A successful church is filled with broken, obedient lovers of God who are growing and maturing in Christ, cleansing themselves and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. A successful church makes true disciples who can then disciple.
There are so many things that need to be changed in the Church. We have examined some of the heresies being taught. Now we will take a look at some of the foundational principles that need reform – the following is just a sampling. Nevertheless, I hope it will be helpful to those who are called to be reformers:
What does a successful church look like? Big attendance? Fancy building? Several pastors on staff? Lots of programs? Maybe, but are they seeking God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, worshiping Him in Spirit and truth, and operating in the gifts of the Spirit? Are people being saved, healed, and delivered? Do they have regular, well-attended prayer meetings? Are they preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ or just a watered-down version?
Are the people ever called to repentance? Are they being challenged and trained to be true disciples, forsaking all to follow Jesus? Or are they only hearing about how to be blessed? Does the congregation have an opportunity to participate in the service, or is it a one-man show? Are they reaching out to the poor and winning the lost? (Of course, every church is not called to do every type of ministry).
A successful church (large or small) is filled with broken, obedient lovers of God who are growing and maturing in Christ, cleansing themselves and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. A successful church makes true disciples who can then disciple others. They will sacrifice all to fulfill the plans and purposes that God sets before them – this is your biblical plumb line.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this letter to the church he started in Ephesus, a large city in Asia Minor. The church was founded around 52AD during his second missionary journey. Paul then returned and lived in Ephesus, during his third journey, for almost 3 years. You may also know the church in Ephesus was mentioned in the Book of Revelation, written as early as 70AD, just 18 years after it was planted. Jesus commends them for a few things but then says:
“Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5). Just to remind you, the lampstand symbolizes the church (1:20).
Jesus tells this church they had lost their first love and become complacent. He warns unless they repent and do what they used to do (enthusiastically loving God and others, serving and giving), He is going to come and remove their lampstand—close down their church. If a church that was founded and nurtured by Paul could leave their first love in as little as 18 years, how much more could you and your church?
Do you know that approximately 6,000 churches in America shut down each year? That would be over 100 churches per week. In some cases, this isn’t a bad thing; it’s usually best to bury something that is dead. Nevertheless, many of these churches were started by faithful people who loved God. It takes a lot of commitment to plant a church: time, effort, money, renovation or building, neighborhood outreaches, and hopefully a lot of prayer. Over time, however, many churches lose their first love, grow comfortable, complacent, and then merely go through the motions of a religious service. Please don’t think your church is exempt and will automatically remain open until Jesus comes. Without prayer, active participation, obedience to God’s word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, you may become one of these statistics. It’s time to wake up. Everything is not OK! A church without a genuine love for God, obeying His word and serving Him with the right motives, is no longer a true church.
The American Church has absorbed so much of our culture. Not only the obvious sins but something more subtle: Our culture glorifies independence and we demand our rights, both of which are contrary to scripture. Aren’t we to humble ourselves and become dependent upon God, being led by His Spirit? Scripture exhorts us to die to self, surrender our rights and allow the Lord to make a way for us.
We have come to believe that the church is a democracy (voting for what we want), but the church is supposed to be a theocracy led by Jesus Christ. With all due respect, if your logical plans, reasoning, ideas, or understanding differs from the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, you are wrong. Even when you surround yourself with those who agree with you, you are still wrong—all of you.
Some churches merely offer a religious ceremony. Others have promoted entertainment instead of true worship. Still, others have refused to allow the moving of the Spirit or the operation of His gifts. Some churches have Spirit-led worship and the people use the gifts of the Spirit, but even these churches are in danger because they refuse to warn of the consequences of sin.
Key Points of Reformation
- The word of God must be restored as the standard of truth and righteousness; it must be obeyed. The full truth of Scripture must be proclaimed. Nothing is to be omitted or minimized (2 Timothy 3:16).
- The Church must return to making disciples, not just converts. Every church should be intentionally making true disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to do all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). A Sunday sermon is not sufficient. Home fellowship groups are the optimum way to make disciples. During a time of persecution, this will be the only option.
- Teaching obedience, commitment, and self-sacrifice must be restored to the Church. Much of the Church is self-centered, looking for blessings with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, instead of denying themselves with the sacrificial giving of their comfort, time, and resources (Luke 9:23). How will they survive in the days ahead?
- The love, grace, and mercy of God should definitely be taught, but the fear of God must be restored to the Church. Today, Hell and the consequences of sin are seldom, if ever, mentioned. Teaching the love of God without teaching the fear of God has produced a lukewarm, compromised Church (Matthew 10:28).
