“Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.” (2 Tim. 4:2-3)
The verse says “the time will come;” and I think we’re there.
In our “time,” churches, Christian blogs, and online magazines race to find new material and put “relevant,” “contemporary,” and “culturally-engaged” stakes in the ground. (After watching this video, our pastor and wife refer to this phenomena as “contemporvent.”)
As women of the Word, this means we must be even more diligent to KNOW the message God has given us, and to do what this passage instructs– “persist in it whether convenient or not.”
WHETHER CONVENIENT OR NOT
Sometimes God’s Word ISN’T “convenient.” We can begin to feel that it would be easier if we could just ignore the things our culture finds distasteful: submission & headship in marriage, God’s hatred for divorce, and His thoughts about “hot topics” like homosexuality, female pastors, sex outside of marriage, and spanking.
But this passage warns us: don’t only embrace the convenient parts of Scripture!
It warns us to watch out for a heart that desires something new and different. It should sound a little alarm if you find yourself wishing for a religion thats’s a little easier, or wanting to ignore certain parts of Scripture in favor of others. That’s exactly what Paul had in mind.
AN ITCH TO HEAR SOMETHING NEW
Verse 3 describes our culture, doesn’t it?
“…they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.”
Sadly, this isn’t just true of a random Christian here or there. It’s true of entire churches across the nation, and many Christian events and conferences. “Sound doctrine” is rarely sought out. In fact, sound doctrine is seen as stodgy and judgmental.
Instead, teachers who are “engaging” and “fresh” are promoted onto local and national stages. Humor and affability trump faithfulness to God’s Word.
And women’s events can be among the worst of the worst in this regard.
As godly women, we should work to persist in the message that has been the same since it was proclaimed over 2,000 years ago. In our homes as we worship and teach our children, we need to purposefully run toward “sound doctrine,” and be on the watch for an “itch” to hear some new idea, doctrine, or presentation.
Am I looking to hear a fresh, more “relevant” message?
Do I judge teachers based on whether or not they say what I want to hear?
Is my heart eager to hear something new, rather than the “same-old, same-old?”
Am I more likely to read, or present something to my children if it’s hip and cool, and less likely if it contains theological language or simply teaches the Bible?
Do I flit from one teacher to another without examining their doctrine before I listen?
If we answer “yes” to questions like these, verse 3 is describing not just the culture around us– it’s describing US.
We have to be sober-minded in our engagement with teaching and not just sit back and accept what we’re told without scrutiny. In Acts 17:11, Paul praised the Bereans for examining the Scriptures “DAILY” to be sure that what they were being taught was right. Like them, we can’t afford to sit back in this culture of lukewarm easy-believism and just assume that what we’re reading or hearing is correct.
Even if it’s being said at a church or “Christian” gathering.
Just a few verses before this, Paul reminds us that all of God’s Word is profitable, and meant to teach, sharpen, and equip us. We must be women, wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, friends who KNOW the Word well, so that we can discern truth and rightly counsel the people around us. We need to KNOW sound doctrine, so that we can recognize UNSOUND doctrine.
This passage tells us to “proclaim” and “persist” in the message we have been given. We should stand as fierce gatekeepers over the messages that enter our own ears, and the ears of our children while they are in our care.
Are you doing that in your home, family, and among the people God has enabled you to influence?
Father, renew our minds so that we will be women who pursue Your Word rather than a new-and-improved message. Give us discerning hearts so that we will hold all teaching up to the light of Scripture for full examination. Don’t let us be women who flit from teacher to teacher with an itch to hear something new.
9 thoughts on “Want to Hear a New & Improved Bible?”
I shared on FB…”This is important for us “olders” but much more vital for young women who are still aiming for their goals in life. We need to aim ourselves well.”
What a powerful reminder of being watchful for the tricks that can draw us away from the Truth! Thank you.
First of all I agree with you on 99.99% of this post. My favorite (personal ) saying is “Be a Berean”. I’m also careful of what I listen to (and what I teach), and to be sure it’s not just something for itching ears.
I absolutely agree with (most ) everything you just said, I have to reiterate that first.
BUT. We can’t just dismiss (all) female pastors .
The Bible does mention (a) Deborah (married) in a leadership rule, and looking at the judges period, she would have been considered a spiritual leader(pastor),
(b) Isaiah’s wife who was a prophetess
(c) Anna (widow) a prophetess who gave thanks over the baby Jesus.
(d) Phillip’s 4 daughters(likely unmarried) who were prophetesses .
All of them were leaders in a time where women were considered second class, and the Bible’s several authors went out of their way to mention their names and what they did. (judges and prophets were mostly male at that time)
I would suggest that we be discerning of female pastors , but not dismiss them. We need to see if they are under authority (God’s, their husband’s, their father’s), and if they teach from the Bible without distorting the truth.
For good or bad, in our generation, there are too many men who conveniently do away with their responsibility, and so there are too many women who are single mothers who once they accept Christ as their savior are struggling to find people(men) to teach them/their children/ their churches and so they stepping up into leadership positions to provide biblical teaching and truth , and we as their sisters should encourage them, and help them with what they have chosen to do.
(Bear in mind, I’m not talking about sinful women, distorting the gospel, or teaching things not in the Bible), but there are several who are genuinely teaching what IS IN THE BIBLE.
Just needed to say that .
Thanks for your comment, Vanessa. I suspect what I have to say on this point will not be palatable to you, but I’ll try to be as clear and thorough as I can be while trying to stay succinct in length.
I believe Deborah was not a woman given as an example to emulate, but is rather, an instructive example of what happens when men FAIL to lead.
Without going into a systematic critique of the view that she’s a pastor-of-sorts, I have a couple random thoughts about that:
(1) When you read through the account, it’s clear that she keeps trying to get Barak to lead, and he keeps hesitating. Even the way she tells him about the account makes it clear this isn’t an honorable thing– “the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” She nonetheless keeps trying to motivate him to lead (Judges 4:14), and in the end, Sisera is defeated not by Deborah or by Barak, but by Jael. Barak is humiliated all the way around. To me, this is not anything like a shining example of female leadership, but is rather a humiliating example of what happens when men abdicate their role as leaders.
(2) She also, though called a “prophetess” is not found sitting in the middle of an assembly proclaiming God’s messages, or even being sent to various places. She sits out in an open place where people come to her of their own volition. It’s a very different setting than a preacher in a church. It’s much more like a Titus 2 woman, advisor to those who seek God’s wisdom from her, rather than a pastor of a church who presents God’s messages to His people. She undoubtedly has a gift of speaking God’s truth and His Word, and it’s affirmed by others, and yet it’s not done in a position of authority over God’s people as an office of the temple.
(3) She leads, and yet doesn’t lead. She’s still not the one out leading the charge. She does the military planning (v. 14), but then Barak still goes out to lead his men. It’s to his shame that she does so, but I think it’s interesting that she still holds back from actually leading.
She served at the temple, offering fastings and prayers day and night. This, too, has nothing to do with pastoring a church. Women can do these things. This is not pastoring, but being a faithful disciple and example. Any woman can do these things and not be operating outside biblical spheres.
ABOUT PHILIP’S DAUGHTERS:
These girls are mentioned off-hand in one verse, and I think it’s important for those who read it to consider what prophesying actually is: knowing and communicating God’s Word.
I often come up with “prophecy” as a spiritual gift for me, whenever I take those spiritual gift inventories. This does not make me the same as Samuel or Jonah of the Old Testament, rather, it means that God has used and tends to use me in the capacity of speaking messages in line with His Word. This does not make me a pastor. I do not think Philip’s daughters would be aptly described as “pastors” but rather, as young ladies who consistently speak messages in line with God’s Word, AKA, prophetesses.
I think it’s important to specify: it is not the action (of prophesying- speaking God’s truth) that is biblically prohibited for women. It is the sphere of *public* ministry and *authority over both men and women* that is biblically prohibited for women.
(Here’s an interesting in-depth article about them: http://cbmw.org/uncategorized/are-the-daughters-of-philip-among-the-prophets-of-acts/)
It is for this reasoning that I do, absolutely, dismiss all women pastors.
There is no biblical teaching that would support women in spiritual authority over men, and in fact, every single NT teaching toward the church about men and women makes it clear that spiritual authority, headship, and leadership, are squarely on the shoulders of men. Women are also expressly instructed to be silent in the church: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+14:34&version=NIV, which would be impossible if you’re preaching.
At the same time, we’re told to “teach” younger women. Also, Lois & Eunice are commended for having taught Timothy in his childhood. So for women, there is a sphere of speaking God’s truth, but it is limited to the areas of over children and over other women. It is important that women DO know God’s Word and can be discerning with it, but this is one instance where knowing it will help us to operate within the right sphere by actually *limiting* the places where we are willing to take on authority and leadership.
Even if offered to us, we are not to have authority and leadership over men. I think Deborah knew this, which is why she acted as she did. I think Anna knew this, which is why she prayed and fasted at the temple night and day and yet was not called a priest. I think Philip’s daughters knew this, which is why they’re called prophetesses and not elders.
(Another off-hand instance, for those who are interested: there is the situation of Aquila & Priscilla privately instructing Apollos… but this is not necessarily prescriptive, and it’s certainly unusual. Nonetheless, even if you take it as prescriptive, I find it interesting that Priscilla is still alongside her husband, AND that it’s done privately. This is not a public teaching by a woman over a man. You just don’t see that in Scripture, lauded, or even held up as a story for us to consider.)
All that to say, whenever I encounter something ANY “woman pastor” has said, I do dismiss it.
I do not want to learn from someone who so clearly ignores God’s teachings and is operating out from under God’s Word. Just like if there was a man who was publicly committing some other sin that disqualified him from ministry, I would not want to listen to his preaching/teaching, there is nothing she has to say that I want to hear. Even if she is teaching things that seem to line up with Scripture, the fact that she’s doing so in an office that is in itself unbiblical lets me know that she doesn’t know Scripture as well as she should in order to be a teacher.
So for me, and for anyone reading who wants to know my opinion, I absolutely ignore what female “pastors” say, because I do not believe such an idea/office is biblical.
Thanks for your comment.
Amen and I support your uncompromised discernment of Biblical truth.
Such a necessary message!
Thank you, Jess, for taking time out if your busy days to be a voice of truth and grace on the Internet. I don’t often comment but I read it all and am always saying “amen, sister!”
This is so very true! As part of the relevant teachings, so many sermons are spent talking about “feeling” and how we should feel.
My parents are missionaries and they say what they see, hear, and experience overseas through church is a lot different than what church in America has become. Thanks for sharing!