God's Word Is Permanent
I recently read a disturbing article that condoned many changes we see taking place in the Lord’s church around us today. These changes included the changing of women’s roles in worship and in church structure. They based the changes mostly on human reason that cited that the original commands and examples of old had to be classified as either permanent or cultural. They explained that many commands found in the New and Old Testaments were cultural commands that only applied to that time but not now. However, they admit some commands are permanent and unchanging. They went even further to make the application that the cultural commands of old were an example to us today and give us the authority to make our own cultural exceptions based on the culture we now live in. This completely strips God’s word of any authority and gives it to man to be able to write his own “cultural” bible. Did Christ pray for the religious division we see in the world today? Certainly not! (John 17:20-23)
In the case of women’s roles, one congregation cited scripture (their command) that God created man and women to be one flesh (Gen. 2:22-24), there are neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28)and both equally bear his image. They added that women held important roles within the Bible and referred to the female prophetesses Anna and others along with Queen Ester (their example)but went on to say that the culture of God’s people during the early church prohibited women to hold positions and to be leaders at that time. However, in their view, this was a cultural prohibition only (their inference) and not a permanent rule of God.
Another congregation (Sycamore View church of Christ http://sycamoreview.org/grs) states, “…there is a calling and clear examples from Scripture to move in the direction of expanding women’s roles in public worship. We believe it to be in keeping with what would have been experienced in the early church as well. We believe that true restoration isn’t a destination. Instead, it is the relentless pursuit of engaging scripture and returning to life as God intended.”
We see a dangerous use of God’s word to contradict his commands and examples by making unnecessary inferences. The only way unity can be had is if everyone uses God’s word as the standard according to His authority. We have always taught authority of God’s word based on command, example and necessary inference. The word necessary is very important here. This must be a conclusion arrived at that is essential and does not change or contradict the example or command of God but instead harmonize with it.
Do we see commands for women in positions of leadership in the church? Do we see examples of women as elders, deacons or leaders in any capacity regarding the church? This is not of our choosing but it is of God’s. In light of 1Corinthians 14:34, 35;1 Timothy 2:9-12; 1Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9;how can we make a necessary inference that reverses and contradicts God’s commands? We can’t by God’s authority. There are no commands or examples for this change. The Lord has given us no scripture supporting the change of roles in his church, and the inference that we should completely change contradicts His word on the subject.
As the church continues to lose its distinction and blend in with the world, let’s remind ourselves how easy it is to lose our way if we begin to compromise and relax God’s word. God’s word is permanent and unchanging. He gave it to us for this temporal physical world that does change. All congregations should ask themselves this question, “Do we resemble the church we see in the New Testament or are we beginning to more closely resemble what is in the religious world around us?” This seems elementary but we see large congregations beginning to succumb to worldly demand and relax in order to sustain large numbers.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words...." John 14:23-24
"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" Matthew 15:8-9
- Marc Hopkins