June 25, 2014

Lament for the Evangelical Male, Part III: Reconcilio Spiritus

[Reconcilio Spiritus ~ Restore Spirit]

As I have always done...I will not just complain about the current condition of the Church and the Evangelical male residing within it. I will also offer suggestions as a person who points out the shortcoming should. So how do evangelical men gain back the god-given leadership roles that they have either forfeited or had taken from them by the acculturated church? How does an evangelical man gain back the blessing of the Spirit to take up their leadership roles? How is the Spirit breathed back into the life of men's spiritual leadership? I now present to you what I believe are the essential four elements that will allow this to happen, two in this post and two in the final post. 

Once the superfluous frills and negotiables have been stripped away from the equation we have four main ideas. The following will be a combination of the principles behind the first two posts in this series. I will present from Scripture what I believe are absolute musts for biblical men of God to assure that they properly claim their God-given birthrights. These following characteristics are requirements not options

[1] Men Must Lead

Man was given authority over the garden/earth. Adam also had power over naming the animals. God then placed Eve in the garden and she was to assist Adam in his work. Eve helped as Adam led. As the story of salvation continued in Scripture we see people like Abraham who led (sometimes poorly) as did David. The men of Israel were instructed to be spiritual leaders in their homes and it was also men who were involved with the Temple and spiritual matters of the entire nation. Men were also given the role of civic leadership positions in the nation (Saul, David, Solomon, Rehaboam, etc.). This only changed when the roles are either abdicated by men or usurped  as in the case of Athaliah. In the New Testament we see the Apostles of Christ are all men. The writers of all the New Testament Gospels, Letters and Epistles are men. Even the Church Fathers are all, well, Fathers...men. As we would expect from a biblical pattern, we see women very helpful and assisting the men at all points too, just as God created them in their complimentary roles.

Also in the New Testament we see that men are to be the head of the marriage relationship because God’s authority followed top down from God to men to women to children. Women were to submit to the husband’s spiritual leadership. This is in no way a critique or judgment of women’s abilities. It is merely the way God has commanded that things be structured.

Ephesians 5:22-23 ~ “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

In any project or work, there needs to be a leader or chaos and disorder ensue. It is men that God prepared for this role. Leadership roles are therefore developed not only as an innate function of the man as given by God but it is also cultivated by men for men to lead justly and properly. Where this training isn’t provided by the Scriptures….things get really ugly fast (Ahab, Jeroboam, Solomon after marrying pagan wives, etc.). 

This ability to lead will obviously be easier for some than others but all men are called to be leaders of their household. All of these instances require teaching the next generation. We are currently failing to do this and it shows not only in the Church but also in society. When we ignore God and the Bible, God gives us over to our ignorance. He ignores us. Without His restraining grace….things get really nasty.

Hosea 4:6 ~ "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children."

We need to teach our young men the characteristics already mention in this series about Christ. Men need to be filled with the Spirit through immersion in the Scripture and prayer. They need to love and pursue the will of the Father. They need to vehemently preach the Gospel both themselves and to others---this one is paramount to all the others. Men must be holy or at least try to be. They must be compassionate toward others. They must serve others in a sacrificial manner. They need to be gentle when doing all these things. Men obviously must be a leader. They need to show initiative. When necessary men need to stand their ground and confront bad teaching or errant behavior. This is especially true when doctrinal issues arise. Men cannot be man-pleasers in these situations. When issues arise men must be decisive and courageous. Men must also be diligent and industrious in supporting themselves and their loved-ones. Above all men must be humble and meek in our service to others. We must not do it begrudgingly expecting accolades and attention but rather do it out of kindness and a pure heart.

If not, men will crash. They will be humble and weak-willed which produces effeminate men or they will be bold and not meek which leads to anger, rage or damaging behavior. Above all, all the characteristics above must be tempered with wisdom that is of God.

[2] Men Must Be Protectors

As the leader of the spiritual household a man’s job is also to protect his wife and children not only physically but especially spiritually. The man will have to answer to God for the failure of his family to become godly people. This is a heavy onus but it is expected. The natural fallout of having to protect his family is that men (plural) will therefore be protectors in the Church too.

The Old Testament is clear that men constituted armies in matters of protection for cities, women and children

Numbers 1:2-3 ~ “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. 

We see the same in David’s army

1 Chronicles 12:1-2 ~ “Now these are the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he could not move about freely because of Saul the son of Kish. And they were among the mighty men who helped him in war. They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand; they were Benjaminites, Saul's kinsmen.

The New Testament even exhorts us to “act like men”, which is to say, be courageous, tenacious and staunch defenders of what they have been given charge over. It also immediately follows up this imperative with the fact that this courageousness needs to be tempered with love or it can inadvertently become senseless brutality if we don't.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ~ “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love

Above all we must protect the spiritual lives of our family both immediate (wife, children) and extended (Church) through concerted/strategic prayer and sound biblical teaching. We must never be more than a thought or a word away from preaching the Gospel. It is why we are still here on earth. Let's be quite serious on this one. Jesus had the utmost concern for our protection. He has willingly laid down his life for his sheep to protect us from ourselves, from our own sin which would've condemned us all to Hell. In return for our repentance of sin we are given the Spirit as the down-payment on eternity. 

John 10:27-29 ~ “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”

[Concluded in Part IV]

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