in the same manner as the early church, then why would we not choose to follow all the early church doctrines and traditions? If we’re not going all the way back, then why go at all? Why did we leave the institutional church? The only reason that makes sense is that we couldn’t customize doctrines or traditions in the institutional church so we thought, in a smaller, less formal assembly, we could find men who we could influence, men who would tell us what we want to hear or perhaps, would give us the opportunity to influence others with our personal opinions or perversions.
8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Unity, The Elusive Butterfly
Many of today’s Christians have chosen to interpret the bible as it pleases them. Instead of letting God speak to them from it, they decide what they’d like God to say and then seek verses, often out of context, to support their preconceived positions. Because opinions are like noses (everybody has one), we find that except for very basic beliefs, most of us do not speak the same things, have the same mind or share the same opinion.
Because this seems to be the rule rather than the exception, we’ve bought into an enormous deception. We’ve come to believe that complete spiritual unity within any church assembly is unattainable. Because we’ve chosen to believe this lie, we’ve invented a noble sounding position and that is, to agree to disagree. We’ll accept each other with all our differences as long as we claim to place our faith in Christ first.
If this was as far as it went, it might not be so bad but what we really mean is that we won’t strive to find doctrinal unity or seek to follow the same apostolic traditions but simply accept the situation as it is. Accepting one another’s faults is accepting one another’s sins. In the world, this sounds good but in Christ, in His church, this is totally unacceptable.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
If we would judge ourselves, there wouldn’t be a need for our brethren to point out our errors. If we would simply remain teachable and allow others to speak into our lives, then unity with our Christian family would be in reach.
1 Corinthians 11:31
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
A church is a spiritual house built of living stones. The strength of the house depends on the materials with which it is built. If we build with inferior or defective materials, we shouldn’t expect it to stand. If the living stones with which we build God’s house are flawed, then the overall structure is weakened. Consider for a moment that every large block or stone in the spiritual structure of the church represents a Christian family. If the family unit is divided over doctrine or tradition, then the stone in the church representing that family is flawed and becomes a potential breaking point in the overall structure.
A strong, healthy church is built of strong, healthy families which are in complete agreement on sound (healthy) doctrine. If the larger stones in the church structure can be seen as families then the small ones are of no less importance. They represent each of us as individuals and they must stand, side by side in unity, with the others. How can we build God’s kingdom together if we’re not unified?
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Do you really think God wants us to ignore doctrinal unity and just try to get along? Do you truly think that unity in the Spirit is an impossible goal? Don’t you believe that all things are possible in Christ? Perhaps the following verses will help make up your mind.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 12:25
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
1 Peter 3:8
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
A House Divided
Have you ever noticed that Satan’s intervention in our lives doesn’t become apparent until we, as individuals, begin to move toward the light, the light of truth? As long as we’re content to simply play church or remain an ineffective lump, comfortably seated on a church pew once or twice a week, we go relatively unnoticed by our enemy. However, when we begin to take God’s word seriously and begin to consistently follow the apostle’s doctrine and traditions, things change dramatically. As we head toward the church of the apostles, following the early church pattern, we seem to gain Satan’s full attention.
Suddenly, those closest to us, those with the most influence in our lives begin to pull in the opposite direction. This is especially true in our own homes among our own family members. We expected resistance from some when we left the ranks of the unsaved but we’re surprised to discover enemies in our own home, our own family, even in our own marriage when we decided to make a deeper, more radical commitment to Christ. It’s fine if we simply wish to make the local denominational church a routine stop in our otherwise self-absorbed week but it’s quite another matter to truly commit our lives to serving God seriously. Some believe that’s the reason we pay clergy, so they can do that for us.
Many a husband who has desired to return to the simple, loving church of the apostles, to meet once again as the early church did and follow the doctrines and traditions of the apostles, discovers opposition from the most unanticipated sources. Often, to their surprise, they discover that their loving mate absolutely refuses to leave their present church and has no intention or interest in living any closer to God than they are at that moment.
