The Remnant


But I will leave seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.-1 Kings 19:18

Are you discouraged and feel like Elijah, alone or almost alone?  You know the story, that Elijah was told that, there were a bunch of people, in Israel, who were not apostate; plus a bunch of hidden prophets, he did not know about.  And Elisha was ready to be mentored.

Further back, God called Abram, by himself, with his wife, to follow alone.  God said he would bring forth a nation of believers from him.

Fast forward to Jesus.  By in large, that nation, from Abraham rejected Jesus, and God seemingly started over again, with a remnant.

In the history of the church, even in our lifetimes, there have been small groups of people, that God used to change the world.  God usually uses a small group to affect large change with the larger population of the world.

John Wesley and his group of followers is an example of a pattern that has happened over and over.  God touches a person or persons, who lead a small band of people; who are persecuted in various dimensions, and end up affecting societal change.

Did you know that one of the last things John did was to correspond with and encourage William Wilberforce?  I believe Wesley ended well.

Many church groups (denominations, movements, networks, tribes, or affiliations) got started with a fire inside of a small group of people.

God seems to have a preference for using remnants and anointed individuals to affect change in the larger society.

Unfortunately, what always seems to happen is that the majority of believers, tend to reject the new thing or the re-new thing that God is doing, that ends up bringing a whole bunch of unsaved people into the kingdom.  Irony and paradox.

God is on the move today.  God has always been on the move.  And many and perhaps most of the people of God do not recognize, see, or follow the move of God in the earth.

On the other hand, more people are in sync with God than we think.

Paul's are out there, so be like Barnabas and search for them, encourage, and connect (with) them.

Much of the church wants no part in what God is doing, but just wants to be left alone.  What God is doing is messy and controversial.  All of humankind, including many Christians, have a great hunger for religion; but the true God is not at all religious.  So there is a big problem and a disconnect there, if we make our Christianity into a religion.

The religious Christian right and left are both are in danger of being against what God is doing today, because God is not religious.  Jesus did not bring the social justice or the health and wealth gospel.  He preached and brought the kingdom gospel,  Same thing today.

We can even be so church minded and church centered that we are anti kingdom,  And that's religion.

If you are a religious Christian, listen to this leader:
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re about to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his followers were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. He also perished, and all his followers were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him.
-Acts 5:34-39
And who's side is the Lord really on?
When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied. “I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.”
Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked him, “What does my lord want to say to his servant?”
-Joshua 5:13-14
The idea is to get behind the Lord, rather than try to get the Lord behind us.

And do we really believe in the gospel that begins with, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand"?  That is the antidote for the delusion.

Sky Links, 8-11-18

Is the press is the enemy of the people?
Auditing coverage of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy found that of the news reports with a clear tone, 80 percent of the stories about Trump were negative, 20 percent positive.
Journalists ranging from Christiane Amanpour to Jorge Ramos to Jim Rutenberg have argued that the rules of neutral reportage should no longer necessarily apply when it comes to Trump.
The WikiLeaks email trove of correspondence between Hillary Clinton and her campaign adviser, John Podesta, revealed that marquee journalists were colluding with Clinton aides to ensure the right spin was put on stories before publication. CNN analyst Donna Brazile leaked debate questions to Clinton in advance.
Too often, reporters smear the president in the crudest possible ways.
Politico’s Julia Ioffe suggested that Trump might have engaged in incest with his daughter.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was forced to apologize after he crudely trashed a pro-Trump panelist, saying, “If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it!”
This year’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner turned into a Trump hatefest, as host Michelle Wolf savagely trashed the president. Wolf even mocked the looks of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
The late CNN host Anthony Bourdain once joked about poisoning Trump. Religious scholar Reza Aslan referred to Trump as “this piece of s–t.”
Sometimes journalists disparage and stereotype Trump supporters. Recently, Politico reporter Marc Caputo tweeted of the crowd he saw at a Trump rally: “If you put everyone’s mouths together in this video, you’d get a full set of teeth.” Then he doubled down by calling them “garbage people.”
The Ancient War Between the Press and the President -Victor Davis Hanson



Here is a recent shocking example of how CNN is fake and not journalism:




Are you interested in learning more about QAnon?
By this point you may have heard Q mentioned online, whether in conservative circles or somewhere in your social media feed. You likely didn’t pay too much attention to it, as many of us have known for a long time that nefarious, shady and corrupt elements exist within our government.

If you’ve looked into anything regarding The Clinton Foundation you probably made a reasonable guess that she had been likely selling her presidency since her time at the State Department, but perhaps you didn’t go much further down the rabbit hole to see exactly who she was selling favors to, nor what those favors were.

And though it was rather quiet when Q first began posting, as of late there has been a full-court press by the Mainstream Media [MSM] to establish him (them) as a conspiracy theory as the #TheGreatAwakening grows from a small underground group on obscure websites to a full-blown movement.

*Edit: as of 8/1/18 there were 50,000 subscribers to The Great Awakening board on Reddit. While the media did their best to portray this in as many inaccurate ways as possible (alt-right, small cult, violent, etc) this truly has grown into a movement. If you read the actual posts, you will find that not only are the people not who the MSM told you they were (they are in fact your neighbors, family members and co-workers), but they are absolutely not promoting any form of violence (which will get you immediately banned from the Reddit board). And the numbers are growing by the minute.
-Robert Patrick Lewis


Another article:
Seemingly within minutes Wednesday, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, The Hill and several other of the usual suspects all ran stories attempting to explain — and by explain I mean “mock/dismiss/deride” — an internet phenomenon known as Q or QAnon.
Here’s a good tip: Any time the news establishment in sudden unison jumps up and screams at the top of their lungs, “Nothing to see here! Nonsense, nonsense! Nothing to see!” it’s a good time to pay attention.
Before we step down into the rabbit hole, keep in mind the people telling you Q is just a crazy, wacky internet conspiracy or elaborate hoax are the same people who insisted you were a Mad Hatter if you said that the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on the Trump campaign.
They’re also the ones spending endless hours and ink insisting Trump teamed with Putin to steal the 2016 election right from under the nose of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Nonetheless, Q is a rabbit hole. Are they really intelligence agents? Or maybe just some smart guys trying to change the debate? Or even liberal trolls? Some of what they say makes sense. Some of it … seems far-fetched.
So What is Q?
Q or QAnon claims to be a small group of under 10 people very close to Donald Trump. Most are military intelligence, they say. Q says Trump is slowly, methodically, effectively exposing and destroying the Deep State and the corrupt global order that’s long run the show.
These elites are involved in all sorts of nasty business, including murder, pedophilia and child sex trafficking, to say nothing of your run-of-the-mill corruption and connivery. And they are fighting Trump tooth and nail.
However, Q usually doesn’t just come out and just say all this. Often several times a day, Q will leave a post on 8-chan. (A hard-to-navigate website composed of user-created boards.) These Q posts tend to be in the form of questions and cryptic statements. Readers — aka “Anons” — call these “crumbs.” A community has arisen out of the effort to research and explain the posts.
A website called QAnon.pub is an easy way to see and search through the Q posts. 
So What is ‘Q’ … and Why is MSM Suddenly Targeting It? -Al Perrotta


The lady doth protest too much
Welcome to the show. The Washington Post is leading the unhinged Media Establishment attack on the QAnon story. In just a few days over a dozen anti-QAnon articles have been published by the Washington Post alone, each getting more manic and deranged as the desperation becomes all the more obvious. And more will follow.

It’s hard to think of another ‘conspiracy’ that has attracted so much attention from the media, especially one that is apparently just a LARP.

Note the deliberately provocative language used – “deranged” “scary” “cult” “virus” “terrifying” “nasty” “despicable” “twisted” “byzantine” – and that’s just from one media outlet’s headlines and slugs.
For those that don’t know, the QAnon ‘conspiracy theory’ mainly consists of a series of anonymous posts, which use the socratic method of asking the reader questions, encouraging them to find their own answers. The main purpose being to enlighten people of the corruption which has gone on for many years in various establishments. The Media Establishment is no exception. Which leaves many not surprised at all by this frantic coverage.

It really is quite laughable that these question-based posts can be labelled terrifying and dangerous when all they have led people to do is be more aware of how global politics and media propaganda works. Terrifying, yes, for the establishments in question.
Welcome To The MSM QAnon Show -Kerfuffled



Notes from the global leadership summit, by Joshua Reich

John Maxwell:
  • Creativity and flexibility are crucial in leadership today.
  • Creative people believe there is always an answer.
  • Flexibility says there’s usually more than one answer.
  • If you’re still excited about what you did 5 years ago, you aren’t growing.
T.D. Jakes:
  • Too many people have to see their way clear before they get started.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you finish.
  • Visions start in small places.
  • So much of what we learn is about winning but what stimulates growth is losing.
Craig Groeschel:
  • The two areas a leader needs to grow in is leadership (where are you taking me) and emotional intelligence (how are you treating me). 
  • The best leaders unleash higher performance through empowerment, not command and control. 
  • You can have control or growth, but you can’t have both. 
  • If you delegate tasks, you’re creating followers. If we delegate authority, we are creating leaders. 
  • If you don’t trust your team, you are either too controlling or you have the wrong people.




The F word and Pastors (failure)
I was fired in 2003. It was my greatest vocational humiliation. After serving a church for six years, I was invited into a brief elder meeting after teaching my regular Sunday adult course and told that reconciliation and relationship with the lead pastor would be impossible, that my termination was the only recourse. Sara found out as I walked through the front door of our home in tears. Our two babies were there. We’d recently put a deposit on a new home build. There was no goodbye, no thank you. I was not even allowed to keep my own Rembrandt painting – The Return of the Prodigal Son – the one Sara had gifted me after framing it. The prodigal wasn’t being asked to consider a return, I suppose.
It took years to reconcile this – to forgive, to bless that church, its pastor, and the leaders I’d grown to trust and love. But the sting of failure and rejection stayed with me for a long time. I had failed. At least, that’s how I narrated it. It was my worst fear as a pastor. Perhaps, even more bitter for this tender Enneagram 4 was that I felt utterly misunderstood. The short blurb in next Sunday’s program didn’t acknowledge the tears I’d cried for people in that place, the above-and-beyond care I offered, the new initiatives I started, the relationships we forged, the promises not delivered. Never before for me had rage and shame kissed in this way.
Too far to fall: The pastor’s worst fear – Failure
-Chuck Degroat






A Story of Love and Loss:
As Alfred Lord Tennyson once famously said: “Tis better to have loved and lost to have never loved at all.” This is something I have reflected on a lot over the past few months. At times the pain of losing her has been so much that I have wondered if life might have been easier had I not loved Gemma in the way that I did. The pain of our sudden separation might have somehow been less intense. A common comment I often receive on Instagram when I post about her is that I should be grateful that I got to love and be loved like that, because many never get to experience a love like this. In many ways, although not always written in the most sensitive manner, they’re right. I am blessed to have experienced love like this, I am blessed that out of our marriage came the wonderful gift of my boy who despite everything he is going through, has been a constant ray of hope and light. Tennyson is right, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but my goodness when you do lose it, the pain is horrendous and the love you got to experience and enjoy is no comforter, it’s more like a tormentor.

In the words spoken at our wedding service by my Dad (who married us) he said this before we exchanged our vows: “They shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind, as Christ is united with his bride, the Church. The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together in the delight and tenderness of sexual union and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.”
Tis better to have loved and lost to have never loved at all. -Simon Thomas







Michelle Cehn's adoption story:

My Adoption Story -Michelle Cehn





Tips for missionary videos and conferencing:
  • Remember the time zone changes. Check out the local time zone for missionaries before setting up a video conference call. Otherwise, you might be asking someone to meet at two o’clock in the morning.
  • Be careful about security. Some countries are less than friendly to missionaries and so Christian workers there have to be careful. Make sure the video conferencing software has good security protocols. Some suggestions: Skype for Business and Zoom, both of which use encrypted data. Steer clear of FaceTime and Facebook Messenger when there are security concerns.
  • Be flexible. In some parts of the world, power and internet access aren’t always reliable. Be prepared for a bad connection—or that a planned meeting might not work out.
  • Call ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to connect with the missionary during a service or meeting. Set up the connection ahead of time so there’s no last-minute scrambling.
Tips for filming missions videos:
  • Record in landscape mode (wide not tall).
  • Walk through the mission space/location and capture the activities going on there.
  • Remember to explain what people are seeing.
  • Try to stick close to people and activities—stay within 20 feet.
  • Get candid moments with people, not set up shots.
  • Identify one key story that is emblematic of the mission project. This could be a person who was blessed by the mission trip, someone local to the mission location whose life was changed, or some way God made something possible.
  • Change the camera’s recording settings to 4K and 24 FPS.
  • If you’re asking the missionary to film a short video, send specific instructions of the kinds of images or information you’re looking for.
Streaming Missions: How Video Helps Missionaries and Churches Stay Connected -Bob Smietana




Roger Olson's approved denominations list (2012):
First, I will inevitably omit some denominations because I don’t know enough about them. (Although I have been an unpaid consultant for the Handbook of Denominations in the United States and mentioned by the editor in the introduction. Denominations has long been a kind of hobby of mine.) Second, I may recommend a denomination that includes individual churches I would NOT recommend. Third, I may omit a denomination that includes very good individual churches that, if I knew about them, I would recommend. Fourth, in some cases I may be recommending a denomination based on their own information and it might not be completely reliable. I will do my best to work around those risks and avoid them, but I can’t guarantee anything.

What are my criteria for inclusion? First, the denomination has to be trinitarian. Second, it has to be broadly evangelical (and Protestant), not sectarian or rigidly fundamentalist, or primarily liberal (pluralistic, inclusive). Third, it has to be at least open to Arminians. That is, I will not recommend it if it is, as a denomination, confessionally Calvinist, such that an Arminian cannot teach or serve or hold office. 
Anabaptist and Quaker: Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, Mennonite Church, U.S.A., Missionary Church, Evangelical Friends International. (These I would recommend if the person inquiring was pacifist or seeking a “peace church” congregation to affiliate with. I would only recommend a Friends or Quaker church if the person could find some other way to participate in baptism and the Lord’s Supper.)
Brethren and Pietist: Brethren Church (Ashland), Brethren in Christ Church, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Evangelical Congregational Church, Evangelical Covenant Church, Evangelical Free Church of America.
Baptist: American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. (many are evangelical, and the denomination as a whole calls itself evangelical), Baptist General Convention of Texas, Conservative Baptist Association of America (CBAmerica), Baptist General Conference/Converge Worldwide, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (some are evangelical, some are more liberal), General Association of General Baptists, National Association of Free Will Baptists, National Baptist Convention (some are evangelical, some are more liberal), National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. (same as the NBC), North American Baptist Conference, Original Free Will Baptist Convention, United American Free Will Baptist Church.
Methodist: African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Congregational Methodist Church, Evangelical Church of North America, Evangelical Methodist Church, The Salvation Army. (Note: I would only recommend The Salvation Army with the caveat that the person needs to find some way to participate in baptism and the Lord’s Supper.)
Holiness (these are mostly offshoots of the Methodist tradition): The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ, Holiness, Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Church of God (Holiness), Church of the Nazarene, Churches of Christ in Christian Union, Churches of God, General Conference (Winebrenner), The Free Methodist Church of North America, The Wesleyan Church.

Christian and Restorationist Churches (Stone-Campbellite Tradition): Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, Christian Congregation, Inc.

Adventist: Advent Christian Church General Conference, Grace Communion International (formerly the Worldwide Church of God).
Pentecostal: Assemblies of God, International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), Church of God in Christ, Congregational Holiness Church, Elim Fellowship, Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God, Independent Assemblies of God, Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Open Bible Churches, Pentecostal Church of God, Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, United Holy Church of God, Vineyard Churches International. (Note: I would only recommend one of these denominations if the person were seeking a Pentecostal-Charismatic type of church or were open to it.)
Now, a word about some other denominations and networks of churches:
Lutheran: There may be some Lutheran churches that are open to Arminianism that are not liberal/inclusive. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of American includes some large, growing, very evangelical congregations such as Lutheran Church of Hope (West Des Moines, Iowa). Some are charismatic. Most of these are probably open to Arminians even though Arminianism is not historically part of the Lutheran theological tradition. Some conservative, evangelical Lutheran denominations that are not sectarian or fundamentalist that may be open to Arminians include The American Association of Lutheran Churches, The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America.
The United Methodist Church is a large, “mainline” denomination that includes many evangelical congregations such as The Woodlands United Methodist Church in suburban Houston, Texas. However, many UMC churches are liberal/inclusive. All Methodist churches and offshoots are open to Arminianism now that the Calvinist Methodist Church has merged into a Reformed denomination.
Congregational and Reformed Churches: Most are Calvinist in orientation and would not allow Arminians to teach or hold church offices. However, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, although not Arminian, is more open to Arminian sensibilities than other Presbyterian denominations. (The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. is a large, “mainline” denomination that is largely liberal/inclusivist but includes many evangelical congregations. Some of them may be open to Arminians, but, generally speaking, they adhere to the Westminister Confession of Faith which is contrary to Arminian belief.) The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) is evangelical and not as rigidly Calvinist as most Reformed churches.
Calvary Chapels are conservative, evangelical and, for the most part Arminian.
There are several relatively new Anglican and Episcopal denominations that are evangelical and amenable to Arminian theology. I am not familiar enough with any of them to name them here.
I have met and interacted with and worshiped with Seventh Day Adventists who are evangelical and Arminian. However, the SDA denomination is not usually considered “evangelical” in the historic American “movement” sense of the word. Nevertheless, I see it moving in that direction.
What about the Southern Baptist Convention? It is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. Among its churches one can find almost anything, but the overall drift of the denomination has been to the conservative side in recent decades. Most of its churches, however, are “mainstream” evangelical in terms of ethos. Some are fundamentalist; few are liberal. (Nearly all, if not all, of the liberal or progressive ones left the SBC to join one of the several offshoots such as the Alliance of Baptists.) Many are open to Arminians (so long as they do not oppose the “security of the believer”) although Arminianism is not a term widely embraced among Southern Baptists. The common Southern Baptist ethos is compatible with Arminianism, but there is a surge of Calvinism among its churches and in some of its seminaries. It is very difficult to generalize about “Southern Baptists,” so I don’t include the denomination in my list of “approved denominations.” My advice to inquirers about Southern Baptist churches is to check each one out individually and watch out for fundamentalism (e.g., elevation of secondary doctrines to dogmas) and Calvinism.
My List of “Approved Denominations” -Roger E. Olson





Pastors love their jobs, preaching and teaching; but not so much mentoring or discipling
Pastoral ministry certainly has its peaks and valleys, but overall, most pastors are very satisfied with their vocation and feel energized and supported in their work. They particularly love preaching and teaching—a task most feel they are good at—but are regularly frustrated with the lack of commitment among their parishioners.
The Ups and Downs of Ministry -Barna Report




Where are the men?

You see, in my humble opinion we live in a society today where being a “man” is not always popular. Truth is, in many circles, we’re not even sure what a “man” is anymore. Men have been emasculated by the society for years. In fact, saying, “I feel like a man,” is considered in some circles to be threatening. Now, I’m not saying this because I am a man and I’ve got some inferiority complex. I don’t. I also don’t have a chip on my shoulder. But, I do believe we need to teach our boys how to be men. But, what does that mean? Does a man rule with an iron fist? Is he a chauvinist brute? No! Yet, it’s true… Men have done some really stupid stuff over the years and we’ve brought on ourselves a heap of justified criticism and critique. Men can be pigs…no question about it.
But, that’s not the kind of man I’m talking about. I’m talking about men who are servant-leaders. Men who are willing to bend the knee and take the towel and the basin. Men who are willing to die for their wives (as Christ died for the church) and that means a lot more than just taking a bullet in the head for her. That means we’re willing to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, bathe the kids, pick up the groceries. You get it. We lead by being humble, just like Jesus. I defer to Pam. I listen to her. I trust her judgment more than mine. (Can I get a witness men!)
Listen, men, plain and honest need all the help we can get! God gave Adam a “helper” in Eve. Read carefully: WOMEN DON’T NEED HELP. They can do it all on their own, if need be (and many do). Men need help! So, why would I ever (in my right mind) go against my helper. If Pam and I ever disagree, I don’t go against her wishes and say, “I’m the man and I’m supposed to lead…so I trump you!” Are you kidding! No way! We are one flesh in the Lord and if she doesn’t feel right about something (a decision or whatever), then I dare to stand still and wait. We wait to be in agreement. Why? Because there is one Holy Spirit. He’s not going to tell her one thing and me another. He will have us in agreement. There is no part of God that operates in confusion and certainly that is true of the Holy Spirit.
I shared the Top 10 Marriage Killers (from my perspective as a man in my 13-year pastor/counseling):
Top 10 Marriage Killers:
  1. tearing her down with words
  2. not listening to her, really listening to her
  3. comparing and contrasting your wrongs against hers
  4. responding with defensiveness or with sarcasm
  5. never saying, “I’m sorry”
  6. demanding she changes, but refusing to do so yourself
  7. thinking more of what you deserve, and she can give you, instead of what you can give her
  8. preserving your own well-being at her expense
  9. refusing to show humility with her or the kids
  10. reading this list and thinking she should be reading it…
Real Men Needed -D. Kevin Brown




Lance Wallnau- A word for this season






What is the highest calling for women?
Two single friends recently attended a teaching about an independent study of biblical femininity. Most of what they heard was fine, but the presenter was apparently so enthused about God's design for the female body that she elevated the roles of wife and mother beyond what was appropriate.
My single friends, one of whom is old enough that she will probably never marry and will definitely never have children, were shocked and angered. The over-enthusiasm for marriage and family meant that as single women, they both felt the shame of being "lesser-than."
I knew what they were experiencing. For many years, much of the teaching in the church has (unintentionally, I am sure) put an unbiblical spin on being a wife and mother as a woman's highest calling. I get that; being a wife and mother is a source of huge joy for me. And I get that some of the passion comes from trying to restore dignity to family relationships in the wake of cultural contempt, such as the well-known feminist aphorism, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
We need to be careful, though, to keep things balanced in view of the significant shift concerning women's value and calling that we can see when we take the entire Bible into account.
All the Single Ladies -Sue Bohlin





Campers worship at pier church in Myrtle Beach






China Steps Up Crackdown on Christianity

Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival. Experts and activists say that as he consolidates his power, Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.






______________________________
Photo credit: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Subordination

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of his body.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
-Ephesians 5:18-33 (CSB)

"Wives, submit", is not a stand-alone verse

I came across an article by Cheryl Schatz, about Ephesians 5:22, where she mentioned that the word commonly translated as 'submit' is missing is some of the Greek manuscripts (1).  Sure enough, many translations have a footnote that states this.  For example, the CSB and the ISV translations.

CSB: 

Wives, submit[a] to your husbands as to the Lord.

Footnotes:
a. 5:22 Other mss omit submit


ISV:

Wives, submit yourselves[a] to your husbands as to the Lord.

Footnotes:
a. Ephesians 5:22 Other mss. lack submit yourselves


I also looked up the verse in The Passion Translation, which was interesting:

"For wives, this means being supportive[j] to your husbands like you are tenderly devoted to our Lord."

footnote: j. The Greek word for “submit,” or “supportive,” is not found in v. 22. It is literally “Wives, with your husbands.”

The ESV, NIV, NKJV, and NLT do not have this footnote.

If you open up the Greek NT, and they put the literal words underneath the Greek words, the literal English is:

Submitting yourselves to one another in reverence of Christ, wives to their own husbands, as to the Lord.


I opened up my Markus Barth commentary on Ephesians (2)(3)

Here is Barth's translation of the whole Ephesians passage:

In particular do not get drunk with wine- that is profligacy- but be filled with the Spirit. Talk to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and play to the Lord from your heart. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ give thanks always and for everything to God the Father. Because you fear Christ, subordinate yourselves to one another --[e.g.] wives to husbands as to the Lord. For [only] in the same way that the Messiah is the head of the church --he, the savior of his body-- is the husband the head of the wife. The difference notwithstanding , just as the church subordinate herself [only] to the Messiah, so wives to your husbands--in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as [we confess], The Messiah has loved the church and has given himself to her to make her holy by [his] word and clean her by the bath in water, to present to himself the church resplendent free from spot or wrinkle or any such thing so that she be holy and blameless. In the same manner also husbands owe it [to God and man] to love their wives for they are their bodies. In loving his wife a man loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh, but he provides and cares for it--just as the Messiah for the church because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This passage has an eminent secret meaning: I, for one, interpret it [as relating] to Christ and the church. In any case, one by one, each one of you must love his wife as himself, and the wife . . . may she fear her husband.
-Ephesians 5:18-33 (Markus Barth, Ephesians: A New Translation, With Intro. and Commentary, 1974)


When we get to verses 21 and 22, Barth uses the [e.g.] to say "for example", that is implied: Because you fear Christ, subordinate yourselves to one another --[e.g.] wives to husbands as to the Lord. 

The (implied) and literal reading is "subordinate yourselves to one another (for example) wives to (their own) husbands as to the Lord."

If you search for articles, talks, and sermons on Ephesians 5:21 and 22, not very many people bring this out.  You probably already know that the verse numbers have been added by the translators.  When you read verse 22 as saying, "wives to husbands as to the Lord", you know this verse number splits a sentence, and you know you need to read it with the preceding verse, to understand the "what". which is "submit to one another."  Instead, the translators write, "wives submit".

This is what the Young's Literal Translation says for Ephesians 5:22:

"The wives! to your own husbands subject yourselves, as to the Lord,"

Here is what The Voice translation does with this verse.  Italics are added by the translators:

"Wives, it should be no different with your husbands. Submit to them as you do to the Lord,"

This is what Manfred Brauch wrote about this verse, in The Hard Sayings of Paul, p. 214:

"The verse in Greek reads literally: "Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord."  The verb "to submit" is absent and can only be read into the sentence because of the intimate connection between the two verses.  Ephesians 5:21 is therefore transitional, both belonging to what precedes and setting the agenda for what follows."



Subordination is first for everyone

One of the ways I have thought about it is that if we do not submit or subordinate ourselves to God and to Christ, and then one to another, how can we possibly talk about subordination in marriage?

And think about how Jesus subordinates himself to the Father and we subordinate ourselves to Jesus.

Another thought is that wives have difficulty being subordinate when their husbands are not very loving.

And the command for the husbands is to love their wives, as Christ loved the church.  It's a taller order for the husbands.

But neither the wife nor the husband's obedience, subordination, and serving love is dependent on the actions of their spouse.  The source or dependency is Christ.  Even if the spouse is not a believer, the believing spouses actions are no different.

It is very important to know that subordination is not exclusive to a wife towards her husband.  We all are subordinate to one another.  Prophets to prophets, is one example:

And the prophets' spirits are subject to the prophets. (1 Cor. 14:32)

Husbands are subordinate to their wives, with their wives, before wives are subordinate to their husbands:  submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph 5:21)

Think of all the ways that Jesus is subordinate to his bride, while he is still her bridegroom and the head of her.  The church is not the boss of Jesus, even if we act like it, but he goes along with us, because of his love.


The larger context of Christ and his bride

Paul talks about submission here, in Ephesians 5, in the context of the church and Christ.  If the church is accustomed to not being submitted to Christ, then how can we imagine being submitted in our marriages?  If submission is a negative thing that we want to run from, how do we reconcile that with the reality that the church is the bride of Christ, who is subordinate to her bridegroom?

Paul is certainly putting Christian marriage on a higher plain in his remarks that men and women in marriage are like Christ is with His bride, the church.  What I am saying is that you might be scared of submission or not know the dimensions of the love Paul is presenting, if you do not see it or can not identify it in the church and with Christ towards the church.

If we don't know Christ this way, do not see it; them we first need that expanded before we can extrapolate that over into marriage.  What I am saying is that if you are not married to Jesus, if you are not living in the  experience of being the church that is his bride, then you will have no basis for understanding what Paul is saying here about marriage.

If your Christian life is not about being the bride of Christ, if you only know about it and even believe it in theory or principal, but not in practice, then you will not be able to understand Paul's teaching here.  Men and women first have to be the bride of Christ before they can take and practice Christ in their marriages.

If you are not experiencing the Christian life as being part of the bride of Christ, you ought to be humbled by the void in your life and ask God to fulfill that dimension of what it is to be the bride of Christ, long before you try to understand and somehow implement subordination in your life and then in your marriage.


Positive fear is respect

It is interesting to me that the word 'fear' starts and ends the passage: Because you fear Christ, subordinate yourselves to one another   +   In any case, one by one, each one of you must love his wife as himself, and the wife . . . may she fear her husband.  (Barth's translation)

We fear Christ and Christian wives should fear their husbands, in the same way or in the same spirit.  That is to say, not a fear of punishment, but fear, as in respect and honor.

The CSB says:  submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. + the wife is to respect her husband.

What does it mean?  And, why did Paul say it?

This fear is not the afraid fear or fear having to do with punishment or injury, but reverence, respect, or honor.  The context informs us of this interpretation.

If you do not fear Christ, respect and honor him; then you will not be able to subordinate yourselves to one another.  If you do not respect Christ, then you can not have a Christian marriage.  If you do not revere him, you can not revere your spouse.  So, that is the first thing to get straight, before we even begin talking about submission, headship, and love in marriage.  You can't build that house without this foundation.

One of the things to think about in marriage is respect for the husband.  The wife may have trouble respecting him.  Does she have a problem with being disrespectful, or is he dishonorable?  Does he do things or not do things that make it hard to respect him?

If she does not respect him or if he is dishonorable, it makes things harder; but not impossible.  Subordination is not dependent on the other person.  We are only empowered to be subordinate through Christ.  That is the secret of how you can be subordinate to an unbelieving or selfish spouse.


The big message of Ephesians

The preceding four chapters build up to what Paul talks about in Ephesians 5.  We need to read through the whole letter, to get the context, of what Paul is talking about here.

Ask the question, what is the whole of Ephesians about?  Here is an answer from John Stott:  “The letter focuses on what God did through the historical work of Jesus Christ and does through his Spirit today, in order to build his new society in the midst of the old.” (John R.W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, p. 24)

New society.  The church is a new society.  Others have called the church a new humanity.  God's new society or new humanity, "is accomplished by the Son and applied by the Spirit." (Winn Griffin, God's Epic Adventure, p. 259)  The book of Ephesians is about understanding the purpose of God in the Church, in an individual's life lived out in the church (Griffin, p. 258), and Ephesians is one of Paul's greatest books (Barth, p. 3).

"The primary purpose of Paul (in Ephesians) was to instruct those believers about what was involved in their commitment to Christ and his church.  Christianity was not something that one could achieve; it was something that God had done on one's behalf...  ...The new humanity- the church- is the focal point for where the purpose of God is lived out." (Griffin, pp. 258-59)


Membership of Christ's body and living in Christ

What Christ is for the church, informs what we are to one another.  We are his body, a metaphor which Paul uses nine times in Ephesians.  Becoming a member of the church is something God does to make us part of Christ's body.

You want to know about church membership?  Here is is:

I have been born anew, I have been saved by Jesus, and I have put my faith in him; and so God has made me a member of the body of Christ, world-wide, for all time and eternity.

Individual churches are different, but they are all a part of the same body.  The NT is saying that all true Christians are members of Christ's body, that he is the head of and in charge of.

God is the source and center of the body of Christ, which we are the members of, which is the church.

The source of the church is Christ, no matter what kind of church.  The source is what is most important.  By the same token, we can only have the new society or humanity that Christ gives us, through Christ.  You can say you are conservative, liberal, egalitarian, complementarian, progressive, old-fashioned; and the list goes on and on.  But, these names or schools do not get you to the new humanity.  Only Christ does.  You can say you are one of these and fight and argue for it, but what about the living Christ in your life?  That's what I care about.

If you have the living Christ in you or rather you are now in him, and living his life, then you are positioned to begin living in submission and reverence, and working out how the husband is to be the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church.

This is how The Voice translations gives us Ephesians 5:21-24.

And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed.  Wives, it should be no different with your husbands.  Submit to them as you do to the Lord, for God has given husbands a sacred duty to lead as the Anointed leads the church and serves as the head.  (The church is His body; He is her savior.)

If we, individually and corporately, are not practicing or living out our lives under Christ's headship, how on earth can we even start to understand how a husband is the head of his wife?  If we are running from Christ's headship, how can husbands ever be heads of their wives, like Christ?  And how could women possibly live under their husband's headship, if Christ is not head of her?

To me this is the key to understanding Christian marriage.

Submission is very scary when you don't have the living Christ in your marriage.


Subordination is part of Spirit-filled living

Let's look at how these statements about subordination fit into the larger context of the passage in Ephesians five:

"Subordinate yourselves."  In the Greek text of Eph. 5:18-21, five successive participles are attached to the imperative, "be filled with Spirit."  Think of Paul saying to us, "it is imperative that you be filled with the Spirit".

And Paul gives five ways being Spirit-filled is lived out:

Be filled with the Spirit:



  • Talk to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  
  • Sing 
  • and play to the Lord from your heart.  
  • In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ give thanks always and for everything to God the Father.
  • Because you fear Christ, subordinate yourselves to one another --[e.g.] wives to husbands as to the Lord. 
That was Barth's translation.  


Here is the CEB translation:

be filled with the Spirit in the following ways:


  • speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; 
  • sing 
  • and make music to the Lord in your hearts; 
  • always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 
  • and submit to each other out of respect for Christ.  For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord.

And here is how the CSB has it:

be filled by the Spirit: 
  • speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, 
  • singing 
  • and making music with your heart to the Lord, 
  • giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.  Wives, submit[a] to your husbands as to the Lord,
(Footnotes:
[a] Other mss omit submit)


How taking a text out of context leads to misunderstanding

We have misunderstood the phrase, "Wives, submit to your husbands", because we have made it belong to it's following verses, when it should more so be understood as relating to the preceding verses.

This is the way we have heard it, and read it:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. (He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 

But this is how it really should be heard and read:

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 

"Wives submit",  is not a stand alone statement, but a following statement to, "submitting to one another in the fear of Christ".  And Paul clarifies that wives submit to husbands in the way that the church submits to Christ: "as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church".  And this submitting that is as and like how the church submits to Christ, is part of the Spirit-filled life.  "Wives, submit", is not the topic or subject, but an example of what Spirit-filled living, in Christ produces.


Headship

We have said, taught, and preached: "Let's talk about Christian marriage.  Wives need to submit to their husbands and husbands are the head, but they also need to love their wives how Christ loves his bride, the church."  Sometimes there is debate or discussion about headship and submission and somebody might say that if a husband is nothing like Christ, then how or should the wife submit.  We debate, if head means 'source' or 'leader' (4).

Christ is head of the church.  It is silly to say that head means source, but not leader here.  The evangelical church has been very interested in leadership.  It would be absurd, to teach Christ, as the foundation of our faith and our definition of leadership, to just be our source.  It would also be absurd to have a squad or group engaged in an effort, be it military, athletics, or business and define the head of the group as their source.

Wives don't have to be afraid of their husband's headship, because it is patterned after and is only rooted in Christ.  It is understandable that if we don't have Christ as our head individually and collectively, we are naturally going to buck at our spouse functioning in headship over us.

There was a lady pastor, in my area, who was the top leader, senior pastor of her and her husband's church.  They were not co-pastors.  On the church's website, it clearly stated this, that indeed, she was the leader.  But then it said who she was married to, and it gave her husband's first name, and that he was, "the boss of her".

This blurb, in a nutshell, answered the concerns anyone might have had about a woman leading a church.  She was the leader of their church and he was her leader in the home.  In fact, he understood God's call for them, to start a church of which she would be the leader, before she did.


The big command is "be filled with the Spirit"

But, this discussion solely on marriage, misses the larger picture of what Paul has written.  The imperative command is, "be filled with the Spirit".  Being Spirit filled is not an option, for 'holy rollers' only, but for every Christian.  By definition, a Christian is Spirit-filled.  We are all charismatic.

It is unfortunate that we have divided ourselves, in the church, by the Spirit-filled label.  Charismatic is also not a good differentiator.  Something like 'ecstatic' might be better, because all Christians are Spirit-filled and charismatic.  The Christ life without the Spirit is absurd and not functional.

Being Spirit-filled is not just about speaking in tongues.  Paul lists five things:
  1. Talking to others in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
  2. Singing
  3. Play (make music) to the Lord from (in/with) your heart.
  4. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ give thanks always and for everything to God the Father
  5. Because you fear (respect) Christ, subordinate (submit) yourselves to one another.  For example, wives to husbands as to the Lord.
We can surmise that first, the call to Spirit-filled living is the alternative lifestyle to drunkeness, because in Ephesus, they either had alcoholism or practiced alcohol inebriation as a part of their religions.

And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit. (CSB)

Wives submitting to their husbands is not the point or focus, of the passage, but an example of  subordination, one to another, in Spirit-filled living, which all Christians are called to.  And that example is also the transition from vss. 18-22 into vss 23-33.  


Subordination

Now, let's talk about what subordination means.

The fallen state of marriage is described in Genesis 3:16b, "Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you."  The NET Bible translates it this way, "You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”

Christ takes that and changes it into the new creation.  In Christ, the fall of mankind is redeemed, including marriage.  This is the first point, that Christian marriage is not just a sweetened fallen marriage, but new creation marriage that finds its reference and roots in Christ.

Marriage is restored back to God's original intention, in Christ.  We may not be all the way there, but that is where we are going.  Any arguing about what subordination means must have as it's framework the new creation wrought by God through Christ, that comes to bear on Christian marriage.

Consequently, when Paul mentions headship and subordination, he is not at all talking about it from a fallen, worldly framework.   Rather, he has in mind Christ and the Church, in the new creation.


NT subordination, one to another, is about freedom and order:

  • Jesus subordinated himself to the Father: "When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:28)  
  • And the child Jesus submitted to his parents: "Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart." (Luke 2:51)  
  • And in the church, we subordinate ourselves to one another: "And the prophets’ spirits are subject to the prophets." (1 Cor. 14:32)  
  • All believers are commanded to be subordinate to God, says James: "But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:6-7)  
  • And the mystery author of Hebrews says: "Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?" (Heb. 12:9)

Subordination is patterned after and is only in Christ

Jesus and his relationship to Father is the framework for our relationship to Jesus and then to one another, including family relationships.  There is nothing harsh or brutal about Jesus relationship to his father.  It is all about love and honor.

Paul paints a picture for us, in Philippians 2, of what subordination is all about and what it means:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.
-Phil. 2:3-13

There it is.  You can not be subordinate in the church or in your marriage outside of Christ.  Our subordinate relationships are modeled after Christ.

The idea of subordination is, "You go first".  It is letting others be in line, in front of you.  In the church, there is always a, "You go first", and then the reply of, "No, you go first".  It could be with speaking, with walking, with the buffet line, or letting someone do something before you.

Today, God is subordinate in the church.  He loves the people who misrepresent him.  He loves people who are a mixture of right and wrong.  What I mean is that God does not walk away or refuse to play with imperfect people.


Broadly two kinds of subordination that are different

There are broadly two kinds of subordination in the New Testament (Barth p. 709).  1 Corinthians 15:28 says, "When everything is subject to Christ.", Ephesians 1:22 says, "And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church", Romans 13:1 says, "Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God", and Hebrews 2:8 says, "and subjected everything under his feet.  For in subjecting everything to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him", and finally Luke 10:17 says, "The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

The Greek scholars tell us that these verses have the active verb for "subordinate", that illustrates hierarchy, unconditional power over; and rank, order, or status.  But, when 'subordinate' is in the middle or passive indicatives, participles or imperatives; it describes a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.  He (Paul) expects this kind of subordination only of Christ and of persons who are "in Christ".  (Barth, p. 710)


Church staff insubordination?

I asked a pastor, one time, what happened to a number of pastors who had been on staff, but, one by one,  suddenly disappeared.  And he told me, "they were fired for insubordination".  I was shocked.    Insubordination was not a word I was familiar with, and I had been fond of these pastors.  Their sudden disappearance was a sad thing and this backstory was disillusioning for me.

How does the insubordination of a staff member who gets dismissed fit into subordination in the NT?  If a member of the body of Christ is not subordinate, do they get fired?  No, because subordination in the body, in Christ, is voluntary.  Same thing with husbands and wives.  But if there is not subordination among Christians or in a marriage, because it is voluntary, what then?  Then you have people who identify as believers, but they don't live as so; and the ones without subordination in their marriage simply don't have a Christian (Christ-ian) marriage.  In other words, "in-Christ" means subordination to one another, and in this case, through being Spirit filled.

Back to those pastors who were fired, who went from leading, being up front on microphones, and carrying out the ministry of that church, under the leadership of the pastors above them, in a leadership hierarchy.  They were fired for insubordination and suddenly went from visible and honored to obscurity.

Although they and their supervisor pastors are both called with us all, to live out Ephesians 5, their story of insubordination and dismissal is not at all an application of Ephesians 5.  This boggled my mind and grieved me at the time and still does.  I had idealized those pastors, because I only saw a know them from 'on the stage'.


Insubordination among Christian brothers and sisters

If you have ever led a home group and had a disruptive person, like a goat that keeps ramming itself into others harmfully, and you have asked them to stop and they don't, there will come a time when you will possibly ask them to leave.  Somebody that missed the group for a couple weeks comes back and says, "what happened to sammy?", and you say, "I had to ask them to leave".  They ask you why and you tell them why.

Years ago, I read a book called, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23.  In one section, the author wrote about a sheep that was out of control and keeps doing bad things to the other sheep, that the shepherd had to deal with, for the sake of the others.

Back when I was a green-horn pastor, I led a group, where a lady was very verbally abusive to the others and I said nothing.  I was just shocked.  Later in time, one of the participants told me that they had wished that I had exercised authority over the verbal abuser and told her to stop and leave, but she knew that I was totally new at this, and she forgave me.

I asked the pastor who told me that insubordination was the cause for firing all these pastors, "what do you mean", and he said, "they didn't follow orders."  When you and I have a job, we have to follow orders; and if we keep not following orders, we will get fired.

The playing field of staffing a church is different than being brothers and sisters in Christ.  We say we are brothers and sisters, but then fire you.  Is that Jesus shaped leadership, or do you have to bring back Moses?

The explanation is that the hierarchical leadership model really is not in the New Testament.  We don't see Paul or Peter or others dismissing people from ministry teams for insubordination.  But, we do see conflicts; like Paul with Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41).  Paul and Barnabas parted ways painfully over an interpersonal issue.  Paul very well could have said, "Mark is being insubordinate, and I will not have it!"

We are all equals and Christ is the boss.  And leadership is relational.  There are many conflicts in relationships, but we never fire our brothers or sisters.  We always reconcile and in the rare instance when we can not, we part ways, with grace, and are always open to future reconciliation.

It is something different when our divergent assignments from the Lord cause us to part ways.  Sometimes that breaking up is hard to do, but the Lord is calling us in different directions.  And sometimes we just disagree, neither is bad or good; but we see it differently and both love Christ; and we part ways.

"There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys.  There's just you and me, and we both disagree."

Subordination is a hard word, a hard thing, even a bad thing; if you only think of it as me over you or as winner over loser.  That is not at all what subordination is about "in-Christ".

The big picture context of Ephesians is the new creation in Christ, where we all are his bride, his community, and his army.  A wedding party, a community, or an army all have order.  They are not just a crowd.  Willing, cooperating subordination is orderly.

Think about a group of individuals, each gifted in unique ways, on a journey and a mission together.  Sometimes they are in a circle, sometimes in a line, and sometimes single-file.  The leader is a role that one person fills and then a different one may fill it at a different time.  And the leader may lead by going first or by going last, depending on the task at hand.  And this dance happens through mutual subordination that is in-Christ and always joyfully voluntary.


Subordination as a lifestyle

The subordination in Christian life is different than the submission of the powers to Christ and our subordination to the laws of governments.  One-another subordination is out of love for and in and through a person, Christ.

Subordination here is voluntary, cooperative, and enthusiastic, for those who are in Christ and filled with the Spirit.  Only people who have faith, hope, love, and fear of the Lord can be subordinate, in Christ.  We are set free in Christ to be humble, gentle, bear with one another, and keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2-3).

Subordination, in Christ, is voluntary and "among equals".  The equality of the husband and wife, is restored, in Christ.  In the fallen state, we have the proclamation: "Your desire will be for your husband,yet he will rule over you." (Gen. 3:16)  The painful hierarchy is from the fall.

In Christ, subordination in marriage is redeemed from blind obedience to voluntary subordination.

The context here tells us the story.  The saints are equipped (ch. 4) to grow up into Christ as his body.  And there is an order about it, like a wedding procession.  We are all in that procession, as Christ's bride.


Marriage is yoked together in Christ

We have that line, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”, that we say at weddings, taken from Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9.  This means that the two are brought under one yoke, together.  In Philippians 4:3, Paul called an unnamed person his 'true partner', 'true companion', or 'true yokefellow'.  In The Passion Translation, Brian Simmons has these words as, "my dear friend and burden-bearer".

The commonality is in the yoking.  This person was yoked to Paul, voluntarily, for the sake of Christ and others, for Jesus ministry and church.  Joined together means yoked together.  This means work together.  It is about order rather than giving orders.

I have a friend, who got married before me who said, "marriage is like a three legged race".  And it is true.  To be joined together, we have to be yoked together.


Eschatological expectation, missionary passion, and an obligation to Christ

Why would Paul use such a word, subordinate, that has military connotations, in his teaching on marriage?  Because of eschatology, mission, and spiritual warfare.

Order and coordination is required for all three, for married couples.  The time is short, we are living in the end times, and Christ is soon to come again.  It's like, "all hands on deck!", from Paul's time through our time.

And we have a responsibility to be on mission and be missionaries where we live.  We have to coordinate and cooperate in our married lives, to be evangelical.

And spiritual warfare, with human persecution, requires the husband and wife to stand together in unison against the forces or people who oppose Jesus.  We can't just be doing our own separate things, and meeting up for leisure and recreation occasionally.  But we are born into a war and must fight together, now that we are married.

If we have no eschatological expectation, no missionary passion birthed by an obligation to Christ, and no awareness of spiritual warfare or being in a battle; then subordination makes no sense and we want to throw it out or find a different way to frame marriage.  If we are just consumers and citizens of earth, who are going to heaven someday, who are animated by individualism; why would we want to subordinate ourselves to other believers or to our spouse?

In that context, subordination seems archaic.  We must find a way to reinterpret Paul for modern times.  The same people also have to reinterpret Jesus too, or just ignore most of his words, saying they were only for first century Jews.

Oy vey!

Our homes are supposed to be our primary missionary outpost, where evangelism, discipleship, healing, fellowship, and deliverance happens; with tremendous hospitality.  All Christians and all Christian homes are meant to be hospitable, for the gospel.

Our conduct in the most private spheres of our marriages creates a platform from which we minister with our lives.  A husband or wife who resents this and wants to do his or her own selfish thing is simply out of line.  They are insubordinate, voluntarily so; because subordination is voluntary and according to the Spirit and Christ.


Freedom and dignity

Subordination is from a place of freedom and dignity.  Same with husband headship.  He is free and she is free.  It is not slavery or undignified coercion but free to be dignified.  It is about honor and order.


The husband is a child, a brother, and a husband and a father

The husband is subordinated to others, including his own wife.  Think about a group of adult Christians together, all subordinate to one another, because they are filled with the Spirit and in Christ.  Jesus always was subordinate to his father and even to other people.  This subordination is not about being walked on or in slavery to, but is done enthusiastically, in and with love; or is doesn't work.

All those Christians together are subordinate to one another.  Now, if you did not already, add children to the picture, teens to tots.  They are filled with the Spirit too and are being subordinate.  The men who are married, are subordinate towards everyone, other men, other women, and all the kids; and it is mutual, and this includes their own wives.

When they get home, nothing has changed; but it is of note that the wife subordinates herself to her husband, just like they both did, back there, with the church gathered.  It is like there is a task to be done, but it is dead serious, like a military operation, and the two must coordinate.  One goes first, and the timing or goals must align.  And that is where the wife voluntarily, because she is Spirit-filled and in Christ, subordinates herself to her husband.

The husband is not suddenly insubordinate to his wife and kids, when they get home.  It is just that in the family, their subordination comes under his subordination; while he fulfills the tall order of loving his wife, sacrificially, pretty much laying down his life for her.


Freedom and responsibility

Christ liberates us to the freedom to live this way.  It is not patriarchy or bondage, but freedom and harmony, unity and oneness.

Christian marriage is founded upon responsibility to Christ, of whom they both spouses are loved and whom they both fear.  They are responsible to Christ, to one another, and to the task of being Christians in their lives.  And the only basis for a wife subordinating herself, to be subordinate to her husband, is the order of God's kingdom.

Subordination is voluntary and is done as one who is a dignified and a respected member of the bridal procession and a kingdom servant.


Christian marriage, final notes and summary:

  • Christian marriage has its basis in Christ and grace.
  • Christian marriage is a reflection of the whole church's subordination to Christ.
  • A husband's love is to be a reflection of Christ's much greater love.
  • In her subordination to her husband, a wife serves Christ.
    • She's not bypassing her husband, but serving him as she serves Christ.
  • A husband's genuine love for Christ is reflected in his love for his wife.
    • He can't say he loves Christ and not be loving to his wife.
  • The wife's subordination to her husband in everything (5:24) need not compete with her devotion to Christ.
    • She has one husband and one Christ.
    • She is "in Christ", "fears Christ", while being subordinate to her husband.
  • Women who feel incapable of this subordination to a man in marriage, should not marry or remarry (1 Cor. 7:8-9, 25-40).
  • Wives "go first" in being subordinate, and the husbands follow, with loving their wives as Christ loves the church.
  • Husbands "go first" in loving their wives, and the wives follow with fearing (respecting) their own husbands.
    • The final word in Ephesians 5, is that husbands are to love their own wives, garnering her respect (honoring fear). 
  • The subordination of the wife to her own husband is not equated here with obedience. 
    • Children to parents and slaves to masters are to be obedient, but not wives to husbands.
    • Peter, however, does tell wives to obey their husbands (1 Peter 3:6).
  • Paul lays out order, rather than hierarchy.
  • Paul's idea of subordination here is akin to yielding or recognizing (recognition).
  • Jesus' dignified subordination to the Father is our first example.
    • The person who voluntarily yields to and serves another is dignified and free.
  • Eph. 5 does not support blind obedience or the breaking of the wife's will.
    • We have instead a picture of people respecting order, in freedom and equality, under the crucified Servant-Messiah, where we joyfully renounce our rights and instead exercise our new right to imitate Christ.
  • Marital subordination is all about freedom and not subjugation. 




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Footnotes:

1. Cheryl's blog posts on Ephesians 5:22.

2. Scot McKnight: "I like Markus Barth and have ever since college when I spent gobs of time working on Ephesians 4. His was one of the early Anchor Bible commentaries and he managed to find one volume inadequate.."

3.I was introduced to Markus Barth, by Dave Black, who posted a link to Barth's lectures on baptism from 1970, that greatly helped me in forming my understanding of baptism: linked here by Matthew Montoni.

4. See Wayne Grudem, “Does kephale(‘Head’) Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature? A survey of 2,336 Examples,” Trinity Journal 6NS (1985):38-59; idem. “The Meaning of kephale: A Response to Recent Studies,” Trinity Journal 11NS (1990):3-72; and idem, “The Meaning of kephale (‘head’): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44:1 (March 2001):25-65.


A Few Notes On Dispensationalism

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.
-Acts 1:6-7

I grew up in a church that taught dispensational theology and I did not know that there was anything else.  In college, God ministered to me deeply when I attended a Calvary Chapel church.  And my mother imparted to me a love, respect, and honor for the Jewish people.

You can love the Jews and even the state of Israel, but not believe in dispensationalism and also say that dispensationalism is completely wrong, all the way through.


Here are a few notes on dispensationalism and some of the issues.


Introduction
  • John Darby (1800-82), invented Dispensationalism, which includes the invention of "the rapture" of the church.  He began espousing these ideas in 1831.  
    • (Darby's ideas were popularized by Dwight Moody and C. I. Scofield)
    • Dispensationalism becomes the grid from which scripture is interpreted, rather than letting scripture interpret scripture.  Some of the problems with this grid are:
      • The cessation of spiritual gifts. 
      • The misunderstanding of Israel.
      • The invention of the rapture. 
      • The downplaying of the church: dispensationalism believes the church is "plan B".
      • The downplaying of the teachings of Jesus in the four gospels: 
        • Because your grid says, "those words were only for Jesus' first century audience".
        • Seeing Jesus ministry as not the model for Christians today.



Terms

  • “Replacement Theology” is a pejorative, name calling term that some dispensationalists use for those who hold a non-dispensational view, about Israel and the church. It is said that RT is the view that the church has replaced Israel. 
    • But non-dispensationalists never call themselves RT. 
    • RT is a disingenuous label, because non-dispensationalists would never call their beliefs  RT. 
  • Supersessionism is the proper technical term. The New Covenant supersedes the Old Covenant.   
    • Jesus said this at the last supper and the writer of Hebrews said this.  
    • Supersessionism can also be called “Fulfillment Theology” or “Remnant Theology”.
  • Israel in the Bible is primarily about the covenant, not ethnicity or bloodline. It is a covenantal term or entity. 
    •  In the upper room, Jesus talked about the New Covenant in his blood that would be open to all.
    • In the OT, Jews could be cut off from the covenant and Gentiles could be grafted (cut) in.
    • In the NT, there is not one verse that identifies Israel as primarily an ethnic people, or a bloodline.  
    • Israel is identified as a covenant people.
      • The covenant has changed - superseded the old covenant. You are in or out of the new covenant.
      • There are many verses in the NT that identify the new covenant people as Israel.
      • Believing Jews and believing Gentiles are now in the one olive tree.


The real replacement theology is dispensationalism.

Ironically, dispensationalism is actually the replacement theology, replacing Jesus with Israel: ethnic, yet to be saved, future Israel.
  • Antichrist in dispensationalism actually means, to them, Anti-Jew, for example. 
  • End times promises are for and about Israel, says dispensationalism.


More terms defined:
  • Amillennialism
    • The thousand years is a symbolic, long period of time.
  • Premillennialism believes that it is a literally thousand year period. 
    •  Note that there is just one verse.


The early church was a mixture of pre and amillennialism.   Postmillennialism believes Jesus comes back after the millennium.





  • Preterism
    • This is an interpretive term, the opposite of futurism. Preterism says some things have already been fulfilled. 
    •  There are partial and full preterists. 
    •  Full preterist is a fringe and minority view, but held honorably.
    •  Many historic, orthodox Christians have been partial preterists and disagree with the dispensational futurist position.  
      • In a sense every Christian is a partial preterist, because we all believe that some Bible prophecies have already been fulfilled.



  • Futurism
    • Futurists teachers believe that Revelation is all future and was written after Nero. (95 AD)
    • The preterists view is that perhaps Revelation was written before or at the beginning of Nero and was all or mostly fulfilled in Roman times. (65-70 AD)
    • If you have an open mind, you must concede that we can’t know for sure the date of Revelation.

Dispensationalism is not historic Christianity


  • It is unfortunate to speak of non-dispensationalist people as heretics or blasphemous, when the truth is that Darby fashioned these ideas about 200 years ago, at the same time Mormonism began.



The land of Israel

There is no scripture that supports Israel coming back to the land, in unbelief. The scripture talks about them returning to the land in faith. That is why 1948 was not an eschatological, Biblical event.

Israel may have already reached its widest boundaries promised to Abraham (Gen. 15) under Joshua or Solomon. See 1 Kings 4:21, Joshua 21:43.


'Satanic', because we don't believe what you believe?

  • It is unfortunate to call supersessionism satanic or label it ‘replacement theology’, and equate it with (marxist) liberation theology. 
  • It is unfortunate to call supersessionism or remnant theology a ‘last days deception’. 
  • It is also wrong-headed to call, “watching for the signs of the second coming, or signs of the times”, as the Christian's (primary) calling.



(Classic) dispensationalism teaches that the church ‘age’ is a parenthesis. Christ raptures the church, then works with Israel, is what they say.


Non dispensationalists do believe in and look forward to the second coming, but are not obsessed with it, nor do we believe in setting dates and trying to predict it.



Finally:


  • The Bible teaches that there is one second coming of Christ.
    • It's confusing to call the second coming 'the rapture'.
    • It is better just to quote the scriptures, in awe, that say people will be caught up to meet the Lord.
  • The Bible teaches that there is one final judgement and we have various pictures or accounts of it, but they are all the same, singular, final judgement.
  • There is one people of God, in Christ, Jew and Gentile; believing Israel

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Bibliography / For Further Study

A Dispensational Hermeneutic, by Haley

A Friendly Critique of Dispensationalism by Michael Phillips

A Critique of Dispensational Premillenialism by Anthony Hoekema

NT Wright and the Supersessionism Question: What did Paul do?, by Scot McKnight

Nothing Super About Supersessionism!, By Dr. Raymond L. Gannon