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One of the most often-asked questions I receive is from sisters inquiring about various women teachers, their books, studies, websites and ministries. Many of these inquiries come from sisters who are novices in doctrine and are sifting through the plethora of Christian books and study guides seeking what is good to teach, study or read. It is difficult even for a more “seasoned” mature Christian to wade through this to avoid books that have error but even more so for the novice or new believer. It is sad to say that today even in our churches, too many “bad theology” books or study guides line the bookshelves and those reading them are the worst for it. Thus, in response to these questions, I wrote a post to Reformed Women this week on this subject and decided to share it on the blog. It is not all-inclusive but I pray you will find it helpful with regard to counseling another believer, novice or one with contrary doctrine on the importance of what we read, teach and share. It is long…but I believe important and a subject that needs to be addressed in ministry and our churches.
First, a definition of proper evangelism, teaching, instructing, rebuking, etc. It is always in love. This does not mean the “fluffy” or “worldly” “buddy-buddy” psychobabble definition of love but rather the love of Christ which is shown to us in Scripture. What is that love of Christ in evangelism in the OT and NT? It is telling the hearer the truth even though it may mean they don’t want to hear it, are offended by it or don’t believe it. It is giving them TRUE biblical instruction. This is Christ’s way of pointing an unbeliever, novice believer or Pharisee (self-righteous person) to Christ and His salvation. It is telling them that there is only one way and that way is the true gospel as proclaimed in Scripture. It is showing them the One True and Living God, which is set forth in the doctrine of Scripture (i.e., what we call “Calvinism” or “Reformed” theology), setting out the whole counsel of God, God’s attributes, His Providential Sovereign election, and no other gospel. To do otherwise is contrary to the Bible, an affront to Christ and His Word and Person and is “another gospel” and not the gospel of the Bible no matter what name they call it. This is what the Reformation was about, true Christianity, not a false one. So then, because you love your sisters in Christ, you only want them to follow the One True and Living God, and that is where you point them. When you point them to true Christianity and doctrine, these other questions of the role of women, men, God’s church, His attributes, what we read and teach, the churches we attend, etc. are much easier to understand. If you do not, you, who are more mature and know the truth, would be akin to false prophets which knew the truth but continued in the lie of the Pharisees which proved fatal to them and the church in the wilderness and as seen today in the demise of any true gospel in those churches. Thus, you have no alternative but to tell these sisters the truth and in so doing, only allow that which God allows. You want to teach, train, minister to these women in your church in truth so that Christ is honored and your family (and theirs) blessed. This means no compromise with the “lie” or those “other” pseudo-gospels. The world is full of them, every street corner has a church, one of them, and Christ condemns them because they, like the OT church of His day on earth, preached, taught and allowed “another gospel” and Christ condemns them today. The Scriptures are full of God’s condemnation of those churches that call themselves true but teach, preach and minister falsehood because they do not proclaim the One True and Living God in all of His attributes and fullness. Thus, your responsibility as a mature believer is to pray for strength, boldness and grace to minister to these women without regard for anyone other than Christ and His glory.
Thus, doctrine is paramount. Choose only books, studies, etc. that are truth and no other. If an author or teacher does not meet the Scriptural requirement (“not a novice” or one untrained in doctrine, or a book of a pseudo-gospel) then they are eliminated as teaching sources. The commitment to teach is a biblical commitment not for the benefit of tickling women’s ears or fancy but rather to train them in truth so they are protected from false doctrine and error. If a sister is ignorant of the errors, then they are a novice and should not be teaching. If they want to use books that are likewise, they are also novices and should not teach, their book recommendations should be disqualified and the reasons for doing so explained so they can grow up in Christ.
For your personal ministry, you can sit down a sister for a cup of coffee/tea, pray with her, share that you love her in Christ and only want God’s best for her. Share with her a book list of excellent teachers and give her the reasons why these authors are good. Explain to her why these biblical authors glorify God in their teachings. If she recommends a book that is not “Reformed” or biblical of true historical orthodox Christianity, explain to her why there is a problem and that to teach or share it would put you or her in the place of bringing false, unbiblical, unscriptural teaching and thus lead others astray and be condemned by Christ for it. God has some very strong language and woes pronounced upon those that bring faulty, erroneous and wrong teaching to God’s church and as He says, it brings them into condemnation of the Devil and at the same glorifies the Evil One by teaching and sharing a lie. If a book does not glorify God, the only ones it glorifies is the writer and the Evil One because it is not faithful to the Word of God. An example: if a book says that we must “choose” Christ and without our “accepting” Christ, we are not saved, it is a lie and brings into play another gospel. The true gospel plan of salvation says: we are saved in eternity by the providential, holy and sovereign will of our Creator for His purpose and plan and no other. Even the faith to believe the gospel is “the gift of God, lest any man should boast.” The Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, Arminian god is another “jesus” that Christ warned us of in Scripture, “another will come after me and him will they follow.” God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows, he will reap. If we proclaim a lie, we are deceiving and leading others astray by our error. Thus, because we have been delivered from the error and now have the truth we must, with every ounce of our being, be faithful to that knowledge and Christ and be bold to help others see the truth. True love of our brethren is telling them the truth and not allowing them to falter and stray down a path that does not glorify God and His church. If we really, really love with a Christ-like love, we will not be afraid to “speak the truth in love” to these sisters, put aside our own “self-interest” of wanting to “be liked” or “popular” etc. in the eyes of women, and put on the clothes of humility by telling the truth and praying for God’s glory to be revealed in them. There is nothing more wonderful or precious for a sister to do than to tell another sister how wonderful God is in all of His attributes, protect them from error or false teaching, and lead them into a clearer and more biblical path of following Christ. When God’s children turn from error, untruth, false beliefs and gospels, it is beautiful to see and not only that, their lives are transformed from ones of fear, discouragement, unworthiness to ones of boldness, hope and peace.
An admonition: Please do not fall into the self-centered psychobabble belief that you do not want to “hurt” feelings or make someone “feel bad” by telling them the truth. Your choice is this, either tickle a sister or sin against your Lord God. You have to live with your decisions. If you really truly love your sisters, as Christ loved us, and suffered that all men fled from him because of the truth, you will love your sisters enough to tell them the truth and not allow them to continue in error or feed their hearts, minds and souls with books, teachings, and error that only brings them into defeat, loss of hope and joy, and discredit to Christ. Be bold and courageous in love and nurture them with the truth. If you please your Lord in this what better friendship, fellowship and reward can this be? I think none other. Be encouraged that this will be blessed of the Lord and I can testify that it can be. We do not do it perfectly and we will suffer loss but that too is in the hands of our Sovereign Lord. Be encouraged that His will and purposes are being done for His glory and our good. Remember too that we are not making disciples of ourselves and our beliefs but rather disciples of Christ in truth to love and follow Him.
Finally, the Bible is crystal clear, Christian women are NOT to teach nor usurp the authority of men in the church. Women are to teach women and children — this is their calling in the role of teaching. Don’t fall into the error or flattery of being called upon to “teach” in a mixed group, at the pulpit or lead a male Sunday School class, that flattery is unbiblical and you only want to do what is pleasing and biblical to Christ. If you are asked to teach men, decline and tell them why. You have your hands full ministering as God has given you leave to do – to women and children. Be blessed by that ministry and flatter Christ in it for His glory and your good in Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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1/TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen “Notes on Teaching and Ministering in Love” January 2007, ©2007-2015 All Rights Reserved