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John Piper: “Were Women Deacons in the New Testament?”

Were Women Deacons?

Feeding of the 5000

By Dr. John Piper

Probably yes. There are four observations that incline me to think that this office was held by both men and women.

1. The Greek word for deacon can be masculine or feminine in the same form. So the word itself does not settle the issue.

2. In the middle of the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 Paul says, “The women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.” This could be the wives of the deacons, but could also be the women deacons. The latter is suggested by the fact that no reference to women is made in 3:1-7. Since women were not candidates for the eldership in the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:12-13) because of its authoritative function in teaching and oversight, the absence of the reference to women in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 would be expected. But this confirms the probability that the reference to women in 3:11 is to women deacons, not merely to wives of deacons.

3. The deacons were distinguished from the elders in that they were not the governing body in the church nor were they charged with the duty of authoritative teaching. So the role of deacon seems not to involve anything that Paul taught in 1 Timothy 2:12 (or anywhere else) which is inappropriate for women to perform in the church.

4. In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is very probably called a deacon. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon(ess) of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.”

It appears then that the role of deacon is of such a nature that nothing stands in the way of women’s full participation in it. Within the deaconate itself, the way the men and women relate to each other would be guided by the sense of appropriateness, growing out of the Biblical teaching of male and female complementarity.

Qualifications of Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

3:8 “Deacons likewise must be serious. . .”

Serious, Earnest, Honorable (semnous)

The idea of “serious” by itself seems inadequate. This would be an unsatisfactory translation of Philippians 4:8: “Think on these things . . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable. . .” “Serious” is morally neutral. But this word isn’t. The person should not be flippant, but earnest about life.

3:8 “. . . not double-tongued. . .”

Genuine, Authentic (me dilogous)

“Double-tongued” implies saying one thing to be true here and another thing to be true there, according to what people would think. So it implies a lack of love for truth and a fear of human disapproval and a general instability.

3:8 “. . . not addicted to much wine. . .”

Temperate (me oino pollo prosechontas)

Prosechontas implies “to concern oneself with” or “to give attention to” or “to turn one’s mind toward.” So there should be a freedom from drink, and presumably from all substances that would be harmful if taken too freely.

The picture is of a person under control, not carried along 1) by the opinions of others (genuine, authentic) or 2) by his appetites (temperate) or 3) by levity (serious, honorable).

3:8 “. . . not greedy for gain. . .”

Content with simplicity (me aischrokerdeis)

This word is used in Titus 1:7 of elders and in adverb form of elders in 1 Peter 5:2. It corresponds to aphilargon (not a lover of money) in 1 Timothy 3:3.

It seems to be a fourth dimension of freedom (see “temperate” above for the first three), freedom from the pull of money. Other motives should drive him. There should be a contentment in God and a heavenly mindedness.

3:9 “…having the mystery of the faith in a clean conscience.”

Deep Convictions Concerning The Faith

The issue of conscience does not appear to be the general issue as in 1:5; 4:2; 2 Timothy 1:3Titus 1:15. But 1:19 is a very close connection: “holding faith and a good conscience.”

It seems that the conscience bears directly on the “faith in good conscience.” This inclines me to think that the issue is the sincerity of the faith. Do the deacons really have faith rooted in their hearts or are there sneaking doubts? Are their consciences clear when they make a public profession of their faith?

3:10 “And let them also be tested first. . .”

Tested (dokimazesthosan)

The test is not specified, but it is to precede the work as deacons. The test would be two-fold: the life they have lived and the assessment of it by those who know them and by some appropriate body of the church.
This would surely apply to all the leaders including elders and deacons.

I see three usual steps in the testing and selection of leaders.

1. The elders would take responsibility to see that the testing and approval is done in accord with Biblical criteria since they are responsible for the general oversight of the church and for the doctrinal purity of the leadership.

2. They may need to involve representatives of the congregation who have a wider knowledge of some people than they do.

3. The congregation itself would be the final test of approval, as they are the last court of appeal in matters of church discipline (Matthew 18:171 Corinthians 5:4). Therefore, all would be approved by the church as the final step of “testing” and “approval.”

3:10 “. . . then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons.”

Blameless (anegkletoi)

Blameless in the sense that no blame is discovered that has not been settled in a Biblical way. It does not mean perfect, but free from ongoing guilt for some unsettled wrong.

3:11 We will come back to this verse.

3:12 “Let the deacons be the husband of one wife. . .”

One Woman’s Husband

(See section on 1 Timothy 3:2)

3:12 “. . . and let them manage their children and their households well.”
This would seem to imply some measure of administrative ability, but note well, unlike the case with the elders in 3:5, it does not say, “for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?” General oversight does not appear to be in view as with the “overseers” of 3:1-7.

Rather, the point is probably the general truth that much of a man’s true character and gifts come out in the way he leads his family. Something is significantly wrong if the man appears religious and able at church but has a disorderly home.

Again the home is the proving ground for all fitness for leadership in the church.

3:13 “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

This is not a qualification but a promise of what comes with the faithful execution of the diaconate.

A good standing for themselves may mean a respectable place in the Christian community or a safe place in the last Day of Judgment as in 6:19.

And great confidence is the subjective boldness that rises with the faithful performance of duty.

(Now back to 3:11 and the question of the women.)

3:11 “Likewise the women. . .”

Is this a reference to the wives of the deacons or a reference to women who were deaconesses? See pages 56-57 for a slightly fuller treatment of this issue.

In Favor of “Deaconesses”:

  1. The use of “likewise” to introduce the group in the same way the deacons were introduced in verse 8 suggests a new order, namely, deaconesses.

  2. The women are not mentioned in verses 1-7 where overseers are being discussed. If wives are in view, you would expect that they would be. But if women as a distinct order are in view, you would not, because the elders are given responsibilities which Paul says women should not assume. So the absence of women among the overseers and the presence of the women among the deacons suggests an order, not wives.

  3. Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2 appears to be a deaconess.

  4. The deacons are not charged with any duties that in themselves would contradict what Paul says is appropriate for women to do in the church.

In Favor of “Wives”:

  1. You would expect that they would be called “deaconesses” instead of women or wives.

  2. Paul returns to the qualifications of deacons in the next verse, which seems strange if he had begun to discuss a new order.

It seems that the decision will not be made with confidence simply from this text alone but will be made on the basis of the wider considerations of what is appropriate for women to do according to all the New Testament teachings.

3:11 “. . . must be serious. . .”

See above on 3:8, Serious, Earnest, Honorable.

3:11 “. . . no slanderers. . .”

Not Slanderers, Gossips (me diabolous)

A woman who has itchy ears and a loose tongue will not be a good deaconess. Her words must build up. She must keep confidences and not be addicted to scuttlebutt.

3:11 “. . .temperate. . .”

See above on 3:2, Temperate.

3:11 “. . . faithful in all things.”

Honest, Trustworthy, Reliable, Loyal (pistas in pasin)

See above on Titus 1:6, Honest.

Source: ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

 

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How Are Women Saved Through Childbearing?

 

How Are Women Saved Through Childbearing?

By Dr. John Piper

What did Paul mean when he said in 1 Timothy 2:15, “Yet she [the woman] will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control”?

Henry Alford’s interpretation of this verse is not widely known. I find it compelling and would like to commend it for your consideration. Henry Alford was a British Anglican scholar who published commentary on The Greek New Testament in 1863.

The context is that Paul is arguing why men should be the authoritative leaders and teachers in the church rather than women.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:12–15)

What Does Verse 15 Mean?

I have tried to explain elsewhere how Paul is arguing in verse 14. But here the question is: What is the meaning of verse 15? “Yet she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

“She” refers to “the woman” in verse 14 and probably signifies women in general. I say this because of the shift from singular to plural “they” in the next phrase: “Shewill be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith.” “They” is not a pronoun in the Greek but is denoted in the plural form of the verb and therefore may be either feminine or masculine. The context calls for feminine. “Women will be saved through childbearing. . .”

