Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation (Act 15:31).
A NEW Look At Revelation 3:11
By Mr. Ellery Burgess
Revelation 3:7–13 is a message to the Philadelphia era (time period) of God's Church. But, verse 11 is directed to the following era, the Church of the Laodiceans. It is concerning holding fast to what was given in the Philadelphia era but it is directed to those in the Laodicean era.
We are living in the Laodicean era. Whether we, individually, are a practicing Laodicean or not is determined by our conduct as well as holding faithfully to the truth once delivered.
Revelation 3:11 says “Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” We will focus on “that no man take thy crown”. We will look at that phrase in a way that you may not have considered before.
The message to the Laodiceans starts with “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot” (Rev. 3:15). The reason that they are neither cold or hot is because Laodiceans do not understand what Christ's work is in this age. They are either trying to re-do the work of the Philadelphia era or just taking care of the people in their own groups, calling it “preparing the bride”.
It is not wrong to preach the good news of the coming Kingdom of God or to take care of those in your charge, so it is not cold. But it is not hot because it is not the main thrust of the work that Christ is doing in the Laodicean era. The work that Christ is doing today is: “knocking on the door (heart)” of every person who has the spirit of God residing in them, and Christ is measuring those who open and let Him in” (Rev. 3:20 and Rev. 11:1), preparing the temple for His second coming. That is the work of God today.
HOW CHRIST IS DOING HIS WORK TODAY.
But how is Christ doing that work today? Exactly the same way that He has always done it! By using the government structure that He has always used. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever”. Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed “. Now, turn back to Hebrews 13, verse 7 “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their (conduct)”. Verse 9: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with (foods), which have not profited them that have been occupied therein”. How did God work in the past? How did He work in the time of the Philadelphia era, which I often refer to as our living history?
The Bible tells us exactly how God works... “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph 2:20-22), read also Ephesians 4:1 – 6, 10-12. That is how He worked in times past, that is how He worked in the 20th Century, and that is how He is working today and forever.
God never changes, Christ never changes, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6). But, people sure do!
Now, in this Laodicean age, people look at it differently. Herbert W. Armstrong died and the ministry, as a whole, sold out the truth. From evangelists, down through every rank of the ministry, all the way to church elders, turned from the faith once delivered to them, to fables and lying doctrines.
Most of the ministry became all out apostates from the truth. So the Laodicean attitude set in.
Laodicea means the people judge, rule, and decide.
People caught up in this mind set just decided, well okay, we will become our own teachers. Lay members started their own churches, deacons started their own churches and became “preaching deacons.” Church elders started their own churches and declared themselves pastors.
Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in a Brethren Letter February 25, 1974... “There are no apostles nor evangelists in the local churches. ALL ministers, from Apostle on down, are called Elders in the Bible. It is evident that the Apostle Paul ordained some elders who were preachers, in charge of one or more churches. Also, that some who were not preachers were ordained elders, who were teachers but not preachers in the sense of inspired or pulpit preaching. Sometimes these were in a small local church where there was no preaching elder, but who presided at meetings, and sometimes they were under a preaching elder. Although the terms "preaching elder" and "local elder" are not specifically used in this manner, there is sufficient biblical example that the Church in our day has used those titles for rank of office.”
Mr. Armstrong also wrote in the same letter, about a liberal element that was creeping into the Church of God in 1974... “Those now advocating this Scriptural HERESY want to abolish all authority which Christ as our Head SET in His Church. Their contentions would lead to VOTING -- the "democratic way" – the very OPPOSITE of God's Way. They want to be "LIBERAL," and soon this liberality would lead into general and widespread SIN. They would become just a few more churches OF THIS WORLD – Satan's." These liberal ministers went underground, waiting for the apostle to die, as soon as he did in January 1986, they came out of their hiding and began to institute their evil agendas, and trap an unsuspecting flock. Their rebellion against God's government, is very evident in the United Church of God an International Association as well as COGWA and a few others.
The lowest rank of the ministry that Jesus Christ established to pastor a Church is that of preaching elder. Those holding the rank of church elder are not authorized by scripture to be pastors. I am ordained to the office of church elder. If something happened so that Mr. Venish was no longer here, I could not and would not attempt to pastor this Church. Because I have no authority to pastor.
So here, near the end of this Laodicean era, Jesus Christ is doing His work, the work described in the message to this era. He is knocking on the hearts door of each and every one of His people and if any will open, He will come in and begin the final preparing, the measuring if you will, of each one for entrance into His soon coming kingdom.
That is the work that Jesus Christ is doing now! The work of knocking and measuring is the work of God in this final era. Back to Rev. 3:11...“hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”, I know that means to hold fast to doctrinal truth. But it also means to hold fast to following Christ as He does His work of knocking and preparing. To really follow Christ, we must be taking part in what He is doing, part of His work.
The phrase in Rev. 3:11 “that no man take thy crown” does have a meaning that most have not considered. Look at it like this: If we have a leader who is not teaching false doctrine, who is upholding the faith once delivered, who is doing the work of knocking and preparing, but we don't like something about him personally. We may consider that he did something that we consider “rude”, because I have heard that said. Maybe we just don't care for his personality. If that ever is the case, will we just turn and walk away from the very work that Jesus Christ is doing in this Church ?
If we do that, then I say plainly that we have let a man take our crown. There have been some who have left this little group knowing that here is where the truth is being taught. Knowing that the only true work of Christ is being done here, and to my knowledge, the only place where it is being done, but they still left because they did not like an administrative decision. That is putting a man's actions before the work of God and that is letting a man take away your crown.
“Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11)
The final thing that Christ said to His people in the message to the Laodiceans was “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 3:22).
God's Ultimate Purpose - WHAT is IT?
By Mike Downing
Just what is the overall work of Almighty God? This work of God has not changed. God is reproducing Himself through mankind. He is developing His holy, righteous character in each individual that has surrendered to Him. Jesus said, none can come to the Father, unless the Father draw them (John 6:44, 65).
We are called by the Father for a supreme purpose. We have to keep this over-arching purpose firm in our minds, this is the reason why you were created. Notice Genesis 1: 26-27 “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His Own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” This is God’s overall, primary work. All the smaller secondary works, the great commission, Matthew 24:14, the knock of Christ and measuring, the work of the two witnesses, are all for the purpose of accomplishing God’s supreme feat: Reproducing Himself.
God’s ultimate goal is that all mankind receives eternal life in His Kingdom.
PREACHING THE GOSPEL
The church's commission of preaching the gospel is the means by which the Father calls and draws us, as Mark 16:15-16 states “And He said to them, Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
As God calls the individual, He starts to create righteous character within him. The church is the instrument God uses to help develop that character (Eph. 4: 11-16). Through the ministry we are taught Gods ways and laws. The ministry's duty is to teach and serve the flock of God.
We also learn from the example of our brethren, as well as encouragement. We are called now, in this church age, to be a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2: 9). We are to change our lives now, so that we in turn, can teach others when God opens salvation to them. Ask yourself if you are qualifying to do this? All those called today are accountable to God, we all have to improve spiritually and grow in Godly character and divine nature. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”(2 Tim. 2:15). We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We have to constantly be overcoming sin and our weaknesses. It is only by repentance and faith, that we turn our lives over to God, which He will mold and shape to be like Him, if we allow Him to do it. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
GET RID OF SIN
Everyday we should be striving to rid ourselves of sin. And what is sin?
As 1 John 3:4 states, sin is the transgression of the law, when put together with Romans 7:7 it is very clear that sin is breaking the Ten Commandments. We must put on righteousness, “...and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). To put away our human nature, which is the old man (Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22, Col. 3:9) and put on the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We should be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). But just what does this verse mean?
I quote now from Herbert W. Armstrong in his booklet, "What is a real Christian"? “Being a real Christian involves developing the mind and attitude of Christ, thinking the way He did every moment of every day. Christ has revealed principles that bear on every facet of life. We are even to let our innermost thoughts be ruled by the Lord Jesus”.
We have to continually get our noses into the Bible to enable us to become authorities in the word of God, so we in turn can help, serve and teach others in the future. Salvation is between you and God alone, we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). We have to get ourselves right with The Father before we can help others. We all need to look in the spiritual mirror at ourselves and repent accordingly, as 2 Cor. 13:5 instructs us to examine and test ourselves.
Each individual has his own part to play in this character development. We have to choose God’s way, to allow Him to mold and shape us into His very nature. We do this by our willingness to obey Him. This is how we will be prepared and ready when Christ returns. God gives strong warnings to His end time church of the dominant attitudes that we, each individual need to be aware of (Rev. 3:16-17, 19; Luke 21:34: Matt. 25:5).
During the Philadelphia era of God’s church under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, God raised up a mighty work to fulfill the prophesy of Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come.” God opened doors and supplied means (money, helpers, ect) for Matthew 24:14 to be fulfilled. As it was being fulfilled, the church was also making disciples of all nations, many were called during this time. But the majority that heard the message did not grasp it, “it was as a witness unto them.” God is not at this time calling all mankind to salvation. Mr. Armstrong had clearly seen that God did open doors for him and the church to fulfill Matthew 24:14.
That door is now closed (Rev. 3:7). This fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 was a sign to the church that Christ’s return is very near and that the church needs to get prepared. The church continues to proclaim the gospel for all those God is calling. This is being done primarily today through the internet. There are numerous books, booklets, sermons and World Tomorrow broadcasts by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong explaining very plain the gospel of the kingdom of God and how we can be a part of it. The ministry also does this from the pulpit and each individual also does this by being examples and by our conduct.
Also during the Philadelphia era of the church, God restored vital truths to His church to prepare them for the return of Jesus Christ (Matt. 17:11, Mal. 3:1-3, 5-6). The prophesied apostasy which occurred after Mr. Armstrong’s death caused great division and confusion among God’s church. We as Christians need to return to and hold fast to the unadulterated truths and standards that were restored in the 20th century.
THE KNOCK OF CHRIST
Christ is now knocking (Rev. 3:20) on the hearts of each person who has His Spirit. He is saying to His church “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”. He wants us to repent of the lukewarm attitude and become zealous for the faith once delivered (Jude 3).
God is now sending out a midnight cry to His church (Matt. 25:6). He gives each of us counsel to help us which we can take now, or later during the time of Great Tribulation, the choice is ours (Rev 3:18). We have to make the decision now to allow Christ to work in us. We must strive with all our hearts and minds to fulfill God’s purpose for us, in creating His Holy, Righteous character within us.
As we respond to Christ by opening the door, we also need to show real Christian love to one another and have "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts” (Rom 5:5). By applying what has been written in this article the bride will have made herself ready (Rev. 19:7). The church of God is a spiritual organism. It consists of all those who have God’s Holy Spirit who are scattered all over the world, regardless of which group they attend. There is only one true church, it is those with God’s Spirit living and working in them, they are the church.
God is measuring each individual. Jesus Christ is the one performing the knock to the church in this end time. He convicts the mind of our need of repentance and where we need to overcome. Christ is at this time using a small group as a tool to deliver this knock and the midnight cry to His scattered church. To encourage them to repent, be zealous and to be watchful, to return to the truths that were restored. To hold up a measuring rod so that each Christian measures themselves to Jesus Christ and the truths and standards of Almighty God. We all in the Body of Christ are to model ourselves after Christ, He is our example, we are to copy Him, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (I Peter 2:21).
