Improve your sermon prep with our brand new study tools! Learn all about them here.
Preaching Articles

Every season of reformation and every hour of spiritual awakening have been ushered in by a recovery of biblical preaching. This cause and effect is timeless and inseparable. J.H. Merle D’Aubigné, noted Reformation historian, writes, “The only true reformation is that which emanates from the Word of God.” That is to say, as the pulpit goes, so goes the church.

Such was the case in the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers were raised up by God to lead this era. At the forefront, it was their recovery of expository preaching that helped launch this religious movement that turned Europe and, eventually, Western civilization upside down. With sola Scriptura as their battle cry, a new generation of biblical preachers restored the pulpit to its former glory and revived apostolic Christianity.

The same was true in the golden era of the puritans in the seventeenth century. A recovery of biblical preaching spread like wildfire through the dry religion of Scotland and England. A resurgence of authentic Christianity came as an army of biblical expositors—John Owen, Jeremiah Burroughs, Samuel Rutherford, and others—marched upon the British Empire with an open Bible and uplifted voice. In its wake, the monarchy was shaken and history was altered.

The eighteenth century witnessed exactly the same. The Bible-saturated preaching of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and the Tennents thundered through the early colonies. The Atlantic seaboard was electrified with the proclamation of the gospel, and New England was taken by storm. The Word was preached, souls were saved, and the kingdom expanded.

The fact is, the restoration of biblical preaching has always been the leading factor in any revival of genuine Christianity. Philip Schaff writes, “Every true progress in church history is conditioned by a new and deeper study of the Scriptures.” That is to say, every great revival in the church has been ushered in by a return to expository preaching.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preacher of Westminster Chapel London, stated, “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is the greatest need of the world also.” If the doctor’s diagnosis is correct, and this writer believes it is, then a return to true preaching—biblical preaching, expository preaching—is the greatest need in this critical hour. If a reformation is to come to the church, it must begin in the pulpit.

In his day, the prophet Amos warned of an approaching famine, a deadly drought that would cover the land. But not an absence of mere food or water, for this scarcity would be far more fatal. It would be a famine for hearing God’s Word (Amos 8:11). Surely, the church today finds itself in such similar days of shortage. Tragically, exposition is being replaced with entertainment, doctrine with drama, theology with theatrics, and preaching with performances. What is so desperately needed today is for pastors to return to their highest calling—the divine summons to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1–2).

What is expository preaching? The Genevan reformer John Calvin explained, “Preaching is the public exposition of Scripture by the man sent from God, in which God Himself is present in judgment and in grace.” In other words, God is unusually present, by His Spirit, in the preaching of His Word. Such preaching starts in a biblical text, stays in it, and shows its God-intended meaning in a life-changing fashion.

This was the final charge of Paul to young Timothy: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Such preaching necessitates declaring the full counsel of God in Scripture. The entire written Word must be expounded. No truth should be left untaught, no sin unexposed, no grace unoffered, no promise undelivered.

A heaven-sent revival will only come when Scripture is enthroned once again in the pulpit. There must be the clarion declaration of the Bible, the kind of preaching that gives a clear explanation of a biblical text with compelling application, exhortation, and appeal.

Every preacher must confine himself to the truths of Scripture. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. The man of God has nothing to say apart from the Bible. He must not parade his personal opinions in the pulpit. Nor may he expound worldly philosophies. The preacher is limited to one task—preach the Word.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “I would rather speak five words out of this book than 50,000 words of the philosophers. If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. If we want conversions, we must put more of God’s Word into our sermons.” This remains the crying need of the hour.

May a new generation of strong men step forward and speak up, and may they do so loud and clear. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church.



Dr. Steven J. Lawson is senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, and he is author of The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards.  

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

John E Miller

commented on Mar 23, 2012

This is really good stuff. It's "gold standard" teaching. Hallelujah!

Lori Broschat

commented on Mar 23, 2012

And strong women. It is the 21st century, no matter what your denomination.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 23, 2012

Lori, where in the world does it say in the Bible that God would change His mind about women having leadership over the man or being able to be pastors or preachers? Give me the chapter and verse that says "In the 21st century My Word that I gave to Paul will change and women can have authority over men"? How many times does this have to be addressed on this site? Again let me share what THE WORD OF GOD SAYS FOR ALL TIME! 1 Tim. 2:12-13 "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Paul was speaking in the context of teaching in the local church. He did not prohibt women from teaching other women (Titus 2:3-4) or from teaching children (1 Tim. 2:15, 5:10) Neither is rebuke directed at Priscilla who, along with her husband, privately taught Apollos "The way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:24-28). But Paul ABSOLUTELY reserved the teaching role in the church for men. Why? Verse 13 "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." The word "formed" means "to form or mold something as from clay or wax." It is used in Rom. 9:20 where Paul asks, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, 'Why hast thou made me thus?'" The emphasis is on the unquestionable right of God to order things as He sees fit. God created Adam first, then Eve. Adam was a direct creation from God: Eve was formed from that which was taken from Adam. In doing so God established an order, a primacy, a headship in human afairs. It is in perfect harmony with the Scriptures for women to instruct in the privacy of their home, or in a Sunday school class. The believing woman has a perfect right to win souls, to teach anywhere she doesn't usurp authority over the man. When it comes to matters of buisness in the church, God appointed men to take care of the affairs of the church, to PASTOR, to serve as deacons, as stewards of the church, as elders, and teachers insofar as men are concerned. This doesn't make women second class citizens. It doesn't mean we are better or smarter for that matter. It is simply the way God ordered things even in the 21st century.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 23, 2012

Now about the article. We definately need more preaching of the Word of God. Many churches today have turned into entertainment centers afraid to preach "Thus saith the Lord" for fear of offending people thus reducing their important numbers of members and more importantly, the money they give. I truly believe the reason our country is in the shape it is in is because the fire has gone out of so many pulpits. 2 Chrom. 7:14

Steve Gagne

commented on Mar 23, 2012

What about the historical records of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? This article states that true revival will only come with the preaching of the Word... you don't need the Holy Spirit to preach the Word, but you DO ned the Holy Spirit for true revival! This article has only promoted one side of the coin.

Anonymous

commented on Mar 23, 2012

It has also been said and documented that every revival in the pastt 300 years began as God moved people to pray. Check J. Edwin Orr's videos on YouTube.

Nathaniel Hunsu

commented on Mar 23, 2012

@ Steve, we do NEED the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God..."for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power", and that power must sure be the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. Little wonder there is so much of preaching in America, but little transformation of lives. An eternal truth is that REVIVAL IS NEVER WORKED UP, BUT PRAYED DOWN, but how can they begin to pray except there is power in the pulpit? and how can there be power in the pulpit, except there is power in the pews. How can there be power in the pews except the people tune out all of hollywood and the greed that drive our motions, and bring back the family altars to replace the TV boxes. Really we have a situation, there is dearth of HEARING of the word of GOD, and if we truly want revival, I concur with the writer that we MUST go back to preaching the word of GOD, and not some "make me feel good gospel" if we are serious about revival again.

Stephen Gaines

commented on Mar 23, 2012

"How many times does this have to address on this site?" Well Dennis, I guess until you beat us all into submission. I find it interesting that you use the word "ABSOLUTE" immediately following the "exception" to the absolute. In your own words, you have shown that God is capable, and willing, to use women to teach men "the way of God more perfectly." Keep working at it you might sway me to your way of thinking eventually. BTW, this site was not designed nor designated to be your personal sounding board. Just because you don't like or benefit from what others, outside your view, have to say does not mean that the rest of us are ignorant simply because we do not hold your view.

Lori Broschat

commented on Mar 23, 2012

Thank you Dennis, for that explanation. I will tell my female bishop and my fellow female clergy where we have gone wrong.

Robert Sickler

commented on Mar 23, 2012

Steven, excellent job. The sad truth is, however, very few hirelings will ever read your article. Christendom is full of people who think it is their duty to preach their view of religion, in light of the current culture, and in so doing they are superior to the old fogies who refuse to deviate from the word of God. The poor deluded souls are even so daft as to believe that Paul, in the 21st century, would teach a message different from the one he taught in the 1st century. Of course, they consider themselves the only ones smart enough to know what Paul would have preached today.

Steven Farless

commented on Mar 23, 2012

Your Comments I am with you; we must preach the word head on, but that WILL NOT bring revival; I?m sorry; ask Jeremiah, Isaiah, ect?it?s the conviction that comes from the proclamation. REPENTENCE brings revival not preaching. You can?t be a preacher very long before you find out that many in our congregations love to have ?their toes stepped on,? but no desire to change.The key to revival is clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14. It?s not simply the word being preached or expository preaching; it's not what the preacher does, but what the people do: humble themselves, pray, seek Gods face, turn from wickedness, and then revival will come. The very fact that we NEED revival is an admission of our sin and neglect. Preaching the Word must continue in season and out; but it will not bring revival.

John E Miller

commented on Mar 24, 2012

I am sure that Steven Lawson is aware that the power of the Holy Spirit and God's answer to fervent prayer is needed if revival is to happen. These two great catalysts for revival are surely ever present. This forum deals with preaching and many articles printed here sadly illustrate the lack of biblically based preaching that is extant in the professing church today. For example the posts of Lori Broschat show the preparedness of liberal theologians, so called, to ditch the Bible in favour of their own vanity. I say that this article is a timely reminder that the word of the Living God is the only basis for all Christian doctrine and theology. Faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures of truth will surely be blessed by thei Divine Author.

Lori Broschat

commented on Mar 24, 2012

Lord, I thank you that I was not born a Baptist

Pollie Marabe

commented on Mar 25, 2012

Why some people thank God that they were not a Baptist? It means that they are not in submission to the truth of God's Word!? If you are a believer, you should be in humility and not in false humility. Learn from others and accept the truth of God's Word. Be a man and not a woman! A "man of God" as the scriptures always mentioning.Rom. 9:20 where Paul asks, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, 'Why hast thou made me thus?'" The emphasis is on the unquestionable right of God to order things as He sees fit. God created Adam first, then Eve. Eve was formed from that which was taken from Adam. In doing so God established an order, a primacy, a headship in human affairs. It is in perfect harmony with the Scriptures!

Lori Broschat

commented on Mar 25, 2012

I'm sorry, "Be a man, not a woman?" What are you, advocating that I have a sex change in order to be "in harmony" with the Scriptures?

Robert Sickler

commented on Mar 25, 2012

I was born a Methodist; I went through catechism in a Method church; at age 17, I preached my first sermon in a Methodist church; I eventually went through training and became a Methodist lay minister. My Methodist background is not, however, the reason I care deeply about what has been said. I am concerned for all parties because when we react unkindly to the words and actions of others we risk straining our relationship with Jesus. If God has truly called you to serve Him as a minister then serve Him by loving those who challenge your ministry. I, as a Restorationist, faithfully follow Paul?s advice regarding women and authority, but I will not claim I have divine wisdom in this disputable matter. I will also admit that I strongly and vocally reject both libertine and prosperity theology; yet, I do not want to be a crusader who thinks they have to beat everyone else into thinking the same way they do. I would rather love and pray for the person, who wants to dispute with me, than join them in an overzealous or pugnacious confrontation. I try to stand true to fundamental Christian doctrine; but more importantly, I pray to God I can stand as a loving fundamentalist.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 25, 2012

Sorry Stephen, it is not my view, it is God's. And in case you don't know one of the things a pastor is to do is to point out false doctrine. If you don't like what I write then in the future skip what I have to say. And Lori, wow, I am sorry. I forgot that just because churches want to ordain woman as bishops and clergy that that makes it right even though the Bible is against it. I suppose that if someone gets on here and says that because they have a gay pastor I'll have to accept it just because their church has one. Great argument there Lori.

Chaplain Shawn Kennedy

commented on Mar 26, 2012

I'm assuming you're pro slavery too Dennis.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 26, 2012

As I said, the reason our country is in the shape it is in is because of the pulpits. When "pastors" cannot even understand what GOD says about leadership being male how in the world can they teach even the simplest things in the Bible. Stephen, Lori, Shawn, please expound your superior knowledge of 2 Tim.2:12-13. Please tell me what God is saying here that I am missing. All any of you ever do is disagree with what I say without ANY Scripture to back up your view.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 26, 2012

Lord, I thank You that I was not born a Baptist, but that I have been Born-again!

Lori Broschat

commented on Mar 26, 2012

I'll pray for you Dennis

Chaplain Shawn Kennedy

commented on Mar 27, 2012

1 Peter 2:18,Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22- don't know how you miss this it's all in God's Word.

R.l. Wilson

commented on Mar 27, 2012

Amen and Amen!!!!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 27, 2012

Joel 2:28-29--"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit." Peter makes in quite clear in Acts 2:16-17 that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, which means we are now living in the time when both sons AND DAUGHTERS on a more universal level are gifted to prophesy. Furthermore, Acts also mentions the fact that Philip the evangelist "had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied." Now, granted, prophesying is not exactly synonymous with preaching or teaching, although there is quite a bit of conceptual overlap between them. But the prophet is included among the leadership gifts given by Christ to the church, alongside the pastor/teacher, in Ephesians 4:11ff. In the OT, we see the examples of Deborah (Judges 4) and Hulda (2 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 34) who were both prophetesses, and who both communicated the word of God to MEN. So, this is not a question of liberal theology or conservative theology or whatever. This is simply a recognition that 2 Timothy 2:12-13 is not a trump card, it does not hold a monopoly on everything the Bible has to say about preaching or leadership. Second Timothy 2:12-13 must be interpreted in the context of ALL of Scripture, including the ones I have presented. Now, those of you here who have wrestled with the Scriptures and are convicted that God calls only men to preaching and leadership, I respect your position, and I do not pretend that I can change your mind. However, I would ask that you recognize that there are others who also participate in this forum who have also wrestled with the Scriptures and have arrived at different conclusions. I would ask the you respect them and not be too quick to attribute differences of interpretation to false doctrine.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 28, 2012

"Now, granted, prophesying is not exactly synonymous with preaching or teaching," That is EXACTLY what I have been saying. Women have a right to "prophesy" to witness, to teach children and women, but 2 Tim. 2:12-13 along with the context of the whole Bible makes it CLEAR that leadership is male. Otherwise this verse is a contradiction. Again, if this verse doesn't mean exactly what it says, then what does it mean? God gave men the role of preachers and pastors in the church. And Shawn, as far as slavery goes, those verses do not command us to take slaves. It does not put its approval on slavery - but quiet the opposite is true: The teaching in these verses lifts the servant OUT of slavery, and sets him free with a freedom never known to a slave. Slavery was the blight of the age in Roman times. Paul and Peter were saying if you find yourself a slave here is how you should act. Much like Paul tells a woman who is married to an unbeliever how to act in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16. Does God condone marriage to an unbeliever? No, we are not to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever 2 Cor. 6:14. Does God condone slavery? No, but here is how you act if you find yourself in that situation. Also, these verses tell us how to act in our day as an employee and an employer.

Adam Gerbrandt

commented on Mar 28, 2012

In preaching the WORD we will offend either people or God. We must lay down our pride, feminism even our very lives and follow the simply understood WORD of God. Yet when I read through the comments I see pride, feminism, anger and emotional responses. How can we edify each other with pride, feminism, anger and emotion? For those who forgot the above is about "How Biblical Preaching Brings True Revival" and its great and encouraging! Whether the opinion of some is right or wrong this page is now being used as the Pharisees would use it. Instead of empty debate let's encourage one another in our Ministries and to the Study of God's Holy WORD for it is only in reading Gods WORD that truth can be revealed. "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Your Brother and Partner in the Gospel of the Risen Christ, Adam Gerbrandt

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 28, 2012

Dennis Cocks, I appreciate your response and respect your position. I would encourage you to consider the overall thrust of my argument again, if you would be so kind. Specifically, I have two points in mind. First, you and I both agree that prophesying is not synonymous with preaching and teaching. But you will notice that I went on to qualify that there is conceptual overlap between them. What I mean by that is that in principle, both the preacher and the prophet communicate the Word of God to a specific people in a specific circumstance. I would say that the primary difference between preaching and prophesying is one of degree, rather than kind, with prophesying having a greater degree of authority than preaching. IF that is indeed the case, AND if the OT testifies that there will be a time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out on God's people in such a way that greater numbers of both men and women will be gifted to prophesy, AND if the NT witnesses that at Pentecost that time has begun, THEN would it not be strange for God to gift women to participate in prophesying (which is more authoritative) while at the same time excluding women from participating in preaching (which is less authoritative)? How do you reconcile your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 with the witness of Scripture that we see here? My second point: you wrote that "[w]omen have a right to 'prophesy' to witness, to teach children and women." But I don't recall anywhere in the Bible where the prophetic ministry of women is specifically limited to children and other women. On the other hand, the Bible does present us with the examples of Deborah and Hulda, both of whom--as I mentioned earlier--prophesied to other men. So, how do you reconcile your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 with the Biblical examples of Deborah and Hulda? I look forward to your response, and I appreciate our conversation. May God continue to bless your ministry!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 28, 2012

I would like to convey a hearty AMEN to Adam Gerbrandt, who wrote, "Instead of empty debate let's encourage one another in our Ministries and to the Study of God's Holy WORD for it is only in reading Gods WORD that truth can be revealed." And I would like to express my appreciation for Lori Broschat and Dennis Cocks for providing me with an opportunity to further clarify my thinking concerning an issue on which I have been meditating for a few years now. The three of us may not agree on everything, but it is wonderful to be reminded that we are all--including all the others who have commented on here, as well--children of God, saved by his grace. Despite whatever differences we may have, Christ invites each of us to his table! May God continue to bless each one of us in the ministries he has entrusted to us, and may each of us continue hold fast to his Word!