Some have suggested “through childbearing” refers to the birth of Christ. But in the only other place where a form of this word occurs in the Bible (1 Timothy 5:14) it simply refers to bearing children: “So I would have younger widows marry, bear children . . .”

Henry Alford notices that being saved “through” something does not have to mean being saved “by” it, but may mean being saved through it as through a danger. He also notices that Paul does combine the two words (“being saved” and “through”) this way in 1 Corinthians 3:15. “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

Could “She will be saved through childbearing,” mean “She will be saved, not by means of, but through (that is, in spite of) the engulfing pains of childbirth”?

The Sense of Despair

Alford draws our attention to the fact that in Genesis 3:16, after the Fall, when God was appointing the devil and woman and man to their distinctive experiences of the curse, “bearing children” was the very point where God’s curse lands on the woman. “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain inchildbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.’”

Pause and feel the weight of this for women in the centuries before modern medicine. No hygiene, no spinal blocks, no episiotomies, no sutures, no caesarians, no antibiotics, no pain killers, and often, no recovery. Untold numbers of women died in childbirth and countless more suffered the rest of their lives from wounds that prevented childbirth, or any kind of normal sexual life.

In other words, even more than today, there were aspects of childbearing that felt like a curse from God — and often that burden lasted a lifetime, not just in the moment of birth. How easy it would have been for women to despair and feel that God was against them. He was their curser, not their savior.

To this sense of despair Paul responds with the hope of the gospel. No to the curse! The pains of childbearing — even if they last a life-time — are not God’s final word to women. God intends to save women. He intends for her to be a “fellow-heir” with man of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

Henry Alford sums up his interpretation like this:

The curse on the woman for her [“transgression”] was, [“in pains you will bear children”] (Gen. 3:16). Her [“childbearing”] is that in which the curse finds its operation. What then is here promised her? Not only exemption from that curse in its worst and heaviest effects: not merely that she shall safely bear children: but the Apostle uses the word [“will be saved”] purposely for its higher meaning [eternal salvation], and the construction of the sentence is precisely as [in] 1 Cor. 3:15 — [“he will be saved so as through fire”]. Just as that man should be saved through, as passing through, fire which is his trial, his hindrance in his way, in spite of which he escapes — so she shall be saved, through, as passing through, her child-bearing, which is her trial, her curse, her (not means of salvation, but) hindrance in the way of it. (Alford, H. [2010]. Alford’s Greek Testament: an exegetical and critical commentary [Vol. 3, 320]. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)

The Curse Will Be Undone

My summary paraphrase would go like this:

Even though many women today and in history may feel the ongoing effects of the curse in the pains of childbirth and the lifelong wounds that it may leave, I urge all of our Christian sisters not to despair. God’s word to you is hope, not curse. God’s plan for you is salvation not destruction.

Yes, just as the man must work out his salvation through the cursed futilities and miseries of his labor (Genesis 3:18–19), millions of women must find her salvation through the pains and miseries of childbearing. The path of salvation is the same for her as for all the saints: “continuing in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

Jesus Christ is the Savior who became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). The sting of the curse has been removed. It cannot damn us anymore. Faith in him is the link to the Savior. Love, holiness, and self-control are the authenticating fruits of this faith.

At the last day every vestige of the curse will be undone and every wound will be healed. That is part of what it means to be saved through faith in Christ.

The Word of Salvation

I would add one more word of application. Even if modern medicine has wonderfully and rightly lifted much of the pain and lasting wounds of childbirth, every mother knows that sin takes its toll on every aspect of marriage, and birth, and child-rearing. Any of these may swell and threaten to swallow a woman in despair.

I believe it is a legitimate application of this text to say: God’s word to all those burdens and frustrations and miseries is No! This is not my last word to you! My word is salvation! My word, in and through every fiery trial, is to save you, rescue you, preserve you, and give you a future and a hope. All of that through faith in Jesus Christ.

Source: http://www.desiringgod.org (June 10, 2014)

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

 

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Male and Female: The Beauty of Biblical Complementarity

God Created Man Male and Female: What Does It Mean to Be Complementarian?

By Dr. John Piper

Piper J famous quote

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

One of the 30-year theological trademarks of Bethlehem is the way we understand God’s purposes for how men and women relate to each other in family and church and society. If you want a name to put a name on this understanding, we would say we are complementarian — based on the word “complement” (with an “e” in the middle, not an “i”). In other words, we believe that when it comes to human sexuality, the greatest display of God’s glory, and the greatest joy of human relationships, and the greatest fruitfulness in ministry come about when the deep differences between men and women are embraced and celebrated as complements to each other. They complete and beautify each other.

What “Complementarian” Means

The intention with the word “complementarian” is to locate our way of life between two kinds error: on the one side would be the abuses of women under male domination, and on the other side would be the negation of gender differences where they have beautiful significance. Which means that, on the one hand, complementarians acknowledge and lament the history of abuses of women personally and systemically, and the present evils globally and locally in the exploitation and diminishing of women and girls. And, on the other hand, complementarians lament the feminist and egalitarian impulses that minimize God-given differences between men and women and dismantle the order God has designed for the flourishing of our life together.

So complementarians resist the impulses of a chauvinistic, dominating, and abusive culture, one the one side, and the impulses of a sex-blind, gender-leveling, unisex culture, on the other side. And we take our stand between these two ways of life not because the middle ground is safe place (which it is emphatically not), but because we think this is the good plan of God in the Bible for men and women. “Very good,” as he said in Genesis 1.

In fact, I would say that the attempt by feminism to remedy the male abuse of women by nullifying gender differences, backfires and produces millions of men that women cannot enjoy because of their unmanliness, or cannot endure because of their distorted, brutal manliness. In other words, if we don’t teach boys and girls about the truth and beauty and value of their differences, and how to live them out, those differences do not mature in healthy ways — but dysfunctional ways. And a generation of young adults comes into being who simply do not know what it means to be a mature man or a woman; and the cultural price we pay for that is enormous.

The way I would like to approach this is move from the general to the specific: a word about being human, an illustration about being male and female, and then a specific text to show the Biblical roots.

On Being Human

First, a word about being human. My first Sunday at Bethlehem, July 13, 1980 in the evening I gave a message titled “Life Is Not Trivial.” In it I said,

Every human being now and then feels a longing that life not dribble away like a leaky faucet. You’ve all tasted the desire that day-to-day life be more than a series of trifles. It can happen when you are reading a poem, when you are kneeling in your closet, when you are standing by the lakeside at sunset. It very often happens at birth and death.

I quoted Moses from Deuteronomy 32:46, “Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you but it is your life” (RSV). Deep in every God-created human being, bearing the insignia of humanity in the image of God, there is a longing for life not to be meaningless. Not be trivial, frivolous, inconsequential.

I read recently this quote from the crime novelist Agatha Christie (1896–1976)

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all, I still know quite certainly, that just to be alive, is a grand thing.

I think this is wonderfully true. To be a living human being is a grand thing. Haven’t you all had those rare and wonderful moments when you are standing by a window, or door, or anywhere, and suddenly, unbidden, and powerful comes the awakening: I am alive. I am alive. Not like a tree or rabbit, but like a human being. I am thinking, feeling, longing, regretting, grieving. Alive. Made in the very image of God. And this is a grand thing.

It is a grand thing. And part of the grandeur of being a living human being created in the image of God is that you are either male or female. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Nobody is a generic human being. There is no such thing. God never intended that there be. God creates male human beings and female human beings. And this is a grand thing.

It is a travesty of these human natures to think God’s only design in the differences was for making and nursing babies. The differences are too many and too deep for such a superficial explanation. A woman is a woman to the depths of her humanity. And a man is a man to the depths of his humanity. And this is a grand thing. So my first point is that God has done a grand thing in making us male and female in his image. Don’t diminish this. Delight in it. Glory in being alive as the male or female person you are.

