Our “Closets” and Our “Unwanted Coverings”

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John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11-12, ESV)”

Society and culture have a way of molding and shaping us. The desire to be individual, our “own person,” unmoved and unchangeable, is especially encouraged in Western culture.

This passage from Matthew has proved to be especially challenging. How can one be their  “own person” if the Holy Spirit moves like a “winnowing fork” in the lives of everyone who has accepted Christ? Maybe, like me, you’re wondering what a winnowing fork is.

According to Webster, to winnow is “to remove the unwanted coverings of seeds from grain by throwing the grain up in the air and letting the wind blow away the unwanted parts.” God’s Holy Spirit works this way in our lives. He wants to remove our “unwanted coverings.”

The other day, I was watching a TED Weekends talk by woman named Ash Beckham. If you search Beckham on Google, you will find that she is a lesbian advocate for the LGBTQ community. However, that does not strip her of the wisdom to speak truth.

“I think we all have closets,” Beckham said. “All a closet is, is a hard conversation.” She went on, “We all live in closets and they may feel safe. At least, safer than what’s on the other side of that door.”

Beckham understands something many of us ignore: we all go through hard situations. No matter what, life will throw us curve balls. The question is: do we hide in the closet, or face the light of day? Do we run from the truth, or do we let the wind blow away our mistakes, misconceptions and missed opportunities?

Sure, it will hurt; but it will heal. The truth is, when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, rework us and reestablish us, it is going to require vulnerability. Sometimes, that’s like having to take a Band-Aid off before the cut has completely healed. Remember when our parents would tell us, “You can’t leave the bandage on, your cut needs fresh air and water to heal?”

We are exactly the same way, and God knows it. We all have “chaff” in our life. The dictionary says chaff is “something comparatively worthless; debris separated from the seed in threshing grain.”

We are all made in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NLT)”

When God is winnowing his most precious creation, human beings—the only creatures who innately resemble their very creator—he is eliminating that which is foreign, unwanted and debilitating.

When the Holy Spirit rids us of our “chaff” we are not becoming less of who we are. In fact, we are becoming more of who we are at our very core: a divine image of our creator.

When God takes his holy creation to the threshing floor, he is reestablishing us as creative, spiritual, communicative, intellectual, relational and morally compassionate beings.

“When we fully grasp what it means to bear God’s image, we are at once struck with the grandeur of our possibilities and the tragedy of our unrealized potential,” Dick Staub, a columnist for RELEVANT Magazine, said.

Step out of your “closet,” allow God, through his Holy Spirit, to remove the “unwanted coverings” that are so shallowly celebrated in our society, that you may become who you are truly created to be.

God intends us to be our own person, unmoved and unchangeable, because we find our identity in that which is unmoving and unchanging. The very God whose sandals John the Baptist was unworthy to carry wants to make you just like himself.

Why He Took The Nails

The gap was unbridgeable. There was nothing to be done to unite filth and brokenness with complete beauty, purity and perfection; that is, until Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to earth to die on the cross and atone for our sins and grace catapulted from disastrous separation all the way to glorious perfection. The problem of atonement can only be addressed by this glorious impossibility: God is wholly graceful and wholly just at the same time. Many ask, “How could an innocent man—indeed, one of God’s prophets—be punished for what you deserve? Is that not unjust (Boyd & Eddy, 131)?” Jesus Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled multiple purposes. Just a few of the propositions are that Jesus died in our place, that He died to destroy Satan and his works, and that He died to display God’s wrath against sin. While there is merit to each of these truths, I believe, ultimately, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was intended to reconcile humanity to Himself—this falls in line wholly with the grace of salvation and relationship with our Creator.

