"When We Come Together"
God's plan for collective worship doesn't fit today's styles. What are God's roles for men and women?
When We Come Together
(1 Tim. 2:8-10)
A. It appears at the beginning of the Gospel of John. In John 2:13-22 we read the story of Jesus going into the temple at Passover, making a whip out of cords and telling those selling to get out. (Read John 2:16-17)
B. We read an identical story that takes place during the last week of the ministry of Jesus. Matt. 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 all record Jesus going into the temple at this last Passover, just days before his crucifixion and doing exactly the same thing John wrote at the beginning of his gospel. Two occasions? One at the beginning and one at the end? But the same phrase is used, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.”
C. God has always been about communication between himself and his creation of mankind. Prayer is the way we communicate to God. It is nothing more than talking to God. It doesn’t have to be formal, it doesn’t have to be in the church building, it doesn’t have to be done with candles or in a closet. Prayer is something God desires, not because he doesn’t already know what we need before we ask, but because it helps us to see our dependency upon him and his grace extended toward us.
D. Prayer. It is something almost every Christian says they would like to do more of. Paul wanted Timothy to teach the importance of prayer, the purpose of prayer, the one to whom we pray through. The first seven verses of chapter 2 teach how important it is for everyone to pray so that as Christian we can have access to sharing the saving gospel message to all people.
E. While that lesson is important, I want us to focus on the next few sentences Paul gave to Timothy. You see, the controversy that comes from these verse have caused many congregations great grief, have caused many scholars consternation as they attempt to understand the teaching of these verse, and has caused division between men and women. So I am going to clear it all up today.
I. When Is Something Doctrine?
A. With Paul’s writing to Timothy, he writes to help him teach the church at Ephesus how they need to “do church.” It is a very practical letter. It is a letter every preacher needs to read, every church leaders needs to meditate on, and every Christians needs to spend time studying.
B. So what is the role of the men and women of the Whitehall Church of Christ? Is that role defined by culture or is it defined by some eternal doctrine? Until you answer that question, you cannot keep reading this passage. When is something a doctrine and when it is simply a cultural thought? We are very quick to say the four times the Bible explicitly commands to “greet one another with a holy kiss” that the phrase is only cultural and we can greet one another with a holy hand shake, hug, nod of the head or smile. How do you know that? How did you determine that kissing was cultural and not a God doctrine for the local church? We understand the command to greeting each other in a holy manner – the manner they used was men kissing men, and women kissing women.
C. Christians and churches have struggled for years to determine what is doctrine and what is custom. When it comes to the roles within the church assemble, Paul takes custom out of the equation and simply leaves doctrine. Listen to 1 Tim. 4:6. We are dealing with a book filled with doctrine, not custom, traditions or interpretation. Examine the doctrine that God gives through Paul concerning how the local congregation should act when we come together as a church family.
II. When We Come Together
A. Read verses 8-15. The context of passage continues with Paul address leaders and then Timothy as a preacher. This is instruction for how a church is to act when it comes together as a church. Paul continues his thought on prayer, but drives home the need for males in the congregation to central role within the local congregation to lead the prayers, lead as shepherds, lead as deacons and lead as the preacher.
B. The Greek is very specific in the wording of this passage, but the English also makes it clear. In every place (or in every congregation this teaching should be done). In every place MALES should pray, lifting up holy hands. So we come to the passage and we see the emphasis is on praying and the males of the congregation leading the prayer in a holy man – the way they did was lifting up of the hands.
C. Then Paul makes it clear the WOMEN have a different role when the church comes together. That role is for a woman to profess godliness by her good works, not the outside of her body (like clothing and jewelry) should be impressive, but who she is before God. That quality of godly found in her works defines her.
D. Then Paul goes so far as to say, beyond just leading of public prayers, women ought not to take a public role in the teaching of the congregation. In fact, he continues on to say that she should not have authority over a man in the public worship. This teaching, is not presented as a custom, but as doctrine and Paul uses the very beginning of time to make his point.
E. Paul starts by saying man was created first then woman. That in and of itself may not be a huge statement, but he also brings out that woman sinned first and then man. Now before you jump down Paul’s throat, let me ask you if you follow God’s teaching.
F. Let me take you back to that time when Eve sinned and Adam joined her in that sin. God began to bring down a curse upon the woman, the man and the serpent. Here is what God said to the woman (Gen. 3:16). God placed that curse upon all women because of Eve’s sin. That’s not Paul, that was God.
G. Let me take you to Eph. 5 and let’s just view the family unity, not the church family, but the home family. Eph. 5:22-24. I want you to see this played out fully. When the teaching is given to the husband, God through Paul defines “headship.” (Eph. 5:25-33)
H. Did you catch all that? The headship of man is to look like and act like Jesus does with the church. As a Christian we call Jesus Lord. We call him master. We bow before him. Do we say that we won’t because we don’t like having a master? NO. We submit to Jesus because we know that his great love for us provides all we need to live eternally. That he is the most sacrificial head you could find. Men, that’s how we are to act.
A. So where does this leave us as we study 1 Timothy? First, we see the male are to take the leadership role in the local congregation just like they are to do in the family unity. We see that men should be people of prayer and that women are gaining from these godly men so that all of us live godly lives.
B. Next week we will see the leadership role in the church is not just men, but next is male elders and male deacons. Here is the calling men. Love your wife like Christ loves the church and this will never be an issue. Mistreat women, put them down, manipulate them and subject them to your will and not God’s divine plan and you will see women rise up to fight against your sinful behavior.
C. God is pleading with you women to support the spiritual role of the men of this congregation. Support them by letting them take that spiritual leadership and seek to be like Jesus to help all of us on the road to heaven. Will you ladies of this congregation support the men who want to be spiritual leaders?
D. God is pleading with you men to step up your spiritual lives and be for this congregation the role model God has called you to be. Make prayer a vital part of our church life. Lead us in spiritual study. Teach us about the wonderful mysteries of God that has been revealed through the Bible. Will you men of this congregation be like Jesus? Will you lead this church to a greater spiritual life than we have had in the past?
E. That’s the church we are called to be. Not a male dominated, female suppressing church, but a spiritual male leading like Jesus. If you are in need of our prayers, strength or support in being what God has called you to be in this congregation, then come as we stand and sing.