Monthly Archives: May 2017

Perspectives In Titus: What Should Older Women Teach Younger Women?

Titus 2 v 5

Even though we talked about Titus 2:5 in last week’s study of verses 3-5, I wanted to return to this verse and examine it in a little more detail. I’m doing so because this blog, as stated prominently in my mission statement on the sidebar, is exclusively for women. As such, it lends itself to a thorough discussion of the Bible’s instructions specifically to women.

Today I’ll quote only the immediate verses, hoping that you’ll look at your own Bibles to remind yourselves of the context.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

Before we get to verse 5, let’s make a few brief comments about verses 3 and 4. In verse 3, Paul says that older women are to teach what is good.  Notice the parallel to his charge to Titus in verse 1. Teaching “what is good” would naturally mean teaching what accords with sound doctrine.

This verse does  not give women permission to use their teaching abilities indiscriminately. Please note this vitally important point. God’s Word limits us to teaching other women  (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12). Yet older women can powerfully influence younger women towards holiness.

Moving to verse 4, we see that Paul gives older women the responsibility of counseling younger women in their relationships with their husbands and children. Especially regarding marriage, this sort of counseling can touch on some pretty personal issues. Therefore, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown make the excellent point that Paul shows wisdom in having women teach each other rather than having men directly teach younger women.

Obviously, men addressing marriage, as well as some of the intimate subject matters listed in verse 5 has potential for creating emotional entanglements. Looking at it from this perspective, we see that men also have restrictions concerning whom they teach.

Now let’s delve into verse 5, which is the heart of the passage. First off, we older women are to teach younger women to be self-controlled, or temperate. You’ll recall from Chapter 1 that the people of Crete were known for their volatile tempers and self-indulgence, making it important for Christians to display a moderate temperament. This instruction goes back to verse 2, where Paul  insists that older men exercise self-control in contrast to the self-indulgent lifestyle of the Cretans.

Following that injunction, older women should teach younger women to be pure. This purity, first and foremost, refers to sexual purity. (On this point in particular, a pastor needs this older women to teach the younger ones.) Faithfulness to one’s own husband, particularly in a culture that celebrates sexual “freedom,” isn’t easy. Young women need encouragement toward such purity.

But we also must train younger women in doctrinal purity. 2 Timothy 3:6 reveals that false teachers can easily captivate the attention of women who don’t strengthen their wills with sound doctrine. This clause points to the importance of women teaching other women Biblical discernment and doctrine.

Workers at home comes from a Greek phrase meaning “guardians of the house.” This clause doesn’t necessarily prohibit outside employment  (which is often helpful to a family), but it clarifies that a woman’s foremost responsibility is to the home.

Furthermore, we must teach younger women to be kind, particularly to their husbands and children. Kindness pulls us away  from ourselves, training us to look to the needs, interests and feelings of those around us.  Again, remember that the First Century Cretan culture (much like 21st Century culture) revolved around self-centered behavior, which disregards the needs and feelings of others.

Finally, we older women should teach younger women to submit to their own husbands, as commanded in Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:24 and Colossians 3:18. The Greek word for “submit” carries the idea of voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. Thus, Christian wives recognize that God gives husbands the authority to lead a family.

Please notice that the text directs women to submit to their own husbands, not to men in general. This point shouldn’t have to be made. Sadly, I’ve been in circles where the men expected submission from all the women. Ladies, don’t fall for that distortion of Scripture. Submit exclusively to your husbands, not the husbands of your friends.

Paul explains that we need to teach younger women these principles  in order that non-Christians can’t disregard God’s Word on account of our hypocrisy. Cross-reference to Romans 2:24, where Paul quotes an Old Testament accusation that Gentiles blasphemed God’s name because of Jews who lived in disobedience. As we’ll learn over the next few weeks, all segments of the church should comport themselves in ways consistent with the Gospel. Including women.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In Celebration Of John’s Fifth Year Since Cancer Surgery

2012 was probably the most difficult year John and I have endured in our marriage. That February, his doctors found cancer in his colon. During his recovery from a colonostomy that next month, he suffered a heart attack that delayed the colon restructuring surgery for six weeks.

John, as a Polio survivor, uses a ventilator to breathe, causing everybody tremendous concern that he might not make it through surgery. I definitely struggled to trust the Lord to protect him. Yet as WordPress publishes this post, we’re attending a party at our church to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his surgery (the actual anniversary was this past Monday).