- Holiness must be restored to the Church. Not legalism, but a consecration and separation from the ways of the world. A call to repentance must be given. The One who suffered and died for us deserves nothing less than our complete surrender to His will (2 Corinthians 7:1).
- The gifts of the Holy Spirit must be permitted, encouraged, and practiced. The Holy Spirit has been quenched in most churches, to their great loss. How the Church needs the presence, power, and gifts of the Holy Spirit! (1 Corinthians 14:1).
- The Church must reach out to a lost and dying world. We were never meant to stay comfortable while the rest of the world plunges into hell. Home groups should also be evangelistic, inviting neighbors, friends and family (Romans 10:14-15).
- Servant Leadership must be restored to the Church. Leaders are to serve and not lord over the people. “… he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” (Luke 22:26). “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14). Of course, a leader is called to lead, but they must also lovingly serve the saints and equip them to fulfill their divine purpose. (Ephesians 4:12).
There is a remnant rising that has these truths burning in their hearts. I believe the Lord has been preparing this remnant, those from around the world who have allowed Him to refine and purify them, those learning to be led by His Spirit. They truly love God and are walking in obedience and holiness. These sons and daughters will soon be ready and will then be released with extraordinary Holy Spirit power and authority, empowered to bring reformation to at least some of the churches, bringing them back to genuine biblical Christianity.
Faith Without Works is Dead
The Scripture clearly says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). I have already said this many times. But what about James 2:14-24? James tells us we are not justified by faith alone, but by works. How can this be? Of course, both scriptures are correct. By grace, (unmerited favor) we are freely given salvation by believing in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we must demonstrate our faith by obeying God and putting faith in action, using our gifts and talents to fulfill His purposes. If you say you have faith, but never exercise it, your faith is dead. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20).
Believer, it is necessary to know that it’s not enough to simply say you have faith. You are justified by a living faith that gives, goes, and does as the Spirit leads. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect? The Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” He was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:21-24).
In other words, you can’t just say you have faith and not demonstrate that faith by actions (works); these works have nothing to do with earning your salvation, but they have everything to do with keeping your faith alive. Without a genuine living faith in Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved.
Are you helping others; are you serving in some way? Are you praying for others or being a witness for Christ? Are you helping the poor? Do you give financial support to missionaries or others who work for the advancement of God’s kingdom? If you aren’t doing any of these things, your faith is in jeopardy; it is dying or could already be dead. Remember, Christianity is not just about going to church or trying not to sin; it is also about loving and serving others. Spiritual growth is not about learning something from a book; it’s all about the practical application of your faith. If you feel comfortable doing something, your faith is not being stretched. Here are a few challenges for you:
1. Tell someone (other than a Christian friend) that Jesus loves them.
2. Offer to pray for someone.
3. Share your testimony.
4. Help someone even when it’s inconvenient.
5. Give more money than you are comfortable giving.
You said you want to grow spiritually. If that’s true be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of self-denial, dying to self, and do things that make you uncomfortable. I have had the awesome privilege of traveling to many nations, and have seen God do amazing things. It is certainly not because I am smarter or more anointed. I’m one of the weak and foolish that Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 1:27. However, when God challenged me to do the things I didn’t know how to do, things I was afraid to do, things that made me uncomfortable and didn’t want to do, I said “yes.” By His grace, I was willing and He stretched me.
By the call of God, I was a street preacher for about 12 years, every Tuesday for a few hours. Every time I did street preaching, I was very uncomfortable, but the Lord was with me and always gave me grace, strength, and courage. He will do the same for you. Of course, everyone is not called to do street ministry, but whatever the call, many Christians have hindered their spiritual growth because they say, “I’m not comfortable doing that.”
Ignorance of Biblical Truth
The following are excerpts from CBN News: “A new survey reveals a shocking statistic about young Christians. More than 60 percent of born-again Christians between the ages of 18-39 believe that Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad are all equal in regards to a path to salvation. Probe Ministries recently released the results of its Religious Views & Practices Survey that showed a ‘striking decline’ in religious beliefs and practices over the last ten years.
The survey shows a majority of born-again Christians are ignorant about the basic teachings of their faith. LESS THAN HALF of those surveyed strongly agreed that Jesus died to redeem us and will return to save us. The survey also found: The number of young adults age 18 – 39 who are born-again Christians with a basic biblical worldview has dropped from almost 15 percent of the population to near 5 percent. When asked if Jesus sinned like other people during his life on earth, 30 percent of born-again Protestants either agreed or weren’t sure. Nearly 80 percent of young adult Catholics are uncertain if Jesus lived a sinless life on earth.”1 In addition, when asked about their position on faith, nearly 50% of adults under the age of 40 listed themselves as Atheist, Agnostic, or “Nothing in Particular.”
