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The Christian’s Personal Life

            It really goes without saying that our personal life must be right before we can as Christians take up properly household and assembly matters. I have dealt with these latter things in other articles, but this article is intended to cover our personal relations with God and how it should affect our personal activities.

            Firstly, I will speak of the basic thoughts as to the Gospel. The basic facts are that “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3/4). This is the objective side of the Gospel. It all happened long before we were born. However, there is the subjective side of the Gospel and that is what Paul taught in Acts 20/21 saying that our side was repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Our repentance is towards God the one we have sinned against, and our faith is towards Christ the one that has born our sins. If we go to Romans 10: 9 Paul makes it clear that our faith in Christ is not in a dead Christ, but a Christ that has been raised from the dead by God. Faith is inward but confession and baptism are outward things which are also involved as well as a change of heart, but I do not intend to say more about these things here. The reception of the Holy Spirit is something that follows the reception of the Gospel.

            Paul’s epistle to the Romans treats of much more of the Christian’s exercises and what is connected with his life on earth. We are not under the law of Moses but under grace which involves us being subject to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Corinthians 9:21).Though we are not under law it does not mean that we cannot learn things from it such as what God hates and what God loves. Consider what Paul says in Romans 13:8-10 and also what is said in such passages as Deuteronomy 22:5 and 24:4. On the more positive side we have Deuteronomy 24:10-13 which ends with the words “it shall be righteousness unto thee before Jehovah thy God”. Then we have in the New Testament what Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:1-3, that is, Exodus 20:12. Note that the law is not quoted to show that we will get a place in heaven by our works, but that God takes account of what we do on earth and when it is pleasing to him. He rewards those who do it accordingly. We should of course see that becoming a Christian is the same for both man and woman, for instance both were baptised (Acts 8:12).

            Many things in Scripture apply to both men and women, that is, they are general. Others apply particularly to men and others to women, that is they are distinguished.

            Starting at what is general we find that we are to obey the powers that be (Romans 13). However, this is not without qualification. If the powers that be tell us to do something that is evil, we should not do it (Daniel 3:16-18), or if they interfere with our relationship with God, we should not accept it (Daniel 6: 4-16).

            In the resurrection there will not be men and women, but we all shall be as the angels, Sons of God which also involves that we shall be Brethren of Christ. We are spiritually these things now (Galatians 3:25) though we are physically males and females - sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). Some use this passage in Galatians to treat all females as men., which is absurd and contradicts what is said in other passages of Scripture such as 1 Corinthians 14:34.

            Similarly, we need to see that there is what applies equally to God and Christ, but there is also what distinguishes them. As to what applies equally to them, there is the fact that they both have the same nature so that Christ could say: “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). However, each has their own glory so that we have Christ saying: “The Son of man… shall come in his glory, and [in that] of the Father, and of the holy angels”. Christ Himself had a glory before he was born along with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). (Along with means as too presence and place. It does not mean it was a shared glory, but a distinctive one.)

            As to differences between Brothers and Sisters (and also between males’ ‘men’ and females’ ‘women’) there are not a few spoken of in Scripture.

            As to men in the Old Testament they were the ones that had to go to war. There is no idea of females going to war. In fact, we are told that a man who has just taken a wife should be excused military duty for a year so that he could be at home and gladden his wife (Deuteronomy 24:5). It was the males that were required to do Priestly and Levitical service (Exodus 28:40-43; Numbers 8:24). A perusal of the Old Testament will also show what is regarded suitable occupations for men. Consider scribes (1 Chronicles 27:32-34), and labourers (Ruth 2:1-9).

            In the New Testament it was the men that were to pray in every place (1 Timothy 2:8) and the apostles were all men (Acts 1). Public teaching was prohibited to women (1 Timothy 2:12). The women were sheltered to some degree (1 Peter 3:7) and were often found in the home atmosphere. Think of Martha and Mary and Lazarus (John 11:1). One would thing Lazarus was the youngest.

            As to women in the Old Testament we find that they were subject to their husbands. Consider Sarah the wife of Abraham (Genesis 18:12). This is noted by Peter in 1 Peter 3:6. Paul also speaks of Headship in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and how this applies to God, Christ men, and women. Then in Ephesians Paul again shows that a husband is head to his wife so that the wife has to be subject to her husband and a husband is to love his wife (Ephesians 5:22&24/25). I have evidence in my own family that if the wife is subject her husband his love for her will continue. If this position is not maintained the marriage is likely to break down as it often does today.

            There are quite a number of women that are spoken well of. There was Rahab and Ruth. Further, we have Hannah and then Esther. (Ruth and Esther gave their names to books). Then we are told in Proverbs 31:10-31what is a woman of worth. We know also that in Judges 5 that Deborah and Barak sang a song together and later Hannah prayed in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. It is also worth noticing that there could be prophetesses as well as prophets. There were a number of prophetesses in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament as will be seen if a concordance is consulted.

            If we turn to the New Testament, we find that there were a number of women spoken well of. Particularly we may point to Mary the Mother of Jesus. Mary of Magdala and Martha and Mary who lived in Bethany. Then Paul speaks of Phoebe in Romans 16:1. Then in verse 3 he mentions Prisca. Then in verse 6 he mentions Maria. Others are mentioned further down Paul’s list though it is not always clear which are women.

            The New Testament speaks about a women’s attire rather than men’s, probably because women like to dress up more than most men do. We have the matter of women’s dress spoken of in 1 Timothy 2:9/10 and 1 Peter 3:1-4.

            There is much that women can do in the way of service. For instance, hospitality as Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:3-10. Then we have Martha receiving Christ into her house in Luke 10:38-42. Note: it appears she was the house owner.

            Then we find that Aquila and Priscilla having heard Apollos speaking took him to [them] and unfolded to him the way of God more exactly (Acts 18 24-28). Note that Priscilla was involved in this. This was a private matter and not public teaching by Priscilla and her husband.

            Sisters can engage in prayer privately. We learn from Luke 2:36-38 that Anna was marked by fastings and prayers. Paul speaks of Sisters praying and prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11:5. The limitations on Sisters speaking in public is that they are not to be drawing attention to themselves in the presence of men, which would put their husbands  (their own head) to shame. Where one draws the line in such matters may sometimes be difficult, but we need to beware that we don’t limit what Paul says to such an extent that the force of what Paul says is lost.

            One thing one has noticed is that Sisters often have the gift of hymn writing. Hymnbooks contain a fair number of such hymns and they are quite often used. Sisters can also compose suitable tunes to hymns. Some can write poetry and prose. However, women can lead us astray as well as men. Consider the author of Christian Science so called.

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December 2019