Free Online Bible Study

Biblical Spiritual Warfare

Beginning July 6 and ending on July 17, I will be leading an online Bible study entitled Biblical Spiritual Warfare. The study is 10 days with 2 days off on July 11-12.  The study will take place in a Facebook group.  At least one Zoom meeting will be held.

If you are interested in participating, please click here.

Free Online Bible Study: Biblical Spiritual Warfare

Beginning July 6 and ending on July 17, I will be leading an online Bible study entitled Biblical Spiritual Warfare.  The study is 10 days.  Lessons will not be given on July 13-14.  The lessons will resume on July 13.  Two Zoom meetings will be conducted throughout the study for discussion and questions.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please click on the Facebook link and request to join the group.

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ: A Study of Colossians

Here is Week 1, Day 3 of the study.  The PDF of the study will be available in August.

Day 3:  Love, Hope, and the Gospel

“Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of the truth of the gospel which has come to you just as it has in the all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth,” Colossians 1:5-6, NASB.

(If you are completing the writing challenge, today would be a good day to write verses 5 and 6.)

Although I placed verses 5 and 6 above, we are going to begin in the last portion of verse 4 which reads as follows (ESV):  “the love that you have for all the saints.”  In Day 2, we discussed Paul’s commendation of the faith of these people.  Today, we will talk about their love for each other.

Look up the following verses and write them in your own words.

1 Corinthians 13:13 _______________________________________

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Romans 5:5 ______________________________________________

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John 13:35 ______________________________________________

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Although I did not ask you to look up the following verses, I am referring to them here because they complement our lessons.  Matthew 7:20 states that one can know if a person belongs to God by the fruit he or she displays.  Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is love.  

In light of Paul’s commendation to the Colossian church, it should serve as an exhortation to us as well.  How believers treat each other speaks volumes to unbelievers.  If we slander and gossip about each other and mistreat each other, the world will take notice.

Of course, that is not to say that times will not come in which we must call out false teaching or error, but even that will be done in love according to Ephesians 4:15.  If the matter is private, it needs to be addressed privately, but statements that biblical teachers make in public sometimes have to be addressed in a more open setting depending upon the capacity of the audience that particular person reaches.  

Please note that I avoid calling out names when possible, and I will not call out names during the course of this study.  I want to uplift my readers, but I do need to tell you that many saved people can teach erroneously.  Depending upon the teaching, it might need to be corrected.  More importantly, seeking the leadership and guidance of the Lord and His word will keep everything in order.

In verse 5, Paul begins to address the hope these people have.  Their hope is laid up in heaven due to having heard and received the gospel.  What is the gospel?  It is the good news of Jesus Christ.  

We are all born with a sin nature due to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When we reach a certain age which some refer to as the age of accountability, we become aware of right and wrong.  The sad part of this truth is that we can do nothing to overcome the sin nature on our own.  Jesus came to this earth to live as a man and die for us becoming the atoning sacrifice for our sins so we can have peace and reconciliation with God, the Father.  We must accept His atoning work on the cross and believe in His resurrection.  If you are reading this and you are not saved, please take this portion to heart.  Once you accept Jesus and confess Him with your mouth, you are saved according to the Word of God (Romans 10:9-10).

Even if you are saved, we still need the gospel.  The cross of Christ is needed everyday of our lives for the sanctification process.  We cannot overcome our sin nature without it.  Not only do you need to hear the gospel, Christian reader, you need to share the gospel with others.  Our hope is in the cross of Christ.

Look up the following scriptures and write what they say about hope.

Romans 5:5 ____________________________________________

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Romans 8:24-25 ________________________________________

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1 Corinthians 15:19 ______________________________________

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Psalm 130:5 ___________________________________________

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Our hope is in God alone.  He is the one who has saved us. He is the one who brings deliverance and help in our daily situations.  What a loving and awesome God we serve who gives all we need for this life, then, when this life ends, we have a better one coming.

