Category Archives: Bible Study

The Kind Of Discernment That’s Kind

purple-bible

What are we doing as discernment bloggers? Lately, there’s a viciousness that I’ve never seen. A friend of mine, in discussing the matter, observed that some bloggers and podcasters appear to relish the task of calling out wolves just a little too much.

Now, I do agree with the perspective that women often won’t get it if pastors and teachers simply teach sound doctrine without ever naming names. Surely their favorite celebrity Bible Study teacher doesn’t teach error! After all, she tweets all the time about how many commentaries she supposedly reads, how she “prays the Scriptures” and how she loves God’s Word. Never mind that she teaches Old Testament passages as allegories and claims to receive direct revelations from God.

So yeah, calling out false teachers certainly has an important place in women’s ministry. Again, praise God for Elizabeth Prata, Michelle Lesley and Leslie A who boldly and consistently identify false teachers and demonstrate how these false teachers deviate from Scripture.

As an aside, I came to Reformed Theology primarily because my research of “Christian” yoga led me to discernment blogs. I thank the Lord for using those blogs to educate me on how to apply proper hermeneutics in studying the Bible and for solidifying essential doctrines in my mind. Those discernment blogs went a long way in getting me grounded in the Bible and protecting me from popular evangelical fads.

But the idea of discernment (not necessarily discernment itself)  is somewhat of a fad among Reformed Christians these days. Even more troubling, some discernment ministries have developed a nastiness about them that completely drives out even the willingness to extend charity.

When people use character assassination and nit pick, applying the heresy label to Arminians and Charismatics, they’ve crossed a very dangerous line. Arminians and Charismatics hold to some doctrinal errors, to be sure. I’ve embraced Armimian and Charismatic teachings during much of my Christian life, and I well understand the dangers of those teachings.

But I absolutely do not believe those errors meant that I was a heretic. Furthermore, looking at the Scriptural criteria for genuine salvation convinces me that, despite accepting those errors, my salvation proved real. Therefore I grieve that people so quickly decide that our Armimian and Charismatic brothers and sisters aren’t truly saved.

Discernment encompasses so much more than discrediting those we disagree with. Yes, the wolves need to be rebuked and avoided, but in a way that draws sheep closer to the Shepherd Who feeds them in the green pastures of His Word.

For that reason this blog (while naming names when necessary) best teaches discernment by immersing women in God’s Word.

In a few weeks (probably March, to accommodate my personal Bible reading plan), we will begin studying Christ’s resurrection through 1 Corinthians 15. We’ll notice how the apostle Paul addressed a popular false teaching about the resurrection that circulated through the church in Corinth (hint: he did it without naming names) and we’ll learn how teaching doctrine in a positive manner can feed Christians effectively.

Mostly, we’ll focus on honoring Christ instead of dishonoring people.  I hope many of you ladies will join me in studying this wonderful Christian doctrine. May we all grow in the sort of discernment that truly honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A Discernment Issue Leading To A Question For My Readers

Resurrection ButterflyEvangelical women typically flock to blog posts about sex, current events or the exposure of false teachers. The third item is generally thought of as discernment, and sometimes that’s a correct assessment. I appreciate those discernment bloggers who courageously name names. But I also know that true discernment bloggers are more concerned with promoting sound doctrine than with gossiping about popular evangelical celebrities.

One of the most basic Christian doctrines is the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, it’s arguably one of the most ignored and least understood doctrines. To be honest, I’d been a Christian for over three decades before I started understanding its significance. So, at the risk of writing unpopular blog posts, I propose to step up my articles on this foundational topic, convinced that doing so will enhance your discernment abilities much better than simply identifying the latest false teacher.

While Christ’s resurrection most definitely provides concrete evidence for the truth of Christianity (as I explained last week), please take care not to reduce its significance to mere academic validation.  Paul begins 1 Corinthians 15 by demonstrating the historical reality of the Lord’s resurrection, but from there he moves into a beautiful discussion on the implications of His resurrection.

Obviously I  can’t work through all 58 verses of 1 Corinthians 15 in a single blog post, but I fully intend to write more essays on this wonderfully important subject from now on. I might consider writing a verse-by-verse Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15. Although many other passages contribute to our understanding of Christ’s resurrection, this chapter supplies the most definitive handling of the occurrence and its implications.

Writing verse-by-verse studies requires much time and effort. Yet I would joyfully make the commitment if enough women (remember, men other than my husband and elders from First Baptist Church Weymouth, MA should not be reading my teaching articles) would read them. I truly believe that cultivating a Biblical understanding of Christ’s resurrection would go a long way in protecting us against false teachers.

