Monthly Archives: January 2014

God’s Intercession

In the book of Hebrews we read of Jesus’ work of intercession:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

In the book of Romans we read of the Holy Spirit’s work of intercession:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

Now this is a topic that deserves a lot more attention than I am going to be able to give it today, but how amazing is that two persons of the Triune God are making intercession on the behalf of Christians! Jesus’ intercession is for our justification. The marks in his hands and feet are what give me the ability to draw near to God through him. While I may now be counted righteous before God, I am not actually righteous. So, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me as I bring my prayers and my needs to God. I do not know what to pray, I do not know how to pray and I do not know the will of God. The Holy Spirit takes care of that and intercedes for me.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding for me! It is their works of intercession that give me assurance of my salvation and confidence to draw near to the throne of grace. And is yet another of the countless reasons I will give thanks to the Triune God forever.

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:1-3).

 

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Such a High Priest – Hebrews 7:26

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).

crosses3Many religions have high priests, but only Christianity has a high priest who is perfectly holy, innocent of any  and all wrong doing, unstained by the sinful nature we inherit from Adam, separated from sinners by his righteous life, and exalted above everything in heaven and on earth. To him, and him alone, we must look for our salvation.

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He Always Lives to Make Intercession – Hebrews 7:25

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

As we continue to work our way through the book of Hebrews in our Sunday morning Bible study, we hit that verse last week. Wow! What a powerful verse (set in the powerful context of Hebrews 6-10) demonstrating the great assurance of salvation we can have in Christ Jesus. I know that my salvation is not at risk because Jesus not only lives again after paying for my sins on the cross, but he always lives to make intercession for me. I did not save myself. I am not keeping myself saved.

budda_statuesWhat a contrast this provides to so many man-made religions. Religions in which their objects of worship are not alive. Religions in which Jesus does not save to the uttermost, but only helps out after you have done enough on your own. Religions in which you can lose your salvation today when you sin and then have to work to reacquire it through rituals. And then face the same challenge again tomorrow. Religions in which you hope you have done enough good to counter your bad.

I have been saved to the uttermost and continue to be saved to the uttermost because Jesus lives. Not because of anything I have done. Hallelujah and Amen!

 

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Errors at The Junia Project – Part 5

This is the 5th and final post in a series reviewing a recent blog article entitled God Sends Both Men AND Women by Susanna Krizo published at The Junia Project. Here are the links to parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series.

More than one woman found herself [after the Civil War] without a suitor—and a purpose for her life (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Straw-manOur purpose in life is to glorify God—whether married or single. Many women (and women) desire to be married, but do not believe they have no purpose for their lives. Again, it appears the Krizo has set up another straw man argument that she can easily attack. On the contrary, the apostle Paul was single, did not lack for purpose in his life and even commends the unmarried:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I (1 Corinthians 7:8).

The Bible never teaches that a woman without a suitor (or a man without a wife) has no purpose in life. On the contrary, the Bible makes it clear that the unmarried have some advantages in being able to better focus on serving the Lord outside of their families:

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.  This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

Returning to Krizo’s article:

Necessity should never be a guide for morals, for truth must be obeyed regardless of circumstances. Yet, sometimes necessity forces us to give up beliefs and practices that are against God’s will (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

I agree that perceived necessity must never be a guide for our morals—this is pragmatism. Unfortunately, Krizo has employed pragmatic argumentation at many points in her article. But which beliefs and practices are against God’s will? I think she is referring to the belief and practice that women cannot be missionaries. But, because she has brought in the subject of marriage and used inaccurate definitions of apostles, it is not immediately clear what belief and practice she is arguing against. Nor has she demonstrated from the Bible how any particular belief or practice is against God’s will.

If a woman can choose missions and remain single for life, is a woman’s created role, her purpose, solely that of a wife and a mother? How can it be? (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Again, who is Krizo arguing against? Are there people who argue that a woman’s sole purpose  for life is to be a wife and mother? Perhaps. But that position can be easily refuted from Scripture. Also I do not understand the mixing of missions with singleness. How is that relevant?

Singleness is a gift from God. It allows people to follow God wholeheartedly without distractions (1 Cor 7:32-25). But when marriage is presented as the only success story  for Christian women, it is almost impossible for those not married not to view themselves as failures. Of course family is an important part of life, but it isn’t the only thing, nor was it meant to be. The church needs women willing to shoulder responsibilities where married women with young children cannot; there are more opportunities available than there are hours in a day. If marriage was the answer to all of life’s problems, God would have told us so. But he didn’t, so why insist he did?

