Preaching that Pleases God
(1 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
by Bryan Gibson
I started preaching about 28 years ago, and since that time I have relied heavily on the following passage. Read it carefully, and then look at the important lessons taught within.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12: For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. (2) But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. (3) For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. (4) But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. (5) For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. (6) Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. (7) But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. (8) So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. (9) For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. (10) You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; (11) as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, (12) that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
The Content of our Teaching
No surprise here, it’s “the gospel of God” (vv. 2, 8, 9). Sermons that feature just a little gospel and a whole lot of something else—they may please some people, but they won’t build faith and they won’t save souls.
The Motive Behind our Teaching
We should never preach in order to please men (v. 4), or to gain glory for ourselves (v. 6). If either is our motive, we will eventually compromise the truth, and we just can’t let that happen. It’s not money we’re after either (v. 5), but souls (v. 8). We preach in order to please God (v. 4), and what keeps us going is the longing we have for the souls of others (v. 8).
The Manner of our Teaching
Balance is the key. We must be bold (v. 2), because the truth won’t always be popular. The delicate nature of some souls may require us to be “gentle…just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (v. 7). Other situations call for more firmness, “as a father does his own children” (v. 11). Sometimes we need to exhort, sometimes we need to comfort, and sometimes we need to charge (v. 11). The faithful preacher always strives to find the proper balance.
Teaching is accomplished both by word and by deed, and so we should behave “devoutly and justly and blamelessly” (v. 10).
What a joy to see those whom we have taught “walk worthy of God” (v. 12), and an even greater joy for them to be “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming” (v. 19).
Sunday 25th-Friday 30th
4th & Mullins Church of Christ
207 S. Mullins St.
Waverly, OH 45690
740-222-9160 (Daniel Ruegg, preacher)
From World Magazine, June 2, 2007
A symbol of glory
One woman says yes to God | Andrée Seu
I will write precisely one column on this, and one column is all it deserves. I have taken to wearing a head covering during worship. I expect one in a thousand readers follows this practice, so you might all be annoyed with me.
If this were the '50s, you would simply say "So what?" to my haute couture confession. All women—even Protestants—sported hats on Sunday morning, though as the Cheshire Cat's smile on a long-faded piety. I remember that JFK killed the male hat industry. I'm not sure what killed the distaff counterpart; all I know is back then hats were worn to church because hats were worn to church.
I was not on a campaign against or for anything, although I admit that Dietrich Bonhoeffer has marked me in some way I can't shake. Speaking of revival he said: "There arises a more determined quest for him who is the sole object of it all, for Jesus Christ himself. What did Jesus mean to say to us? . . . What we want to know is not, what would this or that man, or this or that Church, have of us, but what Jesus Christ himself wants of us" (The Cost of Discipleship).
I'm having a revival. It's been going on about three years, though it took a while to notice, just as you don't realize a radiator has warmed your room till it's been happening a while. My personal great awakening involves "a more determined quest for Him who is the sole object of it all." This means trying "to discern what is pleasing to the Lord " (Ephesians 5:10), even when it's baffling.
It means launching out and putting a symbol of "glory" on my head at church because I think 1 Corinthians 11 tells me to, even if I may turn out in the end to be wrong. That's because I will definitely be wrong if I don't do what I think God is commanding. To disobey what I think God is telling me is to disobey God. There is nothing more a man can do at any given moment than say yes to God as he hears Him. It is God Himself who gently steers our boats, and corrects their course, but only as we're moving toward Him (Philippians 3:15-16).
Granted, "Let her cover her head" (1 Corinthians 11:6) may not be as important as "pour yourself out for the hungry" (Isaiah 58:10)—if you can call any part of God's Word unimportant. But I figure if the king tells you to go conquer the hinterlands one day, and tells you to shoe his horse the next day, you should do them both without slacking. He is the king.
There's a lot more than mantillas at stake for me personally. I want to stop putting filters between me and the Word of God. I appreciate scholarship, but it is rarely conclusive. The question is this: When push comes to shove, do I go with Christian peer pressure or with God's Word as I see it? All my obediences to received practice are suspect when I balk at the one point where conscience makes a contrary demand. It's when there is disjunction that my true allegiance shows.
I read in 1 Corinthians 11 that the woman's head is to be covered in worship. The modern Christian consensus tells me that is a relative and obsolete command, dealing with some first-century problem in the city of Corinth. My high-school literary skills tell me otherwise: The command is rooted in creation (verses 7-9) and in nature (verse 14). And if that weren't ironclad enough, I am to cover my head "because of the angels."
The angel detail is so cryptic, so off the wall, so without explanation, that it becomes the strongest argument of all. Where is the "cultural relativity" case now, where angels transcend all historical agitations?
The Apostle Paul says there are some convictions we best keep between ourselves and God (Romans 14:22). Maybe head covering is one of those. The saleslady ringing up my little black lacy number at the Catholic shop asked if I was going to Rome. I didn't want to get into it with her, but I've gone into it with you, for better or worse. Just for one column, though, which is no doubt all it deserves.