This is what we have to be focused on. We have to allow Christ to chip away at us, enabling us to be fitted into the Spiritual temple He is returning to. We, in this Vigilant Church of God, are a group of individuals within the scattered, divided church who have come to see our need of repentance and of returning to the faith once delivered.
We have a common goal, to prepare ourselves and help others prepare themselves for Christ’s return and entrance into the Kingdom of God. We are here to lead by example and by our willingness to obey and serve God. Hopefully this article helps each one of us to realize our purpose. That we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:23) with all our being.
Let us strive to fulfill God’s great purpose in us. To be born into the very family of God as children of Almighty God. In conclusion I quote from God’s word (Eccl. 12:13), “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”.
Should Women Preach?
Millions have been mixed up on this important principle a principle more far-reaching than you have realized. Here is GOD'S ANSWER clearly revealed in His Word.
HERE IS a vital subject which greatly NEEDS to be understood in every home, in every church, in every nation. Untold misery and suffering can be avoided if God's truth is understood and obeyed!
The very fact of women preaching reveals a striking condition in our modern churches of which very few are aware. Thousands of people of both sexes have a prejudicial conception of this subject. In nearly every instance, they look on it as an isolated topic having little or no bearing on the gospel itself — or on the very purpose of our human existence.
But they fail to realize that this subject deals with the very FOUNDATION of the gospel itself — and that its proper understanding carries an URGENT message to our present society.
Before this world goes crashing to its doom, it's time to OPEN our minds to God's truth!
One Clear Answer
Where should a Christian look to find the truth on this important subject — or on any subject for that matter?
Should you look to men, to groups of men, to the many differing churches of men? Where is basic truth to be found?
As a Christian, you should know that there is only one source of spiritual truth. Jesus Christ said, "Thy WORD is truth" (John 17:17). And God's Word reveals — IF we are willing to receive the truth — that the subject of women preaching is more far-reaching and more fundamental than you have probably realized. It is VITAL that every Christian man and woman understand the truth on this matter.
God's Word is clear and definite ia revealing the status of women in the church, in society, and in the home. From Genesis to Revelation, the same principles are consistently revealed by God on this topic. Here is one subject upon which there is just no place for disagreement if we are to accept God's Word as truth.
Yet here is a matter upon which whole church denominations disagree — a matter which is causing much of the wretchedness and rottenness in our toppling modern civilization.
It's time to find the truth! Free your mind from blinding prejudice. Ask God humbly to open your mind to His truth as CLEARLY revealed in His Word, the Bible.
Why Woman Was Created
After God had created the man, He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an HELP meet [suitable] for him" (Gen. 2:18). Finding that none of the animal creation fitted this need, God created woman our of a part of man. And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Verse 23).
Notice that the very purpose of woman's creation was to provide a help for the man. But on the first occasion when man had a severe trial and needed help, what happened?
Genesis 3:1-16 shows that the woman allowed the serpent, representing Satan, to beguile her into disobeying her Creator, God. And she thereupon caused her husband, whom she was supposed to help, to disobey God also and cur himself off from God's blessings.
The woman had taken the initiative. She had tried to lead the man — a thing for which she was not intended nor equipped — and as a result the whole human family was cut off from God until Christ came to obey God and make reconciliation.
Because she had sinned in doing this thing, God told the woman, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall RULE over thee" (Gen. 3:16).
Plain words, these. And these are God's words — not human opinion. God had made the man first — in His direct image, as God is always spoken of in the masculine gender. God had made the man physically stronger, and with every necessary quality to be the woman's leader. Adam knew that the woman was to be his helper — and he her head.
But now that the woman had taken the initiative without consulting her husband, and had sinned and led him to sin in so doing, God made their status doubly CLEAR: "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall RULE over thee."
Adam had nor fulfilled his God-given responsibility to lead the woman in the right way, but had let her wrest the initiative from him. And so God told Adam, "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life" (Gen. 3:17). Yes, Adam was punished "Because," God said, "thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife" — and so had been led to disobey God.