Please use my Comments Section or my Outspoken TULIP Facebook page to let me know if you’d prefer a structured Bible Study series on the resurrection or less formal posts from time to time (FBCW elders, please weigh in too!) so that I’ll invest my time and energy in the wisest way possible. I want you to be excited about the resurrection, so I need help determining the most interesting way to approach it.

Discernment requires knowing at least the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Because the doctrine of the resurrection is so critical to the Gospel, and because false teachers often distort, downplay or disregard it, we dare not neglect it. Instead, dear sisters in Christ,  let’s grab on to its glorious promises and celebrate it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: January 7 — January 13

Three Beauties

Okay, it’s true. I get a kick out of typing Ryan Higginbottom’s name. That said, I genuinely appreciate many of his contributions to Knowable Word. His post, Your Secret Weapon in Bible Study, leads us in engaging effectively with Scripture.

Erik Raymond of The Gospel Coalition Blog shows us The Staggering Consequences of Neglecting Your Bible. Hopefully, each of my readers does spend regular time in God’s Word, but on the outside chance that one of you doesn’t do so, this blog post might help you understand the critical importance of this practice.

In recent years, the term “evangelical” has come to mean something much different than what it should. In Putting the Evangelical in Evangelicalism, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate reminds us who the true evangelicals really are.

Take time to read Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women) by Pastor Gabe Hughes.  He goes through all the women in the Bible that feminists hold up as arguments for the ordination of women.

Along those lines, Katie McCoy explains Why Women Are Critical To the Mission of the Church in her post for Biblical Woman. She emphasizes the many ministry opportunities that women can enjoy! I believe her perspective offers encouragement to ladies who mistakenly assume that people can only serve the Lord through pulpit ministry.

Dear Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women also weighs in on the topic of women preaching in Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over. Her Biblical insight into this issue really helps to show serious problems when a church opens its pulpit to women.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Women Pastors And Questioning The Authority And Sufficiency Of Scripture

Ladies Study 03As you’ll see in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler, the topic of women preaching has again resurfaced on social media. Two weeks ago, in fact, I engaged in a Twitter debate that began with someone objecting to my stance that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies to churches today. Eventually the conversation migrated to the issue of whether or not God speaks apart from Scripture, but not because I meant to soften my stance on the original issue.

If anything, I see the embrace of women in the pulpit as one of many symptoms of people rejecting both Scripture’s authority and its sufficiency. We refuse to accept God’s verdict that pulpit ministry belongs exclusively to men, so we look outside His Word for some way of manipulating the text to say something other than what it says. (The Gay Christian Movement, incidentally, uses the same tactics.)

The three articles in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler do an excellent job of detailing Scriptural arguments for confining pulpit ministry to men, so I hope you’ll budget time to read each of them. Nothing I could write here could possibly improve on any of them. But I want to contribute to the conversation by emphasizing that the overarching problem lies in a subtle disregard for God’s Word.

1 Timothy 2:14 states that women shouldn’t teach men because Eve fell into deception before Adam did. I believe this remark sheds light on the matter because Satan enticed Eve to first question God’s Word and then to modify it. Once Satan objected to her modification, she blatantly disobeyed God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. ~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Do you see that Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, basically rejected the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word? Satan successfully convinced her that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Consequently she usurped Adam’s leadership and decided to override God’s explicit command.

Don’t women pastors do exactly what Eve did? They may think they honor God’s Word, but they deliberately distort Scripture for the express purpose of defying it. They elevate their desires to teach men over God’s command to submit to male leadership.

I don’t fully understand why the Lord restricts pulpit ministry to men, but I definitely do understand that the Bible is God’s Word regardless of whether or not I like everything it says. In the matter of women preaching and/or teaching men, Church must surrender personal preferences in favor of bowing to the Lord’s authority with the sweet assurance that we need nothing beyond His Word.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: December 31 — January 6

Ball Sampler 01

Reading Last day of  2017: Thoughts on time’s passage by Elizabeth Prata in The End Time, both sobers and encourages me. Having turned 64 in September, I relate quite well to many of her comments. It floors me that my Personal Care Attendants studied the Vietnam War in high school — Nixon pulled us out of that war when I was in 12th grade! All that aside, Elizabeth uses her musings to help us think about where time is headed.

Leonardo De Chirico  writes Did Pope Francis Say Mission? in Vatican Files to demonstrate this pope’s apparent problem understanding the Biblical view of evangelism. We should be deeply concerned that many professing evangelicals embrace Francis.

I couldn’t agree more with Michelle Lesley’s Sanctification > Resolutions: 6 Ways God Could Sanctify You in the New Year in Discipleship for Christian Women. Ladies, please don’t miss this godly and practical article!

Whether your pastor feels frustrated about numerical growth in your church or you struggle with discouragement in personal evangelism, read Who builds the church? by Mark McIntyre on his blog, Attempts at Honesty. Ain’t nothing like a Scriptural perspective to provide a breath of fresh air, now is there?