Illustrating Our Differences

Second, let me create an illustration to portray some of the differences between manhood and womanhood. A picture may be worth a thousand words — even a word picture. Suppose among the young adults at the Downtown Campus a young man and woman — say 20-years old — find themselves chatting before the worship service. He likes what he hears and sees, and says, “Are you sitting with anyone?” They sit together. They notice how each engages with God in worship.

When the service is over, as they are leaving, he says, “Do you have any lunch plans? I’d love to treat you to lunch.” At that point she can signal she is not interested, “I do have some plans. But thanks.” Or she can signal the opposite: “I do, but let me make a call. I think I can change them. I’d love to go.”

Neither has a car, so he suggests they walk to Maria’s Café down on Franklin Avenue, about 10 minutes from the church. As they walk he finds out that she has a black belt in martial arts, and that she is one of the best in the state. At 19th Street two men block their way ominously and say, “Pretty girl friend you’ve got there. We’d like her purse and your wallet. In fact, she’s so pretty we’d like her.” The thought goes through his head: “She can whip these guys.” But instead of stepping behind her, he takes her arm, pulls her back behind him, and says, “If you’re going to touch her, it will be over my dead body.”

When they make their move, he tackles them both and tells her to run. They knock him unconscious, but before they know what hit them, she has put them both on their backs with their teeth knocked out. And a little crowd has gathered. The police and ambulance come and she gets in the ambulance with the young man. And she has one main thought on the way to the hospital: This is the kind of man I want to marry.

Not About Competency

The main point of that story is to illustrate that the deeper differences of manhood and womanhood are not superior or inferior competences. There are rather deep dispositions or inclinations written on the heart, albeit often very distorted. Notice three crucial things.

First, he took the initiative and asked if he could sit with her and if she would go to lunch and suggested the place and how to get there. She saw clearly what he was doing, and responded freely according to her desires. She joined the dance. This says nothing about who has superior competences in planning. God writes the impulse to lead on a man’s heart. And the wisdom to discern it and enjoy it on a woman’s.

Second, he said that he wanted to treat her to lunch. He’s paying. This sends a signal. “I think that’s part of my responsibility. In this little drama of life, I initiate, I provide.” She understands and approves. She supports the initiative and graciously accepts the offer to be provided for. She takes the next step in the choreography. And it says nothing about who is wealthier or more capable of earning. It is what God’s man feels he must do.

Third, it is irrelevant to the masculine soul that a woman he is with has greater self-defending competencies. It is his deep, God-given, masculine impulse to protect her. It is not a matter of superior competency. It is a matter of manhood. She saw it. She did not feel belittled by it, but honored, and she loved it.

At the heart of mature manhood is the God-given sense (disposition, inclination) that the primary responsibility (not sole responsibility) lies with him when it comes to leadership-initiative, provision, and protection. And at the heart of mature womanhood is the God-given sense (disposition, inclination) that none of this implies her inferiority, but that it will be a beautiful thing to come alongside such a man and gladly affirm and receive this kind of leadership and provision and protection.1

The Biblical Testimony

Which brings us now to the Bible. For those who disagree with this complementarian view the likely criticism would be: that is all culturally determined. It’s not innate and it’s not from God. You are just reflecting the home you grew up in and the biases of your childhood. That’s possible. Everyone brings assumptions and preferences to this issue. The question is: Does God reveal his will about these things in his word?

Let’s look first at a text dealing with marriage and then one dealing very briefly with the church. In both texts, Christ-like, humble, loving, sacrificial men are to take primary responsibility for leadership, provision and protection. And women are called to come alongside these men, support that leadership, and advance the kingdom Christ with the full range of her gifts in the paths laid out in Scripture.

Marriage and the Home

First, a text on marriage and the home. Ephesians 5:22-33,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. [Then, quotingGenesis 2:2431 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Four Observations from This Text

  1. Marriage is a dramatization of Christ’s relationship to his church. Verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

  2. In this drama, the husband takes his cues from Christ and the wife takes her cues from God’s will for the church. Verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Verse 22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.”