Steven Farless

commented on Mar 28, 2012

jONLY humility, prayer, earnest desire to connect with God, and repentance will bring REVIVAL; and it?s the one thing that we always refuse to do; it can?t come through preaching; preaching can only be a tool for revival when the preacher has experienced revival himself through the same, and only process. Revival will never come until we actually embrace what God Himself has told us. IF PREACHING A MESSAGE FROM GOD, IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WERE ALL WE NEED FOR REVIVAL THEN THE OLD TESTIMENT PROPHETS WOULD HAVE BEEN A LOT MORE SUCCESSFUL (caps do not reflect yelling, I just wanted that phrase to stand out:-). Sometimes God sends the truth in power as a judgment against hardhearted people who have turned their hearts away from Him. My only 2 cents-

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

In examining Deborah?s role in ancient Israel, we first note that she is introduced to us in Scripture as a "prophetess" who judged the people under a palm tree and not as a military leader. "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mount of Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment" (Jud 4:4-5). Did Deborah as a prophetess exercise a headship role over men in ancient Israel? The answer is No! Why? Because the role of a prophet or prophetess is that of a messenger, not a leader. A prophet exercises no authority of his own but communicates the messages and decisions of the One who has sent him. The careers of the Old Testament prophets make it clear that they did not exercise headship. They often rebuked the leaders who did have the headship, trying to persuade them to change their evil ways and turn to God. All too often their efforts were rejected. Some of them, such as Micaiah (1 Kings 22) and Jeremiah (Jer 38), were imprisoned because their messages displeased the rulers. Isaiah is said to have been sawn in two at the order of the king. Jesus recognized and lamented how the prophets had been treated: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent to thee!" (Matt 23:37). Clearly the prophets did not exercise headship in Israel. Their messages had great power and moral authority, because they came from God; but the prophetic role entailed no headship. Even when the country?s leaders obeyed God?s word conveyed through the prophets, the prophetic role was never that of head. The relationship between prophets and leaders (heads) in the best of times is illustrated in Ezra 5:1, 2: What is true of the male prophet

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Having tech trouble will continue soon

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Dennis, you make some really good points, and it is clear that you have thought through this issue. I've been giving some thought to your comment. It appears that you were unable to finish your argument due to some technical difficulties, so I will wait for you to conclude your thoughts before I respond. I pray for God's continued blessings on you and your ministry!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Fernando, you might have to read this backwards as I am having trouble posting anything at length. So let me continue: What is true of the male prophet is no less true of the female prophetess. Her role wasn't that of head but of messenger. The Bible sees the prophetess in a supportive and complementary role which does not negate male headship.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 33: Did Deborah exercise a headship role? Since the prophetic role didn't involve headship, prophesying by a woman, such as Deborah, didn't violate the principle of male headship, as long as she did it in a proper manner and demeanour that didn't negate male headship. There are several indications that Deborah respected the principle of male headship explained by Paul in 1 Corinthains 11:2-16.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 34: First, Deborah's role as a judge was unique, she is the only judge in Judges who didn't serve as a military leader. Instead of leading an army into battle like other judges, as the Lord's messenger she received instructions from Him to call Barak to lead an army of ten thousand men into battle against Sisera, the general of Jabin, king of Canaan, who was oppressing Israel (Judges 4:6-7). It is significant that Deborah didn't assume the headship role of an army general; she conveyed God's call to Barak to serve in that capacity.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 35: Second, in a discreet way Deborah rebuked Barak for his unwillingness to go to battle without her (Judges 4:8). Because of his reluctance, Deborah warned Barak that "the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman" (Jud. 4:9). But the woman who earned the glory by killing Sisera while he slept in her tent was not Deborah but Jael, the wife of Heber (Jud 4:17-22)

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 36: Third, maybe to avoid any possible misunderstanding about their role within their culture, the prophetic ministries of Deborah and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20) differ significantly from those of male prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Male prophets exercised their prophetic ministry in a public manner, being commissioned to proclaim the Word of the Lord before the people and the king himself (Is 6:9; 7:3; 58:1; Jer. 1:10; 2:2; 7:2; Ezek 2:3; 6:2). For example, the Lord said to Isaiah, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet; and shew My people their transgressions, and to the house of Jacob their sins" (Is 58:1). Also, to Jeremiah the Lord said, "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, who enter these gates to worship the Lord" Jer 7:2).

