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Month: October 2007

Spiritual gifts a means for obedience

Spiritual gifts a means for obedience

This is the last in our series about spiritual gifts and here we discover that spiritual gifts are a means for our obedience.

Scripture is clear that we need to desire spiritual gifts but we are also to use our gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ. Paul commands us to desire spiritual gifts because the church needs this edification.

1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

This verse is in the imperative and it is a command. The use of these spiritual gifts is not just an option but it is a matter of obedience. Jesus gave a parable that illustrates the fact that the use of God’s gifts is imperative and we will be called to account for not using our gifts.

Matthew 25:14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
Matthew 25:15 “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
Matthew 25:16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.
Matthew 25:17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
Matthew 25:18 “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25:19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them.
Matthew 25:20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’
Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’
Mat 25:23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
Matthew 25:26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.
Matthew 25:27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Matthew 25:28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
Matthew 25:29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
Matthew25:30 “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

As women we desire to use the gifts that God has given us for the benefit and edification of the body of Christ just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 14. There are those who stand at the door of the assembly and refuse to let women’s gifts in. They see themselves as doorkeepers and as official spiritual gift police whose position it is to stop women’s gifts from being used for the edification of men. But we desire to be faithful to God and when man comes against what God has ordained, we must obey God rather than man.

It was on this day 490 years ago that a Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences” on the Door of Wittenberg Castle. October 31 became known as Reformation Day because Martin Luther refused to accept man’s tradition over the bible. Martin Luther’s own words ring loud and clear against man’s imposition of laws and tradition that are not found in scripture. He stood strong as he said:

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

Pastor Wade Burleson has written a wonderful word of encouragement on this Reformation Day that I would like to quote:

Have a great Reformation Day, and may you and I work toward reform in our churches and our convention that leads to our collective conscience held captive to the word of God – and nothing else. Man’s rules, religious regulations or denominational traditions that pretend to be on par with Scripture and lead anyone away from faith in Christ alone, trust in Scripture alone, and rest in God’s grace alone are to be resisted with as much energy as Luther resisted indulgences. Here we stand, we can do no other.

Martin Luther faced death as he stood against the religious rulers of that day. Today women do not face death but many of them face name-calling, prejudice and character assassination merely because they chose to be obedient to Christ with their God-given gifts. But no name-calling or character assassination will ever come close to stopping us from ministering in Jesus name when it is the Master who has commanded us to be obedient.

As Luther stood strong against the tradition of men, I too want to stand strong in encouraging the use of women’s gifts that God has commanded all of us Christian woman to use for the benefit of the entire body of Christ. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason that women are not allowed to use their God-given gifts for the benefit of men, and not by Popes, church councils or men who have set themselves against women’s gifts used for the edification of men, but who have also so often contradicted themselves in their man-made rules about what women can and cannot do, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

Prayer request

Prayer request

Dear friends,

While freeing women to minister with their God-given to the entire body of Christ has been a very strong passion for me, it has not been the main focus of my ministry. In 1988 God called me to give of my time, my money and my talents to help Jehovah’s Witnesses find the truth about the real Jesus Christ and to come free from the bondage of the Watchtower. Several years ago the Lord answered the desire of my heart and allowed me to go into full-time ministry. As a video editor, researcher and full time apologist, I have been busy serving the Lord and my husband joined with me as we joined our ministry together with Keith and Lorri MacGregor of MacGregor Ministries working as a team to produce instructional DVDs on witnessing to the cults including correcting false doctrine spread by the cults against the essentials of the Christian faith.

In June of 2007 we moved to the city where the headquarters of MacGregor Ministries is located and we prepared to take over this very effective Canadian ministry/charity. However there has been very strong opposition to our ministry by those who oppose anyone who preaches the Gospel to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and other cult groups. The Canadian government has received several complaints against our charity that witnessing to the cults and exposing the false doctrine is not a “charitable” work.

MacGregor Ministries (MM Outreach) has been a registered Canadian charity since 1979 and neither Keith nor Lorri MacGregor have taken a salary from the ministry choosing instead to use the funds to spread the gospel of Jesus. Richard and I have also joined with the MacGregors working for the ministry without salary. With this complaint on file the Canadian government has chosen to start the process of shutting down our ministry saying that while preaching the gospel is a valid charitable work, reaching those in other faiths for Christ is not charitable and because this is considered to be our primary work they want to pull our charity status and take away our equipment and our funds that we have set aside for ministry work.

We have made attempts to separate our work of preaching the gospel to the cults from our regular work of ministering to the body of Christ by placing our web site and our quarterly magazine into the control of a new incorporated business that we set up, (MM Outreach Inc) however we are unsure if this will be good enough to stop the Canadian government from shutting us down. Yesterday we received another notice about still another complaint from someone who said that exposing other religions is not charitable.

Would you please pray for us that God will be glorified in our lives and in our ministry so that we can continue ministering to those who have lost their way in the world of the cults? We need God’s protection through this time of persecution. The next few weeks will be crucial as the Canadian government may or may not allow the changes that we have made to stop the process of deregistering the charity. Almost 30 years of ministry is at stake and freedom to minister as God has called us.

Will you stand with us in prayer?

Spiritual gifts and authority

Spiritual gifts and authority

What has the spiritual gifts got to do with authority? It has plenty to do with God’s granting us all authority to use our gifts as representatives of God himself. In 1 Peter 4:10, 11 God tell us:

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Our gifts come with the ability to use these gifts with the authority from God himself. The one who speaks is to speak as speaking the “oracles of God” or the “utterances of God”.