A popular view, famous in Church tradition, is the “Christus Victor” view, which focuses on Christ’s victory over Satan as the key purpose of the atonement. Another common view is that Jesus served as a sacrifice to show God’s wrath against sin, known as the “Moral Government” view. There is great truth in both of these alternative mainstream views; however, apart from grace and desire for relationship with His creation, there is no purpose for God to exercise such authority and display His perfection. All of what God does is done because of the foundational undertone of grace. Thus, the “Penal Substitution” view, I believe, is God’s primary motivation behind the death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Our sinful nature poses a humanly unbridgeable dilemma, as Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Then, God’s love came bursting through, shattering the long-established pillars of religion and sending the earth into a paradigm shift called grace: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)”

This falls directly in line with the view that Jesus came as a substitute for our sin. God has such a passionate love for His people and He makes that clear through the entire story of atonement, salvation and redemption. Romans 8:37-39 says this:

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The story of Christ’s sacrifice solidifies the fact that God desperately desires relationship with His children. Upon Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, sin no longer reigns, is incapable of binding us and nothing—“neither death nor life”—can separate us from intimate relationship with the Creator. Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy, in their book Across the Spectrum, assert, “The only stance an all-holy God can have toward sin is one of holy rage (Boyd & Eddy, 133). The authors of Across the Spectrum are drawn to this conclusion because of Paul’s words in Romans 1:18, revealing that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. This perspective proves the necessity of atonement for our sins so that the bridge to relationship can be crossed. God, knowing we are incapable of bearing the weight of our own sinful nature, sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to take on the burden of our sins for us, to bridge the gap and make relationship possible—this is the picture of perfect grace juxtaposed with perfect justice. Jesus Christ came to provide the eternal sacrifice, unattainable through Old Testament sacrificial rituals. We see through the Old Testament that, like in Ezekiel 46:13, offerings were a crucial part of the daily life of the Jewish believer: “You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord daily; morning by morning you shall provide it.” This could not eternally satisfy the wrath of the Father, yet He so passionately yearned for connection with His creation that He allowed this until He sent His Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our new Comforter.

This sacrificial love is wholly a result of God’s indelible grace. The love of Jesus Christ is one of the many glorious impossibilities of our faith. When looking at other religions of the world, you soon comprehend that the God of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham is the only God that not only says “you are mine,” but also reaches down, romantically wraps His arms around His creation, and echoes deep into the corridors of our hearts, “I am yours.” The sacrifice had to be made—because of the Father’s love for us—by someone who was not in need of sacrifice. As John 1:29 says, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” God sent pure beauty into filthy destruction. The Lamb of God came to reconcile creation to the Creator. This glorious love was displayed on a tree with nails driven into His hands and feet. The atonement came when He defeated Satan and death. Jesus Christ took on our sin—as our substitute. Our Savior now dances on graves, shouts life into death, and sends earthquakes of grace into a land firmly rooted in the foundation of sin. Humanist author, William Hazlitt, once said, “Death cancels everything but truth.”

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Pastor Saeed’s Letter from Prison

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My Dear Friends,

The conditions here get so very difficult that my eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky.

Various (bullying) groups, the psychological warfare, a year of not seeing my family, physical violence, actions committed to humiliate me, insults, being mocked, being confronted with extremists in the prison who create another prison within the prison walls, and the death threats…

It is interesting that because I am a Christian pastor, I am carefully watched. I am expected to smile at them despite what is being done and to understand why they are doing all of these things. But, of course, I can clearly see what is going on and because I want to serve God, I see all of these difficulties as golden opportunities and great doors to serve. There are empty containers who are thirsty for a taste of the Living Water and we can quench their thirst by giving them Jesus Christ. Maybe you are also in such a situation, so pray and seek God that He would use you and direct you in the pressures and difficulties of your lives.

There are those who are enemies of the Living Bible and do not want to hear. They are trying to put me under such horrific pressures (that are sometimes unbearable) so that they can show me that my faith is empty and not real. And after all of these pressures, after all of the nails they have pressed against my hands and feet, they are only waiting for one thing…for me to deny Christ. But they will never get this from me. This is why the Bible is Truth and they are in the way of destruction.

There is another group who does not know the Gospel of Truth. Instead of truly listening and meditating on God’s Word, they are just waiting to see how I react to all of their pressures and persecution. What will come out of me during these intense times? But again, this is another golden opportunity for me to shine the light of Christ in this dark world and to let God to use me.

