Tony Evans - The Ministry Value of Women
Hello and happy, happy, happy Mother's Day to all of our mothers. You deserve not only today and a day, but every day. Where would any of us be even in our existence or our development without all that mothers have done to impart what God has given them to us. So I am so grateful for you today and our prayer is that God will not only bless you, but surround you with the love, value and appreciation from your children especially, but also your extended family for all that you have given and continue to give for their wellbeing. So it's a joy to minister to you on this special day as we go to God's Word together.
We are living in a day of cultural chaos. The culture wars around us are daunting. There is racial division, there is political division, there is class division, there is cultural division, and on the front page today are gender divisions. This is an issue that is only going to grow bigger, as trying to get clarifications of roles becomes an even larger issue in our society. This issue has come into our context as well. And so on this Mother's Day, given the fact that it is so, so big, it's front page news and it is sweeping the nation and dividing the church that we want to speak to this issue from a ministry perspective. And I would like you to make your appeal to the Word of God. For God has not been silent on this subject as he is not silent on every subject.
The Bible makes it clear that the battle between the sexes exists because of sin. That when Adam and Eve sinned, he says there will be a conflict between the genders as a result of that sin. And it is our sin that has created the misuse, the abuse, the neglect of women, but it is also sin that has given rise to an unrighteous feminism among women. So there is the abuse on the male side, then there is illegitimate rebellion on the woman's side in the midst of legitimate concerns that has given rise to chaos and conflict everywhere. First of all, let's go back to the beginning. We gonna start with creation not culture.
In Genesis chapter 1, when God first created mankind, he says in verse 26, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image according to our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them and blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky and every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
Not only was the image of God given equally to both in creation, it says that in addition to that, he told them to rule. So the principle of ruling was given to men and women 'cause he didn't tell him he told them; and that's male and female. God wants men and women to use the talents, gifts, skills, and creative forces to unpack earth's potential. Even in the context of marriage, when God created Adam he says, "I'm going to give you a helper suitable for you". Her views, perspectives, gifts, training is supposed to be brought fully to the table in order for the family to maximize its creative potential. Within God's creative purpose, there is also a created order. Within God's created purpose, there is a created order.
It is absolutely critical that there is equality of being. But the Bible says in Galatians 3:28 that "Men and women are equal with God". So important is this equality that God tells a husband in 1 Peter 3:7, "If you don't recognize, respect and appreciate her equality, I will not answer your prayers". But this raises the question now of the value of women in ministry and how that works. Now this is dicey territory. Churches split over it, denominations split over it, but I'm gonna tell you how it ought to work. 1 Corinthians 11 verse 3. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man. The man is the head of a woman and God is the head of Christ.
He says, "Every man is under Christ". Every man has to answer if they're Christian, to the lordship of Jesus Christ. That a man is not an autonomous being if he's a Christian that he has to answer to somebody. And he is under divine rule based on the Word of God, Jesus Christ. But then it says, "A woman is under a man". What the devil wants to do, is shift roles or bring conflict within roles. Why? 'Cause he wants to block the program. He wants to block the program of God, he wants to block the program of Christ, and he wants to block your programming. And he does that through folks stepping out of the program and using equality of being in scope to not apply to distinction and function. This has created a whole generation of folk who don't know whether they're men, they're women because people do no longer define themselves based on God, they define themselves based on cultural nuances and numbers of other things.
But 1 Timothy 2 verse 8, "I want men in every place to pray, lift up holy hands without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modesty and discreetly, not with braiding of the hair and gold and pearls and costly garments, but rather by means of good works as is proper for women making a claim to godliness". To put it another way, women watch how you dress. Then he gets into the ministry within the church. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet. Well somebody might argue but this is a new day now, oh, verse 13, "For it was Adam".
So it ain't got nothing to do with the day, it got to do with creation. "Who was first created and then Eve". And it was not Adam who was deceived about the woman being deceived fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith, and love, and sanctity, and self-restraint. Here he gives an order of operating in the church. He says, "I want men to teach and to give oversight, give authority. I want men to lead in the church. They are to lead in the teaching, they are to lead in the authority". That is a functional role, it is what God says about the home.
The Bible declares that the husband is head in the home, that is governing authority with a recognition of equality 'cause we've already established equality. But now he is discussing covenantal order for the equality to work. No matter what your job is, you are equal to your boss, you just don't have the same job as your boss. There is a distinction in function but he still ought to treat you with respect. And if you look at chapter 3 verse 1, it is a trustworthy statement. "If any man aspires to the office of overseer," that's an elder, that's a bishop, "It is a fine work he decides to do". He goes on to say, "Must be the husband of one wife". He goes on to give the male qualifications for being the teaching and final authority over the church.
Now I didn't write this, God wrote this, but he wrote it for a reason because when Eve stepped out of her role because Satan had duped her and while the man is held responsible, "Adam where are you"? It says Eve was tricked and she stepped out of her covenantal role bringing chaos into the situation. So ladies, I want to say to you the issue is not whether you like it, the issue is whether you want God in it, because God will exit it quickly if you are illegitimately leaving the role and insisting on illegitimate headship 'cause you have broken the Word of God, but that is headship while being respected, headship while being appreciated, headship while being utilized, headship while being valued, not headship while being dismissed.
That's why the Bible says talking about a marriage that, "A wife has to submit to her husband as to the Lord," 'cause he doesn't have absolute rule over you, God has absolute rule over you. So that's the rule. There was a feminist movement in the church of Corinth 'cause he has to say it again in chapter 14. He has to tell him in verse 34 and 35, women were creating chaos in the church. And he says, "No, you tell 'em to stop and if they have any questions, let 'em ask their husbands at home". That assumes the husband has some answers 'cause he should be the first one in church.
Does this one mean women can't lead? Absolutely not, because after talking to about elders and overseers, the authority, the final authority, he comes in chapter 3 verse 8 to talk about deacons, likewise. But then he introduces in verse 11, women while talking about leaders, overseers, deacons, women and we still know he's talking about leaders or deacons 'cause he comes right back to it in verse 12. "Women likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, temperate, faithful in all things, deacons must be". So he talks about deacons, talks about women, picks up deacons again, because he has women deacons or what we call deaconesses, 'cause that's what he's talking about.
So this is a recognition that women have leadership roles in the church, it just wasn't the final authority. Women being in the final authority of the church is outside of God's order. That's why you're submitted to Christ over him but the point is, there is an office and it's part of God's covenantal order. God says in Isaiah 3:12, "When that order is broken, your children are in rebellion and your women rule over you". Because you've broken the order. But there is an exception to the rule. The rule is men ought to teach, do the teaching, and men are to oversee the final authority of the ministry with a leadership role prescribed for women within that oversight.
Turn back now to 1 Corinthians 11. 1 Corinthians 11 has established the fact that there is a prescribed order among equals. He pounces on this word head. But I want you to understand, he says verse 4, "Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head, every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head. For she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off, but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head for a man ought not have his head covered since he is in the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man does not originate from the woman but the woman from the man. For indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but the woman for the man's sake. Therefore, the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head because of the angels".
So the cutting of the hair was a reference to the shifting of authority. In 1 Corinthians 11, he uses that concept, but now he's talking to the church and he says, "In the church, the way I want this to operate is I want a woman's hair to be indicative of the fact that she is now living under a new rule. She is underneath her head". He says, "When she prays or prophesy," oh wait a minute, 1 Timothy says, "She must be quiet". But 1 Corinthians says, "When she prays or prophesies" you can't prophesy silently, you gotta prophesy that's verbally. So he's talking about public declarations. Prophecy was to declare, "Thus sayeth the Lord". The rule 1 Timothy 2, the exception, 1 Corinthians 11. The rule is, men you teach, men you do oversight. The exception is, if a woman is operating underneath a head, that is, underneath God's covenantal authority, then she is free to express her gifting to the church.
So we must make a distinction between women pastors, 'cause that's authority, and women using their gifts. Gifts are not gender based, offices are. So a woman can use her gift as long as she's doing it under an authorized head. She is not to skip the head in order to use the gift, like a wife is not to skip her husband in order to operate in the home. She is to use her gift or her spiritual allowance, whatever is approved by the male head of the church. Now we have a generation of women who're formally being trained and who wanna know how are we going to be recognized? We go to a place they're gonna wanna know who has authorized you, who has recognized your calling to ministry. That gave rise to the commissioning of women, not the ordaining of women. Now let me explain. We have a ministry training program here for ministers. Ministers who have been called to the ministry of God's Word.
So we provide this training and then we license and ordain them. When it became clear that there were women who were called and being trained to ministry, we ran into a problem because how could we recognize them but also establish this limitation of headship? Because once you ordained somebody they have the right to pastor. But we don't agree with that 'cause that's final authority. So what we developed was a women's track to recognize the calling and to officially designate that this church recognizes that you are qualified to be used of God, and we want to formally designate that but that's what we call commissioning. Because in commissioning we define it does not include pastoring because of the rule. But it does include using your gifts underneath approved authority.
So that is our way of demonstrating the recognition of women to being called to ministry, while at the same time not negating God's covenantal order and process. What I'm seeking to do today is simply to let you know, that God values women. The Bible talks about the giftedness of women. Acts chapter 2 verse 17. Acts chapter 21 verse 9, "Your sons and daughters shall prophesy". Women can do anything in the local church that is approved by the final authority. They can use any gift, they can hold any office other than the final authority in the same way that our husband can approve any activity of his wife that legitimately comes under his rule as head.
And when you get God's ordering straight, see, the chaos we're having now is everybody is outta order. Men are outta order, women are outta order, kids are outta order, Congress is outta order and because everybody is outta order, Black people outta order, White people outta order, Democrats outta order, Republicans outta order, rich folk outta order, poor folk outta order, everybody outta order talking about, "Let's pray".
God will not hear prayers if you're out of order. And so the key is to get back in order, to elevate women to as high as God has created and called and gifted them and at the very same time to recognize God's process for function in history that even Jesus had to honor. What I'm saying to you is, you are not maximizing what God could do. And any church that does not value, and utilize, and recognize, the giftedness of its women is a foolish church, as long as it is within God's covenantal order. And so that value should not only be known, it should be communicated.
That's why Paul says in Romans chapter 16, verses 1 and 2, "And greet Phoebe, the precious deaconess of the Lord". Uses the Greek word, "Diákonos" translates its servant, but it's deacon. "The deacon of the Lord who has helped us greatly in the ministry". He recognized her contribution to the ministry. May we be a church who recognizes the "Imago Dei" in male and female. And by the way, those are the only two options that exist. Who recognize male and female, who do not negate headship, but at the same time elevate, elevate and value giftedness.