As I thought about what hymn to post this week, this simile hymn about trusting Jesus seemed the most appropriate. As you listen, please join us in rejoicing in the extra time God has given me and John. He is so faithful!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: May 14 — May 20

Butterfly Sampler 02Doug Wilson, posting in Blog & Mablog, provides familiar, yet frequently ignored, advice in his article, Decluttering Your Marriage I. Using Scriptural principles from Galatians 6, Pastor Wilson encourages each spouse to take responsibility before trying to fix the other. In his closing paragraph he explains the key to this sort of humility.

So, you want to study the Bible, but you don’t know which curriculum to use. Consider Michelle Lesley’s advice in The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? If asked, I’d make the same recommendation.

One of my most dedicated readers is a 16-year-old girl who writes under the penname Squid. In a recent blog post for Squid’s Cup of Tea, she writes Being Truly IN the Word as a wonderful (and somewhat convicting ) reminder that we need to immerse ourselves in the Bible. This young lady shows remarkable Christian maturity; I think you’ll be impressed by this article.

Another blog post serving as a good reminder comes from Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate. His essay, What does the Bible teach about abortion?, doesn’t really tell us anything new, but it organizes the Biblical arguments against abortion nicely. I look forward to using it as a reference tool.

Truth isn’t always pretty, but it must be faced. Rebekah Hannah does just that in her piece, Women Use Porn Too, which she writes for The Gospel Coalition Blog. She raises interesting points about ways churches inadvertently deny ministry to women who struggle with this type of sexual sin.

Being childless, I don’t offer a great deal to moms who read The Outspoken TULIP. Our Bible Study on Titus 2:3-5 is convicting me about that omission.  So let me begin reparations by directing you to Peter Krol’s article You Can Read the Bible to Your Kids in Knowable Word. I believe this man is on target with this idea!

As usual, Michelle Lesley has an insightful essay based squarely on Scripture. When God Says No challenges the popular notion that we should have big dreams for God.

Speaking of the big dreams for God philosophy, Tim Challies says that Nobody Respects a Blogger. Sisters, I  have no aspiration of being anything other than a blogger! Clearly, I don’t dream very big dreams for God. Oh well!

In a guest post for Pulpit & Pen, Jodie Jensen reviews the latest book by Beth Moore in The Quest of Beth Moore. According to Jensen, Moore promises that we can achieve intimacy with God through journaling, talking about our feelings with other women and spending time in our prayer closets. Okay… Skip reading Beth Moore’s book, by all means, but be sure to read this insightful essay.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
 

Save

Save

Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

Serious Little Boy01Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Does Bible Journaling Mark Good Bible Study?

Journalig BibleThe other day, I came across a blog post about ways to do Bible journaling. Now, the very concept of Bible journaling strikes me as strange to begin with, and seems even stranger when I realize that the term currently refers to coloring and drawing in one’s Bible. The blog post I read featured several enormous photos of a Bible (presumably belonging to the author) almost totally covered with pastel highlights, post-it notes and pink comments written in the margins.

As I looked at photo after photo of the Bible, with all its artistry, my mind went back to a guest preacher who once spoke at the church I belonged to in California. During the early portion of the service, he sat across the aisle and one row up from me, making it easy for me to glimpse the open Bible on his lap.

The Bible was quite well-worn, with pages that had obviously been handled many, many times. Verses were highlighted and underlined, and copious notes filed the margins. I gazed at the man with admiration, thinking, “This guy really knows the Word!”

When he got up to preach, however, he handled Scripture so badly that I left the church in tears. I’d never heard anyone twist God’s Word that severely in my life! He totally misinterpreted the passage, making points exactly opposite to the text in order to promote a heretical agenda that he hoped our church would adopt. For all the markings and notes he’d made in his Bible, his Biblical illiteracy was astounding.

Ladies, a well-worn Bible laden with markings and notes doesn’t necessarily indicate that its owner properly understands correct doctrine. Those brilliantly colored phrases may or may not be understood in their proper context.

I have absolutely nothing against marking one’s Bible. A good, consistent color code can help you in studying, as long as you don’t overdo it. Turning your Bible into a coloring book, however, distracts from serious Bible study.

Do you notice a similarity between the blogger in my opening paragraph and the guest preacher with the open Bible on his lap (during a part of the service when nobody else had their Bible open)? Both gave onlookers an opportunity to admire their evident devotion to God’s Word. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can judge their motives, but I can’t help wondering why they made it so easy for people to see their Bibles.

In pondering this whole subject, I thought of something Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount.