Yesterday when I was singing worship songs, the head of my cell room attacked me in order to stop me from praising but in response I hugged him and showed him love. He was shocked.

It is during these harsh conditions, that I deeply need God’s Saving Grace so that I can be the fragrant scent of Christ in the dark house of Evin prison. I have often seen the Shining Morning Star in the darkness of this prison and I have seen His amazing and supernatural works. Oh, how beautiful is seeing the light of the Shining Morning Star of Christ in such evil darkness.

So:

  • See your golden opportunities in pressures and difficulties.
  • See the Shining Morning Star in the dark times of your life.

I Love Him! He is Gracious, Merciful, and Righteous to me. I now know that I have not been forgotten and that we are together in this path. God gives me Grace.
This is my message for the Church: Stay Strong for His Glory. He will come back soon! Be with God and give your best efforts for His kingdom.

Pastor Saeed, servant of Jesus Christ in chains for endurance of Gospel. I love you all.

Grace is the Cross

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Romans 3, verses 22 through 24 say, “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” [1]These verses are not only the theme of Romans 3, or the theme of Romans; these verses are the theme of the entire redemptive Gospel. We have been justified by grace as a free—but costly—gift. The very idea of grace shapes, molds and defines our culture, identity and civilization. Grace is the cross that bridges the gap between our utter desolation and His all-consuming glory.

Dietrich Bonheoffer said, in regards to grace, “Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” Bonheoffer went on to say, “It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.” [2]The first three chapters of Romans focus on our all-encompassing unrighteousness and our inability to redeem ourselves, ultimately describing the depravity of humanity. Chapters four through eight focus on the peace that comes through justification in Christ and the sanctification that comes only through obedience. In Romans 8, Paul calls Christ’s disciples in Rome to be dead to sin and alive in God. Romans 8:4 summarizes our human identity in Jesus: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.” Often, in learning grace and love, the theme of obedience is lost. To love God is to follow His commandments and decrees, to walk in the newness of life, to be dead to sin, to be alive in Christ Jesus is to know His deepest desires and make them your own.

Romans 3:31 says, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” This is the image of how God desires to see relationships flourish and civilizations and governmental institutions form. The Law exposes our depraved “lost-ness” while grace transposes us to His eternal “found-ness.” The cost, as Bonheoffer alluded to in the earlier quote, is that the redeemed are, by grace, no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18 says, “and having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves to righteousness.”

In grace, much of the theme of chapters one through eight of Romans, we often misinterpret the Scriptures, living as if the law was abolished rather than fulfilled. Romans 7:11 says, “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” The Old Testament and the Mosaic Law are there to shine light on our sin and failure. These laws are similar to civil law in culture today. Legislative and legal statutes are in place to expose the guilty and bring them to justice: this is the theme by which our nation’s legal system was founded. In Paul’s letter to the Romans we see that, in salvation, justice is radically different: grace is the hinge by which the entire system of justice is swung open. This is where justification is realized and sanctification begins.

Romans 7:14 says, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” Our sin and worldly desire is made known by the Law. Human beings, by nature, are incapable of complete surrender and obedience. As Romans 7:14 says, the Law is spiritual. Paul is relaying the truth to the Romans that humanity, on its own power, will fail at keeping God’s commands. God’s decrees are kept solely by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells inside the heart of every believer; to rely on anything else is to not understand the central theme and purpose of sanctification: sacrificing one’s life wholly to God and being set apart from the world for a higher purpose.

Sanctification plays an enormous role in the life and culture of the believer. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons [and daughters], by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” In being set apart, sanctified, we have been given an entirely new destiny. Our new destiny in Christ is to change our destination’s culture. In salvation, every believer has been adopted as a child of God, never to walk in fear, but to walk in confidence with the knowledge of the mission that is prescribed in Scripture. Each and every follower of Christ is ordained to go to his or her “Jerusalem” and bring grace to the undeserving, shine light in the darkness and bring transformation to the untransformed.