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 37: The prophetic ministry of Deborah was very different from this. She didn't go out and publically proclaim the word of the Lord. Instead, individuals came to consult her privately under the palm tree as she sat, "And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah...and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment" (Jud 4:5). Presumably she came to be known as a godly woman through whom God communicated His will. People came to trust her judgments in resolving their disputes. She did not exercise her prophetic ministry in a public place like the Old Testament male prophets. Even when she spoke to Barak she talked to him privately (Jud 4:6, 14). And the song of praise was sung by Deborah and Barak together (Jud 5:1), which suggests equality rather than headship. Also she is praised as a "mother in Israel" (Jud 5:7). It is evident that she was perceived to be primarily a spiritual mother, not as filling the traditional role of an elder or judge or prophet.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 29, 2012

Continued from 38:In the same way, Huldah (2 Kings 22:14-20) didn't proclaim God's word publically. Huldah, explained the word of the Lord privately to the messengers sent to her by King Josiah (2 Kings 22:15), thus giving no one any reason to misinterpret her adherence to the womanly role. Miriam's prophetic ministry also avoided misinterpretation, because she ministered only to women. "And Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the WOMEN went out after her with timbrels and dancing. And Miriam answered THEM" (Ex 15:20-21). So I think we can readily see that the prophetic ministry of women in the the Old and New Testaments was not seen as exercising headship over men but as respecting the leadership role of men in the community of faith, even when the prophetic ministry involved bringing messages of rebuke or correction from God.

John E Miller

commented on Mar 30, 2012

As Christians we take our authority for doctrine relating to church order from the New Testament, in particular the letters of the Apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ specifically entrusted this task to him and the Holy Spirit gave him the necessary power to fulfil the task perfectly. We do not go to the Old Testament for this anymore than we would observe the ritual of circumcision or insist on the Saturday sabbath observance. The introduction of the subject of slavery is a diversionary tactic to confuse the issue and demonstrates a lack of understanding of scripture. Nowhere in the New Testament is slavery recommended. It is accepted as a fact because the law imposed it. What is clearly stated is that in these circumstances, whether as a slave or a master the person had to demonstrate Christ-like features. Paul looked upon himself as a slave to the Lord Jesus. When the Lord washed the disciples' feet He adopted the position of a house-slave. If we insist that modern thinking and changing social attitudes can alter our doctrine or theology, we are stating that the Holy Spirit of God had no idea what life on earth would be like in the 21st century. It is a most arrogant and dangerous stance to take in relation to the word of the Eternal God.

John E Miller

commented on Mar 30, 2012

Steven Farless said that revival can't come through preaching and then flatly contradicts himself by describing it as only a tool for revival. The first statement is manifestly wrong when we study church history. The second statement fails to fully accept that preaching is the prime way that God has selected to spread the Gospel of His Glad Tidings to all, whether sinner or saint.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 30, 2012

John E Miller well stated on both issues.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 30, 2012

Dennis Cocks, I'm used to reading the comments backwards, so don't worry about it! I can imagine how frustrating it must have been trying to post such a substantive and sustained argument bit by bit; so I appreciate not only the thought you put into our response, as I already mentioned, but the effort you put into it as well! Now, as for my response: I think the reason you and I have come to different conclusions on this issue is because we are looking at the same texts, but through different assumptions and interpretative methods. Allow me simply to share a couple of examples and then some concluding thoughts. 1) You wrote: "A prophet exercises no authority of his own but communicates the messages and decisions of the One who has sent him." I agree with that statement, but I would counter that EVERYONE in leadership derives their authority from God, not themselves. Which is why I said earlier that the difference between prophesying and preaching is one of degree of authority; with the prophet having a greater degree of authority for the reason you stated, namely, that their message comes directly from God. So, by arguing from the greater to the lesser, it stands to reason that God, who gifts both men and women to participate in the more-authoritative ministry of prophesying--as foretold in Joel 2 and fulfilled in Acts 2--would also gift both men and women to participate in the less-authoritative ministry of preaching. 2) You argued that Deborah's and Huldah's prophetic ministry as recorded in Scripture was of a more private, rather than a public, nature. Fair enough. In that case, would you be willing to ammend what you wrote earlier when you said that women have the right to prophesy to women and children to include the right of women--assuming they have been called by God, of course--to prophesy to other men as long as it is in a private forum? I'd have to look further into that argument for myself, as well, but it could be that this could be one point on this issue where we could begin perhaps to find some common ground! Concluding thoughts: As I said earlier, I have no illusions about changing your mind, or anyone else's mind, on this issue. It is clear that you have thought through this issue, and if this is the position you feel convicted by God to hold, then do it. But I do ask, in the most sincerely humble way that I can, for some respect for those of us who have also thought through this issue and have arrived at different convictions. I am extremely grateful for your willingness to engage in a conversation with me, for taking my arguments seriously, and for your respectful tone. But too often terms like "liberal theology" and "false doctrine" are thrown at us, when the real issue is simply a difference of interpretation. On the core doctrines, I am certain that you and I are in agreement; and where we disagree outside of those core doctrines, it is our faith in Christ that nevertheless binds us as brothers in the family of God! Having said that, I also recognize that those who agree with me on this issue, as well as myself, have been equally as guilty at times of disrespecting those who disagree with us; and I apologize for that. I hope that the conversation you and I have engaged in the last few days can become more characteristic of the types of conversations that are held on this website. I think all of us would be more benefited if this does indeed happen.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 30, 2012

Fernando, If you look at my original post (no.3) this is what I wrote. "Neither is rebuke directed at Priscilla who, along with her husband, privately taught Apollos "The way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:24-28). The issue I have is with women in place of authority in the church as pastors and preachers. I do try to be respectful in my comments but I know that I may not always be perfect in that area. Also sometimes when you write something it doesn't always translate your thoughts perfectly. I do believe though that this issue is very important and that is the reason for my equating it with "false doctrine." I believe feminism has crept into the church and I think that is dangerous. But I thank you for you courteous responses and I am sure we will engage in more in the future.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 30, 2012

John E Miller, I agree with you that the letters of Paul in the New Testament provide our clearest instruction on church order. I would add, however, that the letters of Paul can only be rightly interpreted in the context of the Old Testament story, for this is the worldview from which he wrote. He was, after all, a self-professed "Hebrew of the Hebrews." So the OT is not completely irrelevant to the conversation. Remember that "[a]ll Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine..." (Eph 3:16). It is significant to note that the Scriptures he refers to is what you and I refer to as the Old Testament. I also agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote: "If we insist that modern thinking and changing social attitudes can alter our doctrine or theology, we are stating that the Holy Spirit of God had no idea what life on earth would be like in the 21st century. It is a most arrogant and dangerous stance to take in relation to the word of the Eternal God." A hearty "Amen!" I trust that you recognize that not all of us, including myself, who believe that women also are called by God to preach hold that stance. May you have a blessed weekend!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Mar 30, 2012

Dennis, thank you for the reminder. With so much that we have both written, it is easy to forget some of the details! It's good to know that we have at least some bit of common ground! You wrote: "The issue I have is with women in place of authority in the church as pastors and preachers." Fair enough. I see where you're coming from, so I understand your position. As far as my writing, yeah, like most of us on here probably, I don't have a lot of time to do much editing, so obviously my thoughts don't always come out as polished as they normally would be if, for example, I was writing a paper at Seminary. That's why I think it's good for us to give each other the benefit of the doubt when someone writes something that may seem off at first. So, by all means, anytime I write something this is not quite clear, please do not hesitate to ask me to elaborate. Do I believe that feminism has crept into the church? Yes, it is has (as well as quite a few other "isms"!). Is it dangerous? Yes, it is. Are there people who share my position who are influenced more by feminism than by Scripture? Certainly. Is that true of EVERYONE who holds my position? Not at all. I don't think there is anything in the argument I have presented that is rooted in feminism. One final point, you claim that the belief that women are called by God to be pastors and preachers is false doctrine. It's certainly your prerogative to do so. I would, however, encourage you at least to re-examine that claim. I agree that this is an important issue. But is it a core doctrine? And where is the line between a false doctrine and a simple difference of interpretation? Those are some questions you may want to consider. But that is just a suggestion. I don't mind the use of the term "false doctrine" as long as it is not used loosely or as code for "I'm right and you're wrong," which is how it is sometimes used, unfortunately. Anyway, I will be praying for your preaching this weekend, and I covet your prayers for me, as well! God bless!

John E Miller

commented on Mar 31, 2012

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5. The time that Paul foretold is now.

John E Miller

commented on Mar 31, 2012

Fernando Villegas, I have to say that you are entirely wrong in the statement that "the Letters of Paul can only be interpreted in the light of the Old Testament story". That is contrary to the words of the Lord Jesus. He explained that the Prophets, beginning at Moses (i.e. Genesis) and all the prophets spoke of Him. This means that we interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New, not vice versa. If we reverse this principle we become entrapped in imposing rituals that belong to the Old Testament on Christian doctrine. This is not what the Bible teaches. If we superimpose Old Testament scriptures in their literallity on what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the truth of the Christian church and its relationship to Christ as His bride and to God as His dwelling place, we blind ourselves and deny ourselves to the present enjoyment of God's ways and His eternal purpose.