Copyright © 2007 WORLD Magazine
June 02, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 20
Used by permission
I have to give credit to the writer for submitting to a passage that she "thinks" God commands. It is interesting to me that she points out that when in doubt, it is better to cover than not to cover.
While I am not sure which specific passage led the writer to conclude that the head covering is only to be worn during worship, I found the simple action of obedience encouraging. I personally do not pray "only" during worship. Perhaps any readers who DO see that the scriptures state we are to cover while praying ONLY during worship would be willing to show me.
Additionally, in the last paragraph the writer states that she didin't want to go into detail with the saleslady about why she was buying a covering for her head. Why not? Every question asked about our faith or our actions should be a golden opportunity to proclaim the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
The Message of 1 Corinthians 11
Ethan R. Longhenry
This week I would like to examine a passage that has caused many divisions and great strife in many churches of Christ. Many have simply disregarded this passage and do not wish to find any way in which to apply it to their own lives because of the controversy that it generates. We must remember, however, that as Christians, we are responsible for the whole message of God, as is explained in Acts 20:27, 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God. Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
Let us now examine this passage: Paul's discussion of authority in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16:
Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled. For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man: for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God. Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
The controversy over the "head covering" has divided many churches over the years, and for this and other reasons many do not wish to even discuss this passage. Even so, let us look at this passage and see what the message is that Paul is attempting to relate to us.
Paul begins in the first two verses by exhorting the Corinthians to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ, which is a commandment given in other places (1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:6), and that the Corinthians ought also to hold fast to those traditions that were given to them, which is a commandment that is also seen in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. Therefore, Paul is giving no new commandments here to the Corinthians when he speaks of imitating Christ and holding fast to the traditions given to them by the Apostles.
Paul then begins in verse three with a discussion of authority and the symbols thereof. The line of authority Paul speaks of is very distinct: the head of man is Christ and the head of the wife is her husband and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3). He then says the following in verses 4 and 5:
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.
(It is obvious that what is required of one is NOT required of the other. This is NOT just a command for women. It is a command for men as well. One must cover and one must not! MP)
We see here two statements of fact given by Paul: a man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but the woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head. There are many here who desire to see the "unveiled" in verse 5 to refer to "having short hair," yet where do we see this in verse 5? Paul says that if her head is "unveiled," it is "as if she were shaven," a statement of equivalence. Why would Paul say that the woman who prays with an uncovered head is "as if shaven" if the covering is hair? This is even clearer in verse 6:
For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.
The ESV is even more clear concerning this passage:
For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.
The message is difficult to undermine: the "covering" Paul speaks of in verse 5 cannot be "long hair" since the wife ought to have "short hair" if she does not wear the "covering!" Therefore, one can very easily conclude from this passage that a woman should wear a covering if praying or prophesying.
(I am not sure why this version chooses the word "wife" because it is required of all women, not just married women; however, the covering CANNOT be the natural hair because it is ONLY required to be worn TWO times; When praying or when prophesying. How many women take their hair off when they are finished praying? MP)
Paul speaks further in verses 7-12 concerning why this is so:
For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man: for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.
Paul speaks plainly: he anticipates the question, "why must a woman wear the covering?," by saying that (1) the glory of man is woman; (2) the woman is of the man, not vice versa; (3) therefore, a woman should have a sign of authority over her head, "because of the angels." He then affirms, however, lest any man become conceited about his role, that man is not independent of woman and neither is the woman independent of man, and his example is that while woman was made from man, man is now born of woman, yet all things come from God.
Paul concludes this discussion in verses 13 through 16:
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Many attempt to use this part of the passage to "contradict" the beginning portion, and declare that the chapter states that the "covering" is "long hair" in verse 15. There is no evidence in this text, however, that the "covering" in verse 15 is the same type of covering under discussion in verse 5 except for an inference based loosely on context. Paul begins by appealing to nature, that long hair is a disgrace to a man, reminiscent of the language of verse 4. Yet then Paul says that "long hair" is a "glory" to a woman, and therefore it is her "covering;" yet did we not read in verse 7 that a woman should cover her head because she is the "glory of man?" Is this not the reason that she requires a symbol of authority upon her head? How, then, is the glory itself to be the symbol of authority when it is for the exact reason of the glory that the symbol of authority is necessary? There are many difficulties that arise in this text if we attempt to force verse 15 to be the same as verses 5 and 6.
(If you didn't follow that explanation, let me try: The hair is a NATURAL covering that God gave ALL women. Long hair distinguishes the difference between a man and a woman. Long hair on a woman is her glory. Again, it is a natural covering. The head covering is a SPIRITUAL covering. Just like baptism is a spiritual event if done for the purpose of entering Christ and having past sins washed away. During the summer, many people are baptized in the swimming pool. But that is not for a SPIRITUAL purpose. The head covering is a spiritual covering that is worn as a sign of submission to authority. Not ALL WOMEN wear a spiritual covering like they do a natural covering...only one's who are in submission to God. MP)
Paul then speaks that if there is one who inclines to be "contentious," the "churches of God" have "no such practice." Many here assert that if there is contention about the covering, Paul asserts that the church "has no such practice." Are we to believe that Paul will exhort the Corinthians to recognize the value of authority and the symbols thereof and then in the last verse deny everything stated because of one who is contentious? Who is Paul speaking of when he speaks of one who is contentious, one who wants to use the covering or one who wishes to violate the system of authority Paul has spoken of in this chapter? Obviously the latter-- it is not contentious to pursue the truth, is it not? Paul is confirming here in the last verse what he said before: the churches of God do not practice men having long hair nor having women with heads uncovered. Any other form of interpretation of this verse causes the text to contradict itself and makes Paul out to be unsettled in this doctrine.