In case you’re still debating the value of New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll find interesting insight by reading Jordan Standridge’s Rescued from Meaningless Resolutions in The Cripplegate. I think he hits the nail on the head.

Why Should I Read the Bible in 2018? asks Leslie A of Growing 4 Life. Her six reasons might encourage you to keep reading long after the New Year’s zeal wears off.

Many Christian moms experience the heartache of a child who doesn’t come to Christ. I can only guess at the devastating emotions they go through. But Kim Shay, one of the ladies who blogs for Out of the Ordinary, writes They are our children, after all to address the most common emotional reactions to having a prodigal child.

Like SharaC, I question all the talk about “authenticity,” “messiness” and “brokenness” that’s so popular among evangelicals. Her article, Smoking in the Trenches appears on her Into the Foolishness of God blog, and offers some good fodder for thoughtful pondering.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: December 24 — December 30

bible-sampler

In a devotional study based on 1 Timothy 6:6, Pastor Colin Smith of Unlocking the Bible examines various pitfalls of material wealth. Why is Godliness with Contentment Great Gain? recalibrates our perspective on`our possessions.

It’s that time of year! But before you adopt a Bible reading plan that you’ll abandon once you hit Leviticus, consider John Chester’s approach in Reprise: You Don’t Need A Bible Reading Plan; You Need A Philosophy, which appears in Parking Space 23. Personally, I probably won’t implement all his suggestions, though I heartily agree with his overall concept.

Sometimes, however, people really need the accountability of a definite reading plan. For such people, Denny Burk offers A Plan to Read through the Bible in 2018 that may help. I’m not certain I agree 100% that we must read the entire Bible each and every year, but we should do so more often than not in order to gain context. The plan Burk recommends might encourage you to overcome any fears of tackling Genesis through Revelation this year.

Still undecided on how you’ll read God’s Word in the New Year?  Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women links to a wide variety of Bible Reading Plans for the New Year – 2018 for our consideration. Whether we choose one of these plans or adopt a philosophy of Bible reading, make it your priority to stay in Scripture regularly and systematically, remembering that it’s the very Word of God.

Abigail at Hope and Stay reflects on resolutions in her essay, A New Year’s Invitation: Resolved, to Tear My Heart to Shreds. She rightly convicts me to examine my own progress in killing sin.

Returning to the topic of Bible reading plans, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life introduces The G4L 2018 Bible Reading Challenge by explaining why Bible literacy is so important. Even if you have already selected a reading plan, her insights on the priority of spending time in God’s Word deserve attention.

As I’ve said before, the Church needs more people like Elizabeth Prata who boldly declare the truth! In her essay, Doing my best to puncture the balloon that Ladies Ministries try to inflate for The End Time, she takes on the self-esteem teaching that so many popular women teachers propagate.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I Can’t See God’s Grace Without Seeing Who I Am

NegativeNobody particularly enjoys reading about human sinfulness or God’s wrath. We much prefer blog posts that celebrate His goodness, love and mercy. I’m stating the obvious, of course, but I do so because I suspect some readers may believe I take some misanthropic pleasure in writing about God’s judgment.

Frankly, I can appreciate that sentiment. I also would rather read (and write) about God’s grace. I like thinking about how much He loves me. I don’t want to be  confronted with my wretchedness, or to realize my utter dependence on Christ’s righteousness because I have no righteousness of my own. Humility often feels distinctly distasteful to me.

Scripture, however, has absolutely no interest in making people feel good about themselves. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles to compose scathing indictments against humanity.

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~~Romans 3:10–18 (ESV)

Clearly, the apostle Paul’s compilation of Old Testament Scriptures doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture of the human race. Yet he doubles-down on the theme of human depravity all the way through Romans 7 so that his readers will comprehend our desperate need for a savior.

Romans 7, as a matter of fact, spotlights Paul’s personal struggles against sin, escalating to a point of hopelessness just before he presents the only hope of deliverance.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. ~~Romans 7:21-25 (ESV)

Our wretched condition, repulsive as it is, allows us to see how precious God’s love, mercy and grace really are.

Sadly,  postmodern Western society has not only bought into the lie that people are basically good, but it perpetuates that lie in a plethora of ways. To make matters worse, evangelicals now adapt their theology to accommodate that lie!

Consequently, I emphasize human depravity in my articles with the goal of accentuating how glorious the grace of God truly is. Until we come to terms with our inescapable wretchedness, we regard His goodness lightly. Sometimes we even convince ourselves that He owes us His love (a ridiculous proposition).

I long to write posts praising the Lord for His unfathomable grace and mercy. As a woman who has seen her own vile rebellion forgiven, I well know that I best understand the wonder of His grace when I face the ugliness of who I am apart from Him.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin