Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for the cool weather, grateful for people that you have brought to Sunday School, grateful for a chance to communicate to people electronically so we just pray that You’ll be involved with this study and guide it and direct it. Help us to be people of sensitivity but also at the same time people of love. I ask that You’ll be with our main service that follows as we continue to look at Your very important book You’ve given us, the Book of Revelation and as we participate in the Lord’s table. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory, and also the fellowship lunch that follows. And thank You in advance, Father, for the food. I lift all of these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!
If you all could locate 1 Timothy chapter 3:8-13 and we’re continuing our study on Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. We spent some time on the activities of the church and we’ve moved beyond that to the government of the church. And we saw the various theories that people have on how to govern a church. The elder rule model is the model that has the best support in the New Testament. Well if that’s true then we ought to have somewhere in the Bible giving us the qualifications for elders, right? And in fact we do! These are verses you should just know where they are, 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
We’ve seen that there is no fixed number of elders that are given in the Bible, just the general ideas of plurality. We’ve seen distinctions amongst elders, some teach, some rule. We’ve seen the basic duties of an elder which is to function like a shepherd would in the natural world. And then we’ve seen that elders for bad conduct can be removed. And from there we switched to a second office in the church, which is the office of deacon and we saw that the office of deacon came into existence in Acts 7:1-7 in the church in Jerusalem and that office was basically there to liberate the apostles who were the functioning elders over the church at Jerusalem from having to get involved with the distribution of food to widows. And that was turned over to trusted men and therefore the elders/apostles could devote themselves to a ministry of prayer and the Word.
And just like there are qualifications for elders there are also qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and that’s the part of the study we were looking at before.
Deacons are mentioned, as I mentioned, in Acts 6:1-7. [Acts 6:1-7, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.  So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.  Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.  And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.  The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”]
And in Acts 6:3 you’ll find some of the qualifications for deacons. We walked through those last time, and so now we’re moving to another section of Scripture which reveals also the qualifications for deacons. I read these verses to you last time but you probably haven’t been thinking about them, maybe you have, I should give you the benefit of the doubt I guess but I know life has so many distractions. So let’s sort of remind ourselves of what these verses say.
1 Timothy 3:8, “Deacons likewise,” now why is he saying “likewise”? Because he just gave the qualification for elders in the prior seven verses, “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,  but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.  Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.  Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.  For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
So from that list I made a list here of what you look for in a deacon. And of course this is important because the congregation, I think at least every year or two years is voting to reconfirm the deacons and elders we’ve put forward. So we ought to be intelligent vote casters and you can’t do that unless you know what the Bible says about these subjects and the places and addresses where the Bible reveals these things.
So to be a deacon what do you have to be? Number on 1, “men of dignity,” basically respectable. Number 2, “not double-tongued,” and of course when I think about double-tongued I think about James 3 which has one of the most convicting chapters in the whole Bible on how to handle that 2×2 slab of mucous membrane between the gums called the tongue. James says, “With it” that’s the tongue, “we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;  from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.  Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?  Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh water.”
So there it’s talking about our propensity as Christians to praise the Lord in church but it’s so easy to go back to the sin nature and all of a sudden with the same mouth that I use to praise the Lord in church I’m now cursing people that are made in God’s image. A deacon should not be that way, should not be what the Bible calls “double-tongued.”
Furthermore, a deacon should not be addicted to much wine” it says. And this gets into the whole subject of drinking and is drinking acceptable and should there be a complete ban on drinking if you’re a church leader? In all honesty I’ve tried to look into this issue, I don’t see a carte blanche ban on drinking, let’s say at graduation or a wedding or something like that. I do see a ban on alcoholism and drunkenness and substance abuse. But you’ll notice over in 1 Timothy, same book, chapter 5, verse 23, Paul himself recommends wine for medicinal purposes.
He says to young Timothy, “No longer drink water exclusively,” so I’ve got my water up here today and I shouldn’t be drinking that exclusively I guess… “No longer drink water exclusively but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” I’m not one of those to impose bans where God doesn’t impose a ban but what I see a prohibition against in Scripture is intoxication, drunkenness, substance abuse and the like. So a deacon should not be that way, it’s not necessarily making a statement about no wine in social circumstances at all.
And then they should… look at this one here, not be “fond of sordid gain.” Why would that be? Well because our deacons are counting our money after the service and if you’re a person that’s given over to loving money the temptation is to pilfer from the treasury. Legally that’s what we call embezzlement. And of course it brings to mind one of the disciples, doesn’t it? John 12:6 Judas had custody over the little bag of money that the disciples would carry around and he used to help himself for whatever he wanted out of the bag. He was an embezzler. [John 12:6, “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.”] And of course this is why he complained about Mary taking expensive ointment and pouring it on Christ and he makes a statement in early John 12 this money should have been given to help the poor when in reality he had no concern for the poor at all, what he had concern about is more money being in that bag for him to embezzle from. . [John 12:8, “or you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”]
So this is the kind of a nightmare you run into when you put someone in charge of church finances who has a character that’s “fond of sordid gain.” You can put some internal controls in place to kind of minimize that temptation. We have two deacons taking the count whenever we’re counting money after the service but we certainly don’t want to be in a situation where people are embezzling the Lord’s money. And sadly this happens at churches more frequently than you would think and there’s a prohibition against it. You can protect yourself against it by looking at the character of the deacon very carefully; is he given over to a fondness for sordid gain or not?
A deacon also must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. In other words, he needs to be a person that understands and defends the mystery realm doctrine of the church. And if you want to know what our position is about the mystery realm doctrine of the church we have teaching statements in our church constitution and then we also have our position statements demonstrating the angle that we teach from.
Now we had a situation with a deacon when I first came here and he was one of these guys that had a problem with one of our positions doctrinally, in this case it was the pre-trib rapture of the church. Our position statement, number five is very clear that we believe in the pre-trib rapture of the church and he had a problem with the emphasis that we were placing on it. And so he kind of took it upon himself to get into different small groups and try to start what he would call a dialogue and I’ve noticed that when people want to start a dialogue about something they typically want to change something. And what he was doing is getting in these small groups and dropping little hints here and there against the doctrine of the pretrib rapture of the church.
The reality of the situation is that’s not what a deacon is supposed to be doing. A deacon is supposed to be defending what we, as a church, believe is mystery realm doctrine. So if a person wants to become a deacon they need to look at our position statement very carefully and our statement of faith very carefully and not get into groups and around people in private circumstances and malign those doctrines. They should be advocating those doctrines and promoting those doctrines. And if a person can’t do that then I believe they should not be a deacon, or an elder for that matter, and they should be disqualified from their position because Paul is very clear here that the deacon “must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” And if you can’t accept what this church believes doctrinally my best advice is don’t become a leader in this church and in the Houston area there’s probably about four thousand churches to pick from so I’m sure if you get out there and look you can find a church that you can agree with, and the Bible is very clear on this.
You’ll also notice that a deacon must first be tested. What does that mean? Do you give them an exam? That wouldn’t be a bad idea in my opinion but I think here “first tested” means you don’t, as the Bible says, “lay hands” too quickly. You don’t put people in positions and in charge of things when you really don’t know the character of the person. Why is that? Because people can do a very good job of masking their true character and their true beliefs and sometimes it takes a while for those things to come out.
In the same letter notice 1 Timothy 5:24, it says, “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” So some people’s basically sinful belief system or sinful conduct is not obvious at first and so you have to put them through kind of a season of observation. It doesn’t tell you how long that season is supposed to last but the Bible is pretty clear, you don’t lay hands too quickly on somebody; they must be first tested to figure out what these people actually think, what they actually believe, what their core character is like.
And I find this violated in a lot of churches because we have these slots to fill and so the temptation is we’ve got to fill these slots and so the temptation is to kind of brush people to the front of the line without really knowing them that well at all. And my perspective on the whole thing is if we don’t have people to fill the slots then maybe that’s a sign from the Lord that we should reduce the number of slots. And there has been more than one occasion in elder board meetings, whether it’s elders or deacons where we just can’t find the people to fill those slots and we’re very comfortable saying okay, until the Lord raises up somebody else we’ll eliminate those slots and shrink those slots because we’re not going to lay hands on people and rush them to the front without them first being tested.
You’ll also notice that a deacon must be “beyond reproach.” Does that mean a deacon has to be perfect? No, no one is. Does that mean that a deacon must be sinless? No, no one is sinless. What it means is he has to be sinning less. We don’t make that as some kind of barometer, if you’re not sinning less then you’re not saved—that’s what Calvinism and Arminianism and Reformed Theology do, they’ll hold your salvation hostage if you’re not bearing fruit. And that’s not our belief system here. But what it does disqualify a person from is leadership. There’s kind of a mindset that everybody is… we’re all leaders, right? NO, we’re not all leaders! The Bible is very clear that leadership is a privilege for some; salvation is by grace alone by faith alone as a free gift open to all but leadership by contrast is a privilege for some. So you don’t put people in positions as an elder or a deacon whose lives are open to criticism because of an ongoing perpetual pattern of sin. See that?
It’s not dealing with an occasional slipup; it’s dealing with the perpetual pattern and that’s what the Bible is talking about when it says “beyond approach.”
Also it’s very clear that a deacon must be “the husband of one wife.” Now what does “husband of one wife” mean? I wish I had a really simple definition for you on this but the fact of the matter is there’s eight interpretations of “husband of one wife.” I have a paper online that you can find, it’s called The Meaning of the Husband of one Wife in 1 Timothy 3:2.” [http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/15/15.pdf?x=x]
Some people think if there’s a divorce in a person’s background, either early on in their Christian life or even before their Christian life, before they were saved, they are disqualified from leadership. That really is not the perspective of that paper and the elders at the time agreed with what I wrote in that paper and one of the things I say in that paper is that the verbs here are all in present tense. So it’s not looking at a person about what they did 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, it’s looking at what they’re like today.
The Greek actually means a “one woman man,” is what it’s talking about. A deacon’s present character has to be such that he is a “one woman man” currently. Can you look into their past? Yes, not as a basis for completely banning them but as a basis for figuring out what they’re like today. That’s the inquiry; that’s the present tense of this. Because it also says an elder (we saw this last time) must not be pugnacious or hot tempered. Does that mean if a person lost their cool, road rage or something, someone cut them off and they got upset in the car fifteen years ago that they are no longer qualified to be an elder or a deacon in Christ’s church? No, that’s not what it means but it becomes an issue if that’s what they are like over and over and over and over again. See that?
So when it talks about a husband of one wife what it’s talking about is their present character a character of fidelity or commitment? And people say well that means a deacon has to be married, right? Well, no, because Paul, who wrote these words, wouldn’t have qualified; neither would Jesus Christ have qualified. I don’t know if there’s a Mrs. Jesus out there. And so what it’s saying is a wife is not required but it’s sort of assumed. If they are married are they devoted to that marriage or not? That’s what you’re trying to figure out when you look at someone’s character.
And then it talks here also about… look at this, good managers of their children and household. The Bible is pretty clear over in Luke 16:10, it says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” If a person can’t manage their own home or their own house how in the world could they be expected to manage the house of God, or the church of God? That’s Paul’s point.
So you always examine people based on what are they like in the little things because if a person is unfaithful in the smaller things that character is going to follow them on a bigger stage. And you go right on through the Bible and you’ll see over and over again the types of people that God promotes. He promotes people that are faithful in something small. For example, Joseph, you can see his character from age 17 to age 30, before he was elevated to second in command in Egypt he was faithful no matter where God had him. In prison he was faithful, in Potiphar’s house he was faithful. He was even faithful in rejecting the sexual advances of someone else’s wife. Faithful, faithful, faithful and all of a sudden one day he wakes up and he’s second in command over the whole empire because his character had proven himself.
And it’s the same with David, when Samuel came to Jesse to anoint the next king following Saul he had Jesse bring out the sons and Jesse brought out all the sons except the runt of the litter, he was immediately dismissed by Jesse, and Samuel said well, the runt of the litter, David, is God’s man. And you remember what David was doing? He wasn’t doing anything majestic or powerful, he was just faithful tending the sheep so he had a character that could be trusted in something small and so he became elevated to the second king of the United Kingdom.
And these are the kind of things you look at with a deacon: are they faithful in what we would call the smaller things, children and household and things of that nature. Now people say well, then, they’ve got to have children or they’re not qualified, right? Well it’s sort of like “husband of one wife,” a wife and children are assumed but they’re not required. Why is that? Because Paul himself, who wrote these words, wouldn’t have been qualified; neither would Jesus! But if they have children and if they are married you have to look into those marriages and their custody over their own family to determine their qualifications.