Paul, in Romans 8:31-32, says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” In salvation, dedication, justification and sanctification, the believer is charged—and required—to humbly lay down his or her life completely for Christ. The sacrifice is great, the reward glorious. As Paul emphatically told the Romans, “Who can be against us?” Who? In verse 37, Paul reminds the believers of Rome that we may be knocked down in the battle, but the victory of the war goes to the redeemed: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Paul goes on in verse 39, “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul’s message in Romans, chapters one through eight, comes back to this final charge: Grace is the cross that bridges the gap between our utter desolation and His all-consuming glory. Once a life has been dedicated, Jesus Christ’s obedience to satisfy the wrath of the Father has bridged the gap and forever nailed down the cross between the redeemed and the Redeemer.


[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible references in this article are to the English Standard Version (ESV) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001)

[2]Johnnie Moore, Dirty God: Jesus In The Trenches, (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2013, pp. 138-139).

Truest Love

Pastor Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Matthew 22:34-40:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)

This section of Scripture is so profound, truly a turning point that threw the world into a paradigm-shifting revolution that has been paving roads to freedom since the very words escaped Jesus’ mouth.

This very same set of verses has been used to manipulate, slander Scripture, redefine grace, Jesus’ mission and the Bible as a whole. In today’s postmodern thought pattern, we hear, time and time again, that all that matters is that you love others and that you “love” God. However, this is a profoundly wrong interpretation of what Jesus was trying to convey to the Pharisees. These two Greatest Commandments were not a nullification of God’s past commandments in the Old Testament (Exodus 20), but rather a reminder from God’s Son that is intended to propel you into a deeper understanding of the powerful words of the Father.

What does true love mean to God? In John 14:15 we read, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments. (ESV)” Then we read in James 2:17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, it is dead. (NIV)” Love, in its entirety, is a faith in the person–or God–you are choosing to love; it is a reliance and a deep dependence. We see that God’s Word says if you love Him, you will obey His commandments–this is what Jesus was reminding the religious leaders of. Then, we see that faith, a necessary cornerstone of love, without action or display is dead.

How do we love friends with the truest love? John 15:13 says, “The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends. (GWT)” Give of yourself entirely, through your actions, words and relationships. The words “I love you,” just like unto God, are not enough to show true love to your friends and family. The truest love requires honesty, respect, faith, action and sacrifice.

Don’t allow Jesus’ words be a nullification of God’s holy commands in the Old Testament. Allow them to be a humble reminder of how to carry out your life in love–true love. Love God. Love people.

I leave you with this:

“Better is a poor person who walks in integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” Proverbs 19:1 (ESV)

Shh, God. Wait Your Turn.

Laying flowers in Newtown, CT

In the midst of great distress and turmoil, we are all grieving the loss of 20 children in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My prayers and thoughts go out to the families and loved ones who lost children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

During times of tragedy and mystery, the public–and liberal media–often turn to the church, though, not for comfort. They turn to religion only to throw this one question right in the face of the faith community: if God exists, where is He? You see, the answer is simple. If God has been ushered out of all public circles with so much vitriol, why is it, do you think, He will return only when we feel we need Him? This, seemingly, is the left’s “proof” that there is no God.

However, when no God is allowed to exist and no moral truth is defined in today’s American society, how can you expect anyone to act in a way that is morally and ethically appropriate. They have been told all truth is relative and to each his or her own. This dangerous and toxic thought pattern has worked its way up the ladder, now being broadcasted from the news anchor’s chair and legislated from the lawyer’s desk.

Washington desires to limit, or eliminate, gun freedoms in order to keep from having to define an objective moral code. If Congress and the White House are able to completely ban all questionable objects and practices, they have eliminated, at least in their mind, the need to establish a moral truth that transcends sex, age, race, creed or ethnicity. You see, if our legislators sitting in the Chamber and our Commander-in-Chief sitting behind the Resolute Desk are obligated to project a code of morality, they are then required to define where such morals come from and why they are obligatory.