It is easy for a man to bog down and let his wife "run things." Adam did — and Satan soon took over! Thousands of modern men are doing the same thing — particularly in America. And crime, almost universal corruption in every phase of life, broken homes, unhappy homes} and juvenile delinquency are abounding and growing EVILS which beset our society on every hand.
It's something to think about seriously!
In the final analysis, man will learn that when the God-constituted system of authority breaks down, real TROUBLE is in score. This pattern of authority is conspicuously violated today in the realm of the relation of men and women in society and in the home.
The examples and teaching throughout the Old Testament reveal that the man was recognized as the head of the house, and was always designated and used by God to carry our any group project. The genealogy always came down from father to son. When Jacob was inspired to give prophetic blessings (Gen. 49), they were given co his sons, not his daughters in any case.
In other words, man was regarded as the direct representative of God over all the animate creation, and woman was recognized and respected as his helper. She derived her honor and blessings indirectly through her husband, her God-constituted head.
God called Moses to lead his people our of Egyptian bondage. And when ir came time to institute God's physical priesthood, God chose Aaron and his son (Exodus 29:9).
Note this point. In every case, God chose men — not women — to be the leaders and spokesmen, or preachers — if you wish to apply it that way.
What a striking contrast to our society where women are conducting themselves in a way that would have made their great-grandmothers blush! But let's get the point and not try to excuse ourselves. The contrast is not between us and what is termed "old-fashioned." It is between our way and GOD'S way as revealed in His Word,
God's Word is consistent in teaching that woman is to be in subjection to the man — never his leader or spokesman. Another point to notice is that while in both ancient and modern times the Gentile nations often had queens or women ruling over them, at no time did God ever appoint a woman as queen or to ANY administrative office either in the nation of Israel or in the church either in Old or New Testament times. That is God's way! If our own human idea or way is different, then it is we — not God — who should REPENT of this error and change our own carnal, human ways.
Are we going to defy our CREATOR on this point?
In both the Old and New Testaments, we find that God did use some righteous women in the office of a prophetess. If we study these examples carefully, we will see that their function has often been misinterpreted and that their office carried no administrative authority, but that they were simply used of God to convey a message to one of His servants. or to other people — but never in the capacity of preaching or exercising authority over them.
Exodus 15:20-21 gives the account of Miriam the prophetess leading the women out to dance and praise God in song. But she is nowhere spoken of as having preached or having had authority of any kind over the men. And any honest Bible student knows that it would have been contrary to existing mode of conduct, and to God's command, for her to have done so.
An unusual situation in Israel which in many ways parallels our own present day DEGENERACY is described in chapters 4 and 5 of the book of Judges. To properly understand this account, we need to realize that the entire book of Judges is primarily devoted to a history of Israel's mistakes because: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25). In Judges 4:1 we find that Ehud, Israel's present "deliverer" (Judges 3:15) had died, and the people began doing evil in God's sight. There seems to have been no man of real purpose and leadership to guide Israel at this time, and God sold them into the hand of the king of Canaan for their disobedience,
At this point, we read: "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time" (Judges 4:4). Since no man had courage and leadership to master the situation and take the initiative, Deborah — being a prophetess and knowing God! will — reminded Barak, "Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded..." And she proceeded to remind him — not command him, because she had no such authority over the men — of what God had commanded should be done.
Barak, being a weakling and too fearful to exercise his God-given-responsibility of leadership, told her, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go" (verse 8).
Knowing full well that Barak ought to be man enough to carry out this responsibility without having to cling to the skirts of a woman, Deborah told him: "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman" (verse 9).
Deborah herself — a righteous and God-fearing woman — had no desire at all to usurp man's responsibility for leadership. And her own words betray how ashamed she must have felt of her men, who were so weak that she had to "mother" them along to get them to carry out God's will. She later sang of this national tragedy: "The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel. until that I arose a MOTHER in Israel" (Judges 5:7).
