My Life as a Christian

My Struggle as a Preacher

I vividly remember the day I preached my first sermon. By then I was 19 years old. It was a day that my church set aside for the youth to lead the service of worship. After I had preached the sermon, titled, “The True Christian” many people came to me afterwards. They congratulated me and praised God for a wonderful message. Then I thought that that’s how it will be. This incident somehow made me believe that whenever I preach many will be pleased with my message. However, I was very wrong. As I continue to serve Him as a preacher, there are times when I receive a cold shoulder from listeners.

Sometimes you can clearly read on the faces of some responses like: “How dare you preach that message?” Why disturbing us in our comfort zone?” You know such type of responses. At first, I was very much disturbed by this kind of responses. But as I grow in ministry, I have developed a thick skin, so to speak. I hardly care the response of the audience. No, I am lying. The truth is that I always struggle with the desire to be accepted. I want people to accept my message.

However, “The voice of truth tells me a different story,” sung Casting Crowns. The voice of truth tells me that it will never happen as long as I strive to remain true to Scripture. This is one of the great challenges that every preacher faces or will face. There is no middle ground. You either preach God’s Word and displease some people (probably  many) or preach what people want to hear and please many (but not all people, of course). This is my struggle too.

Let me confess here. It’s no fun to have people dislike you because of what you believe and teach. You might be convinced and convicted that that is the truth you ought to preach but the thought of being despised or disdained is awful and makes you think twice. But thank God, for His grace that enables us to stand against the storm of the majority (who might not like to hear God’s Word as presented to us in the Bible). We should take comfort in the fact that Christ also experienced the same. Just read the Gospels, and you will see that many Pharisees and Sadducees did not like Christ’s message yet He is God and there is no falsehood in Him.

Apostle Paul was also not an exception. Read what he writes to Galatians’: “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ,” (1:9, 10).

From the passage one basic truth stands out:  All preachers can be grouped into two: God-pleasers or man-pleasers.  As I have already said, there is no middle ground and they shall never be. This is the struggle of a preacher like me. But we thank Christ that His grace is sufficient to carry us through if we resolve to be God-pleasers.

“Now  to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24, 25).

In these words lies my comfort not only as a preacher but also as God’s child.

 

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That statement scared me (Biblical Eldership)

This other evening I was sitting in a forum which I shall leave unnamed. The main discussion of the round-table was the ordination of women to be elders of a church and the main question posed to the meeting was: “Is ordaining women to be elders of a church biblical?

There were about seventy of us discussing and only two of us including myself argued basing on Scripture that it is unbiblical for women to be ordained elders or even pastors. But I should confess, it was not easy to courageously stand for the biblical truth in an environment where many were against this view. For first time, I understood better how Jesus felt with the great opposition he faced, especially from the Pharisees and other teachers of the law, when he taught the truth. By this I don’t mean to compare myself to my beautiful Savior; rather, what I want to put across is that:  Friends, it is more challenging to stand up for the truth when the majority opposes it, but thank God he grants the grace.

Any way, back to the story. As I stood to present the biblical view on the issue, I began quoting Scripture, then, one church leader cut me and said, “Don’t quote Scripture. Everyone understands Scripture in their own way and if you do that we won’t reach any agreement.”

Men! That statement scared me. I could feel the hair on my head rising in fear. I could not believe it, especially, coming from a leader of a church. I responded, “If, we don’t use the Scripture to discuss this issue what authority are we going to ascribe to. The authority of man? Our views and ideas? Lord, have mercy!

“As Christians, don’t we have the Bible as our final rule of faith and life?” I thought to myself.  Doesn’t God’s Word tell us: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Any way, I have already highlighted that I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Scripture teaches that only Christian men should be elders of a church. You, definitely, are asking me to back up my stand with Scripture and I will definitely do that. So, here we go.

First, let’s look at the qualification of an elder as given by God himself in his Word in 1Timothy 3:1-4 and Titus 1:5-9. In these two passages an elder is being referred to using the pronoun “He.” Is this by accident? I don’t believe so. In the same passages, an elder is supposed to be “A husband of one wife.” Again, is this phrase accidental? Why is God not telling us “A husband of one wife or a wife of one husband?” Have you ever though about it?

So, an elder is being referred to with a pronoun “He”  and is supposed to be a “A husband  of one wife.” Now, if I say that basing on this pronoun and phrase, God is telling us that an elder must be a man will I be reading too much into the passage? Certainly not!

Secondly, if I open my Bible which is God’s inerrant and holy Word, I don’t find a single woman who held the position of an elder. Is this just by chance? I choose to not to believe it that way.

Thirdly, when we talk about an elder, we are talking about the leadership of the church. Now,  I would love us to learn from the early Church  and see if women were given leadership roles like being an elder in the church. Let’s begin with the Founder of the New Testament Church, Jesus Christ who is also the Head of the Church (all believers come together).

When Christ assembled the first ever leadership of His Church, he chose the twelve apostles (all men) and he ( a man as well) was the main leader. Did Jesus communicate any message by this? I believe so. He was establishing the norm for the Church to follow when it comes to the leadership of the church. And you can see this throughout the New Testament. The Apostles got the message of Christ right.

But someone may object and say: “Jesus being a Jew and also because of his Jewish culture, he was forced to choose only men because his culture valued men more than women.” You must be kidding. That’s not the Jesus I know and read in Scripture. Do you really believe that Jesus (fully man and fully God) could be forced to do ‘a wrong’ thing because of desiring to please his culture? Sincerely, is that the picture of Jesus you get when you read your Bible?

Jesus challenged his culture in so many ways and he was not afraid to look different when it came to truth. For instance, Rabbis (teachers of law) could not speak to women in public but Jesus could speak to women in public (John 4:1-45) and he even had Mary Magdalene as on of his followers.  Jesus could also boldly rebuke the Pharisees and teachers of the law for misleading people and he once called them “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16) and “children of the devil” (John 8:44).

With this clear manifestation of boldness, do you really believe that Jesus chose only men to be leaders of the Church because he wanted to please his culture? Allow me to borrow the words of Alexander Strauch to emphasize my point.

“Some…say that Jesus’ maleness and choice of male apostles doesn’t mean anything theologically. They say that such choices were necessary because the first-century Jewish culture didn’t allow women to preach and lead. So Jesus had to concede to the standards of society.

What an insult to Jesus! The Jesus of the Gospels was absolutely courageous. He was unafraid to give new, radical teaching to His tradition-bound culture. Jesus didn’t give in to sinful culture or let women down at this critical moment in history…Jesus gave His Church male leadership. His male gender and his deliberate choice of twelve male apostles was based on Genesis 2, God’s original creation design for the sexes” (Men and Women Equal Yet Different, Lewis and Roth Publishers ©1999, page 29).

I can go on and on to present the backing for my stand; however, let me stop here for now. I am open and ready for further discussion on the topic if you, my dear reader, would love so.

But before I wrap up let me highlight this important truth. The fact that God’s will for his Church is that it should be led by Christian men does not mean that women are unequal to men. Neither does it mean that women are of second class. Anyone who advocates this teaching is not biblical in their view.

According to Scripture, men and women are equal (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28); nevertheless, men and women have different roles. God in his sovereignty and wisdom has chosen to give the leadership role of the home and Church to Christian men. Again, this does not imply that men are better than women. God forbid!

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