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Question #22

What about women preachers & free will?

I have two questions:

  1. Simply does God allow women to head/lead the church? I am quite comfortable with women ministers and as heads of churches. Am I correct in my feelings?

  2. Did Judas have free will not to sell out Jesus? I say Judas was the most important disciple simply because had he not turned on Jesus the crucifixion nor resurrection would have happened. It was foretold what each would do. He did not have free will to say “no” to the Jewish leaders. What is “free will”? If we are punished for our decisions is it “free”? God knows everything we will do before we do it, therefore our destiny cannot be changed. God knows before you are born who is going to heaven or hell, where is the free will? He knows who will accept his teachings and who will not.

The Answer:

These two questions raise issues that have been debated hotly, the latter of them for centuries. We shall address them in the order presented with the caveat that short answers to these questions are but starting points for the serious student of the Bible.

1. The scriptures teach that a woman is not permitted to preach or lead in the church. 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The word “teach” in this passage is from the Greek didaskoo, defined by Thayer as “to deliver didactic discourses.” One cannot preach without delivering a “didactic discourse”; women are forbidden to deliver a “didactic discourse”; therefore, women are forbidden to preach. Further, this passage forbids the exercise of any authority whatsoever by women in matters of a religious nature. Evangelists are to “rebuke with all authority.” Titus 2:15. Therefore, a woman cannot preach or evangelize. Many today argue that Paul’s prohibition was based on culture and that, since culture has now changed, women preachers are permissible. Such arguments are specious. Paul’s argument was based on the conduct of Adam and Eve (1 Timothy 2:13-15), not culture. No change in culture can change God’s Word.

2. God created man with free will; Judas was a man; therefore, Judas had free will. Since Judas had free will, he was not foreordained and decreed before hand to be the one who would betray Christ. It is probable that Judas was chosen to be among the twelve because Jesus knew that Judas was forming the very kind of character that do anything for personal gain whenever an opportunity presented itself. God never made any such decrees as that upon any one. God selected Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Tyre, Egypt, and Jerusalem, not by individual predestination before he was born, but because Nebuchadnezzar had developed a character suitable in every way for the task to be performed. When the time was near for Jesus to be betrayed, Judas was chosen because his character was such that it suited him for just such a task. Judas is spoken of as having that character before the time came for it to be done. John 6:70-71. In saying that Judas was the one that should betray him, it only means that Judas was the very sort of man that would betray him when the time came – not that he was foreordained to do it, but that he would do it of his own accord. In Matthew 26:24 Jesus said of Judas, “For the Son of man goeth, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if had had not been born.” This shows how wicked Judas was, but it is clear that he made himself that wicked by pursuing a wicked course in life. When Mary had anointed the feet of Jesus with a very costly ointment that filled the house with the odor, “Judas Iscariot, one of this disciples, that should betray him, saith, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred shillings, and given to the poor? Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the bag took away what was put therein.” John 12:4-6. Again, this passage demonstrates that the bent of Judas’ mind was in the wrong direction and that he was responsible for it – he loved money and would do anything that would bring money into his hands. If Judas was compelled to betray Christ then God must have compelled him. If God compelled him, then Judas was not to be blamed in the matter. In that case it would not have been the deed of Judas at all, and there could have been no guilt attached. The scriptures paint a different picture: “Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said, ‘What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you?’ And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.” Matthew 26:14-16. This language clearly speaks of a voluntary transaction. He speaks as if it were a matter of his own choice with no compulsion attached save for that created by greed. It is true that God ordained that Christ should be put to death, but God did not ordain that Judas was the particular man who should betray him. The proposition Judas made to the priests plainly indicated that if they would pay him a satisfactory amount he would deliver Christ unto them; but at the same time it indicated that he would not if the amount was not satisfactory. This transaction was before the Passover night, and it is said that “from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.” God does not decree that certain men shall do certain wicked things and then destroy them for it; he does decree that if men do wickedly they shall suffer for it.

Some, particularly Calvinists, believe that God has ordained everything, including evil, from the beginning, and that he knows exactly what will happen in all respects. If that is the case, then man in fact has no free will. He is an automaton that can only do that which he is programmed to do. It is incredulous that God ordains some men to do evil, that they cannot do otherwise, that it is God’s will that they do evil, and that He then condemns them to an eternal hell for doing what He ordained, approved, and compelled. It is true that God is omniscient or all-knowing. However, this does not mean that God knows that which does not exist. It means simply that God knows all that is knowable. The future does not exist and thus is not knowable. God can certainly know, based on present facts, how we are likely to act. This is no different from a parent knowing how a child will probably act if left home alone with a box of candy. Perhaps there is one difference – God is a much wiser parent and behavioral scientist. There are limits even on God’s omnipotence – He can only do that which it is possible to do. He cannot make a square circle or a rock that He cannot pick up. In short, you cannot make sense out of nonsense by putting “God can . . .” in front of it.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)