Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)

A library story can contribute toward illuminating the phrase, “But she will be saved through childbearing.” Clarity, however, might challenge our perceptions on salvation as well as our views on gender roles within worship. Or it might be 1 Timothy 2:15 will confirm what we already accept as true.

Our reaction will likely reveal more about us than it does Paul’s message. His message never changed. Continue reading “Saved through childbearing! What is this? (2)”

Saved through childbearing! What is this? (1)

Among Paul’s instructions to Timothy we discover what appears to be a curious assertion. Perhaps we’ve heard an explanation satisfying our curiosity quelling any further inquiry. Yet those explanations might melt away upon closer inspection.

So what did Paul write? “But she will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” 1 Timothy 2:15. Continue reading “Saved through childbearing! What is this? (1)”

The household of God

Communication is wonderful as well as a bit tricky. Our understanding of what others communicate is partially shaped by our experiences and prior knowledge.

So, when Paul described the church as being the household of God what do we understand? Perhaps what comes to our minds revolves around our relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are all in this together.

Does anything else come to mind? Would someone in the first century comprehend additional nuances? Probably yes. Continue reading “The household of God”

Something dependable

Our world is inundated with competing voices, conflicting perspectives and constant strife. From political posturing and divergent medical opinions to contrasting economic theories and social viewpoints, we are surrounded by what seems like chaos.

Ever long for a quiet moment to reflect upon something you can trust? In 1 Timothy Paul served up three wonderful nuggets. The first and third offer a profound impact for all of our lives, if we will embrace them. Continue reading “Something dependable”

What it means to be rich and what to do about it

There are two classes of people in this world: the rich and those who want to be rich. So said someone, and the division is not far from the mark. We might add a third: those who pretend not to care about riches.

The apostle Paul addressed both groups toward the end of his first letter to Timothy. He has words for those who want to get rich in 1 Timothy 6.9-10. Later, he gives instructions for those who are rich, 1 Timothy 6.17-19.

His words to be passed on to the rich hold three contrasts that are important to note: Continue reading “What it means to be rich and what to do about it”

Just a prayer meeting?

What happens when the regular evening Bible study is replaced by a special prayer meeting?  Years ago I remember one particular person saying that she would not be attending because it was just a prayer meeting.

From what he wrote to Timothy, it seems Paul would not have regarded God’s people gathering for the express purpose of praying as “just a prayer meeting.” Consider his instructions for Timothy. Continue reading “Just a prayer meeting?”

One at a time, please

Back in the early days of our work in Brazil, we did research into the culture and religion of the area where we worked. Among other things we did, several of our mission team visited different religions and denominations for a better sense of their teachings and practices.

One day several of us visited a large denominational church near the downtown area of our city. I think I sustained permanent hearing impairment there.

At one point, I recall all of the denomination’s adherents praying at the same time. Four hundred people speaking simultaneously — and most of them did not speak in a low volume — made it impossible to understand anything. Continue reading “One at a time, please”

Appointing elders and pleasing God

church eldersThe Contagem church is studying the process of selecting elders. They invited me to work with them on questions and issues about the eldership. We spent six hours Saturday afternoon on the subject. Sunday morning, we used the Bible class and sermon to address more topics about shepherding God’s people.

I also used the time not only to answer questions, but to draw a larger context so that the questions and thorny issues could be placed within an understandable framework. The big picture keeps the focus sharp.

Below are a few points that came up in the lively and positive discussions among the participants.

• The process of selecting elders represents the congregation’s desire to please God, so the end of the process, whether elders are selected or not, will bring a blessing to the church. If none or not enough are qualified, the process allows the congregation to assess what is needed to reach that goal. In this way, the process never ends in failure, as some might think.

• In the New Testament, elders were not selected immediately upon a church’s establishment. Depending on the place and circumstances, a shorter or longer period of time elapsed between a church’s beginning and the ordination of overseers. This appears to be a divine space which allowed for growth, a provisional, temporary state of affairs. But the provisional should not become permanent.

• Some people are married to Inertia. That’s not a woman’s name, but the tendency to prefer comfortable ways of doing things, even if they’re not God’s plan. Inertia is resistance to change. Why appoint elders when we can stay the way we are? Because (1) we want to please God, (2) we want to be more effective in Christ’s work, and (3) we want to be instruments under the control of the Holy Spirit.

• If elders are not chosen at the end of the selection process, what should be done? First, a program to work with the men in the congregation should be instituted, to train some to reach the point of qualification. Second, and perhaps even more important, intensive evangelism must occur, for through the conversions made, men may arise who are qualified and desire the service of shepherding.

• Must an elder have all the qualities mentioned? Paul frames the discussion with a key word, opening and closing the passage in 1 Timothy 3 with it: “must” (verses 2, 7). It’s a word that indicates the “imposition of the divine will” (L.O. Richards, ?Expository Dictionary of Bible Words?). Pretty much takes care of that question.

• The qualities or virtues of an overseer are those of every Christian. On the other hand, his family status—not a general requirement, but one for overseers—must demonstrate his capacity to govern his home and his ability to then turn that experience into spiritual guidance of the family of God. That truth should keep us from getting lost in the details.

• The Brazilian flag carries the phrase, “Order and Progress.” When we follow God’s order or arrangement for the church, it will make the right kind progress in the kingdom and receive the Lord’s blessing.

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