I was a relatively young man when I began pastoring a small, rural congregation. I went in with big dreams but had a very limited handle on the Bible. I left twelve years later a little wiser and a little more knowledgable. Twelve years locked into a little office with an open Bible was great help for my own soul, first and foremost. It was also helpful to the congregation that I pastored. It is amazing what God does with a person who listens less to the culture and more to the Word. I have talked to three pastors over the last week who have similar stories like mine.
This is post two in a series of three. The big announcement that rocked the U.S. a couple of weeks back is still on the back burner of my mind and I want to respond to it well and thoroughly. Last post I essentially said that the church needs to be concerned, first and foremost, about it’s own sin. The more we resemble the Saviour, the more glory for Him, the more good for us (the church), and the more the right kind of attraction for those who don’t know the Saviour.
As we think about the topic of same-sex relationships or any topic under the sun, we need to think biblically. I introed with the story of how I worked out a lot of my understanding of God. Twelve years in a little office helped me work through many of the biblical issues of the Christian faith. If we go to God’s Word teachable, with the power of the Spirit working in our lives, He can teach us well and make us more right in our understanding on any given topic.
The Word of God will convict unbelievers and convince them of a need for a Lord and Saviour in Jesus and the Word will also bring believers further along in their understanding and in living out their faith better.
The topic of women in ministry and their roles was being batted around on Facebook a while ago, from various different perspectives. One response went something like this: sometimes the Bible seems to contradict itself. Here’s something for you to consider doing. Take a year and read the Bible through from cover to cover and make notes as you go. Write down everything the Bible has to say about men and women in leadership. If the Spirit of God is the author of the whole Bible, and He is, there may be some tough spots and some things that seem to be in tension, but the Bible never contradicts itself. Keep in mind that some of the things that Paul wrote gave Peter a headache (2 Peter 3:16). As you take a year to do that, a biblical picture of men and women and their ministry roles will become clearer. You will see the places where God gives the green light for women to serve and you will also find the roles that are reserved for men. It will give you the Bible’s perspective on this topic. Scripture interprets Scripture. One piece of Scripture within the specific context and within the context of the whole Bible will help you interpret another piece of Scripture within the specific context and within the context of the whole Bible.
You can do this with every topic. You can do this with the attributes of God. You can do this with what a biblical church looks like. You can study every topic in the Bible. You can study specific sins that are named. You can study divorce and remarriage (and this, my friends, is the deep end of the pool…don’t start there!). You can also study what the Bible has to say about the proper boundaries for sexual relationships.
If you really want to know what God has to say on a particular topic, the scholars are helpful but nothing beats going to the Word yourself and wrestling through the topics with a humble, teachable spirit. It is a living Book after all. The scholars are a lot of help and a huge blessing, but start first and foremost with the Word.