Saturday, March 21, 2015

P5 - God's vision for godly womanhood: The redemptive restoration of womanhood in Jesus Christ - 1 Tim 2:15

1 Timothy 2:9-10 "Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness."

The past few posts have been dedicated to understand God's vision for Biblical womandhood. Thus far we have considered the richness that the woman of God has in regards to God's design and calling of her. We also took the last two posts to explore a second element regarding the role of women in Biblical womanhood. We discovered that women are distinctively equal with men before God's sight in the realms of creation and redemption. That is to say, we saw how women are distinctively designed by God with roles distinct from men while at the same time possessing equal value with men in both creation and redemption. With the richness of godly women and their roles explored, we now turn to the final aspect of understanding God's vision for Biblical womanhood: the godly woman's redemptive purpose.

God's redemptive purposes for women
This element follows logically and theologically from the role assigned by God to women. Likewise, the role of women in God's creative and redemptive work flows forthright from the richness He has given to them as creatures and then moreso in salvation by grace through faith. To deny the second element, the role of the Godly women, is to abandon the ability to grasp the richness and redemptive purposes of women taught so clearly in the Bible. 

To see this most clearly, we once again turn back to Genesis and proceed forward through God's progressive revelation on this subject.

1. In Genesis 1:26-28, we see women have equal value with men and being assigned the Divine mandate to subdue the creation. The distinction of role is seen in Genesis 2:23-25, wherein God through Adam's lips articulates the woman's submissive yieldedness (not subservient!) role to Adam.  In Genesis 3, we see the fall of the man and the woman. As 1 Timothy 2:13-14 explains, the woman was deceived. Adam failed in his responsibility to protect and cover his wife in spiritual headship, and thus because of Adam's willful negligence to her and outright opposition to God's commandment, sin and death befell the human race. (see Romans 5:12-20; 1 Corinthians 15:43-45) Thankfully, God chose to offer a second covenant, a covenant of grace, wherein He spelled out His plan of salvation, beginning with the woman in Genesis 3:15. God's redemptive purposes began with the woman. 

2. As one reads through the accounts of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 12-18, God is communicating His redemptive intentions not only to Abraham, but also to Sarah. Paul picks upon Sarah's significance in God's redemptive plan by using her as a word-picture of salvation (i.e the Jerusalem above) in Galatians 4:21-28.

3. The Mosaic law revealed on Mount Sinai in Exodus and Leviticus, and then repeated in various points throughout Numbers and Deuteronomy, included rights and protection for women that no other culture in the ancient world had. Women for instance, had rights of retaining certain property in the case of divorce (Deuteronomy 24) and were even allowed to appeal for rights to inheritance in the event of the absence of a male successor to their father. (Numbers 27:1-14) The Law of course functions to point the way to the Gospel. With that said, it foreshadows how different things were to be in regards to women amidst God;s redemptive workings.

4. In the books of Ruth and 1 Samuel we see God using two women, Ruth and Hannah to play significant roles in both the Savior's bloodline (Ruth) and God's work through his prophets (Hannah, Samuel's mother). Both women are placed before the reader of scripture as examples of faith and hope in the Lord.

5. In the book of Proverbs, we see in both chapters 1 and chapter 31 examples of the godly woman. God used to women to be influential mothers in the lives of two kings. Sadly, one of those kings did not heed their mother's counsel (Rehoboam, the young man alluded to by Solomon in Proverbs 1). However, King Agur took to heart his mother's counsel in Proverbs 31.

6. Jesus' ministry demonstrated God's redemptive restoration of women in the clearest way possible. Mary was used as the vessel for the bringing forth of Christ's humanity in the virgin birth conception. Luke 8:2-3 records - "and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses:Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza,Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means." In Matthew 28:1-15 and Mark 16:1-13 we see women present at the empty tomb and women commissioned to proclaim the news of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. It was to Mary Magdalene that Jesus first appeared in His post-resurrection ministry. 

7. The book of Acts records several instances of God's redemptive purposes for restoring the roles and richness of women. Peter reminds his hearers of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-31 in Acts 2:17, which among other things declared that women would be equal sharers with men in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Certainly the Apostles were the ones leading the church, as seen in the nearly twenty sermons recorded in the Book of Acts. However, women aided greatly in the Apostles' ministry, with instances of significant conversions (Lydia in Acts 16) and discipling with the covering of a husband (Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 16).

8. The New Testament letters or epistles abound with statements indicating God's intentions towards redeeming and restoring true biblical womanhood. 1 Corinthians 11 records their distinct roles and equal value in comparison to men. Galatians 3:28 asserts the redemptive equality of godly women with men, while Galatians 4:21-31 asserts the distinctiveness of men and women as seen in Paul's illustration involving Abraham and Sarah. Romans 16 communicates the value both men and women had in the encouragement and advancement of Paul's overall missionary ministry, and yet in the letter to the Ephesians, the roles of husbands and wives are spelled out more clearly in Ephesians 5:22-25. The Apostle Peter asserts God's redemptive purposes in equal measure to all of God's people saved by grace through faith as living stones in 1 Peter 2:9-12. However, we see his clearly spelled out instructions to husbands and wives in 1 Peter 3. These are but some of the more major examples we see of God's desire to restore women to their ultimate role and richness as women of God, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  

9. Revelation 21-22 perhaps most clearly shows us why the Biblical vision for godly womanhood, in terms of its richness and roles, is so vital to grasp. John the revelator sees the holy city Jerusalem coming out of Heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2) If we did not have the distinctions of men and women, husbands and wives, we would not be able to make sense of Christ and His church being together for all eternity. Likewise, in Revelation 22:17, we see the Spirit of God and the bride both saying "Come" to drink freely of the waters of salvation. Unless we understand God's purposes in restoring women's equality of value, we could not make sense of the seemingly exalted place the redeemed people of God (depicted in the glorified church, the bride) have in issuing forth the Bible's final invitation. 

Closing thoughts for today
This survey of the Biblical material on the subject of God's desire to redeem and restore womanhood in Christ is what informs us in our understanding of 1 Timothy 2:15. Dr. John MacArthur in his message: "God's High-calling for Women - P4", explains what is happening in 1 Timothy 2:15: "Now, what is he saying? All women are saved through childbearing. Well, in what way? What kind of a general statement is that? What kind of saved do you mean here? Well not saved from sin, but listen to this: the word saved can mean delivered, or it can mean saved from things other than sin. What we have to understand here is that all women are delivered. Now, listen carefully. All women are delivered from the stigma of having caused the Fall of the race by childbearing. In other words, women led in the Fall, but by the wonderful grace of God they are released from the stigma of that through childbearing. What’s the point? Listen carefully. They may have caused the race to fall by stepping out of their God-intended design, but they also are given the priority responsibility of raising a godly seed. You understand that? That’s the balance. Not soul salvation, not spiritual birth, but women are delivered from being left in a second-class permanently stigmatized situation for the violation of the garden. They are delivered from being thought of as permanently weak, and deceivable, and insubordinate. Can you imagine what it would be like if men had babies, and all women ever contributed to the human race was the Fall? The balance of it: women led the race into sin, but bless God; God has given them the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness."