Cannon Beach Q&A, Part 2

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Here are a few more questions from the Friday morning Q&A at Cannon Beach. My comments are in bold type.

7) I would like to have your understanding of the role of men and women in the church.

My short answer is that I believe God has placed the burden of leadership on godly, Christ-centered, servant-hearted men in the home and in the church. Note those qualifiers carefully. We get into all sorts of trouble when we argue about roles without thinking first about the character of those in leadership. The true role of leadership is to serve others. The best leaders do not simply “rule over” others. Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). To lead like Jesus means laying down your life gladly, freely, repeatedly, not demanding your own way, but loving others enough to put their interests above your own. I find it very challenging to consider the list of elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 or to simply consider what it means to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). So my answer is that we need men in leadership—but not just any men, and not just men who happen to be church members, but men whose hearts are filled with kindness, wisdom and courage. I believe in male leadership in the home and in the church, but it only works when we have the right kind of men whose hearts are daily transformed by Christ. See Men and Women in Biblical Perspective.

8) Is it ever right to go on strike?

This is a short version of a longer question about a possible “job action” where the person involved feels that management has been unfair in their treatment of employees. Can Christians ever go on strike to demand better working conditions? The answer would seem to be yes, there are times when injustice must be directly confronted when other avenues have been exhausted. There is a corresponding danger of going too far, of inciting (or condoning) violence, threats, intimidation, destruction of property, or other illegal activity. Since your testimony as a Christian is at stake, it matters greatly that you seek to be a peacemaker. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Note the key phrase—"as far as it depends on you.” Sometimes others don’t want to live in peace with us. We need wisdom from above—and much godly counsel—in deciding when and how to express our disagreements with those in authority over us. See How to be a Godly Rebel.

9) Does the New Testament fruit of the Spirit eliminate the Old Testament Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments are not “eliminated” because 9 of the 10 are repeated in the New Testament. Christians continue to debate how the 4th Commandment (Keep the Sabbath) relates to us today. When our lives are controlled by the Holy Spirit, then the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) will be manifest in us. This is what God promised in Jeremiah 31:33 where the Lord said he would put his law in the minds of his people and write it on their hearts. The New Testament makes internal what was external in the Old Testament. See No Condemnation.

10) Why did Jesus say that he didn’t know the time of his own return in Matthew 24:36?

The answer seems to be that as a man he took upon himself the limitations of humanity. From the standpoint of his humanity, he voluntarily laid aside the knowledge that would be his as the eternal Son of God. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus “grew in wisdom.” This must mean that as he grew up, Jesus gained knowledge the same way that any young person gains knowledge. As a man, he learned certain things through experience and education. Yet he was “very God of very God” from all eternity, and he did not cease to be truly God during the time of his earthly life. It is perhaps best to simply let these truths rest in tension. During his time on the earth, Jesus did not know the time of his return. Yet as the eternal Son of God, he surely has always known when he will come back. We can say it this way—not that it helps us greatly, but here it is—Jesus’ omniscience (his knowledge of everything) did not always operate at the level of human consciousness. Our major problem here is that we cannot conceive of what it means to be fully God and fully man at the same time. Every explanation for this passage struggles at this point. We are left explaining something we don’t really understand. 

11) My son is not saved. What about the sovereignty of God? If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and God is sovereign, how can he be lost?

The sovereignty of God if properly understood ought to lead us to pray with greater fervency for our loved ones who are not saved. While it is true that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44), it is also true that God ordains both the means and the ends of salvation. God saves sinners who trust in his Son. Our part is to proclaim the gospel and to pray for God to make it effective in the hearts of those who hear the message. We do the preaching and praying and God does the saving. And he saves those who put their trust in Christ. It all fits together—preaching, praying, believing, saving. And over it all is the great biblical watchword—"Salvation is of the Lord.” We need not inquire into areas that are beyond our knowledge—such as who is elect and who is not—for those matters belong to the Lord. It is enough for us to know God’s heart, God’s love, God’s provision, and to preach and pray with all that is within us. Your burden for your son comes from the Lord. Since God never wastes his burdens, let your burden be a token of hope that someday your son will be saved. See Praying for Your Prodigal.

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