While authority to operate in our gifts has been given to us, nowhere in scripture is authority given as a power to use over someone else. Jesus gave authority over the demons to his disciples, but the leaders of the church have not been given authority over people.

Matthew 10:1 Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

It was the worldly people who took authority over others as their right.

Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

But in the church, authority is only given as an authority to serve and authority to use our gifts. It is never given to be used to take control over another person in the church. The Christian way is service.

Matthew 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
Matthew 20:27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Since authority is to be used in the church for service and not for domination of one person over another, authority to use one’s gifts belongs equally to men and women in the body of Christ.

Gift vs Office and women in ministry

Gift vs Office and women in ministry

Continuing in our series on the gifts and their use by men and women in the body of Christ, we come to an unusual passage where the gift seems not to be a thing but a person.

In Ephesians 4:7, 8 we see that grace is given to each one of us apportioned out by Christ himself:

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The Greek word for “men” is a generic term meaning mankind and applies to both men and women. Both men and women (each one of us) is given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Continuing on with verse 11 we find that the gifts that Christ gives in this passage are gifts of people for the equipping of the church.

Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

Now take a look at the first gift which is that of apostle. Some consider this not to be a gift but an office. In fact this is the way that the first apostles may have looked at it because they set out to appoint a replacement for Judas.

Acts 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’
Acts 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–
Acts 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Acts 1:23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.
Acts 1:24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
Acts 1:25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
Acts 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

The apostles appointed two men as candidates for a replacement of Judas, then after praying to God to show his choice, they cast a dice and chose Matthias. But can men actually appoint an apostle this way if an apostle is a gift? No ordination by men can make a man an apostle if it is a gift given by Jesus to the church. And similarly no failure of men to ordain a person will take away God’s choice of the gift of apostle to the church.

Paul was given as an apostle to the church but he struggled with being accepted because the other apostles did not ordain him as the twelfth apostle. Paul continually had to defend his being an apostle because many had made their minds up already that the position was already filled. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul responds that the Corinthians have pushed him to defend his apostleship and he is not happy to have to do this. Paul says:

2 Corinthians 12:11 I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.
2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.

Paul tells the Galatians that he is not an apostle because of any man’s choice:

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)

Paul boldly states that he is an apostle of Jesus by the will of God:

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…

So could Paul then be the 13th apostle after the 12th apostle was appointed by the disciples? Scripture gives an interesting answer:

Revelation 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

There are only twelve apostles of the Lamb, not thirteen! So what do we make of Matthias? He is never spoken of again in scripture after Acts chapter 1. Paul himself claims over and over again to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, chosen by the will of God.

What does this mean? It means that an apostle is a true gift of God and an apostle cannot be appointed by man. Some wonder why Matthias was chosen by the casting of lots. Nowhere in scripture is this way of assessing God’s will ever practiced again. Was it necessary to cast lots because God never answered the eleven apostles regarding their own choice for the replacement of Judas? Is it because a gift cannot be appointed by man since it is God’s prerogative alone? Paul claimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God yet he was never appointed by man to this “position”. Rather he was gifted by Jesus and given to the church for the building up of the body of Christ. Paul was such an awesome choice that the church would not be the same without his writings. And Matthias? We never hear of him again.

What about another “gift” in the list at Ephesians 4:11 – the gift of pastor? Can a pastor be appointed by man? If a pastor is truly a gift as Ephesians 4:11 states, then a pastor is not a pastor because they are appointed by man. Similarly a pastor is not any less of a pastor because they are not appointed by man. This gift is given for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, for the building up of the body of Christ and it is not an appointment but a gift.

What does this all mean? I believe that it means that if you are called and gifted to be a pastor you do not need to have man’s ordination to flow in your gifts as a pastor. You are a pastor by God’s calling and gifting and not by the will of man. And if a person is a pastor that isn’t called or gifted to be a pastor they are not a true pastor just because man has ordained them. Paul said that there were false apostles who disguised themselves as true apostles:

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

Would it be any wonder if we would also have false pastors too? Jesus calls these people hirelings or hired hands:

John 10:12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
John 10:13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.”

So if you are a woman and God has called you and gifted you as a pastor, do you really need any man to make you a pastor? Should you not just pastor the sheep? Be it a small group setting or a big group or a congregation, shouldn’t you just do what God has called you to do? If you are in a church that refuses to allow a woman to take the name of pastor and you want to stay in that church, do you think that God will allow you to do the work of a pastor without the name? A pastor is a gift to the body of Christ by the will of Jesus. Just be that gift and use your gift to nurture and tend the flock.

CARM alert – grace in action

CARM alert – grace in action

I got an email from Matt Slick today. In addition to saying that I misrepresented him (he said I was claiming that he believes I am unsaved! I know he calls me a heretic, but I didn’t hear him say that I was an unsaved heretic) 🙂

Matt stated:

you ARE in error…and your helping the church adopt your error.

and…i have no intention of having you back on the radio.

He also offered to debate me on Paltalk which I would consider if I knew if there was a fair way to have such a debate without Matt turning the debate into an attack session or having him control the mike. At this point I don’t think it would be possible, but I am open if I could figure out what I am doing.

The reason for this post is to call attention to a very gracious response to Matt that I found a link to on Wade Burleson’s blog. It is from a fellow Christian who has a blog called Voyage Blog and his name is David McLaughlin. Today he wrote a post called Carm Watch Update. David’s original post on the second debate between Matt and myself is here. I want to call attention to this blog and these two posts because of David’s gracious response. Even while pointing out error and wrong attitudes, David manages to keep a gracious attitude and I think he should be commended for the spirit that he showed. I also greatly appreciate him defending his sister in Christ!