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ~~Matthew 6:1-6 (ESV)

Is it possible that this Bible journaling fad is more about showing others how much attention we give our physical Bibles than about learning and obeying the Word of God? It depends, obviously on each individual. Not every woman who marks her Bible does so for the purpose of showing off, and those who don’t practice Bible journaling must be careful not to judge. But, and pay attention here, it’s extremely easy to mark up our Bibles with secret hopes that someone will happen to see those brightly colored highlights and admire our spirituality.

Might I suggest that you have two Bibles? Use one for your private times with the Lord, marking it in whatever way genuinely helps you study and properly understand God’s Word. If your husband and kids happen to see you marking it, okay. But don’t go out of your way to show it to them. Keep it between yourself and the Lord. Take the second Bible to church and Bible Study, marking it very seldom. Your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This Little Window

As global unrest gathers momentum, I see a greater urgency to proclaim the Gospel. I don’t know how soon Jesus will return to bring final judgement on the world, but world events lead me to suspect that Western Christians have little time left  to speak (and write) freely about the Lord.

Perhaps I discern this situation wrongly. But even if I do, people die every day and enter a Christless eternity while professing evangelicals focus on receiving blessings and filling pews with warm bodies who happen to have deep pockets.

The Lord has indeed blessed us in this little window of human history by giving us Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media. What powerful tools for declaring the Person and work of Jesus Christ! Yet some of my Christian friends have told me point-blank that they use social media for their  “down time,” preferring not to post things that might start spiritual discussions or offend their non-Christian family and friends.

Okay. They can make that choice. I think, however, that they may regret wasting the wonderful opportunities that social media currently offers to Christians. Time may not allow us to publicly post the Gospel much longer, and I’d like to see people take advantage of social media while we can. If Christ indeed does return soon, the very non-Christians that we’d rather not offend will need to have heard the Gospel.

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. ~~John 9:4 (ESV)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Upon Which The Church Stands Or Falls

Medieval TowerLet me begin by saying that the controversy between Protestants and Catholics regarding justification can’t possibly be explained adequately in this single blog post. The Lord calls Christians to practice honesty, and therefore I want to represent both sides of the argument as accurately as I can.

This issue mattered in the 16th Century. The Reformers took enormous risks, sometimes even losing their lives, because they dared to stand against Roman Catholic teaching that justification is progressive and consequently can be lost when a mortal sin goes unconfessed. Although Catholic doctrine acknowledges that God initiates salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ, justification is part of the sanctification process. Mortal sins can, as a result, cause someone to lose their salvation unless they atone for that sin either in this life or in Purgatory.

Again, I’ve only given a brief synopsis of the Roman Catholic position. In future posts, I plan to expand on their view of justification in a way that doesn’t caricature their teachings unfairly. For the moment, however, let’s agree that their system of justification necessitates human cooperation and makes Purgatory a possible means of regaining justification.

The teaching of Purgatory so troubled Martin Luther that he nailed his 95 Theses to the Whittenburg Castle Church door, challenging Rome’s authority to teach that doctrine (which has no Scriptural basis). He, and the Reformers before and after hm, maintained that a person’s justification depended entirely on Christ, separate from any cooperation on our part.

Martin Luther famously said that justification by faith alone is “the article upon which the church stands or falls.” Despite ecumenical efforts to minimize differences between Protestants and Catholics, we cannot allow ourselves to believe that this is a minor issue. Bible-believing Christians must insist that adding human cooperation to God’s grace perverts the Gospel. In essence, by preaching that justification requires ongoing human cooperation, the Roman Catholic Church preaches a gospel other than the Gospel presented by the apostles.

Paul confronted a similar situation in Galatia, where a group known as the Judaizers taught the gentile Christians that they needed to observe Jewish Law, and circumcision in particular, in order to be saved. This melding of grace and law infuriated Paul, causing him to write a letter in righteous indignation. Several of his lines blazed with outrage, but one especially made it clear that any augmentation of the Gospel damned people.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ~~Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV) 

Look, I’m not writing these essays on the Reformation out of animosity toward people in the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, I pray for the Catholics in my life to know that Christ paid completely for their sin, if only they’ll trust in Him instead of Catholic sacraments and works of penance.

However, the Roman Catholic system, by confusing justification with sanctification, has lied to these people, convincing them that they must contribute to their justification. The Reformation matters because the Protestants and Catholics teach two very different gospels. Only one can be true.

Alas, next Tuesday I have a doctor’s appointment in Boston, so I won’t be able to blog about the Reformation that day. But the following Tuesday I plan to explain the Roman Catholic understanding of justification, and how it differs from the Protestant view. Understanding both views will enable us to then defend the Protestant view as being more consistent with God’s Word. I hope you’ll hang in there with me, so you can see why we celebrate the Protestant Reformation.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin