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Authority

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Cover Story

As promised earlier, we want to take some of the blog posts this month to say a few things about the head covering discussed in the first part of I Corinthians 11. 

Prefacing, let me say I realize we will not all agree on this. I also realize that likely few, if any of the things we notice will be new ideas about the chapter. (Perhaps they should not be new, anyway.) 

For this initial post, I’d like to do two things. The first is a book recommendation. If you have not read “No Such Custom”, by Kevin Moore, I’d recommend doing so. Whether or not you reach the same conclusions as did Dr. Moore as he researched this difficult passage, you will find this book to be a well documented and valuable resource by one of our brothers as you do your own “thinking” about whether or not women should wear head coverings during worship today. 

The second consideration is this. After much reading, on several different occasions in my life, on this topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that, whatever the coverings were ( and we will get to that a bit later), they were likely worn not just in worship, but all of the time women were outside their homes. There’s just a lot of evidence in historical writings to confirm that devout women, in at least some of the cultures of the early church were veiled all of the time, in public arenas, whether or not worship was occurring. 

Notice some of these quotations taken from ancient writings and collected by Kevin Moore: 

Among these is the convention regarding feminine attire, a convention which prescribes that women should be so arrayed and should so deport themselves when in the street that nobody could see any part of them, neither of the face nor of the rest of the body, and that they themselves might not see anything off the road . . . . while they have their faces covered as they walk. (Dio Chrysostom…contemporary of Paul…writing about Tarsus)

Woman and men are to go to church decently attired . . . . Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at [sic]. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. (Clement of Alexandria…(A.D. 153-220)

For perhaps some one might here have doubt also, questioning with himself, what sort of crime it was that the woman should be uncovered, or that the man should be covered? What sort of crime then it is, learn now from hence. Symbols many and diverse have been given both to man and woman; to him of rule, to her of subjection: and among them this also, that she should be covered, while he hath his head bare. If now these be symbols, you see that both err, when they disturb the order and the disposition of God, and transgress their proper limits, both the man falling into the woman’s inferiority, and the woman rising up against the man, by her outward habiliments . . . . And tell me not this, that the error is but small. For first, it is great, even of itself: being as it is disobedience. Next, though it were small, it became great, because of the greatness of the things whereof it is a sign. However, that it is a great matter, is evident from its ministering so effectually to good order among mankind, the governor and the governed being regularly kept in their several places by it . . . . Well then: the man he compelleth not to be always uncovered, but when he prays only . . . But the woman he commands to be at all times covered . . . . He signifies that not at the time of prayer only, but also continually, she ought to be covered . . . . and establishing them both ways, from what was customary, and from their contraries . . . . It follows, that being covered is a mark of subjection and of power. For it induces her to look down, and be ashamed, and preserve entire her proper virtue . . . . His constant practice of stating commonly received reasons, he adopts also in this place, betaking himself to the common custom, and greatly abashing those who waited to be taught these things from him, which even from men’s ordinary practice they might have learned. For such things are not unknown even to Barbarians . . . . For if one ought not to have the head bare, but every where to carry about the token of subjection, much more is it becoming to exhibit the same in our deeds. (John Chrysostom…347-407, A.D. in his commentary on our passage.)

From these and many other citations from history, and from the context in I Corinthians,  it seems likely to me that the head covering spoken of in I Corinthians 11 was not a covering Paul intended to be worn exclusively in worship. In fact, it seems to me that the problem in the Corinthian church was that they were taking off what was surely a recognized (in their culture) sign of their submission to their husbands and what was typically worn in all public places. It was, it appears, more the taking off of the covering for times of prayer and prophesying, than it was the failure to put it on for these times. 

Next time: Clues from the text itself that perhaps this covering (veil) was worn all the time in the first century Corinthian culture, rather than being “put on” for the worship service as we often see done today.  Feel free to post comments on the Digging Deep in God’s Word page and I will try to post all of your observations that are both kind and relevant. More next time!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Month Nine: Wrapping up!

I just got back to my hotel room from a day that I’ll not soon forget. I walked in the dry bed of the brook of Elah where David killed Goliath (I Samuel 17)  and I walked in the very wet tunnel that Hezekiah constructed underneath the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 20:20). I cannot wait to write about the blockbuster lessons that just naturally come to mind when viewing some of the amazing sights we’re seeing. I’m forever changed already. I can’t wait to get to heaven, because seeing what you’ve loved reading about is a powerful faith phenomena! 