John E Miller

commented on Mar 31, 2012

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ and others who may read these discussions, the departure from scriptural truth and the preparedness to set aside the word of God demonstrates most powerfully how right Steven Lawson was in writing the article that has engaged our attention. The first church set up in the Acts, outside Judea was Antioch. From that church the first missionary enterprise in the persons of Barnabas and Paul was commissioned. We must note the details in the first few verses of Acts ch.13. There was a godly leadership in that church that comprised Prophets and Teachers. The gift of prophecy is not primarily to foresee the future. Some Old Testament Prophets did this but the main task of Prophets in all dispensations is to bring the mind of God to bear on present circumstances and conditions among the people of God. The service of teaching is to explain and encourage God's people to understand and obey the teaching of His word. These two features of ministry are vital to the health of the church local and universal. Departure from the teaching of God's word indicates that they are in short supply in the Christian churches of Western civilisations.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Apr 2, 2012

John E Miller, you make some excellent points and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what I wrote. I agree with you completely that we must interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New. But that does not necessarily exclude the fact that the New Testament must also be interpreted by the Old, so I don't believe I am wrong about what I wrote concerning the interpretation of Paul. What I'm saying, basically, is the same thing the Reformers believed: we must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. And in fact, that is what Jesus did with the disciples on the road to Emmanuel in the example you alluded to in your post: Jesus interpreted for the disciples the story they were experiencing (which later was written down as the NT) in the context of the story that was begun in the OT but left unfinished. And in the process, both stories (the OT and the NT) were enriched. So, this is a two-way street; and any attempt to limit the direction of interpretation to only one-way (either from OT to NT, or vice verse) will likewise limit us to an incomplete Gospel.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Apr 2, 2012

John E Miller, I am in complete agreement with what you wrote: "[T]he main task of Prophets in all dispensations is to bring the mind of God to bear on present circumstances and conditions among the people of God." I also affirm, as you did, that prophets were among the "godly leadership" that Christ provided for the church, as exemplified in Acts 13 and articulated in Ephesians 4. Which brings me to my original point: if the NT witnesses to women serving as prophets, then it is reasonable to conclude that God does in fact call women to serve as leaders in the church, which includes functions such as preaching, teaching, and serving as pastors.

John E Miller

commented on Apr 3, 2012

Fernando de Villegas, in asserting your belief about the right of women to serve as leaders in the church in teaching etc., you refuse to accept the plain word of scripture or you refuse to accept the Apostle Paul's writings as part of the canon of scripture. The scriptures that give plain instruction on this and forbid what you advocate have already been referred to and quoted numerous times so I will forbear from pointless repetition. My own position is that I accept God's word in its detail without question.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Apr 3, 2012

John, I just used your own logic to demonstrate that my position is consistent with Scripture! I don't refuse to accept Paul's writings as part of the canon of Scripture. Rather, I recognize that the canon of Scripture includes much more than just the writings of Paul. I take Scripture very seriously. I studied two years of Hebrew and two years of Greek in college. I read through the entire Bible several times a year. And it is because I take the entirety of Scripture so seriously that I cannot in good conscience base my beliefs on this issue SOLELY on what Paul wrote, because Paul is NOT the only one in Scripture to address these issues. So, yes, I believe that Paul was inspired. And I believe that 1 Timothy 2:12-13 is inspired. BUT, I've presented some other texts that at least appear to offer a different viewpoint, and those texts must also be taken seriously. However one interprets 1 Timothy 2:12-13, no interpretation is correct that has not wrestled with the wider, Biblical context. Again, Scripture must interpret Scripture. I have great respect for Dennis Cocks because, even though he and I disagree on this issue, he actually took the texts I presented seriously and engaged with them. In facts, he's given me a lot to chew on, and I look forward to thinking through his arguments as I continue to develop my own thoughts on this issue. And like I said, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. The only mind I can change is my own, and I'm certainly open to that possibility, if God leads me in that direction. But it's OK if we come to different conclusions. Because, like I told Dennis Cocks, in the core doctrines of the Christian faith, John, you and I are both in agreement. You and I both agree that we are saved through faith in Christ. You and I both believe in the divinity of Jesus and in his physical resurrection from the dead. And you and I both accept the Bible--in all its detail--as God's inspired Word and the sole rule of faith for our lives. And because of that, John, I gladly acknowledge you as my brother in Christ, and look forward to getting to know you better in God's kingdom! May God continue to bless your ministry!

Join the discussion