And all of this is completely under assault by the culture, as you know. I don’t mean to get into politics but from my memory the first time this came severely under attack was through one of our Presidents, Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States and you know about the private life of Bill Clinton. And at the time, remember the impeachment and all those things that came against Bill Clinton; there were so many talking heads saying well what he does in his private life really has no bearing on what he does in his public life because after all, the economy is roaring along… right? The stock market is up.
And I remember seeing the first time in my life this idea of what someone does privately has no impact on what they do publicly really being promoted during the Clinton era. And that’s the secular world and sadly that starts to invade the church where we look at people and say well, they’re talented, they’re gifted, suppose they’ve got a few character flaws, that’s no big deal, we can kind of gloss over those. Well to do that you have to throw out what Paul is saying here.
It’s interesting to me that when you look at the qualifications for elders and deacons there’s not a lot here about talent. That’s our focus, we want to know are they talented and I don’t find anything in these lists about talent. The only thing I really find is an elder must be “apt to teach,” it doesn’t even say an elder has to have the gift of teaching, he’s just got to be apt to do it. Other than that all of these qualifications as you go through them deal with the subject of character. So this is how officers are to function within God’s church, both elder and deacon, the two major offices in God’s church.
And now we go from the frying pan into the fire. I taught this over and over again at the College of Biblical Studies, Ecclesiology, I taught this for seven years and every time we got to this section I always winced because I was teaching in primarily an African American community where their churches believe in female preachers, female pastors, female prophets called prophetesses. And every time I went down this road and tried to explain what God said there was always someone in the class that was on a collision course with what I was saying. So it’s not a subject I really like to talk about, particularly in our feminized culture where the barriers between men and woman and their roles is being radically re-altered as we speak. Here we are at little Sugar Land Bible Church trying to hold a doctrinal position based on a book written two thousand years ago. I mean, this is not the easiest thing to talk about but I’m going to give you my shot at this.
Are there gender restrictions on either of these offices? Are there gender restrictions on elders? Are there gender restrictions on the office of pastor-teacher? Are there gender restrictions on deacons? That’s where we’re going here. And the subject is so volatile I’ve to actually make a few preliminary remarks even before going this direction because what people do is they really don’t hear what you say, they find the one restriction that you’re putting on them and that becomes their whole focus. So try to not become emotional about this but listen to all of the comments in their totality.
So a couple of preliminary remarks. The first one is (and I believe this very strongly) women over the last 2,000 years, and ever here at Sugar Land Bible Church, are really the backbone of the church. And I say that with all sincerity; if you were to take every woman out of Sugar Land Bible Church this place would collapse, I think almost immediately. I don’t know what it is about women compared to men here in the United States but I find the most devoted service oriented Christians typically are female and it’s always like the husband (not in every case of course) but it’s always like the husband is coming kicking and screaming.
And so one of the things that’s very helpful on this whole subject is the notes by Dr. Thomas Constable, my professor. I graded for him for a few semesters at Dallas Seminary, he was the primary reader on my Master’s Thesis and my Doctoral Dissertation. All his notes are available online; he’s go 7,000 pages of Bible study material, just go to SonicLight.com and you can find it. [www.soniclight.com/ Sonic Light has moved to the Plano Bible Chapel website] And he has an appendix in 1 Timothy which is very helpful, Appendix 2, and in Appendix 2 he lists every place in the Bible where God uses a woman. And as you go through this list it’s overwhelming. I mean it’s overwhelming that God wants to use women in ministry.
Just to give you a few examples, I wish I had time to read the whole list, women served in the doorway of the tabernacle, Exodus 38:8. [Exodus 38:8, “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.”]
Miriam was a prophetess, Exodus 15:20, “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.  Miriam answered them, ‘Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”]
Deborah was a prophetess and a judge, Judges 4 and 5. [Judges 4:4, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.”]
Hannah prayed in the house of the Lord, 1 Samuel 1. [1 Samuel 1:13, “As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard.” ]
Hilkiah was a prophetess who prophesied before the high priest and the men of King Josiah, 2 Kings 22:14, [2 Kings 22:14,“So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her.”]