I know, however, that first I should complete the study for May. On the podcast (…Did I mention this transmitted from the shore of the Sea of Galilee?), I promised this list of verses  from the epistles which use the word “doctrine” and, in context, show that doctrinal matters have already been settled or decided. Here’s my list, though yours may vary a bit. 

Romans 6:17

Romans 16:17

I Cor. 14:6

I Cor. 14:26

Eph. 4:14

1 Tim. 1:3

1 Tim. 1:10

1 Tim. 4:6

1 Tim. 4:13

1 Tim. 4:16

1 Tim. 5:17

1 Tim. 6:1

1 Tim. 6:3

2 Tim. 3:10

2 Tim. 3:16

2 Tim. 4:2

2 Tim. 4:3

Tit. 1:9

Tit. 2:1

Tit. 2:7

2 Jn 1:9

2 Jn. 1:10

The point, of course, is that, since all doctrinal matters have been settled by the Holy Spirit, the ONLY authority of elders is in areas of judgment. Therefore, it is only natural that all of us will not agree with the judgment of our elders on every matter. That’s the nature of opinions. Authority for action in realms of judgment, biblically then, belongs to the elders. May we strive to hold up the hands of godly elders who are unafraid to lead God’s people in righteous choices. May we raise our sons to be qualified to do take on this daunting and honorable vocation in the body. 

Also, we will be choosing winners of the prize package from Month 9 at the close of this month’s study, so don’t forget to enter your paragraph. Directions are in the study. 

Diggers are some of the best people in the world! The Word makes good-hearted women great! 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

For the Diggers: Addendum for Question 13–The Song of Moses

For Month 4, question 13, Let’s rephrase the part of the question about the heart of Moses. Let’s notice that God asked Moses to write this song in chapter 31, verses 19-21 and that this song, written by Moses, was to be a testimony against Israel when they would later encounter evils and troubles because of faithlessness and rebellion. Moses was called on to write this even as Moses knew his life was ending in a way that was utterly disappointing, personally, for himself. This song was among the last of the words of God given to the people of Israel through Moses. We know, also from chapter 34, verse 7 that Moses was not weak and sickly when he died. He COULD have lived on to see the promised land, had he not failed to sanctify God at the waters of Meribah (32:51) when the children of Israel clearly had provoked Moses by their rebellion (Numbers 20:10). Now look at Deuteronomy 32: 1-19. Notice that Moses, in these first 19 verses, is talking through inspiration ABOUT God and his disappointment with a rebellious people. (God doesn’t start speaking, in the song, until verse 20.) With all of this in mind, look at chapter 31:24-30 and describe what was in the heart of Moses as he got ready to die. As we describe his heart, let’s be painfully aware that rebellion, on the part of the people was the burden Moses was carrying to his grave. It was the factor that had tempted him to sin at Meribah. It was behind the sin that kept him from entering Canaan. Let’s also be thankfully aware that he was going to a place where all frustration and provocation by a rebellious people was gloriously absent. When we meet Moses next on the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17, he was talking to the One who is victorious over all enemies who would rebel (Acts 2: 32-36). Finally, notice the words of another song– the joint song of Moses and this victorious Lamb in Revelation 15:3,4. Putting all of these passages together, in your own words, describe how you believe Moses was feeling as he penned the song in Deuteronomy 32. This is a thought question and all of our answers will be different, but we surely get a flavor of his frustration from the words of the song that are contained in verses 16-19 of Deuteronomy 32.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Christ in Hebrews; The Rest of the List

As I finish posting this list of characterizations of Christ, it occurs to me that each one of these could be the “stuff” of an entire podcast. What an unbelievably rich treatise on Christ and the new covenant is this book of Hebrews! 

Chapter 6

1—Author of doctrine

6—Son of God

7—One who is sometimes crucified afresh and shamed openly

19,20—Forerunner into the Holy Place within the veil

20—Eternal high priest

Chapter 7

2—King of righteousness (by implication)

2—King of Peace (by implication)

3—One without priestly genealogy (by implication)

3—One without beginning of days (by implication)

3—One without end of life (by implication)

3—A continual priest (by implication)

5,6—One superior to Levitical priests (by implication)

7—One superior to Abraham (by implication)

7—The One who blesses the lesser

8—Priest who lives on (by implication)

13,14—First and only priest from Judah

15—Priest after similitude of Melchizadek

16—One made after power of endless life

17—Priest forever

20,21—Priest by oath of God

22—Surety of a better Testament

24—Priest of unchangeable priesthood

25—Savior to the uttermost

25—Ever living intercessor

26—Holy one

26—Harmless one

26—Undefiled one

26—Separated one (from sinners)

26—One higher than the heavens

27—One who offered once-for-all sacrifice

27—One who offered self

28—Son

28—Consecrated priest forever

Chapter 8

1—High priest

1—One seated on the right hand of throne of majesty in heavens

2—Minister of sanctuary

2—Minister of Tabernacle

3—One who offers gifts and sacrifices

6—Owner of the excellent ministry

6—Mediator of the better covenant

Chapter 9

11—High priest of good things to come

12—One who entered holy place by his own blood

12—Obtainer of our salvation

14—One who offered spotless sacrifice

15—Mediator of the new covenant

16—Testator

23—Purifier of heavenly things

24—One who entered heaven

24—One who appears before God for us.

26—One time self-sacrificer

28—Sin bearer for many        

28—Object of our watching

28—One who will appear without sin

28—One who will appear for our salvation

Chapter 10

5—a body

7,9—doer of God’s will

9—taker of first law

9—founder of second law

10, 17—One who offered once for all.

12—One who sits on right hand of God

13—One who expects

14—Perfecter

19—Source of boldness

20—Consecrator of the new way through the veil

21—holy priest over the house of God

22—Sprinkler of hearts

22—Washer of our bodies

29—Sanctifier

37—One who would come and not tarry

Chapter 11

3—World framer

26—One whose reproach is great riches

40—Some better thing

Chapter 12

2—Author of our faith

2—Perfecter of our faith

2—One who endured the cross for coming joy

2—Despiser of shame

2—One who is seated on the right hand of God

3—Endurer of gainsaying

23—Owner of the church

24—Mediator of the new covenant

26—Shaker of heaven and earth

28—Giver of immovable, unshakeable kingdom

Chapter 13

8—One who is the same; yesterday, today and forever

12—Sanctifier

12—Sufferer without the gate

13—Reproached One

15—One by whom we offer praise to God

15—One to whose name we make confession

20—One brought from dead

20—Great shepherd of sheep

21—One who makes us perfect in every good work

21—Worker in us (of what pleases Him)

21—Recipient of glory

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: God Is not a Robot.

Once, in an attempt to justify making sinful choices, someone said to me, “God is not a robot.”

Now, I am assuming this person was attempting to convince me that God’s requirements are fluid; that, unlike a robot, God’s will and reaction can change, even from what He has stated in His Word. I assume this person meant to tell me that God’s reaction to sin could not be predicted; that perhaps He would just be okay with a decision to live away from His expressed Will.

But this person said a mouthful when saying “God is not a robot.” What was said was truer than ever even imagined. Let’s just notice a half-dozen “ways” that God is surely NOT a robot:

  1. Robots are not authoritative.  Robots do the bidding of the owner. God is supremely authoritative. He IS the inherent owner (Psalms 100:3). 
  2. Robots cannot feel:  compassion, wrath, pleasure or pain. Our God feels all of those things. He pities us as a father pities His children (Psalm 103:13), while His holiness calls Him to  wrath upon our rebellion (Deut. 9:7).
  3. Robots cannot administer reward or punishment. God is the rewarder (Heb. 11:6).  He has reserved the ultimate punishment for those who have walked on the blood of Jesus, for that is the ultimate insult to His authority (Heb. 10:29).
  4. Robots were created by men from materials made by God. Men were created by God from dust, inhaling the breath of life from God, Himself (Gen. 2:7). 
  5. Robots are easily destroyed. God is indestructible, thus everlasting (Psalm 90:2).
  6. Robots are amoral; not possessing character. The rightness or wrongness of anything a robot does is determined by the programmer. God is inherently holy in character.  

God is not a robot, for sure. But that fact is the antithesis of our permission to ignore His Will for our lives. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

About Those Poor Departed Souls

IMG_0756 (1)Glenn and I were rummaging through items at a yard sale in New England recently when I ran across this Purgatorian  Society certificate dated 1932. Someone actually bought this from the Catholic church during the hard days of the great depression with the full belief that membership in this society would benefit him personally as well as be of help to those “poor departed” souls in purgatory. Membership grants this certificate’s owner the right to participate in “the priceless and countless benefits of Eight High Masses offered daily in Redemptorist Churches, for the spiritual and temporal welfare of its members.” As benefactors of the Redemptorist Order, all members of the Purgatorian Society are privileged to share in the prayers and all other good works performed by the Order throughout the World.” This particular certificate was “Given at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help” in Roxbury, Massachusetts, under the “direction of the Redemptorist Fathers”, on July 15th, 1932. It was duly signed by the “Reverend Father Rector” and contained these words at the bottom: “May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Eighty-three years after it’s first issuance, I gave two dollars for this at a yard sale. The proprietor at this yard sale was a woman who was ninety-three years old. She would have been ten years old at the time of its issuance, so it more likely belonged to a parent or grandparent. It belonged to someone who believed that in the purchase of membership in this society, the answers to  prayers of “Fathers” during eight masses each day would serve to benefit personally the owner of this certificate. The owner likely also believed that these prayers would aid in behalf of loved ones who had died and were being punished in Purgatory. The prayers of this “order” would help to shorten the time that loved ones who had died were being tormented for their sins. In all of the research that I’ve done about these societies, those suffering in Purgatory are usually referred to as the “poor departed souls.”

Several things come quickly to mind as I think about the ownership of such a certificate:

  1. The owner is deceased now and knows the reality of the permanence of the conditions of “poor departed souls”.  He would gladly give the price of tens of thousands of such certificates–yes, all that he ever had–if he could have just one chance to submit to the simple plan of the New Testament in order to be saved.
  2. The owner of the membership was content to rely on the prayers of lost men, when he could have, if he had chosen to be righteous, availed much as he, himself, talked to the Father in heaven (James 5:16).
  3. The owner of the certificate put His trust in the wrong “Father” when he purchased the document (Matthew 23:9).
  4. The certificate, once prized, has never actually been worth even the yard sale price. The frame (from a very old frame shop in Boston), that we threw away so that we could more easily ship it home, was the only thing of ANY value. In fact, the doctrine on the parchment was believed at great and eternal expense by the owner.
  5. When people in the Catholic faith, the Pentecostal faith, the Mormon faith, the Jehovah’s Witness faith– yes, any well meaning people of any faith–decide that there is more divine revelation than what we have in the Bible, there is no end to the fanciful doctrines of assurance that can be designed and believed. The authority principle (i.e from whence we derive authority for religious beliefs and practices) is a principle about which we must settle our minds in order to please God. If we decide that the New Testament is our authority for worship and practice, as it claims to be (II Timothy 3:16,17), there can be no room for men to devise alternate plans of spiritual benefit and societies to benefit “poor departed souls”. But if we do not accept it as the final authority from God, the door swings wide open for any human society, belief system, authority, and practice. Purgatory and any system of payment for “poor departed souls” is the product of a belief in continuing revelation. But then, so is the papacy, the acceptance of modern-day prophets and/or apostles, and actions based on what God “is laying on my heart” separate from the Word.

Someone, somewhere in Massachusetts took great comfort when he passed through his chamber at night upon retiring and saw the certificate guaranteeing him and his departed loved ones the benefits of eight masses each day by the Order of the Redemptorist Fathers. One night, he likely pillowed his head, never to rise again on this earth. But he still exists on the other side of time and He has tragically learned the truth about the piece of paper that I shipped home from New England.

Would you like to talk about the New Testament’s simple plan for assurance–for knowing we are saved–as we face death? I would love to talk about that with you. byhcontest@gmail.com.

Now, if you’re Digging Deep in God’s Word with us (https://www.facebook.com/groups/282349391779769/), don’t forget the podcast is tomorrow night at 7 CST right here: http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women.