Now, I am not sure who is teaching that marriage and family are the only success stories for Christian women. Nor have I heard anyone teaching that marriage is the answer to all of life’s problems. Such a person could not have ever been married and could not have actually known any married couples! Unfortunately, Krizo provides only a reference to her own book here, so I cannot comment on the possible sources of these comments.

Let’s not waste any more time. There is so much to do, so little time. Dear sisters, if you have heard the voice of God, embrace your calling, your place in the Kingdom. The church needs you, the world needs you, and God is more than willing to send you. Why shouldn’t you go? (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Agreed. To a point. There is much to do and so little time. However, we must remember that this blog article was posted at The Junia Project. They are teaching that “women are called to serve at all levels of the Church.” There are countless unique callings available for both men and women. However, it is always within God’s guidelines. For example, since no woman can be a husband, that means no women can be pastors or elders or deacons. No matter how badly it may appear that the church and the world needs them. No matter how strongly it feels like God is calling them or gifting them for that type of service. No matter what percentage of so-called “Christian” churches may be putting them in their pulpits today.

targetNow, this may come as a surprise, but I believe that both married and single women can serve as Christian missionaries, as long as the specific missionary tasks and roles are not specifically prohibited by Scripture. We have to define what we mean by missionary. My point of this series was not to argue against women serving as Christian missionaries, but to point out the poor method of argumentation used in this particular article. We need to understand how to think rather than just be told what to think.

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Errors at The Junia Project – Part 4

This is part 4 of a series reviewing a recent blog article entitled God Sends Both Men AND Women by Susanna Krizo published at The Junia Project. Here are the links to parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series.

As was discussed previously in this series but will be repeated here, we cannot universally equate the term apostle with church leaders such as pastors and elders:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)

The apostles Paul and Peter were certainly prophets and evangelists. But not all evangelists are prophets. Both Peter and Paul were part of the special classes of apostle that were called directly by Jesus. Peter and Paul performed miracles and wrote Scripture. This type of apostle no longer exists today. We cannot use the examples of Peter and Paul to define modern missionaries. They are a completely different category of apostle and basically irrelevant to the discussion of whether or not God sends men and women as missionaries today. This is a category error.

Paul and Peter weren’t the only apostles. The Bible mentions nearly twenty apostles by name, and one of them is a woman (Rom 16:7) (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

I agree that Paul and Peter were not the only apostles. Does Krizo believe anyone thinks this? This is a red herring designed to further confuse the issue.

For centuries, the apostle Junia has either been transformed into a man by translators, or ignored. But we cannot ignore her anymore (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Actually, there has been some debate since the first couple centuries of the New Testament church about whether or not Junia was a man or a woman. There is even some debate as to how to render Romans 16:7 as to whether or not Junia was actually considered an apostle or was known merely known by and/or working with the apostles. Junia has not been “transformed into a man” or “ignored.” Krizo is again reverting to inflammatory language. Compare the translations from the ESV, NIV and KJV Bibles:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me (ESV, Romans 16:7).

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (NIV, Romans 16:7).

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me (KJV, Romans 16:7).

None of these three translations ignores Junia. But neither do any of the three make it perfectly clear as to whether or not Junia was an apostle or was just highly esteemed by the apostles.

Despite some debate as to whether or note Junia is a man or a woman and whether or not Junia is even called an apostle in Romans 16:7, I am willing to allow for the sake of argument that Junia is a female apostle. Now, we have to look at the list of 6 types of apostles described yesterday and decide which type of an apostle . Clearly she is not one of the original 12, not Matthias, not Paul, not Jesus and not a false apostle. That means Junia is one of those messengers who is sent out by the church. Not the type of apostle who performs miracles or writes Scripture. Equating Junia with the apostles Peter and Paul is misleading and confusing.

We have hundreds of thousands of women apostles preaching the Gospel around the world. If these women exist, why wouldn’t Junia? If our church sends women as apostles, why wouldn’t the early church? (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

cart-before-the-horseThis is putting the cart before the horse. We should never weigh the Bible using our experiences. And Krizo appears to be trying to equate Junia as an apostle with Peter and Paul as apostles since these are the only three she refers to by name. And she does so without delineating that they are different types of apostles.

Furthermore, this twisted form of logic can be used to directly contradict the Bible. We have thousands of women serving as pastors and elders in churches around the world. If our churches today have women as pastor and elders, why wouldn’t the early church? Oh right, because women do not and can not possess all of the Biblical qualifications to be pastors and elders.

Another uncomfortable question raised by the existence of women apostles is the woman’s “role” (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

I am not sure why this is an uncomfortable question. Just because we may disagree with The Junia Project’s stance on women in church leadership does not mean the related questions make us uncomfortable. Again, it appears Krizo is trying to use inflammatory, emotional arguments. And, she never make clears in the article what she means by “role.” She poses the vague question, but never addresses it.