(Let's not be contentious: Modern day language: Don't argue about it. Men, uncover your head when you pray (take your hats off) Women cover your head when you pray. (put a hat on, a scarf, a veil, something to cover your head) How many men continue to allow women to NOT submit to Scripture because they don't care about the covering instructions. How many men remove their hats at a spiritual or worldly function because a prayer is being offered? How many men require their son's to remove their hats when the little league baseball team is having a prayer? How many men require their son's to remove their hats when the little league team goes out for pizza after a game and a prayer is offered? Whatever the men take off to pray, the women are to put on. MP)
This is my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 based on the text itself. I am sure that there are many who disagree with me on this interpretation, and I do not want any to believe me to be overly contentious or argumentative. These are my conclusions based on the reading of the text; I do not "bind" this interpretation upon everyone I come in contact with, and I believe that all need to study this passage and come to their own conclusions and live with their consciences clean in the sight of God.
(Paul took 16 verses to explain the head covering, it's purpose, and that it is to be worn by women and not by men, during prayer. He goes so far as to ask a rhetorical question..."Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?" What is the obvious answer? NO! That sounds like Paul is binding the head covering to me. Wearing it is obedience. Not wearing it is a disgrace. We bind baptism why not the head covering? Those who refute baptism are contentious. Therefore, those who refute the head covering are contentious. If we bind baptism we are not being contentious but rather obedient. Same goes for the head covering...binding it is obedience. MP)
(There is a right and a wrong answer to this passage. Either the woman should wear a covering or she should not. The passage states that a woman who does not wear a covering is a disgrace. If it is a disgrace for a woman to NOT wear a covering, then it should definitely be something that our brethren should want to discuss openly and encourage all women to submit to. Think about this: For those who contend for the "hair" being the covering, are you teaching the women who have "short hair" to grow their hair long? It could be a difficult task to identify whose hair is short since there is no guideline to go by to know what EXACTLY IS SHORT, but you know of women whose hair is too short. If you are an advocate for the "hair" being the covering and you are encouraging women to grow their hair long in order to submit to this passage, what length qualifies??? MP)
It does distress me, however, how brethren have "agreed to disagree" so significantly about this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 that we fail to recognize the truths that cannot be disputed in this passage. One could leave this passage with the understanding that a woman should wear a covering and/or have long hair: where in this passage do we see that a woman should have short hair? Paul gives no room for compromise in verse 4:
But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.
Too often I have seen many God-fearing women who have decided to follow the latest trends of hairstyle and neglect all patterns of this passage: they worship at church and pray with short hair and heads uncovered! One may wrangle with the definition of "short hair" versus "long hair," but all too often many women will be seen with hair styles that make it difficult to distinguish them from men!
It is well-known that the church has been fighting the worldly influences of feminism, especially in the arena of the responsibilities of men and women in the home and in the church. Are we fighting so strongly in these arenas that we have neglected the message of 1 Corinthians 11? The message of 1 Corinthians 11 is difficult to bear in these times: it is yet another passage that demonstrates that there is a hierarchy of authority and that the husband is above the wife in this hierarchy. This message is not popular, but it must be heard. AMEN! MP We may consider the length of hair to be a mere trifle, but God must have some opinion about it in order to dedicate half of a chapter in the book of 1 Corinthians to the topic. Brethren, regardless of our stands on the nature of the covering itself, I must urge us to reconsider our neglection of 1 Corinthians 11 and that we ought to study and apply the truths that Paul has laid out for us to our lives and to continue to fight the good fight! AMEN and AMEN! Thank you brother Longhenry! MP
Ethan R. Longhenry
We cannot just teach the love of Jesus and expect to produce disciples. We must teach the cost; the transformation that is required; the continual process of taking up our cross, denying ourselves. Otherwise, we are just a social club using the Lord's name in vain. (MP)
"...And this same message was not just directed to sinners, or to those who were not His people—it was also directed to saints (Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19). Sorry, but the “once saved, always saved” doctrine just doesn’t square with Scripture. A Christian who sins needs to repent, or he’s going to be in a lot of trouble (notice the “repent...or else” warnings in the passages listed above (and consider the next point).
Jesus made it clear what would happen to people if they didn’t repent—“unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). To those cities who did not repent at His preaching, Jesus warned of condemnation. For example, here’s what He said to Capernaum: “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:23-24)...." (Bryan Gibson, Prattmont Church of Christ)