This report should make you cry; this is our fault! What has the Church been teaching this generation? Ask God to raise anointed youth ministers, filled with the Holy Spirit and operating in spiritual gifts—those who will proclaim the un-compromised truth of God’s word.
It seems that the only thing that will turn this younger generation back to the Lord and the truth of Scripture is a demonstration of God’s power and perhaps major calamities that will cause fear and a need for God. Pizza parties and video game contests certainly didn’t do the job, neither did the “worship” that was more like entertainment than intimacy with God.
Shocking statistics from a 2021 Barna poll:
51% of Christians have never heard of the Great Commission. 25% say they have heard of it, but aren’t sure what it means. Only 17% of Christians say they’ve heard of the Great Commission and know what it means; this is incredible! What is being taught in our churches? I understand that some of these numbers could reflect the terminology being used in churches, but even so, these numbers are pathetic.
Pastors and church leaders, please take note of this and teach the people to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Are you being a witness for Christ? Are you encouraging others to share their testimony and to boldly proclaim the amazing gospel of Jesus Christ? If you are not gifted to do this invite someone to speak at your church who is.
Warnings for Pastors and Church Leaders
Some pastors are teaching that certain things aren’t sinful anymore. “Those prohibitions were for a different time and culture.” I think you can see why people would flock to a place like that, especially younger people and those who practice sexual perversion. Hopefully, we have learned by now that these serious errors are the very things that have aroused God’s anger.
Not every leader who teaches these things has evil intent. Some have misguided compassion, not wanting anyone to get discouraged. This may seem noble, but it’s unscriptural and a huge mistake. By not teaching the congregation to struggle against sin (Hebrews 12:4) and to truly repent (Revelation 2:21-22), by not teaching the fear of God and the biblical mandate to walk in holiness (2Corinthians 7:1), they are setting the people up for failure here on earth and for condemnation on judgment day (Matthew 7:21).
There are so many things that Jesus commanded us to do and not do. I hope you are teaching these things. Before you think I’m turning the New Testament into the law, I am not. But for you not to teach all that Jesus commanded, is irresponsible. Many will lose rewards and perhaps even their salvation if they are not taught the full truth. Have you taught if they don’t forgive those who hurt them, God will not forgive them? (Matthew 6:15). Did you mention that He will turn them over to the tormentors? (Matthew 18:34-35).
The heart of a true pastor desires to heal, help, encourage, strengthen and build up those who are under their care. They understand the struggle that people have with overcoming sin, but sadly, instead of helping them overcome their sins, some ministers will minimize the sin by saying, “You are only human; we all do that.” They find it much easier to comfort than to correct. I hope you aren’t doing that, Pastor. Please remember this part of your job description, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2).
What is the first responsibility of the shepherd? To protect the sheep. For sure, they are to lead, guide, and feed the flock, but protection comes first. Pastor, are you protecting the Lord’s sheep? True protection is warning of the consequences of sin, and protecting them from the deception of humanism and other unbiblical teachings. Are you calling the people to repentance? Many are wandering away! You must warn them, or they will be devoured, and you will be held accountable.
If you need people to like you, please don’t be a minister. Your ministry will be hindered by the need to please others and your fear of offending them. How will you be able to speak the truth and bring correction? I think you know that ministers are supposed to do that. Sadly, there are very few messages that challenge the church to deny themselves? Why is there so much talk of blessing, but little said about self-sacrifice and dying to self? Because of this, most of the Church is unprepared for what is about to come. Can you see we are in grave danger? The Church needs reformation! And why would you think that every message should be edifying and encouraging? You won’t find that in the scriptures. People need to be exhorted to do things they would rather not do: forgive, love the unlovable, give, serve, be a witness, etc. They must also be corrected, warned of the consequences of sin, and called to repentance. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
We all need encouragement from time to time, but to truly mature in Christ you need the meat of the Word, not more cake and ice cream. It’s time to decide whether you want to follow the Jesus of the Bible or some strange imitation. The flesh loves to indulge itself and make excuses. If you only speak the nice things, you may have a full church, but many will be compromised and lukewarm.
Jesus exhorted, admonished, and rebuked the churches in Asia Minor – we had better be doing this, too. Of course, not every week, but it must be done. Jesus spoke many hard things. The writers of the epistles spoke strongly against sin and challenged Christians to grow spiritually. Why do you need to preach about God’s love and grace every week? When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, He told her to, “Go and sin no more.” After He healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, He said, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Of course, Jesus always spoke the truth in love, but make no mistake, He spoke the whole truth.
Do you realize that Jesus purposely spoke in parables so the people WOULD NOT understand? “To you, it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest, it is given in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (Luke 8:10). Don’t dilute your message. Those who have an ear to hear, the ones the Father is drawing, will hear, understand and mature in Christ.