Many of the women who joined missions in the 19th century remained single by necessity. The absence of six hundred thousand men left a vacuum in all of society, not just the church (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Absolutely true. The shortage of men would prevent some women from marrying. Just as a shortage of women in China today due to sex-selective abortions means that many men are unable to marry. So what? What does singleness have to do with being a missionary? Is that a Biblical qualification?

So, for a quick recap of day 4…continuing conflation of the complex term apostle into a single meaning, red herrings, and yet more inflammatory and emotional language. But no good, clear Biblical argumentation for her position. And here is the link to Day 5.

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Errors at The Junia Project – Part 3

This is part 3 of a series reviewing a recent blog article entitled God Sends Both Men AND Women by Susanna Krizo published at The Junia Project. Here are the links to parts 1 and 2 of this series.

By 2001 nearly 60 percent of the world’s missionaries were women. That trend began during the second wave of modern missions – and was catapulted into being through the American Civil War, when six hundred thousand men lost their lives (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

LemmingsUnfortunately, Krizo does not supply a reference for her data regarding missionaries. Is that Christian missionaries? Appealing to a 60 percent figure is merely the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum. If 60 percent of the world’s lemmings are jumping off cliffs, it must be good, right? Even if the 60 percent figure is accurate, she has still not addressed whether or not it is Biblical. And, I have previously addressed the issue of loss of life during the Civil War as being insufficient to require that women be sent as missionaries. The question we are still waiting to be addressed by this article—is it Biblical?

With such significant loss of male leadership, earning ability, and traditional roles in some families, women stepped up to rebuild both the American nation and also the American church. Facing the possibility of a halted work, the church agreed to send women to every corner of the world to proclaim the Gospel (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Rebuilding the nation is not the same as rebuilding the church. And, Krizo has not established that the church even needed to be rebuilt. In addition, sending missionaries to every corner of the world would have actually detracted from the rebuilding of the nation and the church. They cannot be in both places at the same time.

Alternatively we could use her argument of the “loss of male leadership, earning ability, and traditional roles in some families” to justify all sorts of behaviors that are non-Biblical. If there were not enough Christian men to go around, why not approve polygamy and move away from those traditional family stereotypes? This would have solved the male leadership problem by letting one male lead multiple women and families. It also would have increased the birth rate to more quickly repopulate the nation and the church. As I hope you can see, appealing to pragmatism can lead to all sorts of problems. We have to use the Bible to guide us.

But why is it that more than a hundred years later, the church hasn’t ceased sending women, although the pool of available men has been replenished? Maybe God likes the idea of sending men and women. Maybe God has always sent men and women (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Maybe God does like the idea of sending women and maybe God has always sent men and women. But we would need to address the issue from the Bible, not from our personal ideas or feelings. And, just because it has been done for more than 100 years does not make it right either. Thankfully, Krizo will now begin trying to use the Bible.

The word “missionary” isn’t found in the Bible; we get the English word from the Latin missio, “sent” (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

It is true that the term missionary is not found in most English Bibles.

Instead, the Bible talks about apostles, who were entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel to specific people groups (Gal 2:7-9). Paul, for example, spent his life traveling around the Roman Empire preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, while Peter went to his own people living in the Diaspora. (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Here she is equating our modern English term “missionary” with the the Biblical term “apostle.” However, the Bible uses the term apostle many different ways. The term apostle simply means “sent one.” Depending upon context, the Greek term for apostle is sometimes translated as “apostle” and sometimes as “messenger.” In the New Testament the term “apostle” is used to describe several different types of people:

  1. The original 12 apostles appointed by Jesus (Acts 1:1; 1:13; plus Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus).
  2. Matthias who was selected to replace Judas Isacariot (Acts 1:26). In the Acts passage, this type of apostle must meet specific criteria: “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).
  3. Paul (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, many others).
  4. Jesus (Hebrews 3:1)
  5. Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and other various apostles who are sent as messengers. For example: “And as for our brothers, they are messengers [apostles] of the churches, the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 8:23). Also, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger [apostle] and minister to my need (Philippians 2:25).
  6. False apostles. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).

As you can see, the term apostle can mean several different things depending upon its context. We cannot simply equate it with the English term missionary. And, as was discussed previously but will be repeated here, we also cannot equate it with church leaders such as pastors and elders:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Returning to Krizo’s article:

Instead, the Bible talks about apostles, who were entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel to specific people groups (Gal 2:7-9). Paul, for example, spent his life traveling around the Roman Empire preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, while Peter went to his own people living in the Diaspora. (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Even this analysis of Paul and Peter over simplifies their apostleship. Their apostleship was not limited to preaching the Gospel to specific people groups. For example, while Paul’s focus was the Gentiles he also regularly preached the Gospel to Jews in synagogues in Salamis (Acts 13:5), Antioch-Pisidia (Acts 13:14-16), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–3), Athens (Acts 17:16-17), and many other places.

So, what have we identified during today’s review of this article? Unsupported and irrelevant data, an appeal to the popular, more pragmatism, and a poor teaching on the topic of apostleship in which the various categories of apostleship is ignored.

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Errors at The Junia Project – Part 2

Part 1 of this series can be found here. Now, let’s really begin the review of a recent blog article entitled God Sends Both Men AND Women by Susanna Krizo published at The Junia Project.

question_markI have always liked to ask questions; questions that are often considered impertinent by those who don’t believe in asking questions (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Starting off the article in this manner is just appealing to emotion. She wants you to think that people on the other side of this issue “don’t believe in asking questions.” You might as well play scary music in the background and act like this is some great Christian conspiracy to oppress women.

For example, as a young Christian I wondered why women could become missionaries if they couldn’t teach in the church. The answer—if a man is not available, God doesn’t mind sending women (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Missionaries are not the same as people who teach in the church (pastors and elders).  In fact, some missionaries sent by the local church do not even have as their primary role to teach or evangelize at all (for example, medical missionaries or missionaries that build houses, churches, water systems, etc.). Conflating the different categories of missionaries and teachers in the church just confuses the issue. In the following text, the Bible identifies several different categories of individuals that God calls for the work of ministry:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Evangelists as described in this Biblical text are probably most similar to the idea of a missionary implied by Krizo in this blog article (yet she will later try to equate missionaries with apostles rather than missionaries). But even the term evangelist does not encompass all the modern uses of the term missionary. We could perhaps consider all evangelists to be missionaries, but definitely not all missionaries are evangelists. In either case these evangelists are different from both apostles and shepherds and teachers.

If the Bible uses distinct categories for ministry then we should too. An evangelist is not an apostle. An evangelist is not a pastor or elder. The God-defined distinctions are important. Just as the God-defined distinctions between men and women are important.

The answer—if a man is not available, God doesn’t mind sending women. I didn’t like the answer then, and I don’t like it now. (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Womenl).

Whose answer was that? Krizo does not say. Perhaps she did hear that answer in the past. But receiving a non-Biblical answer from someone in her past would not justify her giving another non-Biblical answer. And it does not matter if she does not like the answer. The question is whether or not it is Biblical.

But the American church of the 19th century didn’t have a choice. Ron Boehme, from Youth With a Mission (YWAM), visited our church recently and told our congregation that women, single and married, became missionaries in the late nineteenth century because most of the men of their era were gone. The Civil War had wiped out nearly an entire generation of men; there was no one to send (Krizo, God Sends Both Men AND Women).

civil_war

This is a pragmatic argument not a Biblical one. Plus, the facts do not support their premise at all. An estimated 620,000-850,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. In 1865 at the end of the Civil War, the US population was estimated to be at least 31,000,000. That means that at most 2.7% of the US population died during the Civil War. Assuming that all of the dead were men and that men make up 50% of the total population, then at most 5.5% of all men died during the Civil War. Basically 1 man in 18 was lost. Even if you expand the men lost to include casualties (estimated to be 1.5 million total) the percentage of men lost only increases to only 9.7%.  Surely this was a major impact on those men who were of the age to both go to battle and go to the mission field, but it is hyperbole at best to say there was “no one to send.”

Even if the facts were true that there were no men to send, the church still had a choice. Let’s assume that the church, under God’s command, could only send men as missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. If 100% of the men were wiped out under the sovereign control of God during the Civil War, then so be it. Does Krizo reject the sovereignty of God to fulfill his purposes? Does she reject God’s commands when she feels it becomes necessary to meet some good goal? Besides, the Bible does not mandate the number of missionaries that must be sent each year. So we cannot even change the argument to say that there were not enough men.

The nineteenth century brought a freedom and release to women in missions that greatly impacted the history of the world evangelism (Krizo,God Sends Both Men AND Women).

Did you notice the use of inflammatory language? Women had previously been in bondage, but now had been freed! Krizo is again appealing to emotion rather than making Biblical arguments.

Well, that is it for Day 2. To this point the article Krizo not used the Bible to defend her position, but she has used emotion, pragmatism, inflammatory language and bad facts. Jump to Day 3.

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