While claiming to be Christians, these wives stubbornly refuse to obey and follow their husband’s spiritual leadership. Often, their justification for this disobedience is their belief that their husbands are not hearing from God, thus, they rationalize they need not follow. In their reasoning, they assume they are under no obligation morally or spiritually to obey their husbands. They wrongfully assume they’re in a better position to hear from God than their husbands or that their husbands have somehow been deceived.
Many, if not most, conservative church women claim publicly to be under the authority of their husband while at the same time, possessing the notion that they are more sensitive and more knowledgeable concerning God’s leading than he is. God’s position on this matter is clearly stated. It’s not man’s command or one devised by angels; it’s God’s command and it, once again, leaves us with only two choices, obey or disobey. If we choose to disobey, how can we claim to be God’s children; how can we claim Christ as our Lord?
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
1 Corinthians 11:1-3
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
1 John 2:3-4
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Brethren, we will never have unity within the church until we have unity within the home. Husbands and wives must spend time in God’s word together. They must put pride and rivalry aside and seek truth as they seek to be united. In the process of doing this, they may raise issues in the home but these issues, though hidden, have always been there. Bringing them to light gives us the ability to focus on differences with an eye toward unity. Once we bring our differences to the forefront, the human desire to be right will emerge. Pride, in the form of rivalry, will raise its ugly head and the father of lies will be busy placing fear and doubt in the hearts of those involved. The enemy knows the power that comes with unity and he knows that if he cannot prevent unity in the home, then unity will be carried into the church and with it, the power of God. A husband and wife can never truly be one until they reach unity of body, mind and spirit.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
The secret of strength within a church rests with its unity. Impede its unity and the church becomes a Samson without hair.
Between The Rock And The Hard Place
Poor old, wicked King Ahab, he held the office of king, with all its power and authority, but found himself between a rock and a hard place. On one side, he found himself threatened by the Lord (the rock) through His spokesman, Elijah and on the other, he faced the hostile demands put upon him by his ambitious, headstrong, treacherous wife, Jezebel (the hard place). Unfortunately, this is where some men find themselves today and some of these men are leaders. On one side, they’re confronted by the uncompromising word of God and on the other side, they find themselves intimidated by a prideful and rebellious wife. Some men become so threatened by their wives that they willingly set aside God’s clear instruction to invent some clever rationalization for appeasing their wives. What’s interesting is that often, these same men claim to be following the entire new covenant. Many wives get hung up on issues such as, wearing a head covering, being silent in church and not being permitted to teach or have authority over men though by no means, is this a complete list. Imagine, teachers who would rather postpone the wrath of their wife for awhile knowing that by so doing, they will face God’s judgment later. Have they forgotten they must stand a stricter judgment? Have they lost their fear of God?
1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
All such men are cowards and not worthy to shepherd the flock of God for they do not have their houses in subjection.
1 Timothy 3:4-5
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
A Predisposed Weakness
The instruction to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was given to Adam before Eve was even created. Once there was found a suitable helpmate for Adam, he likely repeated this command to his wife. The fact that Eve was able to quote an even stricter version of this command to the serpent only proves her knowledge of it and her deliberate willingness to violate her husband’s warning. She understood her evil deed completely. Why would she yield to such a potentially dangerous violation?
When Christ was tempted in the wilderness, Satan held out rewards like turning stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. What was the reward that tempted Eve? Even if Eve believed Satan’s suggestion that God was lying about death, that would only have removed her fear of consequence but would have promised no reward but Satan did promise a reward. He told her that when she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be as a god. Now that’s a real temptation with the promise of a huge reward; to be a master of the universe, to have authority, power, riches and fame, now…that’s something to be desired and she did!
The desire to be exalted, to be the master of our own fate or the fate of others, has been passed down through the generations. If Eve had not been made the weaker vessel then she and the generations that followed her, would have produced a very different world, not that men have done much better; the world in which we live is nothing to be proud of.
Because of her ambition to be a god, she was placed in submission to her husband. Because Adam yielded to his wife rather than the Lord, his generations were destined to fight that same temptation again and again, through history. Over and over, husbands would have to decide to obey God or yield to the seductive persuasion or intimidation of their wives. It would seem that women are predisposed to seek control and men only too willing to surrender it in exchange for promised affection or emotional peace.