This pitiful spectacle of men being too weak and too lazy to carry out their God-given responsibility for leadership is closely paralleled in America today — right now! And it is a growing trend in many other nations. It seems to be a part of our so-called "civilization." And it is wreaking havoc in our homes, our churches, our society.
Women preachers constitute only a small part of this general problem. The big problem is that men and women have departed from the WAY of God in their lives. They have forsaken the knowledge and practice of exercising the God-constituted authority He set in the home, in the church, and in society.
The divorce rate and the number of juvenile delinquents and criminals is constantly growing. And most people don't seem to know why.
Asked to account for the rise in juvenile delinquency, an expert on this subject, Police Commissioner Gibbons of Philadelphia, answered: "Throughout the country there is a general disregard for CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. I think that goes for the adults and is reflected in the thinking of the juvenile." Yes, Commissioner Gibbons and many other men and women who are constantly dealing with this problem have been forced to realize that proper understanding and respect for authority is rapidly disappearing from our society.
In its wake, we find increasing violence, murder, rape, corruption!
Commenting on America's problem of growing juvenile crime, a famous visiting British general said that he remembered that when he was a boy, father's word was law and disobedience was quickly rewarded by physical chastening. But now, in both countries, most fathers just don't seem to care, and the mother is either unwilling or unable to properly handle the situation.
Yes, men used to feel their God-given duties as head of the house and exercise them. But now it seems they just don't care.
In fact, the whole population seems to delight in ridiculing man's position as head of the house. This attitude of contempt for what GOD has ordained is prominently displayed in comic strips, movies, radio, and now television — all of which like to portray the husband as a big, helpless dumb brute who has to be "managed" by his intelligent, "modern" wife.
A recent newspaper report says: "The United States is moving rapidly toward the 'woman's world' with diaper-changing husbands and independent wives." Yes, the weak, spiritless American husband is fast becoming the butt of every joke. The situation may strike some as being very funny, but it is an ABOMINATION to Almighty God! The lack of a real father and HEAD in every home is leading to more broken homes, broken young lives, and wretchedness than you have realized.
It's time to wake up and get back to the WAY of God.
There are a few other prophetesses mentioned specifically in the Bible, and in every case they were used as Deborah was — to impart knowledge to others as to God's will. In no case did they exercise authority.
We read of Huldah the prophetess in II Chronicles 34:22-28. Here we find that the King of Judah sent to Huldah to find out what Gods will was. But, upon learning be made the decision as to what should be done.
In Luke 2:36-38, we read of Anna, a prophetess, who was a widow 84 years old. She was a very righteous woman who "served God with fastings and prayers night and day." And so it was revealed to her that the child Jesus was the expected Messiah, and she was privileged to announce this to those who were gathered informally about Jesus and His earthly parents.
The four virgin daughters of Philip the evangelist are mentioned in Acts 21:8-9. The accounts says they "did prophesy," but we find an example of how this was often done in the following verses (10-12) describing Agabus, the prophet. Notice that Agabus did not preach to the group or have authority over them, but simply warned Paul personally, and those with him, of what God had revealed would befall him at Jerusalem.
So, although the word "prophesy" means to "foretell for God," whether in the sense of a revelation of future happenings or of inspired preaching, we see that the latter function was never exercised by women prophetesses, who never held authority over the men or the congregation, but only spoke privately to convey a message from God.
New Testament Teaching
The New Testament teaching, example, and direct commands on this subject are very clear.
In I Corinthians 11:3-16, the Apostle Paul says (verse 3), "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the HEAD of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
Paul says the man "is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of man" (verse 7). Man stands in the direct image and as the visible representative of God, and so should not have his head covered as a sign that he is in subjection to any visible being — as he is in direct subjection to the invisible God.