Many women sang in the choirs, 1 Chronicles 25, [2 Chronicles 20:21, “When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”]
The prophet Joel predicted that one day your sons and daughters will prophesy, Joel 2. The virgin Mary’s praise is recorded for us, Luke 1. Anna was a prophetess who served in the temple day and night, Luke 2. A loyal group of women accompanied Jesus and served Him on His ministry tours, Luke 8. Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman at time when religious leaders didn’t talk to women at all, John 4. Jesus cared equally for the physical infirmities of woman, Mark 1. He (Jesus) permitted Lazarus sister to sit at His feet and learn, a privilege only granted to men at the time, Luke 10. Women had been healed by Jesus praised Him publicly, Luke 13.
In a male dominated culture Jesus redressed legal situations which were weighted against women, Matthew 19. Jesus entrusted women with the high privilege of carrying the news of His resurrection to the twelve disciples, Mark 16. Mary Magdalene was of the first people to see Jesus as a risen Lord, John 20. The Holy Spirit fell on both men and women on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2. Women prayed with men in the early church, Acts 1. Women had various ministries of hospitality, service and good works, Acts 9. Priscilla and Aquila, I’ll talk about them in a second if time permits, took Apollos aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately, Acts 18. The Holy Spirit fell upon women as His prophetic mouthpiece, Acts 21.
Do we need more evidence? I wish I had time to read every verse. Paul instructed the older women to teach the younger women, Titus 2. Paul encouraged both unmarried men and women to remain single and devote themselves to the Lord’s service, 1 Corinthians 7. Euodia and Syntyche were coworkers with Paul, Philippians 2, Romans 16, ten of the twenty-nine people Paul commended for loyal service were women, Romans 16, etc. etc. etc.
So when you talk about gender restrictions in certain offices of the church you have to look at the whole council of God’s Word. These comments should not be taken as God doesn’t want women in ministry at all; that’s far afield from what the Bible teaches.
Beyond that, when we talk about gender restrictions on some offices within the church what totality of ministry are we talking about here? I would say it’s a fairly small percentage. Some people would say one to two percent. And we had a female counseling teacher at the College of Biblical Studies that used an expression and when I heard this expression I said that nails it, can I use that expression and she gave me carte blanche permission to use this. She called it the Eve syndrome. God says to Adam and Eve you’re free to do anything you want, Genesis 2. Right, but there’s one restriction. So what did Eve focus on as she was tempted by the serpent? She wasn’t focused on all of the things she could do, she was focused on the single thing she couldn’t do. And I’m afraid that’s what happens in this whole discussion of gender restrictions; instead of focusing on all the ministry that’s open to women what people have a tendency to do is to focus on the single thing that God places a limitation on.
So anyway, those are some introductory remarks that I hope make sense. Part of my explanation of this involves the Trinity. In the Trinity the Son submits to the Father, right? Didn’t Jesus say “Not My will be done but Thy will be done.” However, within the Trinity the Father is fully God and the Son is fully God. Right? So when Jesus submits to the Father does He relinquish one iota of His deity? He does not, so therefore the subordination within the Trinity (listen to me very carefully) does not relate to ontology. Ontology means value. It relates to function or role and so when we talk about female submission either in the church regarding certain offices, within marriage, unfortunately what people hear from that is well, you don’t value women. Or you think women are less valuable than men. And you see, that whole analogy fails when you look at the Trinity where the Son is in submission to the Father in function only, not in value or worth.
The Bible is very clear that both men and women bear God’s image, do they not? Doesn’t Genesis 1:27 say “…in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” So the woman is not less valuable than the man, she is a co-image bearer with the man. So therefore requiring her submission in certain areas should not be taken as she’s less valuable than the man. It’s a function of role not value.
And not only are men and women equal in terms of creation but they’re also equal in terms of salvation. 1 Peter 3:7 says, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker…,” let me stop right there, why would Peter say the woman is weaker than the man? I don’t think Peter is saying the woman is less intelligent than the man, all you’ve got to do is compare me and my wife to see that pretty clearly. Not less industrious than the man, but she is more fragile than the man. I think it’s a general rule that a woman will be reduced to tears faster than a man. People always want to quote these exceptions, these amazon women you see on TV that take the man and put him in a headlock with WWF and all this stuff. I’m not talking about exceptions, I’m just talking about general rule.