Here is something else you may not have considered: Jesus told the people, “Most assuredly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53). He knew this statement would sound outrageous, especially to the Jews. Yes, Jesus was revealing spiritual truth, but He knew many of His followers couldn’t receive it and would walk away (John 6:66). So why did He say it? Jesus never made a mistake—He is the son of God! He didn’t think afterward, “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that.”
People followed Jesus for many reasons, to see His miracles or to be part of something exciting. Some were probably selling things to the crowds, and some were looking for free food (John 6:26). Jesus only wanted those to follow Him who truly believed in Him and in what He said; those who had spiritual ears, the people His Father was drawing to Him (John 6:65). This blows the “seeker friendly” method for church growth right out of the water. It is a far cry from the many churches in our day that are offering entertainment and candy-coated messages to attract and keep the people.
Jesus never pacified the crowds, wanting to keep them coming back. If people walk, let them go. We are called to make true disciples who will lay down their lives for Jesus not to fill the seats with lukewarm, uncommitted Christians.
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap-up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4). Paul was speaking of our generation. You must warn Christians to turn away from sin before it’s too late. “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19).
Pastor, if you have been leading a congregation of comfortable people, it would seem that you need to change your message. You have been commissioned by the Lord to make disciples. Balance must be restored: the love of God, the fear of God, the grace of God, and the judgment of God. There are difficult times ahead. You must prepare the people.
In a recent Barna poll, 50% of the pastors in America admitted they are concerned about offending church members, and they are uncomfortable with speaking about abortion, pornography, promiscuity, sexual perversion. This is very sad. The strategy of inclusion is a grave error. By “inclusion” I mean inviting everyone to come to church as they are and get them to accept Jesus as Savior, but then never challenge them to obey God and change. We must call the people to change and teach them how to do that, even if this makes them (and you) uncomfortable. You may keep them coming back if you never challenge them, but you will have a church full of uncommitted sinners; this certainly isn’t discipleship. If your messages only pacify the people, you are not doing your job.
If you have couples in your church who are living together and are not married, you must teach them that this is sin. If there are young people in your youth group who are having sex, and using drugs, etc., they need to know this is sinful. Of course, you’re not going to preach about sin every Sunday but you are responsible before God to teach them the full truth of His word, omitting nothing. God loves His Church, but in this hour of compromise, He is not pleased with her.
Comfortable Christians go to church when they feel like it, put some money in the offering, and try not to sin too much. Really? So, you think that’s Christianity? God requires so much more than you conveniently fitting Him into your life. He wants your life – He wants your heart, your time, your obedience, and more. You were purchased with the precious blood of Jesus. He truly expects you to love Him above all else, and serve Him by loving and serving others.
If you’ve been attending a church where you feel comfortable, be careful! Of course, we want to be comforted and encouraged when we need it, but if you’re not being challenged to mature in Christ, surrendering your life and dying to self, if you’re not being exhorted to turn from sin, walk-in holiness, love others, serve others, use your spiritual gifts, talents, and resources for God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom, then maybe you should find another church.
Christianity has followed a standard worship format for centuries. Services usually last one to two hours and contain the basic elements of singing, prayer, reading the Scripture, preaching, an offering, and according to tradition, Holy Communion. Of course, they are excellent things to do, but whoever said all of these needed to be done in every weekly service? There is certainly no scriptural mandate. Week after week, churchgoers have repeated the same things, the same way, and have become complacent. The minister is up-front and does everything, and for the most part, there is very little participation by the congregation. They have become spectators with a “feed me” mentality. Young people are bored with this routine; many have left the church.
The Church must abandon lifeless, liturgical services that hinder or quench the operation of the Holy Spirit. I hope you understand. We MUST get this right! As we rebuild and restructure, the foundation must be built upon the truth of God’s word and the free-flow of His Spirit. If not, the Lord may permanently close your church.
Do you know that during the 1st century, topics were openly discussed during their meetings, and the preaching/teaching style encouraged questions during the message? The meetings were intended to worship the Lord and stimulate participation, personal growth, and mutual edification. Church members could pray for one another and practice the use of their spiritual gifts. How many churches conduct their services like this? A precious few: why?
Tradition keeps them from entering in. They simply don’t know any other way. You can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results. I encourage pastors to seek the Lord and then teach the congregation to listen to the Spirit and bring forth what God has given them. Create an atmosphere to encourage “practicing” the use of spiritual gifts. “It’s OK to make a mistake” and then try again.