  3. So the primary responsibility for initiative and leadership in the home is to come from the husband who is taking his cues from Christ, the head. And it is clear that this is not about rights and power, but about responsibility and sacrifice. Verse 25: “As Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”  No abuse. No bossiness. No authoritarianism. No arrogance. Here is a man whose pride has been broken by his own need for a Savior, and he is willing to bear the burden of leadership given to him by his Master, no matter how heavy the load. Godly women see this and are glad.

  4. This leadership in the home involves the sense of primary responsibility for nourishing provision and tender protection. Verse 29: “For no one ever hated his own flesh (that is, his wife), but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” The word, “nourishes” implies nourishing provision. And the word “cherishes” implies tender protection. This is what Christ does for his bride. This is what the godly husband feels the primary responsibility to do for his wife and family.

So a complementarian concludes that biblical headship for the husband is the divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant-leadership, protection and provision in the home. And biblical submission for the wife is the divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. “A helper suitable for him,” as Genesis 2:18 says.

Applied to the Church

We don’t have time to develop the arguments for how this applies to the church. So I will just make some summary comments so you can know how we as complementarians see it. In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” In the context we take that to mean: the primary responsibility for governance and teaching in the church should be carried by spiritual men. These are the two functions that distinguish elders from deacons: governing (1 Timothy 5:17) and teaching (1 Timothy 3:2). So the clearest way we apply this passage is to say that the elders of the church should be spiritual men.

In other words, since the church is the family of God, the realities of headship and submission that we saw in marriage (Ephesians 5:22ff) have their counterparts in the church.

  • Authority” (in 1 Timothy 2:12) refers to the divine calling of spiritual, gifted men to take primary responsibility as elders for Christlike, servant-leadership and teaching in the church.

  • And “submission” refers to the divine calling of the rest of the church, both men and women, to honor and affirm the leadership and teaching of the elders and to be equipped by them for the hundreds and hundreds of various ministries available to men and women in the service of Christ.

That last point is very important. For men and women who have a heart to minister — to save souls and heal broken lives and resist evil and meet needs — there are fields of opportunity that are simply endless. God intends for the entire church to be mobilized in ministry, male and female. Nobody is to simply stay at home watching soaps and ballgames while the world burns.

Concluding Challenge to Men

This is a call for men and women to realize it is a grand thing to be a man created in the image of God, and it is an equally grand thing to be a woman created in the image of God. But since the burden of primary responsibility lies on the men — let me challenge them mainly:

Men, do you have a moral vision for your families, a zeal for the house of the Lord, a magnificent commitment to the advancement of the kingdom, an articulate dream for the mission of the church and a tenderhearted tenacity to make it real? You can’t lead a godly women without this. She is a grand being!

There are hundreds of such men in the church today. And more are needed. When the Lord visits his church and creates a mighty army of deeply spiritual, humble, strong, Christlike men committed to the Word of God and the mission of the church, the vast army of women will rejoice over the leadership of these men and enter into a joyful partnership. And that will be a grand thing.

1For a fuller explanation of this manhood and womanhood see John Piper, What’s the Difference? (Crossway, 2008); Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood(Crossway, 1991); 50 Crucial Questions About Manhood and Womanhood (PDF).

SOURCE: http://www.desiringgod.org (NOVEMBER 24, 2012)

 ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Current Issues, John Piper

 

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Why Be Thankful for the Bible?

10 Reasons I’m Thankful For a God-Breathed Bible by John Piper

Piper J famous quote

1. The Bible awakens faith, the source of all obedience.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

2. The Bible frees from sin.

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

3. The Bible frees from Satan.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

4. The Bible sanctifies.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

5. The Bible frees from corruption and empowers godliness.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

6. The Bible serves love.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

7. The Bible saves.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. (Acts 20:26)

[They will] perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

8. The Bible gives joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)

9. The Bible reveals the Lord.

And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. (1 Samuel 3:21)

10. Therefore, the Bible is the foundation of my happy home and life and ministry and hope of eternity with God.

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

 

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John Piper on God’s Sovereign Work in Your Life

The Effect of Your Life in 1,400 Years

The Effect of Your Life in 1,400 Years

Do you think God has purposes for your life that will be realized in 1,400 years?