But the woman is to subject herself to the man; she was made "for the man" (verse 9). Therefore, she ought to have a sign, that she is under authority — on her head. If she acknowledges her subjection to the man by this outward sign, she will be granted special favor by the ministering and guardian angels, whose help the woman — as the weaker sex — is particularly in need of.
Notice that this symbol of being in subjection — this covering or veil spoken of — is the wearing of long hair by the woman. Some interpreters have falsely assumed that this covering was a veil or scarf, but this was not the custom of Grecian women, as they assume, and Paul clearly defines the woman's covering as her long hair, which he says is a glory to her (I Cor. 11:15).
Paul concludes this passage by saying that if anyone brings up a contrary idea, the churches of GOD recognize no such ideas of men. However, many of the churches of today have rejected these commands of God. Many unthinking modern women, kept in spiritual ignorance by their professing Christian ministers, now cut their hair short like a man — thereby dishonoring their human head, man and their spiritual head, Christ, whose command they are rejecting.
It's time to realize that true Christianity means OBEDIENCE to God's commands!
Paul's Inspired Commands
The Apostle Paul was inspired to give directions for exercising spiritual gifts in chapters 12, 13, and 14 of First Corinthians. He concludes these instructions in I Cor. 14:34-40 by commanding: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law" (verse 34). Here is a direct command from God that women are NOT to speak in church even, in exercising the spiritual gifts of which Paul is speaking. The woman's praying or prophesying does not mean presiding over a group in these activities (I Cor. 11:5).
Their husbands are to study God's word and to be their head, their leader, in spiritual as well as physical matters. Thus, if women wish to ask questions, "Let them ask their husbands at home: for it as a SHAME for women to speak in the church."
Present circumstances are no excuse for disobeying the commands of God. Nevertheless, how many husbands are qualified to fulfill their responsibility as spiritual head of the family?
The shameful answer is: far too few. But this is no reason for women usurping this authority. For in I Timothy 5:12, God inspired Paul to write: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." He continues (verses 13 and 14), "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
The woman is not to have authority over the man, for she was created to be his helper. And this passage and others (II Timothy 3:6) indicate that women do tend to be more easily deceived than men. They were not intended by God to be physical or spiritual leaders over men — and most God — fearing women realize this and would be thankful if the men would AWAKEN to their God-given duty to guide the family and instruct their wives in spiritual knowledge. But — alas! how far men have fallen short of this CHRISTIAN DUTY.
God's Way Best
Women preachers? Women leaders? The answer is abundantly plain if we seek God's way!
This knowledge should certainly cause no "battle of the sexes," but rather bring both men and women to the sober realization of how far we have departed from the ways and commands of God.
If men and women everywhere will both acknowledge the great error they have made, the great SIN they have committed in transgressing the commands of God in this matter — and will REPENT and turn from this wrong way, God will forgive and abundantly pardon.
Yes, we need to restore God's system of authority in our homes, our churches, our nations. Then growing children will be properly trained for life by firm but loving parents. And wives — as many of them secretly realize — would have a new respect and love for their husbands. And with people understanding God's authority and why, our church life would become cleansed of all the mixture of paganism and human tradition with what is left of real Christianity — the kind found in God's Word.
Society as a whole would be immeasurably benefited by a renewed respect for constituted authority — and the realization that authority comes down from God himself.
God Holds Men Responsible
Women — and women preachers have taken unto themselves much authority that is not rightfully theirs. But in most cases they have done so because men were too lazy or indifferent to carry out the responsibility as they should. And so it is a situation for which we should all repent.
But you will have to realize that God at no time has used a woman as His minister in preaching or writing His word. Any woman usurping this authority was so doing in direct violation of the commands of God, and so cut herself off from God and from the Holy Spirit "whom God hath given to them that OBEY Him" (Acts 5:32).
And any church or denomination which continues to REJECT this truth is not being used of God at all, for He says: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee" (Hosea 4:6).
Jesus Christ said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
God's word is consistent. His will is clear. Where do you stand?