When I think of the gospel, I cannot help of thinking about when I first received Christ.  I was fourteen, and I will never forget how light I felt.  Before, I felt heavy-hearted.  The weight of my sin and my need for Christ was weighing down on me.  The weight lifted when I surrendered my heart and life to Him.

My dad began facing some major health issues during my late teens and early twenties. Not too long after I was married, dad had been hospitalized, which was frequent at that time.  On this particular day, I was going to pick him up because he had been released.  I remember that I kept getting delayed as I was traveling.  I would either get every red light possible, or I would get behind what seemed like every slow driver in southern West Virginia.  

It pays us to remember that our God is sovereign. He has a plan.  Dad’s roommate at the hospital was not a Christian.  Dad shared his faith with the man and led him to saving faith in Christ.  What if I had been earlier?  Sometimes, the most irritating of circumstances could actually be working something wonderful.

How about you?  Can you think of a similar experience?  Share a time when you witnessed the salvation of someone, or a delay ended up being the hand of God at work.

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As I said before, we need the gospel.  Sometimes we need to prompt ourselves so that we are reminded of what God has done.  The Colossian church had experienced the saving power of the gospel.  How do we know?  Paul spoke of their faith and love.  Fruit always comes as a result of salvation.  It might not come as quickly as we would like, but it will come.

What do the following verses say about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Isaiah 52:7 __________________________________________

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Romans 10:15 _______________________________________

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John 3:16-17________________________________________

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The gospel began spreading quickly after Jesus ascended into heaven.  The Apostles got busy immediately.  Paul was soon called to be an Apostle.  He started many churches throughout Asia minor. Although Paul had never met the Colossians, he was friends with Epaprus who founded the church in Colossae.  Epaprus kept Paul informed.  

So, what are we waiting for?  Let’s follow the example of Paul and others and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

(If you are memorizing the book of Colossians, today might be a good day to work on verses 4 and 5, then adding verse 6 if you become comfortable with 4 and 5.)

Body of Christ: UNITE!

Recently, I posted a video on You Tube and Facebook entitled A Call for Unity Among the ChurchesThat call for unity is the cry of my heart, and I believe it is the cry of the Father’s heart.  So, what keeps us from being in unity?

I believe that is the direct result of a misunderstanding of what unity is.  First, it is not a heretical request.  The Bible speaks plainly of the church being in unity.  Paul’s teachings are clear that the church body, as a whole, is one.  Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane for unity among believers (See John 17).

So, what is the problem?  It goes back to a misunderstanding of the term.  Unity does not equal uniformity.  Unity does not equal the embrace of false doctrine.  Unity does not mean you have to agree with another Christian on absolutely everything. Unity means the following:  “Although I do not see everything as my brother or sister in Christ does, I still love Jesus enough to be in unity for the common goal of winning souls to Christ.”

Unity Requires Sacrifice

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Many people do not want to fellowship with Christians outside of their own church or denomination because it requires sacrifice.  Time has to be given to come in unity with someone.  Effort has to be made.  However, I believe the time and effort is worth the end result.

Our nation is in trouble.  As a matter of fact, our world is in trouble.  Now that the fear of COVID-19 has somewhat dwindled, another pandemic has taken its place.  It is not a physical sickness, but it does yield physical results.  The pandemic is hatred.  It’s companion is fear.  People are rebelling against authority in the name of “tolerance” while others are blatantly racist because of hatred and fear. These things do not please God.

Unity Requires Selflessness

I believe the call for selflessness is what hinders many Christians.  In our quest for prosperity and name-it-claim-it doctrines, we have overlooked the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  Jesus did not call us to be self-absorbed.  He called us to think of others.  He called us to love others.

The fate of our nation lies with the church, the true body of Christ.  If we want to see people stop looting and rioting, we need to demonstrate unity.  Let’s face it, the world has watched us squabble over doctrine for centuries. It has turned many away from the faith.  While I am not suggesting we take up that which is not scriptural, I am suggesting that we learn to agree that we disagree but show love to one another.

Body of Christ, we do not have to agree on everything to unite in prayer and intercession.  We do not have to agree on everything to go to heaven together.  We do not have to agree on everything to love one another as Jesus commanded us.

Unity Requires Laying Aside Some Differences

Some of the differences between God’s people that cause division are almost laughable.  Certainly, we are entitled to follow our convictions, but some convictions should not become an expectation for everyone else.So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.ng

For example, some believe the King James Bible is the best translation of God’s word while others read different translations.  I have seen people become angry over this issue and act ungodly because someone likes another translation besides the “revered one”.  By the way, that can apply to any translation so I am not just throwing this at one group.

Some other examples of what should not cause us to divide are as follows:

  • Bickering over spiritual gifts and their usage.
  • Bickering over end-time beliefs (i.e. pretrib rapture, post-millennialism, etc.)
  • Roles of women in the church.

I am not suggesting that you have to take up someone else’s belief nor am I suggesting you even have to go to church with someone of a different denomination.  However, I am saying it it time for God’s people to lose the attitude of superiority we hold over each other and become humble again.

Does this sound too difficult?  If so, how do you feel about watching our nation crumble?  Which is worse?  Swallowing your pride and uniting with your brothers and sisters in Christ, or watching America fall?  I should think the choice would be obvious.

Let’s come together and pray and be sanctified so many can be saved.

Watch my You Tube video A Call for Unity Among the Churches here.

One Lord One Faith One Baptism Ephesians 4_5

Spiritual Maturity

Many Christians believe themselves to be spiritually mature.  In many cases, that might be so, however, there are cases in which one might be mistaken.  The qualities that people often believe are fruit of spiritual maturity fail to meet the mark.

When speaking of a Christian who is spiritually mature, one who possesses many spiritual gifts comes to mind.  If a person does not have multiple spiritual gifts, then a mature person will operate strongly in one, according to some.

The final authority as to the definition of spiritual maturity is the Word of God.  We will now see what the Bible has to say.

Be a Doer of the Word, Not a Hearer Only

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Image via Pexels by Oladimeji Ajegbile

James 1:22 tells us that we must not only hear the word of God, but we must also do what it says.  People can quote the Bible, both in and out of context.  Even Satan knows the scriptures as seen in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Knowing the Word is not enough.  Having the wisdom to apply it to our lives and live it is evidence of true spiritual maturity.

I have lived a hypocritical lifestyle in the past.  I am far from perfect now, but I strive to seek to obey the Lord.  I say this because many people live hypocritically.  If they make it to church, they certainly do not take what they learn outside the four walls.  If this is you, simply repent and ask the Lord to help you live authentically.

How Do You Treat People?

It sad to say that many people consider themselves to be spiritual yet these same people will speak harshly to the waitress in a restaurant or demonstrate impatience with the cashier at the grocery store.  Some are mean to the members of their own immediate family.  Whatever the reasons are for this attitude, going to the Lord and seeking transformation is a must.

Social media is a soap box for some Christians to air their ill feelings toward others.  I am a firm believer that social media can be used for the glory of God, but more often, it is used to bash others.  If you derive pleasure from bashing people on Facebook, in gossip, or even speaking rudely to others in person, you need a renewing of your mind.  You need to humble yourself and see that God is not pleased when any Christian mistreats someone else.

How Is Your Love Walk?

John 13:34-35 reminds us that people will know we belong to God by our love for other Christians.  The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).  While spiritual gifts are wonderful and God certainly wants us to have them, they are not the fruit of who we.  The fruit of the Spirit demonstrates that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.  We will not walk in sinless perfection, but we will not be using grace as a license to sin.

Another important point to note here is that godly love is not always a feeling.  While our emotions eventually line up with the direction in which we go, we cannot rely on our feelings to tell us whether or not we are walking in love.  It is a choice to obey God and treat people right no matter what our feelings are telling us.

Taming the Tongue Image
Image via Pexels by Rawpixel.

The Bottom Line

Spiritual gifts are wonderful!  I thank God that He gives gifts to many.  His gifts and callings are without repentance according to Romans 11:29.  We should enjoy these gifts and seek God’s leading as to their use.  However, we must realize that spiritual gifts are not a mark of spiritual maturity.  Walking in the love of God and obedience to His word are both evidence of true spiritual maturity.

