Ask Your Preacher
I am a woman, and an opening has come up to teach the teenage class in my congregation. Upon mentioning my interest, one of the women said it probably wouldn't be a good idea since there are boys in the class, and some members might have a problem with that. When is a boy considered too old to be taught by a female in a church Bible class?
Ready To Educate
Dear Ready To Educate,
The Scriptures are clear about a woman teaching a man – she can’t do it (1 Tim. 2:12). Your question doesn’t deal with a woman teaching a man. Instead, it is addressing when a male becomes a man. That issue is a much more difficult one because there is no exact answer. There are two parts to your question:
- When do we recognize a boy as a man?
- What should a congregation do in order to have harmony when a boy is baptized or is nearing adulthood?
The first question is easily answered – we don’t know. The Scriptures never say. Society recognizes eighteen as adult enough to be considered completely responsible for oneself. Even that is just an arbitrary number. In reality, every child matures at a different rate, and there is no magic moment of transition from childhood to adulthood. Everyone agrees a ten-year-old is a child and a twenty-year-old is an adult, but it is the ages in between that leave us scratching our heads.
The second question is an issue of dealing with opinions. Realistically, when a young person is baptized, some will consider him or her an instant adult; others will recognize it as a decision that shows maturity but not adulthood. Consequently, in the case of a boy, a congregation will have some that feel he can no longer have a woman Bible class teacher, and others will think it is still appropriate. Both views are an opinion, and we can’t stand hard and fast on either view. Rom 14:13 says that in such cases, we should do whatever will not cause division or hurt anyone’s conscience. If the congregation is being torn apart by a woman teaching a newly baptized boy, put him in a different class with a male teacher. If a woman has been teaching him and no longer feels she can do it in clear conscience, she should be allowed to recuse herself as his teacher. No matter what, in issues of opinion, peace and edification should be sought above all else (Rom 14:19). Wisdom will have to be used to decide what is the best course in each circumstance.
Should people be getting up in front of the congregation and giving testimonies in the Lord’s church today?
Dear Speaking Up,
We are given a couple of requirements regarding speaking in the church assembly. Any testimony that someone gives of how Christ had helped them, how they had been converted, etc., must fit within the biblical guidelines for the church assembly.
One guideline is that women are not supposed to be speaking or in leadership positions during worship (1 Cor 14:34). Therefore, any woman that has a testimony to give about her life wouldn't be able to do it in that setting.
Another guideline is that everything should be done decently and in order (1 Cor 14:40). Many of the churches that have people give testimonials do so in a chaotic fashion with people jumping up to speak or yelling out during services... this is wholly inappropriate. A congregation is required to be thoughtful and prepared with how the worship service is run.
These two guidelines alone clarify things. If a man had a worthwhile teaching to give or biblical message to present, and it was prepared and presented in a way that was proper and decently in order, it would be permissible. Realistically, very few of the churches in the religious world that use the "testimonial system" do that.
How many false prophets does the Bible mention?
Counting The Corrupt
Dear Counting The Corrupt,
The Bible doesn’t mention a specific number of false prophets – it just says that there are many (Matt 24:11). The world is fraught with false prophets who seek to use the Bible for their own gain and lead people astray. This is why John warns us to test all teachers and compare what they say to the Bible (1 Jn 4:1). Sadly, most of mankind is either duped by these false teachers or frustrated. Even within the Lord’s church, false teachers and sin cause people’s love to grow cold (Matt 24:12). False prophets are innumerable, and the way of truth is spoken against because of them (2 Pet 2:1-2). It is an uphill battle, but if christians continue to refer people to the Bible instead of their own wisdom, God’s Word will be glorified.
I am leading a weekly Bible study. Yesterday was our first study, and we talked about why Jesus came to this earth. Now, I don't know how to incorporate the Gospel for new people and change the study for the people that have come multiple times. What should I do?
Bible Study Leader
Dear Bible Study Leader,
We aren't exactly sure what advice we can give you. One of the easiest ways to study the Bible is to study it expositorily. Take a book of the Bible, and study it from start to finish. This way you get exactly what God intended for mankind to learn. Being a teacher is a very solemn thing and puts us under a stricter judgment because of the power to lead people astray if we don't adhere to the Bible's teachings (Jas 3:1). If you aren't feeling that you have a comfortable grasp on the Scriptures, better to stick with an exact study of a book than to potentially veer into manmade doctrines.
(This question is a follow-up to “Blasphemous Preaching”)
Thank you so very much for the quick response. I left church early tonight and felt very guilty even taking communion to my Holy Father because I had to excuse myself right after communion, so I could leave. I just had to get out of there. The Sunday night service was worse than the morning. I am beginning to think that my pastor has serious mental problems, and I don't know what to do about it. I am teaching Sunday school, and I am able to teach one hour of truth, and I am able to sing worship songs to God. But the preaching is making my nerves shaky. He either tells news stories that he gets from the internet that are so far fetched it's like something from the Globe or the Enquirer, or he reads history books, or he shows videos on a big screen. This morning, when he said what he did about Jesus, it was about the worst! But nobody seems to mind. If they do, I don't hear it. I am wanting to get away and seek the Lord for wisdom as to whether or not to quit the church, but I am certain that the Lord has called me to work for Him. I just don't know what to do about this preacher. I e-mailed him the Scripture that proves that Mary and Joseph were married before Jesus was born, but he won't say anything about it. Would you please pray that God will show me what His plan is and what His will is? I need to sing, and I love teaching Sunday school. Thank you.
We appreciate your dedication to your congregation and your righteous indignation over false teaching. May we offer some thoughts on the issue? You have written to us on numerous occasions because of the unscriptural things that are coming from your church’s pulpit. You are trying to balance your desire to work for Christ and your desire to avoid false teaching. Have you considered that by leaving and going somewhere faithful, you would be doing both? God says that a faithful congregation should be “a pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). In your own words, the church you are currently a part of isn’t – and the membership doesn’t seem to care about changing that. Your labors (which you intended to offer to the Lord) are being used to support false teaching and unscriptural practices. Since it seems clear that the congregation is at peace with their preacher’s sermons and teachings… you are now in the vast minority and propping up a sinking ship. Looking at the character and honesty your letters have conveyed – you simply aren’t with a like-minded group of people. We know of faithful, biblically-sound churches all across America… churches you could feel comfortable in, grow from the teaching of, and use your zeal and energy to support. Would you consider letting us recommend one to you? If so, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.