Guns, similar to sex, are not innately wrong or sinful. It is in the application that the question of sin and evil come in. Sex outside of marriage is certainly sinful: it is being practiced in a way in which it was not intended, it has dangerous physical, mental, spiritual and psychological strings attached to it. Similarly, a gun used outside its realm of appropriateness fits the same mold, bringing physical, mental, spiritual and psychological damage. Therefore, to put an object with dangerous potential in the hands of an individual that doesn’t understand its ramifications or the need for an objective moral code, truly is unintelligent, careless and naive.

With this knowledge accounted for, our 21st-century government has chosen to go down a different path. Washington has decided that, since they have no desire to admit to an objective moral truth or to embrace the existence of a supreme power, God, we are left with one option: ban everything that could possibly, maybe, at some point, in some way be construed as harmful, dangerous, demeaning, etc. Sadly, this direction will not prove to be effective.

According to a Washington Post article, in Israel, citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have direct access to guns. In that age range, suicide is most commonly committed with the aid of a bullet. However, outside of that age range, when guns are not so readily available, the death rate doesn’t necessarily drop, rather, studies show that the method used for suicide simply changes. For example, in Israel, next to a gun and a bullet, strangulation is the most common method of suicide. You see, if you take guns away because you don’t want to define moral truth, you better be prepared for everything to come under consideration.

Next, the secular world and the left-leaning media choose, instead of addressing the lack of moral definition in 21st-century culture, to say those that commit heinous crimes are simply mentally unhealthy or psychologically handicapped. While that is the case in some circumstances, and should be dealt with accordingly, it is by-in-large not the case with the majority of tragedies and criminals. Most of the crimes committed are committed with an all-about-me, ‘truth is relative’ mentality. While worldly science will define this as a mental handicap, the Church should be readily engaging in society, showing that this is not outside the norm of human nature. In fact, according to Scripture, evil tragedies, such as the murders committed at Sandy Hook, are exactly what to expect from humanity. Human nature is, by definition, evil. We are not innately good, we are innately evil creatures. Therefore the true “abnormality” would be for us to act good, not for us to act wrongly. Wrongdoing falls squarely inside the realm of our natural makeup.

With this truth established, then–and only then–can we come to the realization that outside of defining a moral truth, there is no law, mandate, leader or speech that can solve our societal problems nor comfort those that mourn. The only way to move forward from a tragedy as devastating as this is not to find answers, but to open our eyes to the truth of God. He is standing there, waiting to be allowed back into our lives and American society. Our God has given us freewill, meaning He only dwells where He is welcome. Should we choose to reestablish the foundations this great nation was once built upon, we will begin to see brighter days. I’m not saying that all will be perfect; after all, Sin still is the prince and power of the air. But acknowledging God and allowing His presence in our midst will bring great comfort, clear eyes and a deeper understanding of the world we live in.

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What have we done with 50% of Christ’s faithful?

ImageCurrently, in the United States of America, women account for 51% of the population and for approximately 50% of the total world population. The Church has before them a significant question that will impact the lives and ministries of half of God’s creation: Can a woman lead?

There are two simple views on this debate: the idea that women can, and should, lead in ministry and the idea that women are restricted from spiritual leadership. Both sides claim to have the clear picture of Biblical justification on their side. The belief that women can lead is supported by the idea that God created all of humanity and sent His Son to redeem and fully set free everyone, male and female alike. The opposing view, that women’s roles are restricted to “submissive” positions, is backed up by the idea that men and women were created equally in God’s image; however, their roles are designed solely to complement each other and they are not allowed to occupy the same spiritual position.

I personally believe that women, like men, are called to leadership positions within the Church, and are not restricted based on biological sex. Pre-fall, men and women, according to Scripture, lived and ruled equally. In fact, Genesis 1:27b reads, “In the image of God He created them; male and female he created them.” Then in verse 28, it says, “Then God blessed them and said, ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28).” Genesis 1 gives women and men equal dominion over the earth. Christ was sent to earth with a mission to restore the Church to its pre-fall condition. Knowing that it is impossible for the Church to perfect His plan in our sinful nature, Christ died on the cross for our sins, washing us in His blood. At that moment, the law that Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 14:34 was fulfilled and God’s faithful were released from that bondage.

