What Does the Bible Really Say? — Husbands Won Without A Word

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

This is the second part of two articles (in a longer series of articles), dealing directly with what I Peter 3:1-6 is intending for the behavior of wives. The first article addressed only the mistaken understanding that the word “likewise” implies that wives are to submit to disobedient and abusive husbands as slaves are to submit to harsh masters.

So, if this admonition to wives is not referring back to slaves being told to suffer for righteousness sake, how do we understand what it means when it says disobedient husbands may be won without a word, as they observe our meek and quiet spirit? What does it mean when it says we should obey like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord? Remember, we have to take away from our understanding of this context any presupposition that it is implying wives are to submit to harsh masters.

There are some very interesting things to note in this passage. I Peter 3:1 says, “…if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (life) of the wives…” I have always heard this taught to mean if a husband disobeys the Word of God he may be won without the words of his wife but instead by her manner of living.

This understanding is grammatically inaccurate. It is not clearly indicated whether the “word” here is the Word of God or the word of the wife – but one thing we can know for sure, both times “word” is used in the same sentence, without any distinction made, they must both mean the same thing.

So either this verse means that the husbands are disobeying the Word of God and may be won without the Word of God by observing the lives of their wives OR the verse means that the husbands are disobedient to the word of their wives and may be won without the word of their wives by watching the lives of their wives. You can’t slice and dice, and mix and match when the verse doesn’t give clear reason to do so.

It could make sense that this is talking about husbands “disobeying” the word of their wife, if by disobeying it means “acting contrary to.” In other words, if the wife has asked for the husband to do something (obviously this would be something in agreement with the Word) and he refuses, she shouldn’t continue to nag.

However, it seems to make more sense if it is talking about the husbands being disobedient to the Word of God. But if this is the correct way to understand the first half of the statement, we must interpret the second half in agreement with the first half. That means the second half of the statement is not saying wives are to be silent. It is saying that the example of the wife should be such that she is a living, breathing expression of the Word, and as such, the disobedient husband can be won back into agreement with the Word of God by watching the behavior of his wife.

This does not disagree with the rest of the passage, either. When the Word talks about a meek and quiet spirit, it does not mean the wife must be silent and never say anything about either the issue at hand or any other subject. If we take out of consideration the idea that this verse said “without a word” to the wife, then we have to take it out of consideration altogether! So this passage never says the wife is not to say anything about her husband’s choices.

From Strong’s Concordance:

Meek – humble
Quiet – undisturbed, peaceable

So a meek and quiet spirit is one which does not rise up in pride or self-seeking, even if offended. Nor is it one that doesn’t speak. It is humble and peaceful. That is all we can read into the statement about a meek and quiet spirit. To imply it means anything more than that is to add to what the Word says.

The fact that this does not mean a wife should not speak out to her husband is, in fact, underscored by the use the Sarah as an example. In Genesis we are given several examples of times when Sarah spoke out to Abraham, and he listened to her. Obviously, this was an understood part of their relationship. But, since she is used as an example here, it is evident that she did so with respect.

We also must look at the word “obey” in this passage. The English language uses the word “obey” twice – first talking about the husbands who disobey, then talking about Sarah’s obedience. However, these are not the same word.

In referencing the behavior of husbands, the Greek uses the word apeitheo which means “to disbelieve (wilfully and perversely):–not believe, disobedient, obey not, unbelieving.” So the husbands in questions are willfully disobedient to the Word and to God.

In referencing Sarah’s behavior, which is being held up as an example for all godly wives, the Greek uses the word hupakouo which is a combination of two words meaning literally “to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively.” By deliberately using a different word for obedience in such close proximity to the other Greek word, it would seem that strict, absolute, unquestioning obedience is not the intended meaning of this word. Instead, it implies a behavior which would be consistent with that meek and quiet spirit – a heart that is attentive to the needs and desires of the husband. God does not command wives to obey their husbands to the exclusion of obeying Him. We have one God – and it is not our husband. Where his desires demand direct disobedience of God, we have to obey the higher authority.

We also can remember the larger context referenced in the previous article about this passage – submitting to the ordinances of man. During the time of Sarah’s marriage to Abraham women did not have the legal right to do anything other than submit like slaves. But the picture we have of Abraham and Sarah’s relationship indicates he did not treat her like a slave. Twice he asked her to put herself in danger to protect his own skin. And she did it.

These incidents are not directly referenced in this passage so we cannot assume they are intended to be examples of good choices. But at the same time, in the culture of the day, Sarah had little choice to anything otherwise. And in her desire to protect her husband’s life, she may well have been willing to sacrifice herself.

That would not have made adultery an acceptable option, however. Ungodliness is still ungodliness, as we do not get a pass on our sin choices. Given the fact that the ordinances of man give us more choices in our culture, we cannot just expect God to miraculously step in and rescue us from our choices, like He did for Sarah. We do need to follow her example of not being afraid, but we must do so within the context of also obeying the ordinances of man and the law of God.

It is also important to note before leaving this passage, that it does not say that a disobedient husband will be won. It says the disobedient husband may be won. So to teach that all a wife has to do is blindly submit and her husband will eventually turn to God, is a huge untruth. God addresses a process for dealing with a persistently unrepentant sinner in the church and for marriage to an unbeliever (disobedient is defined as unbelieving), so there is recourse beyond this passage if a husband should persist in gross disobedience to the Word.

When the church teaches women to obey their disobedient husbands absolutely, in silence, and without question, they are teaching in violation of the direct context of this passage (submitting to the ordinances of man) and are putting women in a hopeless dichotomy. How do we absolutely obey a man who demands that we violate the Word? This cannot be. That is a demand of idolatry and one we cannot obey.

On the other hand, it is possible to “hear under, listen attentively” with a meek and quiet spirit to the heart of a disobedient husband. We can do good to those who despitefully use us. We can remain in peace even though he agitates for discord and strife. We can walk in the power of the Spirit (which includes the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, meekness, self-control, etc.) regardless of the behavior of the disobedient husband. In so doing, our lives will be that living, breathing expression of the Word of God, by which the disobedient husband may be won. This does not demand that we obey him by committing unrighteousness, since to do so would be direct violation of the immediate context (submitting to the ordinances of man) and the law of God which forbids idolatry.

What Does the Bible Really Say? — Wives Submit Like Slaves?

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

One passage in the Word that seems a conundrum for wives in an abusive marriage is I Peter 3:1-6.

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

There are three issues in this passage in I Peter which appear to consign wives to remaining in an abusive marriage. First is the fact that this passage starts with the word “likewise.” When we look back in the context, it appears this “likewise” is stating that women are to submit like the Word tells servants to submit, even to wicked or harsh masters. Second is the specific statement that wives should be in subjection even to husbands who are being disobedient. Third is the comparison with Sara, whom the Word says obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. In this article, I am only addressing the first of these three. I will address the other two in a separate article.

First, let’s take a look at the word “likewise.” If we look at the Word honestly, we have to see that the entire context begins in I Peter 2:13 and continues through I Peter 3:7. This entire section deals with submission and authority. It is wrong to conclude that the “likewise” of I Peter 3:1 is directly referring to I Peter 2:18, where servants are admonished to submit to harsh masters. The entire context is much more broad than this sole application.

I Peter 2:13 starts by saying that we – believers – are to submit to every ordinance of man. Throughout the remainder of this section which continues through I Peter 3:7, Peter goes on to enumerate all the different ways believers are to submit.

1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Peter puts a qualifier on this entire passage right at the beginning of this passage. He says submit to every ordinance of man. So this entire context must also be evaluated in light of how the existing ordinances of man would have influenced each of the specific examples evaluated by Peter.

For instance, in the part about slaves, if we were to take the Word at bare face value, we could assume we have the right as Christians to own slaves. Now, obviously, saying this seems utterly ludicrous – because in our culture we consider the ownership of slaves to be morally repugnant. In our society, owning slaves is a violation of this passage, even though ownership of slaves appears to be an assumed right in these verses. The reason we know owning slaves is a violation of God’s Word, based solely on this passage, is because it would be a violation of the ordinances of man in our society. Slave ownership is illegal.

So, no matter what these verses seem to say to slaves, no slave in the United States should submit to a harsh master – because no one should be a slave in this country. If someone was enslaved in this country (and it does happen) that person should not submit to his master, but should escape at the first opportunity because slavery is illegal – it is against the ordinances of man – in this country. For such a person to obey what appears to be the clear meaning of the Word (submit to a harsh master), would in fact be a violation of the entire point of the passage, which is that we are to submit to every ordinance of man.

Another reason we know that the point of this passage is not that slaves should always submit to harsh masters is because of what the Word says in I Cor. 7:21 —

Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

The Word must be understood in light of the whole. This verse in I Cor. 7 indicates that if a slave has the legal opportunity to become free, he should take it. So God cannot possibly mean that slaves must always remain in submission to abusive masters in I Peter 2. The verses in I Peter 2 have to be understood in light of the qualification Peter put on the passage — submit to every ordinance of man.

Now, on to the section about wives. To assume that the word “likewise” at the beginning of I Peter 3:1 is referring back to slaves submitting to harsh masters is inaccurate. In actual fact, “likewise” makes it clear that the teaching about wives is another example of submitting to every ordinance of man – the point of the whole context. That is the grammatically correct evaluation of the passage.

This can also be supported by the fact that the word “likewise” also starts the verse about husbands.

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

If “likewise” for wives is pointing to the teaching about slaves, then we would have to assume the same about husbands. But it makes no sense whatsoever to apply this to the verse about husbands – where there is no stated or implied command to submit to a harsh or disobedient wife. Yet, it does make sense to understand the word “likewise” ties the admonition to husbands back to the premise of the whole passage – submitting to every ordinance of man.

Again, as we did with the part about slaves, we must look at this passage to wives in light of the point of the context – submitting to every ordinance of man. At the time this was written, wives had less rights than slaves. Slaves at least had the option of buying their freedom or being set free by their owners. Wives had no such alternative. During this time, a wife had no legal (ordinances of man) recourse if she were faced with a disobedient husband. Wives might run away, but they would be returned to their husband if found because a wife was legally owned by her husband. So, this teaching is describing what a wife must do to submit to the ordinances of man regarding marriage, as those ordinances existed at the time this was written.

However, the ordinances of man are not the same in the United States today. And here is an example of why this distinction is critical. Women are taught by the church to submit to their husbands regardless of their husbands’ behavior. They are taught that this is literally submitting to God and to do otherwise is disobedience to God.

However, the result is that women in abusive homes are being required to disobey the ordinances of man to “obey” the assumed meaning of I Peter 3:1-6. A wife is legally responsible for the protection and wellbeing of her children. That includes not just protecting them from physical battery, but also protecting their emotional and social welfare. A wife can be legally prosecuted for allowing her children to continue in an abusive environment.

It is also against the ordinances of man in the United States for a husband to batter his wife – which includes more than just using his fists on her. It is against the ordinances of man for a husband to rape his wife – and this happens often in abusive marriages. A woman who enables her husband to violate the ordinances of man, even in his treatment of her, is herself violating the ordinances of man and God’s direct Word because God says to submit to the ordinances of man and He also is against those who afflict others.

The ordinances of man in the United States give wives recourse not to remain in danger under a husband who is disobeying the ordinances of man. Since the point of this passage is about submitting to the ordinances of man, it is more accurate to understand that the behavior of wives when dealing with an abusive spouse would be different than it was when this was written. To submit to the ordinances of man, a woman in the United States today may be required by God to remove herself and her children from the hands of an abuser. This is the more accurate understanding of the meaning of the entire context of this passage.

Tipping Sacred Cows and Committing the Great Commission

[I always thought when the time came to broach this subject I’d reference tipping sacred cows. Now, a comment on yesterday’s post brought it to the top, and it seems a bit out of place. Oh well.]

~~~

Satan uses secrets to keep us in bondage. Dungeons are places of darkness. Satan keeps us shackled in the dark. He especially prefers to keep us in the dark so we can’t see those chains are actually cheap plastic and the bars aren’t even bolted to the wall.

But we don’t know that. Our secrets are our reality. They are dark and deadly and terrifying. They are shadowy memories, vile smells, creepy touches, and voices that make us shudder. They are the confusion of loved ones who hurt us. And lies mixed with truth.

Jesus said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:18-19

  • good news to the poor
  • deliverance to the captives
  • recovering of sight to the blind
  • liberty for them that are bruised
  • the favorable season of the Lord

Later He said:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8

A witness is someone who has personally seen something happen and can testify with absolute certainty it is true and actual fact.

Our Christianese has diluted and even somewhat twisted the meaning of this word “witness.” We think of “witnessing” as “sharing the gospel” with a “lost” person. That whole sentence has a Christianese subtext. Like watching TV with the subtitles. Here’s what it means in Christianese:

”Present to an unchurched person, a memorized, scripted dialog learned in in a soul-winning or outreach class. The purpose of this dialog is to manipulate the unchurched individual through a set of Scripture verses intended to reveal to him his state of wretched sinfulness, eternal damnation to hell, utter dependence on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for an eternity in heaven instead of hell. The goal of this exercise is to gain the unchurched party’s assent to repeat a scripted prayer acknowledging these facts, accepting Jesus Christ into his heart as his personal Savior, thereby assuring his eternal salvation.”

Depending on your denomination that subtext may vary slightly. But that’s pretty close.

But that’s not actually what the Word says if you read it without the subtitles.

If you look at these two passages where Jesus Himself clearly stated His purpose in coming to earth and then where He gave us our mission, some things can be seen that are very different from the Christianese version.

Remember, we can only be witnesses of what we have personally seen and experienced. If you haven’t personally seen and experienced God at work in your life – you need to go back to square one and wait for God. You have nothing to testify about because you have witnessed nothing. That’s the first thing.

All that bit about the memorized script and fire-insurance prayer – no good. I can’t say God won’t use it. God used Balaam’s donkey. But that is not what God intended. (And I probably just offended about a jillion people. That was not my intention.)

Jesus is our Savior. YES! But what did He save us from? Did your mind just go back to the script? Or did it go to the Luke 4 passage?

Quick doctrine class –

Before the fall of man, God walked with man in the garden and they had a close friendship relationship. What was the consequence of the Fall? There were a variety of consequences for Adam and Eve’s little blame-game, but the consequence for eating of the forbidden tree was death:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Gen. 2:17

Physical death began. Spiritual death was immediate, demonstrated by the fact that man no longer walked with God in the garden in close friendship relationship.

So then, what did Jesus die to accomplish?

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:14-16

Next question: what is eternal life?

Back to that Christianese – the answer is, where you’re going after you die; heaven or hell.

Wrong answer. What does the Bible say?

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:3

The Greek word used for the word “know” there mean to know absolutely, like through experience, as a Christian husband and wife (in a godly marriage) know each other. Not like you might know all about Abraham Lincoln. It is the most thorough knowledge it is possible to have – a knowledge gained through witnessing the life of someone else up close on a daily basis.

So, how does this relate to our passages back at the top of this article?

Jesus is our Savior. He clearly stated His mission. It didn’t include anywhere in that list, “make sure to lead people in the sinner’s prayer so they can go to heaven when they die.” Now why is that? Especially if that is supposed to be one our primary goals in leading people to Jesus as their Savior? (Yeah, I ask the hard ones. God has been putting up with that for a long time.)

As with all the other attributes of God, such as Redeemer, they do not describe an action He has done in one specific circumstance. Who God is, is Who He is all the time. So if Jesus is our Savior, He is our savior all the time. He is the savior of our everything. He is the savior of our eternal future and the savior of our today.

He came to save the poor in spirit by bringing them the riches of Himself for their poverty.

He came to save the captives from their bondage by providing the answers to the secrets that keep them bound.

He came to save the sight of the blind who cannot see the truth that will make them free (Jn 8:32).

He came to save the abused from those who daily batter their souls.

He came to bring the favorable season of the Lord – something different than time has ever known.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Mt. 20:25-28

And as I have known my Savior to be these things in my life, I am a witness.

My God has saved me from these things. I have been captive in those dark places. Even though sometimes it’s a little rough being open (like yesterday’s post), secrets are Satan’s stronghold. And a witness brings light. If my witness can bring light to someone else’s darkness, so they can find the same salvation I have, there can be nothing better than that. Only walking with God in and through those places can bring freedom. There is no other way.

There is some help out there. Psychology offers a lot. But complete light in the cobwebby corners? Freedom? Joy? God is the author of wisdom, even the wisdom that psychology offers. Jesus is the Savior. And because He has been my Savior, I can testify about what I have witnessed Him doing in my life.

I believe that is the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

[And one wee word on hell, lest anyone think I’ve thrown it out with the bathwater:

Is God good? Think again about the attributes of God. Is goodness something He does or is good Who He is? If good is Who He is, does anything good exist outside of God? Good is Who God is.

As a side note, this would mean when anyone, even a non-believer does anything good they are acting out of the fact that they are created in the image of God. All that is good is a reflection of God’s nature – and remember Balaam’s donkey. God can use anything, anyone, anytime, anywhere.

If God is good, and eternal life is relationship with God, what is eternal life without God? Think for about five minutes about what that would have to be like. No, I’m not kidding. Do it. If you can seriously do that without crying, you’ve got a strong stomach. Now, put that into a specific place, add to it the characteristics God has given the place labeled Hell in the Bible, and there you have it.

Hell is, quite simply, a place where God isn’t. A specific place described in the Bible. It is alone. Remember, relationship is with God! Each person who does not enter into relationship with God chooses to spend eternity alone, without God – and that will be hell, in every literal way. If you think about that long enough it should change a lot of preconceptions about hell in interesting ways – but still remains faithful to the Word.

Not a place I want to go. But, avoiding it is also not the motivation for accepting Christ as Savior! Never, not once, not ever did Jesus use that as a motivational tool for the people He ministered to. Jesus had harsh words for the religious leaders only. He rebuked Satan at work in Peter. But he did not speak this way to the people he was ministering to. And He didn’t hold the threat of an eternity in hell over anyone’s head.]

God’s Justice, Part II: When Injustice Leaves Me Hurting

This man has violated our trust. I have to wonder, does God like that? If He is so just, why did He sit by and let this happen? I am hurt, my child is hurt, other families are hurt. And he gets a few years in prison for all this pain he has caused, which will never end for all of us whom he has hurt. How do we go on from here? Where is God’s justice?

In the first part of your answer, we looked at the truth of God’s justice. But, where does that leave you? Knowing the truth about God’s justice and patience does nothing to alleviate your very real pain. The answer for you is found in the truth of Who God is.

THIS NEXT STATEMENT IS CRITICAL!

The reason that your circumstances have caused you to even ask these questions is because, at the heart of the matter, you feel abandoned and betrayed by God.

There is no shame in acknowledging the truth of this. God knows it’s true! He’s not going to be shocked or dismayed or hurt by it! He’s not going to punish you for it, either. The biggest first step toward your healing is for you to realize this is true.

The reason I know this is true about you is because I have walked there, too. I’m not writing this out of judgment or because I read it in a book somewhere or heard it preached. I’m sharing this with you from experience. And the very first thing it was freeing to discover was that God wasn’t judging me, or rejecting me, or punishing me, or abandoning me. In fact, He cannot do any of those things because they are against His nature as a God of love, justice, patience, etc.!

There is a distance between you and God right now, but it isn’t one of God’s making. The distance between you and God is the distance of your own arms as you hold yourself away in fear of being hurt worse. And God isn’t judging you even for that! He’s patiently waiting with His arms open to show you the truth of just how tangibly and how vastly He loves you.

One thing that’s helpful to understand is what your pain really means. When we experience emotional pain, the very best thing we can do for ourselves is to run to God and ask Him to be the Great Physician for our hurting heart, open ourselves to whatever He wants to change and trust Him to bring healing.

So, how can you gain healing from this hurt? Well, the Word says that the truth will set you free. Of course, the truth of Christ’s sacrifice for us is what sets us free from eternal judgment. But this principle of Scripture extends further than just our eternal state. The key to freedom in any area is learning and walking in God’s truth about that area.

Since this is true, let’s look at the truth about how God’s heart toward you. The Word says that God IS love. Because this is a fundamental part of His character, He cannot act in any other way toward you.

Psalm 139:1-18
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 11:10 – 13
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

For the sake of space, these are just three of many references in Scripture about the reality of God’s love. It’s easy to make the mistake of looking at these passages as distant and theoretical, but they are not. God’s love is just as literal and tangible as a mother’s love for her newborn baby. That’s truly the way God loves you. What sane mother can deliberately hurt her newborn baby? No more can God maliciously or thoughtless hurt you.

One thing that can stand in the way of our understanding of this is a misunderstanding of God’s discipline, too. We might say, “But, the Word also says God chastens his children and it is grievous.” (Hebrews12:5-11) However, even God’s chastening isn’t mean or vengeful. In fact, the pain of the circumstances is His discipline — not done “to” us, simply a natural byproduct of the situation. Discipline does not mean punishment! Discipline is simply training. It is that process through which we learn to be more careful not to touch the hot pan because we have experienced being burned.

Another critical characteristic of God that applies to your situation is the fact that God is a Redeemer. Not only does He redeem our eternal souls He redeems our lives, our circumstances, etc. This is a basic part of His character, not one separate function limited only to salvation.

Genesis 50:20
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

The truth is that God has a redemptive plan for your circumstances. This is shown time and again in God’s Word. You are not the exception! You are dear to Him and He has a beautiful plan for you (Ecclesiastes 3:11a). He will work your circumstances together for good (Romans 8:28 ) if you love Him and seek His way of accomplishing it.
The Word is a treasure chest of examples of how God does this very thing. When we read the stories of the people in the Word we tend to see the end of the story first, so to speak, and forget that real people experienced these things over a period of time. These real people had real feelings about their experiences — they didn’t know what the end of the story was going to be. Consider these:

Job — he lost everything – his children, his wealth and his health. During all the time he sat in mourning he didn’t know that God was going to doubly bless him in the end. He only knew what had already happened. It looked like God had turned on him and deliberately hurt him.

Joseph — he was hurt and rejected by his family, separated from the father he loved, forced into a demeaning, painful life of slavery. When he did his best, he was again unjustly betrayed and sent to prison. And remember this wasn’t a prison like we know. This was a dark, stinking hole with no amenities. When he still did his best, he was forgotten. During all these years of the worst trials the only “hope” he had was a couple of childish dreams.

Esther — as an innocent Jewish virgin, she was forced into the harem of a pagan king. How could she reconcile such debasement? We don’t think of that perspective, but this was not an honor for Esther. Yet the Word says that this was God’s plan for her life for a very specific, and honorable, reason (Esther 4:14).

Abigail — was given to a violent man to be his wife (I Sam. 15:3). We only see a tiny piece of her story recorded in Scripture and we don’t realize that she lived with this violent and angry man for some time before the events that were actually recorded in the Word. What was it like for her for all that time? Ultimately, she was forced to defy her husband to save the lives of others. What do you think she felt when she went back to Nabal and confessed to him what she had done? She didn’t know that God was about to strike her husband dead. She bore the brunt of his anger again, perhaps she was beaten (and not for the first time) — it’s very likely.

In every life, God had a redemptive plan that these people could not see as they walked in painful places, often for years. God has a redemptive plan for your life, and for your child, as well. The only condition on that redemptive plan is that you seek Him and His way. If you hold Him at arms’ length and hide from Him in your hurt you cannot and will not know His healing.

So, how can you seek Him and His way and walk in His healing? I’m going to address this question in a third section — How to appropriate God’s healing.

Does God Get Angry At Us?

I posted one of my previously written articles in my articles section. It was originally published in 2002. Here’s an excerpt.

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The question came up in Sunday School one day, “Does God get angry when we sin?” Most of the class (and I believe the majority of Christians would agree) said that God does get angry when we sin. There are many verses in the Old Testament that describe God’s righteous anger and wrath unleashed toward His people for their sin. Since God cannot change, we must believe that He does get angry with us when we sin.

I will admit that I used to believe the same thing myself. But then God took me through about a two-year period of showing me how my theology didn’t agree with His Word or His heart on this subject.

There is one fundamental reason why God cannot be angry with His children when they sin. This reason is then backed up with a host of Scripture supporting the fact that God has indeed changed the way He views His children…

Here’s the full article.

Bible Meme

I saw this on someone else’s blog and thought it looked fun. 

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 1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

Different translations for different purposes.  KJV for study and NASV for everyday reading.  NIV is OK but I think it sounds like it was written for 4th graders. 

2. Old or New Testament?

NT but really like OT, too, including some of the parts other people think are dry and depressing like the prophets. There’s interesting stuff buried in all kinds of odd places in the Bible.

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

John

4. Favorite Chapter?

Tough one.  I’ll have to think about it.  Off the top – I Cor. 13.

5. Favorite Verse? (feel free to explain yourself if you have to)

Jas 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” This verse has changed my life; repeatedly.

6. Bible character you think you’re most like?

Abigail

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?

Will there be a pre-trib rapture? (Theologians: Don’t even start! I know all the theology.) I’d like to ask Him that directly though.

8. Moses or Paul?

Absolutely Paul. I particularly like the way he went away for 13 years after his conversion and just learned straight from God. He didn’t go to Jerusalem and take classes from the orginal apostles. My role model.

9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?

I want to understand what God thinks about homosexuality. I see oxymorons that make no sense and I want to understand.

10. Coolest name in the Bible?

Attitudes of Church Leaders Toward Clergy Sex Abuse

I just found this old news article which quotes Jerry Falwell regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL.  I’m not attempting to target Falwell himself, especially considering he’s gone on to his eternal reward.  The reason I’m pointing this out is because it clearly states the attitude which is common among the upper echelon of church leadership.  This is why nothing is being done in Protestant churches to address clergy sex abuse – leaders don’t think it matters. They will say they think it matters, because to actually say it doesn’t matter would make them look horrible. Bad PR. But in statements like this, to say nothing of the general inaction, church leaders accidentally make it completely clear where their values really lie.

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You can read the entire article here, dated Oct. 2006.

Jerry Falwell called high-profile allegations that a former pastor of a prominent independent Baptist church molested and raped numerous children over the course of decades a “bump in the road.”

“When you hit a bump in the road–the pastor has mentioned six months here of challenges–forget the bump in the road. That’s all it is. You’ve got to move on,” Falwell said in a keynote address of a three-day meeting of the Southwide Baptist Fellowship at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Robert Gray, the former 30-year pastor who led the church out of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1960s, was arrested in May. He is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 27 on two counts of capital sexual battery, because two of his accusers say he molested them when they were 6 years old.

Twenty-two people, including one man, have come forward since May to accuse Gray of abusing them. The other allegations involve children older than 12, meaning they cannot be prosecuted due to a statute of limitations…

…a column last week in EthicsDaily.com by Christa Brown, founder of Voice to Stop Baptist Predators, and coordinator of SNAP-Baptist, prompted long discussions at an unofficial Web forum on BaptistLife.com.

Brown criticized Falwell’s dismissive choice of words. “When 22 people report having been sexually abused as kids by a church’s founding pastor, it cannot rightly be minimized as a mere ‘bump in the road,'” she said.

She said what Falwell should be sermonizing on is, “Why did no one in the church put up a roadblock and stop this man?”