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ: A Study of Colossians

In a previous blog, I gave you Week 1, Day 1 of the study I am currently writing on the book of Colossians.  Today, I am giving your Week 1, Day 2.  Weekly video sessions will be available free of charge once the study is complete.  The e-book version of this study will be free to all. I will have to charge for a paperback copy to cover printing costs. It is my hope that you will continue this study once it is published.  My goal is help people to dig into the Word of God.

 

Day 2:  The Faith of the Colossians

“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,”  Colossians 1:3-4 (KJV).

(If you are taking the writing challenge, you could take a moment to write out verses 3-4.)

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Image via Pexels by Luis Quintero.

I am sure that you know someone personally who has great faith in Jesus Christ.  As a matter of fact, this person’s faith simply amazes you.  No matter the challenge or adverse circumstances, he/she does not seem to lose faith. This type of faith is the result of a focus on the cross.  When I say the cross, I am speaking of the work Christ completed in His death.

It is when I think about His sufferings and death that my faith is strengthened.  Take a moment and reflect on the cross considering that what Christ endured was for you.  You and I were born with a sin nature.  In that nature, we could not stand holy and righteous before God no matter how we might strive to do so.  

Because of the cross, we are made right with God.  Because of the blood, we are cleansed from sin and regenerated.  The righteousness of Jesus Christ is given to you when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  The atoning work of the cross is what makes a relationship with God possible.

After you take a moment to reflect on the cross of Christ, you might notice that any wavering faith is renewed and strengthened.  In order to grow in faith, you must read and study the Word and hear the Word of God taught and preached. 

Using your favorite Bible version, write out Romans 10:17.

 

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Paul stressed that he was thankful for the faith of the Colossians.  He also mentioned that he kept them in his prayers.  Perhaps, Paul mentioned prayer because he knew that God’s people need each other.  No matter how strong one’s faith might be, prayer and the Word are essential for us all.  

Write down the name of someone whose faith encourages you along with the reason.

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I could not speak of faith without asking you to turn to Hebrews 11.  Glance over the chapter.  Not one of the people specifically mentioned in this chapter was perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  As a matter of fact, some of them made some horrendous mistakes.  However, they are mentioned as having great faith.  This fact should encourage you.  No matter what sin you might have committed, no matter how many times you have acted rashly without using wisdom, you can still have faith and build upon it.

Choose one or two of the people mentioned in Hebrews 11.  Write down the name(s) and why this person’s story encourages you.

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Let me take this moment to insert a disclaimer.  Our faith is not to be idolized.  Too many Christians have used the word faith as a reason to become carried away into false teachings and doctrines.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  Faith is not a life free from trouble, poverty, or illness. 

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Image via Pixabay by Artistic Operations

Many people have erroneously convinced others that their faith was weak simply because they had problems.  This is a serious error because the Bible warns us that we will have problems.   We will also be looking at some of the problems the Colossians faced. 

What do James 1:2-4 and John 16:33 say about trials?

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It is not the lack of problems that builds faith.  God will use our problems and other adverse circumstances to help us grow in our faith and knowledge of God and His sovereignty.

Polycarp was a martyr who lived from 69 AD to 156 AD.  He turned many people away from Gnosticism which was a popular but false teaching during the time of the Colossian church.  When the church was being severely persecuted by Rome, Polycarp was sentenced to death by burning.  History states that the fire would not consume him so he was run through with a sword.  Even with death looming over him, Polycarp refused to recant of his faith in Christ.  

Looking into heroes in our day and time, Brooke Bartz is a lady who suffers greatly from severe rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic pain.  She wrote a book entitled Chronic Love:  Trusting God while Suffering with a Chronic Illness. I listened to her testimony on YouTube.  She believes that God can heal her, but she also trusts that He is sovereign over her illness.