Can you imagine how powerful it could be? Your services will come alive as someone, led by the Holy Spirit, spontaneously brings a song, another is stirred to pray, and then the song and prayer are beautifully blended. A short Bible teaching or revelation is given, and the people give confirmation. In the midst of it all, you partake of Communion, and His intimate presence fills the room with love. A need is made known, and the group gathers around to pray. Someone will share a personal testimony or practice the use of their gifts of healings or prophesy or bring a word of knowledge, and the congregation affirms them. I have been in meetings like this; they are amazing! Will you trust the Holy Spirit to direct your meetings in like manner?
In addition to modifying your weekly service, I want to encourage you again to consider home groups. Small groups stimulate participation and nurture spiritual growth. They also have great potential for making disciples and will be evangelistic as you invite relatives, friends, and neighbors. You can share a meal; this brings sweet fellowship. Home groups and house churches may soon become a necessity. Persecution is coming to those who adhere to the truth of Scripture. We will be called extremists and will lose our tax-exempt status. Having to pay taxes on church property will cause many to close. Why not restructure your church now and begin to train leaders for home groups or house churches? I hope you will prayerfully consider these things.
What does a home fellowship meeting look like? There is no biblical mandate for how to do a meeting, no order of service. Apostle Paul gives us an example: “… Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corinthians 4:26).
As you can see, everyone brings something to the meeting: a song, teaching, a word from the Lord, etc. For sure you want to have a time of worship (a-cappella, with instruments or CD) and scripture reading, and there can also be a teaching, a few personal testimonies, praying for one another, and partaking of Communion. You could have a meal together or not.
How do you start a group? Very simple: Invite a few friends to your house to pray, read the Bible and worship God. You don’t need a degree or title to do this; just invite the Holy Spirit and He will surely come. You lead the meeting with an open hand, allowing for a free flow of the Spirit and encouraging participation.
Women in Ministry
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”
1 Timothy 2:11-12 “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”
There are many churches and denominations that don’t permit women to do ministry or be in leadership. Sadly, some Christian leaders use these verses to dominate women. Just like some husbands use Ephesians 5:22 “wives submit to your husband” to dominate their wife. They ignore Ephesians 5:25 that tells them to love their wife as Christ loves the church. These are grave errors, and God is not pleased.
Honestly, I too felt that women shouldn’t be in ministry because of these scriptures that seem to prohibit it. For sure, I wanted to obey God’s word, but this posed a conundrum for me. I knew of anointed women who were leading churches where salvation, healing and deliverance was flowing. And there were many other examples.
During the 19th century in England, Catherine Booth was an evangelist, preacher, theologian and co-founder of The Salvation Army. Her husband William said, “Some of my best men are women!” Half of the hundreds of churches birthed by the Salvation Army were planted by women. And what about Kathryn Kuhlman in the 20th century? She was absolutely incredible! Millions of people were healed through her ministry. I could go on to mention many more women who are doing very fruitful ministry. Thankfully, even with this error in place, the Lord still raised up anointed women throughout Church history and used them mightily!
Before you point to the failures of certain women in ministry as proof that they shouldn’t be there, let me remind you of the multitude of men in ministry who have gone off the rails. Please know that I’m not trying to be a champion for women’s rights. I am simply bringing clarification, teaching the truth of God’s Word. Feminism is unbiblical. Christian women AND men should not demand their rights. We must humble ourselves, die to ourselves, surrender our rights and submit to God. If we will do this, the Lord will make a way for us. (1 Peter 5:6).
Of course, the Bible is true: it is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God. But this statement only applies to the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek text. It is quite evident that all translations are not 100% accurate. You may wonder how this grave error could have remained Church policy for so long. Remember, for about 1000 years, the Church was teaching that salvation was earned by doing good works until Martin Luther had the revelation of salvation by grace through faith. And for over 1000 years, believers were forbidden to read the Bible. Only the Church hierarchy was permitted to read it in Latin. Let’s not continue in error, beloved. God has called and anointed both men and women to do the work of the ministry. Read on…
Biblical Foundations for Women in Ministry
I had earnestly asked God to reveal the truth about women in ministry and then, about 15 years ago, I read the following article. It quickened my spirit and opened my eyes to the truth. I hope it will do the same for you.
The article was written by Dr. Gary Greig, “Biblical Foundations for Women Alongside Men in Ministry.” Gary is a Greek and Hebrew linguist and Bible scholar. He reveals that much of this prohibition hinges on the mistranslation of 2 Greek words “aner” and “gune.” “Aner” can either be translated man or husband. And “gune” can be translated woman or wife. In these verses they were translated incorrectly. This is what he says:
“1 Corinthians 14:33-35 appears to forbid women from speaking in public worship. But a close reading of the Greek text shows that this passage forbids wives, not women in general, from speaking out disruptively in the context of their husbands judging prophecy. Greek “gune” can be translated “woman” or “wife.” It requires the translation “wife” in this passage because husbands are mentioned in 14:35. The sense “wife” is the clear connotation of the Greek “gune” in 14:35. So we are talking about husbands and wives in this passage and not women in general. What we are talking about here are women who were not recognized with this authority, speaking disruptively. It is a matter of order, not gender. It is a matter of respecting their husbands.
In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul says literally “I am not permitting a wife (gune) to teach or to domineer a husband.” The Greek word aner can be translated “man” or “husband.” “To have authority over” is not what the Greek verb “authentein” means. The NT Greek-English Lexicon of Bauer, Ardnt, Gingrich and Danker (Pg. 121) gives good evidence for the fact that authentein means “domineer.” It does not mean simply exercising authority. Paul could hardly say that women were not permitted to teach or exercise authority over men if he was aware of Priscilla with Aquilla teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26) and if he was commending Phoebe as a diakonos minister that exercised a certain amount of authority in the church of Cenchrea (Rom.16:1). What we are talking about in 1 Timothy 2:12 is domination. The use of authentein refers to a domineering spirit that these women had… a wife dominating her husband. I think the sole translation of 1Tim.2:12 required by the context is “I am not permitting a wife to teach or to domineer a husband. She must be silent.”
Paul could not have meant all women in Ephesus since Priscilla had been his co-worker along with Aquilla, and Paul certainly knew Priscilla and Aquilla had taught Apollos. Also, Paul cannot be referring to all women in Ephesus or in the church in general because he is no longer speaking of women in the plural as he was earlier in the chapter in vs 9 and 10. Mentioning Priscilla before Aquilla probably meant that she was the primary teacher (Romans 16:3). Remember in that day it was not “ladies before gentleman.”
“The language of the prohibition then reflects the original problem. A woman or a restricted number of women in the church of Ephesus were being contentious and argumentative. The woman/women were also domineering her/their husband(s). This scenario and Paul’s correction of it is a far cry from the idea that Paul was issuing a blanket prohibition against all women everywhere teaching or exercising godly authority to which God is calling them to in the Body of Christ.”
This article opened my eyes to the truth. Thank you, Lord! Here is more proof:
Acts 2:17… Peter quotes Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”
Acts 21:9… speaking of Philip the evangelist’s daughters: “Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.”
1 Corinthians 11:5… “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head…”
It is very clear that women were prophesying in the churches. Paul was not saying that all women must be silent and should not do ministry.
Just one more point for you to consider: “Paul mentions Junia and Andronicus in Romans 16:7. He says they are prominent among the apostles. “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles and they were in Christ before I was.” Junia was a common Latin female name in the Roman Empire! That Junia, as a woman, was recognized among the apostles is understandable. They had Deborah as a prophet, senior judge and a mother of Israel and Miriam as a prophetic leader under Moses and alongside Aaron. Huldah was a prophetic leader and advisor under King Josiah. And Esther, was a leader in the late period. This wouldn’t have been a problem in the New Testament Church with this history of women in leadership in the Old Testament.”
Some will say that Paul told Titus and Timothy (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:1) to appoint men in church leadership. This is true, but you should know that this was a male-dominated society. They didn’t even count the women when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish (Matthew 14:21) to feed the 5000 (men). It was presumed that men would take the lead. Nevertheless, there is nothing stated here that forbids women from leading. And as we have just said, women were in leadership! Phoebe was a deaconess in Cencherea. Priscilla taught Apollos and Junia was an Apostle. There is no doubt that some women were leaders in the Old Testament. Why would God forbid them from leading in the New Testament?
Currently, more than half of professing Christians are women. Wouldn’t it be just like Satan to try to prevent over 50% of the Church from doing the work of ministry? It’s time to accept the obvious and correct this error. God has called women to serve alongside men in every aspect of the fivefold ministry. I have now ordained several well qualified women who are called by God. They love the Lord and are faithfully serving Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many are being blessed through their ministry. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
You must know that demons are real. They are not simply the manifestations of mentally unstable people as some would suggest. They are malevolent spirit beings. The scriptures describe many demonic encounters. Of course, demons are not the cause of every problem, but they have ruined many lives, including the lives of many Christians. Dear believer, don’t close your ears to this vital subject. The Church must learn to do effective deliverance ministry! One-third of Jesus’ recorded ministry was casting out demons “… He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons…” (Mark 1:34).
When He sent out the seventy and the twelve, He specifically told them to heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, and cast out demons. You will also find Paul casting out demons in Acts. My wife and I have cast out many demons in America and Africa. (Now there are probably more demons in America than in Africa.) Demons are very real. Repeated sin can open the door for them to enter, as well as unforgiveness and occult activity.
Some would say that Christians can’t have demons. I don’t mean to be offensive, but that is simply ignorant. Let me explain: Man is body, soul, and spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in your spirit. No demon can enter there. As long as the Holy Spirit dwells within, you can’t be “possessed” by a demon – you are “possessed” by God. However, you definitely can be oppressed or bothered by demons. They can enter your body and make you sick and they can torment your soul (your mind and emotions). There are so many Christians who are influenced and tormented by demons. They believe their lies and make bad decisions based on false information.
I don’t blame the devil for everything; we can mess things up all by ourselves. Nevertheless, the enemy is very active in the Church and has taken many captive. Isn’t it time to recognize this and take a stand? We must establish effective deliverance ministry in our churches!
Christians have true authority over demons using the name of Jesus and the power of His blood. We have seen demons come out of many Christians… screaming, coughing, vomiting, etc. After deliverance they say, “I feel peaceful, clean, quiet inside, and free.” We are in a very real spiritual battle. The Church is under attack and many have already fallen prey. Spiritual warfare is very real!
Years ago, when the Holy Spirit was being poured out at our Monday Night Meetings, witches would occasionally come to the meeting trying to hinder us. Of course, our God is greater, and their spiritual interference was only minor. We would always break through as we worshiped Jesus.
When we opened the Capital Region Prayer and Healing Center (Albany, NY), witches wrapped videotape around the perimeter of our property. This videotape was full of incantations and curses. They also hung dead cats on our gate that had been sacrificed to Satan; this is not a game!
I’m not trying to scare you, but you must be aware of these things. Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1John 4:4). But if you continue in sin you become very vulnerable. Repent of your sins and walk in holiness. Be quick to turn away from sin. If you will do this you can stand strong in battle, and you can help rescue others by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, this is a real war, and you can be seriously wounded. I’ve been painfully knocked down a few times. Be sure you are being led by the Holy Spirit when coming against the devil… and count the cost. There have been many needless casualties of war. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11).
One more thing – ask God to bless those who curse you, with the truth, with a strong conviction of sin, and the gift of repentance. That they will come out of the darkness, into the light, and be saved. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.'” (Luke 6:27-28).
Let me say one more time: Deliverance ministry MUST be restored to the Church!
Prophets & Prophecy
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.” (Jeremiah 23:21-22).
There are many these days who call themselves prophets, but are they? There is a big difference between someone who has a prophetic gift and the office of a prophet. Those who only give accurate, encouraging, personal prophecy and words of knowledge are probably not prophets, but they have a strong prophetic gift. Praise God! However, if you are one of these, and have been deeply disturbed by the ungodliness you see all around you, be aware that the Lord may soon be shifting your emphasis from encouragement only, to give warnings and calls to repentance. You may be a prophet in training. The Lord will clearly show you.
Sadly, many call themselves prophets, but they aren’t. A true prophet receives a clear call from God. They will call the church to repentance and warn of the consequences of sin. They proclaim the word of the Lord, exposing heresy, and exhorting the church to walk in holiness. A true prophet has been broken and refined by God; they have been dealt with! These prophets may operate in the prophetic gifts but their main job is to correct, not encourage.
Don’t think that this was only for the Old Testament prophets. There is nothing in Scripture that says the ministry of the office of prophet has changed. Apostle Paul tells us, “he who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation and comfort to men.” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Remember, he is talking about the gift of prophecy, not the office of the prophet.
If the “prophet” you are listening to does not regularly call the church to repentance, warn of the consequences of sin, expose heresy, and exhort the church to walk in holiness they are probably not a prophet. This is why the prophecies about President Trump being reelected were not correct. Most of them were not spoken by true prophets. They were given by those who usually speak encouraging words. They were operating in the mode of encouragement when they declared what most Christians wanted to hear and expected to happen. They too believed he would be reelected and then mistakenly spoke from their soul, not by the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, I encourage you to forgive them, and let’s move on. The takeaway: please learn the difference between those who have a prophetic gift and true prophets.
Ezekiel 22:26, 28 “Her priests…they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean…” Her prophets plastered them with un-tempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD had not spoken.”
Many church leaders have not been teaching about the consequences of sin or calling the people to repentance. Quite sadly, neither have those who consider themselves prophets. They don’t speak of sin or warn of God’s impending judgment. Instead, they speak of blessing, peace, and prosperity. They will surely be judged unless they repent.
Jeremiah 14:13-14 “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.'”
Tithing and Integrity
The Lord wants you to understand there will be rewards given in heaven for giving your money and praying and fasting (without boasting about it), loving your enemies, etc. Are you doing these things? When these rewards are handed out, many will wish they had done more.
What about tithing (giving 10% of your income)? Before you say, “we’re not under the law,” let me agree. Jesus took the curse of the law – you won’t be cursed if you don’t tithe. Nevertheless, the promised blessing for tithing remains. You can choose to receive this blessing or not. Some will also say, “obedience is better than sacrifice” and that’s also true. But the sacrifice of your money, time, comfort, pleasure, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom, will be greatly rewarded in this life and in heaven; it’s your choice.
Many say they want to go to the next level. But have you learned to trust God by giving away more money than you’re comfortable giving? Allow Him to stretch you in this area. He promises to bless you. Do you understand? The promise applies to the rich and the poor. It’s not about the amount of money you give, but the percentage of the amount you have. Remember the widow’s mite? (Luke 21:1-4). She gave all she had. Did you ever wonder why giving is such a touchy subject? The truth: You don’t trust God to honor His word. Dear believer- believe God!
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38.
Integrity: I have been in many countries around the world. I have seen plenty of poverty. My heart and my prayers are with the poor. Nevertheless, the Lord wants me to remind the ministers in these countries to operate with integrity. If you ask for money to support orphans, you MUST use that money for orphans. The same is true for any other project. You certainly don’t want to exaggerate the cost so you can use the extra money for something else, especially your own personal needs! Your lack of money is not an excuse to lie or operate without honesty and integrity. The Lord is watching, and you will surely be held accountable.
One more thing. If you are a scammer, telling people that you need money for orphans or ministry and keep the money for yourself, you need to know that you are stealing from the poor. Do you understand? People gave this money to help the poor, and you kept it for yourself; this is a serious sin!
“Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate. For the LORD will plead their cause and plunder the soul of those who plunder them.” (Proverbs 22:22-23). You will not go to heaven unless you truly repent. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
One more thing: If you find yourself continually asking for money, you should reconsider what you are doing. God is faithful and will always provide what you need to do His will. This quote by Hudson Taylor is a proven fact: “God’s work, done God’s way, never lacks God’s provision.” If you can’t raise the funds to do your ministry, you need to ask yourself, “Did God tell me to build a bigger church, or was that my idea?” “Am I doing ministry in a way that pleases God?” If you are doing what God asked you to do in the way He told you to do it, you can be sure He will provide all that you need.
Presenting the Gospel
There are two ways to present the gospel: the love of God, and the fear of hell. Our God is so loving that He reaches down to a sinful world; I have witnessed amazing demonstrations of His great compassion through physical healings and miracles! But the Lord also uses the fear of punishment.
As we have already mentioned, over the past few decades, the fear of God has been removed from most Christian teachings… resulting in a lukewarm, compromised Church. This being the case, you can see why the following verses have been misunderstood: “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23).
There are many who actually believe that Jude is telling Christians to be afraid of being tempted when we go to rescue the lost. This IS NOT what he is saying! The correct meaning is this – when you minister to someone who is wounded, broken or hurting, have compassion on them; speak of God’s mercy, grace and healing love. But to those who think they are just fine and in need of nothing, someone who is proud—these you want to save with fear.
It’s not about you being afraid, but you making them afraid by speaking of the judgment that is to come. Paul did this when addressing Felix in Acts 24:25… and Jesus, in the NT, warns of Hades, Hell and the Lake of Fire many times! Don’t be afraid to mention hell, beloved. Save some with fear!
For Those Who Preach Repentance and Holiness:
You have been called to a “now” ministry and you are surely hearing God, nevertheless; be careful! Don’t allow pride or self-righteousness to contaminate your message. You certainly don’t want to appear “holier than thou.” Be transparent and admit your sins and past failures. For sure, you must speak boldly as the Lord leads – give a strong word, but it must flow from a heart of love and humility. And when you preach holiness, be sure it is balanced with grace. If not, you may end up promoting legalism, and we don’t want to go there again, do we?
“Examine your heart, says the Lord. Do you have a genuine love for My people? Are you speaking the truth in love? My anointing does not rest upon the self-righteous. I rebuked the Pharisees who used My Word to abuse My people. Ask Me to renew your love for My Church, to give you My heart for them. Continue to expose sin and boldly speak My truth in love; call them to repentance. Do not be afraid; I am with you.”
And don’t let the enemy tell you that you are unqualified to preach and teach holiness, because you have sinned; this is a lie. If you have truly repented, you may be more qualified to bring this message. You understand weakness and can have compassion for those who have been taken captive by sin. You know the serious consequences because you have most likely suffered in some way. You can now warn others and call them to repentance without being judgmental and critical. You can speak the truth in love. I hope you won’t back away from doing this.