God, in His wisdom, has placed each in His body, the church, as it has pleased Him. He has delegated authority to men to establish order, to execute good leadership and to serve Him unselfishly. He has chosen to send some of these men to distant places as ambassadors. Others have been chosen to speak on His behalf, to strengthen or correct the inferior and weak. Still others have been selected to plant the seeds of new spiritual life contained in the gospel message and others are called to water these seeds and bring them to maturity. Women may utter the prophetic words of God when divinely inspired. They may share the gospel message among the unsaved and especially among women and children, though they must not teach or have authority over men. Finally, they may serve the church as deacons but not as elders, remembering to be silent in the regular church assembly, not speaking anything from their own mind or heart but only those words given them by the Holy Spirit or those given under God’s delegated authority.
You Shall Be As Gods
The modern day feminist movements, of the world, have found their way, as a pollution, into God’s kingdom. Apparently, there remains at large that evil spirit that still teaches that women can be as gods or maybe, if not gods, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers of men. Once again, we see men willing to encourage this belief in an effort to keep peace in their homes. Yes, peace, but at what cost? Shall we ignore the words of Christ’s apostles while proclaiming to others that we’re His servants? Is this not the very essence of hypocrisy? Please take note that the early church observed all these teachings without complaint. How then, can we hope to return and do the first works if we choose to ignore them or adopt smorgasbord theology, i.e. take what you like; leave the rest?
Many have recognized the need to return to the early church, to the place and time when the New Testament text was called the doctrine of the apostles, a time when believers steadfastly followed this doctrine. Today we find that some have quit halfway. Why? Because of their failure to place their house in order.
Whether they realize it or not, women hold the key to the success or failure of this spiritual call, the call to return to our first love and to do the first works. Our houses, i.e. our families cannot come into unity without humble, consenting wives and daughters and our churches will never come into unity until those families represented in it speak the same things, have the same mind and share the same opinions.
In the early church, women were raised to be mothers, homemakers and helpmates. This had been the way of things since the beginning. Thus, adopting a submissive attitude toward the husband or submitting to spiritual leadership was not especially threatening to women in the early church.
Since then, the world has changed considerably. Today’s women have lost touch with many of these priorities and instead have opted for new ones. They want change; some, thinking they’ve become a god, believe they have power over life and death, infant life and death. They desire to talk, dress, work, function and compete in all aspects of society, especially the male aspects. No doubt this would make a woman a true woman of the world or, put another way, a true worldly woman. Is this a pursuit worthy of Christian womanhood? A woman seeking the world’s appreciation may qualify, one day, for worldly recognition but it removes her from God’s approval.
The simple fact is, like it or not, the reemergence of the early church will never become a reality for any church assembly until the women in it allow it to happen. This can only take place when they humbly accept and obey God’s word preferring the place that God has made for them in the church instead of attempting to seize or create another.
If a woman has truly given herself to Christ, she is not her own. She recognizes that she has been bought with a price. She has become the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. If she, as His servant, is asked to wear a head covering as a demonstration to angels of her understanding of God’s order of authority, why would she protest? If as a servant, she is asked to be silent in the church assembly and if she has any questions, to ask her husband at home, why resist? If she is told that she should receive wisdom and instruction from older, godly women or give such instruction to younger ones, why not obey?
Why is there a need for women to teach men when there are so many women and children that need guidance and instruction? Why must she choose to eat of the one tree forbidden to her when she has so many others that are available and need her attention? If, as a servant, she is asked to dress modestly and not with an eye toward impressing others, or learn to speak and act with a gentle, quiet spirit, why refuse; isn’t this part of the commitment she made when she accepted Christ? If we are no longer our own possession, then why would we choose to object to any, God given, scriptural mandate? Are God’s commandments to grievous to bear?
1 John 5:3
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
If we’re not in compliance with God then we are in defiance of God. If we’re going back to church, why go half way? Why not go all the way back? Shouldn’t we be…going back…to church; the church that Jesus built?