I mention Polycarp and Brooke because the outcome is not always what we personally desire, yet, trusting God in the middle of an undesired outcome takes great faith.  Some of you who are reading this know exactly what I am talking about.  You suffer from illness or some other circumstance that has not been changed.  Just as God was with Polycarp and is with Brooke, He is with you.  He is sovereign over your situation. He will get glory.  He has not forgotten you.

We will close today’s study by reading Romans 8:28-39.  Write Romans 8:28 below.

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Paul was thankful for the faith of the Colossian believers.  I am thankful for yours.  Keep praying and studying the Word.  Keep seeking God and drawing closer to Him. Your faith has great reward.

 

The Fullness of God in Jesus Christ_ A Study on the Book of Colossians Written By_ Allison Amber Mitchell (1)Tomorrow, we will look at love, hope and the gospel.

 

Memorization:  Continue working on verses 1-2, or add 3 if you feel up to it. 

 

Back to Normal?

In many states, the percentages of those affected with COVID-19 seems to be decreasing.  Hallelujah!  What wonderful news!  Some businesses are slowly opening.  Many churches will begin having services in their buildings again.

While I am thankful for what is happening, I feel the need to remind myself and others that some of our “normal” might not be worth revisiting.  Certainly, I am not speaking of our jobs or churches.  I am not even speaking of our social lives.  What I am speaking of is leaving quarantine with a new resolve rather than clinging to old habits.

Out with the Old

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During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I heard many people say that things would be different once the stay-at-home orders were lifted.  People missed being able to attend church.  People missed their families and loved ones.  In light of this, I do hope that many things will not return to normal.

Our nation and our world need revival.  During the pandemic, people were seeking God and concerned about their souls.  As we return to church, work, and other social arenas, let’s keep seeking the face of God. Let’s press through in prayer as we intercede for our lost loved ones and our government.  The return to “normal” should be a new “normal” and not the old.

Examining Ourselves

Many of us spent the time in quarantine examining ourselves and drawing closer to the Lord.  This should continue.  We must continue to stir up the gifts of God that He wants to manifest in our lives (2 Timothy 1:6).  We should return to church and other social arenas of our lives with a renewed zeal to shine the light of Jesus Christ into our society.

Do not stop examining yourself, and I resolve to do the same.  While we do not live in condemnation, we should not become careless in our walks with the Lord.  We want to keep our relationship with the Lord fresh.  We do not want to end up like the five foolish virgins who let their lamps run out of oil.  As you know, oil represents the Holy Spirit.  We need to keep ourselves in the love of God and build ourselves up in our most holy faith (Jude 20-21).

A Different Mindset

Let’s re-enter the “normal” parts of our lives with a godly mindset by renewing our minds with the Word of God on a regular basis.  In doing so, our lives will be anything but normal, and this is good!

Personally, I believe we could be living in the season of the Lord’s return.  People are

_But, ye, beloved building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
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hurting and looking for something to fill the voids inside their souls.  Jesus Christ is the only one who can fill it.  Let’s resolve more than ever to point people to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  Let’s refuse to let the mundane of everyday life drain us of our excitement for the things of God.

The fields are white with harvest (John 4:35).  People need Jesus, and we can point them to the cross.  Jesus said in John 12:32 that if He is lifted up, he will draw all men to him.  He was lifted up on the cross to pay for the sins of lost humanity.  It’s time we remind the world of this beautiful, wonderful hope.

No, we should not go back to normal.  Christians should run back to the outside world leaving all sin and weight that besets them. We should go into the harvest fields of our lives looking for people to bring to the Lord.

Can Women Teach the Bible?

Of course, I would choose one of the most controversial topics in Christendom to address; however, it is one in which we need to take a close look.  Certainly, there are scriptures stating that a woman should be silent and should not teach in mixed company.  Those scriptures are in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 2 Timothy 2:12.

Not only are we going to look at these scriptures, but we are also going to take a look at a Greek word and the culture in the days of the New Testament church.  While I do not subscribe to the idea that you need to have deep knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to understand the Bible, I do suggest that you take a moment to remember that the original manuscripts were written in these languages.  Understanding the culture and languages of the Bible days helps uncover truths that we normally overlook on the surface.

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Let me say before I go any further that I am not a feminist.  I do not believe women are better than men nor do I believe women are more intelligent than men.  My husband and I will often joke about these issues, but in all seriousness, God has purposes for both genders.  I love and respect all the godly men and women in the Body of Christ.

Women Did Teach and Minister throughout the Bible

Scripture records many instances of women teaching both men and women in the Bible.  First of all, it was a woman who delivered the first resurrection message to the disciples after finding that Jesus had risen from the dead.  What message could be more important?  Secondly, Deborah was a judge over the nation of Israel during the period of the Judges.  Check out the book of Judges in the Old Testament.

In the days of the early church, Philip’s daughters prophesied (Acts 21:9).  Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, taught the Word of God and was highly regarded by Paul.  Lydia spread the gospel to many in Acts 16.  Phoebe was a deaconess in Romans 16.  Junia, who is also mentioned in Romans 16, was a female Apostle.  Other women are mentioned in the scriptures in similar ways, but I do not want this post to be too lengthy.

A Look at the Scriptures Forbidding Women to Teach

There are only two references in which women are given a red light when it comes to teaching the Word of God.  Those two references are 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 2 Timothy 2:12.  Throughout the remainder of the Bible, both Old and New Testament, women were not forbidden to teach, prophesy, etc.  When two instances appear in scripture that do not match other instances, it is important to understand that there is more than meets the eye.

In 2 Timothy 2:12, the Greek word that is used for authority or usurp authority (depends upon which translation you are reading) is authenteo.  This word has some interesting meanings.  They are as follows:  one who kills another with his own hands, domineering, and acting on his own authority.  Incidentally, this Greek word is not used at any other time in the New Testament.  The Greek word for authority that is used at all other times is exousia which means just what you think it does.

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Image via Pixabay by 4653867.

Paul was letting the women in some of the churches know that they were not to be domineering toward the men.  They were not to speak on their own authority.  As a matter of fact, no man or woman should speak concerning the things of God on their own authority.

It is essential to understand the culture in the Greco-Roman world.  Before coming to Christ, many of the women in the churches had been involved in pagan worship in the temples.  Some had been temple prostitutes.  Feminism was on the rise during this time as it is now.  It just was not known by that name.  Before these women could teach, they needed to be taught just as any Christian must be taught before stepping out into gifts and callings.

The second scripture we will look at is 1 Corinthians 14:34.  A great deal of questions surround this one in many Christian circles.  Why?  In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul had just given a discourse about women prophesying with their heads covered.  A head covering  for women was a cultural practice of that time period.  Paul had said women could prophesy if they covered their heads as was appropriate for that time period.

In our Western culture, women do not usually wear head coverings except for fashion reasons.  However, I do believe that it would behoove women in ministry to have a spiritual covering.  What do I mean?  We all need people to whom we can be accountable.  If you are in a position of any type of ministry, you need someone to whom you can answer.  God designed it to be this way.  Yes, Christ is our ultimate covering, but accountability with other trusted Christians is beneficial.

Another fact that I will mention about the women in Corinth is this:  In the church, men sat on the opposite side from the women.  Some of the women had no tact and would loudly interrupt the preaching to yell across the room to their husbands asking what the minister meant by something that was said.  This makes sense in light of the fact that Paul commends many female teachers throughout his writings.

When It All Boils Down

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Personally, most of the Bible teaching I do is for women.  In our church, there are times when I do teach in mixed company.  However, they will tell you that I am not domineering.  I do not speak on my own authority.  I simply relay to them what the word says.  They are free to agree or disagree.

If you do not agree with me on this issue, then you do not agree. I love you as a brother or sister in the Lord.  My advice is to avoid churches where women teach and preach.  Frequently, I visit churches that do not believe women should be teaching in mixed company.  When in their churches, I do not push my beliefs on them.  I worship with them and love them, and I know they love me.