I do. Your life and mine.

Yes, the new heavens and the new earth may be here by then. I hope so. If so, there are things that are happening to you now that will have reverberations then for your good.

I say that because Paul says, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When Paul speaks of “light momentary affliction,” he is referring to all the painful experiences of our lives — the same thing he means by “the sufferings of this present time” in Romans 8:18. All of this present time.

And when he says that these life-long experiences are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory,” he means that there is a correlation between those experiences now and our experiences of glory later. And that correlation is more than sequential, and more than evidence that we are going to glory.

It would be little comfort to Paul if I said the point was: “How I handle my backache and how you handle your beheading are evidence that we are both going to glory.” That’s true. But it’s not the point of the word “preparing” (katergazetai). His beheading will have a different effect on his glory than my backache will on mine. And I’ll be the happier for his reward.

Everything Relates to Everything

But what if, in 1,400 years Christ has not returned? Will your life make a difference in that world? I think so. In God’s governance of the world, everything relates to everything.

Consider this illustration.

When I was in Ethiopia last November, I was told of an Ethiopian missionary who went to Pakistan. He entered a town with a view to evangelizing and planting a church, even though Pakistan is not open to this kind of missionary work.

But when he went before the town leaders and they found out that he was from Ethiopia they said something to the effect: “You may do your work here. We owe you the gift of openness and hospitality, because your people gave asylum to Mohammed’s family 1,400 years ago.”

The Land of Justice

Since then I have tried to track down the history behind this amazing statement. In 2008 there was a symposium about this very tradition. Scholars from Princeton, Cornell, Rutgers, and the National Museum of Ethiopia met to discuss new historical findings.

In Islamic history and tradition, Ethiopia (Abyssinia) is known as the “Haven of the First Migration” of Muslims. During Mohammed’s lifetime (570 – 632) his followers were being persecuted in the surroundings of Mecca by pagan tribes.

Dr. Said Samatar, Professor of African History at Rutgers, explained “King Armah (Negash) and his decision to grant refuge to the family of the Prophet Mohammad, who arrived at Aksum while fleeing from their pagan persecutors.” King Armah was a Christian and had the reputation of treating people generously. Dr. Samatar described how “a Christian King refused bribes and granted sanctuary to the fleeing Muslims in Aksum.”

“Mohammad didn’t forget the generosity of the Negash,” he said, “and in the sayings (hadith) of the Prophet that have been recorded and passed on for generations, it is noted that ‘Abyssinia [Ethiopia] is a land of justice in which no one is oppressed.’”

Therefore, for many Muslims even today, 1,400 years later, “Ethiopia is synonymous with freedom from persecution and emancipation from fear.”

Consider Your Impact

Do you think that the Christians of Abysinnia, 1,400 years ago thought that what they were doing would have an effect for the glory of Christ and the good of the world fourteen centuries later, when a Pakistani mayor opened his city to a Christian Ethiopian missionary?

Therefore, I conclude that what we do in obedience to Christ in this life is never wasted. Our acts are like pebbles dropped in the pond of history. No matter how small our pebble, God rules the ripples. And he causes the design on the face of the waters to be exactly what he wills.

Your pebbles count. Drop them with daily faithfulness, and leave the ripples to God.

SOURCE: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-effect-of-your-life-in-1-400-years

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

 

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JOHN PIPER ON “Thinking Deeply and Clearly”

Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

Timothy: Wait a minute, Paul. You tell me to think, but isn’t the organ of our thinking fallen and unreliable?

Paul: Yes, your mind is fallen and fallible. Yes, it is prone to self-justifying errors. But Christ is in the business of “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2Ephesians 4:23). Do you think there is some unfallen part of you that you could substitute for your mind? We are fallen and depraved in every part. You can’t retreat from thinking into some other safe, untainted faculty of knowing. Take note, Timothy: even in raising the objection against thinking you are thinking! You can’t escape the necessity of thinking. God’s call is to do it well.

Timothy: But, Paul, I don’t want to become a cold, impersonal intellectual.

Paul: There is danger on both sides, Timothy. There is cold knowledge, and there is a red hot zeal that “is not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). But thinking does not have to cool your zeal. In fact, in my life the vigorous exercise of my mind in spiritual things causes me to boil inside, not to freeze. You are right not to want to become “impersonal.” That happens when thinking is emphasized to the exclusion of feeling about people; and reason is exalted above love. But note this, Timothy: the abandonment of thinking is the destruction of persons. Yes, there is more to personal relationships than thinking, but they are less human without it. God honored his image in us when he said, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). Should we do less?

Timothy: But, Paul, shouldn’t I just take you at your word, and not ask so many questions? You’re an apostle, and speak for God.

Paul: Take what, Timothy?

Timothy: Your words, what you say in your letters.

Paul: Do you mean the black marks on the parchment?

Timothy: No. What they stand for. You know. What they mean.

Paul: How do you know what I mean, Timothy?

Timothy: I read what you write.

Paul: You mean you pass your eyes over the black marks on the parchment?

Timothy: No, I . . . I think about it. I ask how the words and sentences fit together. I look for what it means.

Paul: That’s right, Timothy. Thinking and asking questions is the only way you will ever understand what I want to communicate in my letters. And either you do it poorly, or you do it well. So “do not be a child in your thinking: be a babe in evil, but in thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). As the Master said, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Timothy: But, Paul, won’t I become arrogant and boastful if by using my mind I discover things on my own?

Paul: Timothy, you never have and never will discover anything “on your own.” And you would know this if you had thought more deeply about what I said. What I said was: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.” The Lord, Timothy, the Lord! “From him, through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory!” (Romans 11:36) He is the ground and goal of all thought. So think, Timothy. Gird up your mind and think!

Praying Psalm 119:66 with you,

Pastor John

©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Devotions, John Piper

 

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BOOK REVIEW: “HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD: Timeless Daily Readings on the Nature of God”

FOCUSING ON THE CHARACTER AND NATURE OF GOD FOR A YEAR

HGIOG

Book Review By David P. Craig

This book contains short devotional excerpts (one page a day) from the writings of Henry and Richard Blackaby’s “Experiencing God”; Jerry Bridges “Trusting God”; Chuck Colson’s “Loving God”; Sinclair Ferguson’s “Heart for God”; Andrew Murray’s “Waiting on God” and Working for God”; John Piper’s “Desiring God”; R.C. Sproul’s “Pleasing God”; A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”; and Dallas Willard’s “Hearing God.”

The readings are arranged for each day of the week for Monday – Friday, and then a reading for the weekend. Each reading is based on a verse of Scripture and topic. The back of the devotional features both a subject and Scripture index. After an entire year of going through this devotional here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Our greatest need is not freedom from adversity. No calamity in this life could in any way be compared with the absolute calamity of separation from God. In like manner, Jesus said no earthly joy could compare with the eternal joy of our names written in heaven.”

“If we want proof of God’s love for us, then we must look first at the Cross where God offered up His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.”

“What God wants from His people is obedience, no matter the circumstances, no matter how unknown the outcome…Knowing how susceptible we are to success’s siren call, God does not allow us to see, and therefore glory in, what is done through us. The very nature of the obedience He demands is that it be given without regard to circumstances or results.”

“In order to trust God, we must view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense.”

“This is real faith: believing and acting regardless of circumstances or contrary evidence.”

What stands out about this devotional are five positive elements: (1) This book is like reading wisdom from a wise godly grandfather – it is biblical, but lived out on the anvil of many years of godly Christian living; (2) It is saturated with Scripture – each author quotes an abundance of Scriptures in illustrating and applying each truth they present; (3) It is God drenched – all of the meditations elevate your view of God and help you to focus on His glory. (4) It is filled with practical applications. (5) It leads you time and time again to worship the Lord in prayer – particularly – gratitude, thanks, and adoration. For these reasons of balancing the head, heart, and hands for God’s glory I highly recommend this excellent devotional.

 

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