Acts 2:17 says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy … I will pour out my Spirit on my male and female slaves.’ This Scripture is important for a couple of reasons. First, God directly states that He will bless His children, women and men, with spiritual prophecy, which brings great authority. The very nature of prophecy demands that it be shared. Moreover, in order to spread prophecy, a leadership platform is required. Second, if God was willing to grant prophetic gifts and spiritual leadership to the lowliest of people (slaves), would He not grant that and more to His willing and devoted female disciples? God’s Word even gives us an example of women pouring out their insight into someone in a discipleship-style manner with Apollos in Acts 18:26, “They took him aside, and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Another great example of female leadership, among men and women, is Scripture itself. In Exodus 15:21, the God-breathed words came through the vessel of a woman, Miriam. A similar occurrence takes place in Luke 1:45-55, “And Mary said… (Luke 1:46)” Had the idea of women in leadership been against God’s mandates, there would not be such a wealth of counterexamples present in His Word.

Christ’s discernment of gifts, as Paul declared in 1 Corinthians, solely relies on the gifts and not the gift receiver at all. “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person (1 Cor. 12:4, 6).” The biological sex of the individual plays no role in the giving of spiritual gifts. God, in His infinite power, is not bound by time or space, nor does male or female bind him. God, by His very nature, operates in stark opposition to the world; while the world continues to divide and classify individuals based on class, color, nationality and sex, God has unleashed the gifts of the Spirit for all people that seek after Him.

Often the Church falls into an archaic ideology, a set of beliefs that were in place before their fulfillment. This idolization of past laws and pre-sanctified thinking is a shame to Christ’s work on Calvary. The 21st century Church restricting women from leadership and pinning men only to certain roles is parallel to ancient times when Scripture was used to justify inhumane slavery, racism and abuse. To say that women are “not allowed” in God’s sight to hold positions of leadership indirectly tells them they are incapable and unworthy of the highest level of accountability in their spiritual walk with Christ. Clearly, there is no physical or mental issue that prevents women from leadership roles. Certain roles and rules are not innate to either sex, male or female. Both sexes are capable and worthy of seeking and holding the same positions of authority, obtaining and practicing the same spiritual gifts and ministering in the same capacities, as we are told in 1 Corinthians 12.

Upon hearing this argument, many are still skeptical because of Paul’s writing in 1 Timothy. It is important that believers take into account the fact that there are several clues that lead theologians to believe this writing was culturally bound. Much of the writing in 1Timothy 2, such as, “I want women to be modest in appearance. They should not draw attention to themselves by wearing gold or pearls (1 Tim. 2:9),” was written with old ritual and cultural traditions in mind. Therefore, it is logical to deduce that much of the writing throughout chapter two may have cultural leanings. I am in no way detracting from the message and meaning of these Scriptures; the principles still very much apply, however, the way in which these principles are shared, through the law of the land at the time, is out-dated.

1 Timothy 3, which points to a time when Timothy is pastoring a church, gives further credence to cultural implications. At the time of the church plant, women were in leadership roles; however, they were operating within a prominent religious cult. The center of this cult was the Temple of Diana, which was a host to much debauchery and sexual immorality; the women in leadership often practiced prostitution in the name of religion. Thus, upon the founding of Timothy’s new church, there were few to no godly women capable of strong spiritual leadership and to appoint a woman in that time could have lead to the destruction of the church and a tainted Gospel message. Accordingly, due to the cultural makeup of the time, women were prohibited from leading. Again, the principles still very much apply, but the laws have been fulfilled and no longer are the authority.

Galatians 3:2 reads, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” 51% of American population is female and 50% of world population is female. Would God limit half of His people from effecting change in society? Upon Christ’s death on the cross, His Kingdom, the Church, was granted the freedom and power, through Christ’s strength, to strive to achieve the pre-fallen image of perfection. Will the 21st century Church hide behind the law, or rise to the occasion of grace?