Ladies, if you are called to teach the Word of God, teach sound doctrine.  Rightly divide the word of truth.  Most of all, do not speak on your own authority but the authority of Christ.  If you are in a church in which women are not permitted to teach, do not sow discord.  Pray and ask the Lord for direction.  I have seen a well-known denomination split nearly into over this very issue.  God is a God of peace, and we must follow His leading.

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will

True Christians know and understand, at least to some degree, that God is sovereign.  In other words, He is in control.  He has a plan, and His plan will not be thwarted.  However, varying degrees of belief can be found throughout various denominations and Christian circles.

The issue of God’s sovereignty becomes confusing when the free will of man is mixed into the equation.  Reformed Christians tend to hold to the view of Predestination, or Calvinism, and believe that free will does not come into the equation.  Christians who hold to Arminianist views believe that man’s free will comes into play.  A third group falls somewhere in between.

Predestination and Election vs. Free Will

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People who hold to the view of Calvinism generally believe that God has foreordained that certain people will be redeemed and certain people will be lost.  This belief comes from the writings of John Calvin, one of the theologians from the Reformation period.

While Ephesians 1:3-5, Romans 9, and a few other verses seem to indicate truth in this belief, further study and context shows that Calvin and others are mistaken. The verses in Ephesians 1 that are in question are saying that God wanted people to be saved and redeemed before the foundation of the world.  He had foreknowledge of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden yet He created us giving us the choice of whether to accept or reject Him. Romans 9 discusses God’s choice of Israel and inclusion of the Gentiles in His plan.

Many portions of the Bible point at man’s choice.  Man’s free will does not negate God’s sovereignty.  His purposes will continue with or without our cooperation.  Galatians 5:13, John 7:17, 2 Peter 3:9, Mark 8:34, and Joshua 3:15 are a few that confirm man’s free will along with God’s sovereignty.  John 3:16 is clear proof along with 2 Peter 3:9 that God desires for all to be saved, yet, we know in His foreknowledge, He knows who will accept in Him and who will reject Him.

TULIP Acronym Vs. Arminian Beliefs

Calvinist use the TULIP acronym to explain their beliefs in what they call the doctrines of grace.  T stands for total depravity.  U stands for unconditional election.  L stands for limited atonement.  I stands for irresistible grace. P stands for perseverance of the saints.

The Arminian belief agrees with total depravity, but differs in other aspects.  The other portions of the acronym would change as follows:  conditional election, unlimited atonement, resistible grace, and falling from grace.red-purple-and-yellow-tulip-fields-69776

Some Christians hold to either Calvinist or Arminian beliefs.  Others agree with some points of Calvinsim and some points of Arminianism.  A chart is available that goes into more detail of the beliefs of each side.

What I Believe

I am not going into the details of all the teachings concerning Sovereignty and free will in this post, but I will be discussing this in a video which I will post at a later date.  However, my belief leans more toward Arminianism although I agree with some points of Calvinism.  I know and understand that God is sovereign, but I believe he gave us all free will to choose whom we will serve.  Our free will in no way negates His sovereignty.  He is God!  He is capable of giving man free will and completing His ultimate purposes.

God has no desire for any to perish.  To believe that God chooses some to be damned while saving others would negate the scriptures in which He says that whoever believes on Him would have everlasting life (John 3:16)  and whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21).

On the flip side, I love studying the history of the Reformation period.  Martin Luther and many others revived the doctrine of Justification by Faith during a time when the Roman Catholic church dominated and taught works-based salvation. I also listen to many Calvinist ministers such as John Piper and others and have Calvinist friends. I simply do not agree with much of the Calvinist acronym.

IMG_4193The following quote is from A.W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy:  “The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church nearly into two camps which have borne the names of two distinguished theologians, Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin.  Most Christians are content to get into one camp or the other and deny either sovereignty to God or free will to man. It appears possible, however, to reconcile these two positions without doing violence to either although the effort that follows may prove deficient to partisans of one camp or the other.  Here is my view:  God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil.  When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice man should make but that he should be free to make it.  Man’s will is free because God is sovereign.  A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures.  He would be afraid to do so.”