A Plural Oneness
Elder O. B. Mink
Retired Sovereign Grace Baptist Pastor
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
The title and text upon which this brief message is based are both paradoxical. It has been said that “A paradox is a truth which stands on its head to get attention.” This witticism may in some degree apply to the title (A PLURAL ONENESS), but it cannot in the least degree apply to the text, for God’s word needs not the linguistic acrobatics of man to get attention (Isaiah 55:11).
Being born of the Spirit of God does not erase natural or hereditary distinctions, but on the contrary, it rather highlights them. A Jew does not cease to be a Jew when he is saved, nay, on the contrary, he then in truth appreciates his Jewish nationality, ancestry, and rejoices over the fact that His Saviour was by birth a Jew. Saul of Tarsus, one of, if not the strictest Jew who ever lived (Acts 26:5), became a devout follower of Jesus, if not the most devout. However, not once did he ever deny being a Jew. Paul said after he was saved: “I am a man which am a Jew” (Acts 21:39).
The primary characteristic of his Jewish culture which Paul set aside when he became a Christian was the Mosaic ordinances in which he trusted to make him acceptable unto God. Paul knew that Judaism had run its course, and had become null and void as the message and system of God. Paul also knew there was much in the Jewish manner of living which was not an offense to Christ, and that the life and teaching of Christ did not mitigate against these things. Even though the enthusiasm which Paul hadmanifested for the Jews religion was many times compounded, and transferred to the cause of Christ, he nevertheless held to many of the extra religious practices which were peculiar to the Jews.
Paul was a Roman by citizenship, a Greek by environment, and a Jew by birth. Paul maintained these distinctives all of his life, but he realized after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus that earthly advantages did not count with God, and that the lowliest saint was one with him in Christ; for in the covenant of grace all are positionally equal before God.
“Neither bond nor free … for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). It was a common practice in the time of Paul for men to place themselves under bond for a specified time to other men who were economically superior to them. The bond man was to render services without wages to the bondholder, and the bondholder was by agreement to treat the bond servant humanely.
Paul recognized the validity of such a bond, and sent Onesimus, a run-away bond person back to his master. Yet, in the Lord Jesus, the Christian servant and his Christian master are equal in the eyes of redemptive love and grace. God’s elective grace is not a respecter of persons, for all the elect are one in Christ Jesus.
“... there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). This present evil and God hating world, being spiritually blinded, has twisted and distorted these words of Paul in an effort to make him say something he never said, nor intended to say. The reason for the mishandling of this Scripture by the world’s theologians is to placate the various and vociferous women’s movements in this country who clamor for equality with man in every facet of our society. The United States government may authorize these movements, but there is no validity for them in Scripture.
Being saved or born of the Spirit of God does not erase the distinction between male and female, but magnifies that distinction. There is never more sameness realized between a man and woman than when they are united in a God honoring marriage. But even in this close and intimate relationship, gender identity is made all the more apparent. The “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5) of the marital union does not change the masculinity of the husband, nor the femininity of the wife, for at the beginning God made them male and female, and this Divine order of the sexes shall ever remain in spite of the deteriorating distinctives brought on by a world in spiritual chaos.
While there is no difference between men and women as respects the covenant of grace, they are unlike in many and various ways, and especially so concerning the government of the Lord’s churches. Man is not only the head of his wife in the home, but also in the church, and the wife is not to usurp her husband’s authority in the home, nor in the church (Ephesians 5:23;I Timothy 2:12).
To contend that women are equal to men in the authoritative work of the church, is to charge God with foolishness, for God would not command women to wear a head covering in church as an acknowledgment of their submission to the authority God has vested in the men of the church, and then in another place say; it is not important for the distaff side of the church to honor this rule of government
(I Corinthians 11:35).
God would not say: “It is a shame for women to speak in the church” and then call women to the ministry, or give them authoritative positions in the church (I Corinthians 14:35). Women are divinely forbidden to speak, pray audibly, or to publicly ask questions in the official worship service of the church (I Corinthians 14:34, 35;I Timothy 2:8). The original text of this article can be distorted or convoluted, but it cannot be forced to accommodate any violation of the Divine prohibitions stated in the foregoing paragraphs, and all who would so endeavor to use it, cannot but help to bring confusion and disorder (I Corinthians 14:33).
The Lord’s church existed for a brief time without women members, but like Adam, it was not good for him to be without Eve. And even though New Testament church can exist without women members, it would be far better to have women members in it. Thus it was the Lord soon added some females to His precious church. So, let the brethren deeply appreciate their blood bought sisters in the faith, and remember, while there can be a church without women members, it takes godly and submissive women to give the church the tenderness and meekness it needs, and should always have.
The common interest of all faithful members of the church, is the glory of God in the church (Ephesians 3:21). But this coveted end does not depend on the sameness of characteristics, or equality of status in the church, but on the grace which has made them one in Christ, and a consistent adherence to the faith the Lord delivered to His church (Jude 3).
(The Baptist Herald - May, 1992)
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