Beyond that, if we were to have two football teams, we’re going to make this side female and this side male, where are you going to put your money in terms of the winner. I’m going to put my money on the males because males are physically stronger than a woman. So even though that’s true what does Peter say? “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker since she is a woman” now notice what he says, “and show her honor as a” what? “fellow heir of the grace of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” The woman is the inheritor of the exact same salvation as the man. It’s just like back in Genesis 1 both female and male are image bearers of God.
So my point is these remarks where we start getting into gender limitations on some ministry rolls should in no way, shape or form be taken as (A) women don’t belong in ministry at all; (B) men are more important than women. So we have to have balance in this. And when you get into this subject someone will ask well can a woman be a CEO of a corporation? Would you vote for a female for President. Well I guess for me personally it depends on the female. There’s one female that if I lived in her era and in her country I would vote for her over and over again, she’s one of my favorite politicians of all time… Margaret Thatcher. So the remarks that we’re making here have nothing with whether a woman should be a CEO, whether a woman should run for President, because people like to take these remarks and extrapolate them outward and Paul is just not dealing with that subject. You form your own beliefs on that subject. Paul is dealing with ecclesiastical matters and offices within the church because this all comes up under ecclesiology which is what? The study of the church.
So those are my preliminary remarks, now we’ve got to take the hard medicine, right. Let’s start with elder. Are there gender restrictions on the office of elder. Look at 1 Timothy 3:1-2. We’ll start with elder and then work our way down to deacon as time permits. “It is a trust-worthy statement: if any” what’s the next word? “man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work that? What? What’s the pronoun? “he desires to do.  An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the” what? “husband of one wife,” I don’t know how it’s possible for a female to be the husband of one wife, and you’ll notice that he says “man” and you’ll notice that he says “he.”
Take a look at Titus, remember Timothy and Titus are all part of the pastoral letters. Titus 1:6, Paul also lays out the qualifications for elders and he says, “namely, if any” what? “man is above reproach, the” what? “husband of one wife,” that would be an impossibility for a female, wouldn’t it. So I think when you look at the subject of elder the case is (to my mind) pretty closed, open and shut, however you want to phrase it, it’s pretty clear that there’s a gender limitation on that role.
Now what about women behind the pulpit. Take a look at 1 Timothy, same book, verses 11-14. We’re going through the pastoral letters to resolve these issues; the pastoral letters carry greater weight on this subject because the whole point of the pastoral letters is how to govern a church. A lot of people run off to the Book of Judges to get their view, people say well Deborah was a judge. Okay, the Book of Judges was written during a period of 300 years when the nation of Israel had no kind and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. [Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”] Is that where we’re going to go to develop our philosophy of ecclesiology? To that book? No, we’re going to go to the places that govern the governance of the church, specifically the pastoral letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.
Notice what it says here, 1 Timothy 2:11-14. “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” Now “quiet” here is a different word than silence. It’s not saying put a piece of duct tape over your mouth and don’t talk. It’s talking about a quiet attitude and a spirit rather than utter silence.  A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” Verse 12, “But I do not allow a woman to” what? “teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” “Quiet” again is not the word for absolute 100% duct-tape over the mouth silence. And people say well, is it okay for her to teach as long as she’s not a ruling elder, because it says I don’t permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. Well, I asked Dr. Toussaint, my teacher at Dallas Seminary, a Greek scholar, about this and he says the moment you get up and teach you have the authority because you’re directing the thoughts of people. So a woman is not to be in a position of teaching over men within the church.
Well Paul, you sure are a chauvinist sexist pig to say something like that. Well, notice Paul’s rationale. Verse 13, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” People say well, you know, Paul was just sort of dealing with the culture of the day. No, Paul anchors his case in pre-fallen creation which transcends culture. In other words, these are transcultural concepts that Paul is basing his belief on. He’s basing his belief on what God did before sin entered the world. What did God do? Number one, He created man first and the woman second. Number two, when Eve sinned who did call out to in Genesis 3:9? He called out to the man. [Genesis 3:9, “Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”]
Well, that’s kind of odd, if she sinned first why would He call out to the man? Because the man was created first and he had the position of leadership. When Enron goes belly up you go after the CEO, not the janitor. So you can see that God had a design in leadership before sin ever entered the picture. And by the way, before sin entered the picture what you’ll discover is Adam names Eve. When someone is named in the Bible, like God names things like the earth and things like that, God is showing His authority over what He made. When He gave Adam the privilege of naming Eve He was also showing headship within marriage because people like to say well headship within marriage, that’s just a result of the fall. No it’s not! These are pre-fall, pre-sin institutions. And this is what the Apostle Paul is dialing back to when he’s dealing with this subject of women teaching over men.
He says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” [1 Timothy 2:12] Now look at this, we’ve already talked about this, verse 13, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.” Look at verse 14, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Adam was created first but it was the woman that sinned first. Now what does that mean? It doesn’t give us a lot of explanation. Here’s my understanding of it. There is something within the female composition, it’s not a matter of a lack of value, it’s not a matter of a lack of intelligence or anything of that nature. It is a matter of something within the female composition, perhaps her emotional makeup, which makes her more susceptible to (watch this very carefully) spiritual deception.
You say well I don’t like your opinion. Well, you can go take this up with the Apostle Paul because Paul himself in a pastoral letter is making these remarks and he’s anchoring his case in God’s original design for men and women. You go to verse 15, what’s the woman supposed to do? “But women will be preserved,” now some of your versions say “be saved.” “Saved” we always think saved means trusting Christ and going to heaven; that’s not what saved always means in the Bible. It primarily means that but a woman is preserved or saved from something temporal. What is she saved from? She is saved from an inclination that she naturally has to grab the reins of power.
You say well how in the world can you say a woman naturally has the desire to grab the reins of power either in the family or in the church? It comes from Genesis 3:16. Genesis 3:16 says, “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” And people use that Hebrew word “desire” and they run off to the Song of Solomon that was written four centuries later and they say well the woman is just filled with romantic desire for her husband. Well first of all how could that be a ramification of the curse? I mean most men would probably want that to happen anyway… Amen!
All you’ve got to do is go one chapter to the right and you can see what desire means because the same word in the same book, by the way in the same semantic grammatical layout except for the switch from the singular to the plural is found in Genesis 4:7. What does it say? God is speaking to Cain who is thinking about murdering his brother. He says, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door;” look at this, “and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” That’s the same grammatical layout and the same word “desire.” Cain, here’s what’s going on as you’re being tempted; sin is trying to control you but what you have to do is govern it.
So what happens as a result of the fall is the woman has a natural proclivity and inclination to control the man. That’s called feminism. The man, by contrast, will resent it and will not like it and he will react against her by trying to rule over her harshly. That’s called chauvinism. So what has happened because of sin’s entrance into the world is the tension already exists between men and women within marriage. It’s funny because people come in to counseling and they say I’m having marriage conflicts. And I’m thinking well of course you’re having marriage conflicts, the Bible said from chapter 3 you’d have marriage conflicts. And it relates to this woman desiring to control the man and the man trampling down the woman. And you see the only escape from this natural tension is Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:22-33 says, a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. That’s the answer for chauvinism. And the woman is to submit to and respect her husband, that’s the answer for feminism. See that. So if the two marital partners re not committed to walking out on a moment by moment basis Ephesians 5:22-33 what they’re stuck with is tension in their whole lives.
[Ephesians 5:22, “[Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;  for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,  because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”]
Now when my wife and I get into arguments or disagreements I will say this; nine times out of ten it’s related to what I just said. Either she is trying to rule over me or I am trampling her down and not treating her like the fragile base that God has given me. See that? I’m not honoring her, I’m not respecting her. And by the way, this is the total disaster of a young woman marrying an unsaved man or vice versa. Well, I’m thinking about marrying this unbeliever. Why are you doing that? Well, we have so much in common. Well what exactly do you have in common? You’re a goat, they’re a sheep, you’re going to heaven, they’re going to hell, you’re a child of God, they’re a child of Satan. You really don’t have anything in common. Even if you like the same baseball teams.
So what you’re doing is you’re hooking yourself to someone that doesn’t have the ability to walk out Ephesians 5. Do you see that? And this is the disaster of two people getting married with different maturity levels in Christ. The only way your marriage is going to work is if the two of you are committed moment by moment as disciples of Christ to walking out Ephesians 5. If you’re not going to do that, and it takes two to tango, then you’re stuck with tension all your days. The woman’s natural desire is to control the man. Going back to our passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 the woman’s natural desire is to grab the reins of Ecclesiastical power within the church.
[1 Timothy 2:11-14, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.  For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.  But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”]
How can she be saved from that? She is to pour herself into the tasks that God gave her which is what? Verse 15, “But women will be preserved” preserved from what? Genesis 3:16, her desire to have power, “But women will be preserved through” what? “the bearing of children if they continue in the faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” That’s where the woman has her influence over her children. Now people always say well what about people that can’t have children, they bring up all these exceptions. These are general principles; Paul is not going to carve out every single exception or else 1 Timothy would read like the United States Tax Code, just go on and on and on. These are basic generic principles.
So the woman is not to grab the reigns of authority within a church, she is to throw herself into her family and children and I think what she’ll discover is over the long run she’s going to have a lot more influence over life and the direction of the world. You’ve heard the expression, “she who rocks the cradle” what? “rules the world.”
And by the way, Timothy, who Paul is writing to, might know a little something about this because if you go forward to 2 Timothy 1:5 what does he say there. “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” Keep that thought in mind. Go to chapter 3, verse 15, Paul says to Timothy, “and that from” what? “childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Why is it that when Paul came along Timothy was ready to go? Because he had the influence of a mom and a grandmother than poured the Word of God into Timothy when he was an infant.
And so people in our culture look at limitations on women and where she should invest her time as some kind of l imitation but the fact of the matter is she who rocks the cradle actually rules the world. Look at Richard Nixon as an example. Richard Nixon receives a call in the middle of the night in what’s called the Yom Kippur War, 1973, Golda Meir needs help because Israel is being attacked from all sides. She tried to call Henry Kissinger and Henry Kissinger said let the Jews bleed for a while. So she wises up and picks up, I guess the red phone, and calls Richard Nixon in the middle of the night ant when he picks up the phone and hears this plea what exactly does he remember. He remembers the voice of his mother who taught him the book of Esther as a kid, which is about the deliverance of the Jews, and he remembers her voice saying “Richard, if you’re ever in a position to help the Jewish people you should do it.” And he says to Golda Meir for the first time in my life (on this red phone conversation) I finally realized why I’m President of the United States.
So a woman being told that’s where your primary authority is, you should invest your time over here, we think that’s some kind of slap in the fact. The reality is we bought into the culture’s idea of things. A woman can have a huge impact just by investing herself into her children and in the case of Timothy her grandchildren.
So Paul is very clear that the woman is not to be behind the pulpit. And people say well does that mean a woman can’t teach at all in the church? No, it didn’t say that because we just read about Lois and Eunice teaching Timothy as a youth; a woman can teach men who are, I would say under the age of puberty, who aren’t men yet but are boys; there’s place for that. By the way, flip over to Titus 2:3-4; we desperately need this in any church, we need it at Sugar Land Bible Church, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,” look at the word “teaching” there,  “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.”
There is a complete place in any church for a woman to teach other women, particularly younger women, and don’t we need that? Because these younger women today, they’re getting their values from television, advertisements, Madonna, whoever, and we need women to come alongside younger women and teach them and role model Christianity. So clearly a woman can teach kids or pre-puberty boys. Clearly a woman can teach younger women. And then over in Acts 18:26, and I’ll stop with this verse, what does it say here? It talks about Priscilla and Aquila who came alongside of Apollos, and it says in verse 26, “and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila” now who is Priscilla and Aquila? Husband and wife. “…when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and ”what? “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
So quite clearly a husband and wife together in a non-congregational setting can have a role as teachers. So when you look at the whole Bible and we say there’s a prohibition on female eldership and a prohibition on female what we today would call senior pastors you should not get the impression that a woman can never teach under any circumstances. You’ve got to look at the whole Bible on this; a woman can teach children or boys, a woman can teach other women or younger women, and a woman can teach a man in a non-congregational setting when she is alongside the authority of her husband. See that?
So are there gender restrictions on the office of elder? The answer in my opinion is yes. What about deacons, and praise the Lord I ran out of time, I don’t have to talk about deacons and I’m two minutes over but we will open this up to Q & A; we will have some Andy barbeque down the road [laughter]. But that’s the best I can do with a highly volatile sensitive subject.
Shall we pray. Father, we thank You for Your ancient Word and how it speaks to our lives. Help us to be people of the Book and to define our parameters not from the world but from what You have revealed. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said… Amen.