Anointing On All—Jesus is Family
Mzuzu, Africa 1996
“In order to speak the word of God you must be ordained.” Is this what most of you have always thought? I have good news from Jesus for you about this. It says in 1 John 2 (speaking to all true believers) that you have an anointing on you that is real and not counterfeit. The Spirit of God, Jesus, the Great Teacher, lives inside of you. Jesus is a wonderful and great Teacher and Counselor. Paul says that if you don’t have the Spirit of Christ inside of you, you don’t even belong to Him. So, if you are a Christian, then Jesus Christ—the most ordained man that has ever lived—lives inside of you. That means that if you are a Christian, you are ordained. Hallelujah!
Not a Position or a Title—Just a Job to be Done
There are times among God’s People when certain jobs need to be done. There are jobs such as caring for children, distributing food, caring for financial matters, helping to care for widows and orphans, helping to care for people’s homes and property, plumbing or electricity, helping to sew clothing or do gardening. There are many jobs in the Body of Christ.
In Acts 6 there was a job that needed to be done. This account in the scripture is not about “being ordained to be a priest.” The seven men described there were men that were full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. They were already doing a good job for Jesus. They already had a reputation of being humble servants of God. No one had ever laid hands on them, yet they were already speaking for Jesus. Then there was a job that had to be done in feeding the widows. So the laying on of hands described in Acts 6 has to do with doing a job, not speaking for Jesus.
Also, according to the Bible, these men were not truly “deacons,” as is the normal thought. What they were is actually even better than that. We read in 1 Timothy 3 that the deacons were to be married, but, as far as we know, these seven men were not married. The qualification needed in Acts 6 in order to feed the others was to be full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom; it was not to be married or have children.
Later on in his life, Paul went to visit Philip, who was one of the seven. Do you remember that Philip had four daughters who prophesied? The Holy Spirit describes Philip as “one of the seven,” not “one of the deacons.” There were deacons in many churches by that time, but the Holy Spirit did not say, “Philip, one of the deacons.” The Holy Spirit said, “Philip, one of the seven.” This is an important point. There is a difference between a deacon and someone who is chosen for a task.
A deacon has ongoing tasks, but the seven who were chosen in Acts 6 were chosen for a specific task. We even see that the job changed later on as things changed in Jerusalem. We see that Philip goes to Samaria, and Stephen goes and proclaims in a synagogue where he is stoned and killed, but we see no further discussion of them feeding widows. Sometimes we will lay hands on men or women to do a specific job, and when that job is over or changes, then they are no longer in that position.
It is a different sort of situation, though, when a Church is mature enough to have deacons and elders. Those are ongoing jobs that involve many things and taking responsibility to help in many ways.
When you become a Christian, Jesus lays hands on you and you become a priest. You become a speaker and a lover of God’s word. As the Church grows and changes, there are jobs to do and perhaps the Church will choose from among themselves two men or four men that are full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Maybe, if the job is very large, the Church will choose seven men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom and will lay hands on them together and appoint them for the work. As long as that work exists, and they are faithful and obedient in that responsibility, then they will have that responsibility. If they are not faithful in that responsibility, it should be taken away from them. But if they are faithful, they will work that job until it is done. For deacons and elders, this is a longer job. But it is also true that if they are not faithful and obedient, then the church should together perhaps take away that responsibility.
The Gift of Apostle
The apostle Paul said that he was a slave chosen by God. It wasn’t because he was someone special, but it was because God wanted to demonstrate His mercy. This is true for all apostles. They are not chosen because they are special. They are chosen as a trophy of God’s mercy. Paul said the responsibility of the gift of apostle is to be very faithful every day as a slave to tell others about the very great riches of Jesus. Paul said to the Corinthians that if he did not do this, a terrible curse would fall on him. So he became a slave to the Good News of Jesus, and he spent his life, no matter what it cost him, to tell others the Good News of Jesus.
There are many gifts in the Body of Christ and each one is special. Paul said that the gifts that everyone else had were very special, and that each person would function as a priest and tell others about Jesus. He said, though, that when others tell about Jesus they receive great rewards. But the apostles, Paul said, are cursed if they don’t tell others about Jesus.
The gift or privilege of apostle is one that is very, very special; it is very, very great and rare. But it is also very costly, according to Paul. He said apostles are like janitors in the House of God. In Ephesians 3, Paul spoke of two things he would do in his responsibility as an apostle. He said one thing (v. 8) would be to tell others about the great riches of Jesus. In verse 9 Paul speaks of the second thing that he is called to do, and that is to make clear to everyone how to live in the great riches of Jesus. He said he is going to teach them how to live in the mystery of Jesus—how to work out the mystery of Jesus in their personal lives.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul called himself a wise master builder. He wasn’t saying this because he was prideful but because God put it in his bones. God had given him great mercy and kindness and put inside of him the ability to see things that others could not. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul said that he had been a terrible man, but God had shown him mercy by not only forgiving him all of his many sins, but also by giving him a particular gift. Jesus gives many, many different kinds of gifts. All the things that Jesus was, all His different parts, He gave to His Body. In one sense all gifts are equal because they are all Jesus. But the gift that God gave to Paul was the gift of apostle. Paul said, “I did not even deserve to have my sins forgiven. But because He forgave my sins and gave me a gift, I will work very, very hard with this gift in order to say thank you to Jesus for forgiving my sins.” That gift was to tell others about Jesus’ great riches.
Because Paul had the particular gift of seeing what others could not, he needed to help all of God’s people see how to walk together. That’s what the gift of apostle does, and that’s why this gift is very important in the churches around the world. If you put 100 dedicated Christians in one place, they could all love Jesus with their whole hearts and could all want to obey Jesus very much. But without a relationship with an apostle somehow from somewhere, it would be very difficult to know how to live together. Committed, loving Christians can hurt each other, but the gifts that Jesus gives helps them to work together better.
Putting the Parts Together
We could take all the parts of a car—a steering wheel, a bumper, a motor, a door—and pile them in a room. They could all be very wonderful parts, but you could not drive very far in that car if all the parts were not put together. In fact, you couldn’t go anywhere in that car. The gift of apostle puts all the good parts together. In the churches, we need the gifts that can help put the car together. This is what Paul says in Ephesians 3. He tells people about Jesus’ great love and helps put the church together so that it will be the house of God. All the wonderful gifts and all the committed Christians need the gift of apostle to help them put the House together.
In Ephesians 4, Paul said that God gave gifts to the church—apostle, prophet, and the other gifts so that we can all grow together. Those gifts don’t make us Christians, but they do teach us how to grow together. They teach us to no longer be infants, help us grow into the full measure of the stature of Christ, and help us to be compacted together. Paul says that this gift is very important to the church in helping good people to build together properly.
Many of Paul’s letters talk about very practical things. He does talk a lot about Jesus, but mostly he talks about how the Believers should live with each other. He gives them practical teaching about money, their marriages, children and widows, and about how to build in the Church with authority matters. He teaches them about their worship together, their meetings, and how to share with one another.
Teaching all the good parts (the way to become a car) was most of what Paul did with his gifts. In other words, he taught them how to build together so that they could go somewhere; we don’t want to be a bunch of parts sitting in the middle of a room. We want to be a bus for Jesus to go somewhere. We want to build together and learn how to do our work together in love.
Some Practical Questions About Men’s and Women’s Roles
Paul said it was okay to have practical questions. In 1 Corinthians 1, we read about how some from the household of Chloe traveled hundreds of miles to ask Paul a question. They asked him questions about divisions they were having, questions about marriages, or about what to do when sin was in their midst. And because his gift was that of an apostle, he could see what to do. God’s people needed Paul to be able to see and help. Paul was not a “superstar.” He knew he had weakness in his heart, and had fallen into sin in the past. But because God loved Paul anyway, Paul wanted to say “thank you” by using his gift for God’s people.
“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman must learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to have authoritative teaching over a man. She must be silent. For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be kept safe through childbirth if they continue in faith, in love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:9-15).
This is similar to 1 Corinthians 14, and Paul wrote both Scriptures by the Holy Spirit. So we want to understand what the Holy Spirit was thinking when he wrote these things. The Holy Spirit is a person and He has thoughts and feelings, just like with you and me. If you say something to me, you are probably thinking and feeling more than you are saying. So we want to understand what the Holy Spirit is feeling and thinking since the Holy Spirit is a Person, not just words.
The heart of the Holy Spirit is that He loves men and women just the same. In Galatians 3, He said that there is no male nor female; we are one in Christ. There is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. If we have faith in Christ, we now wear Christ. We have the clothing of Jesus—not Jew, not Greek, not male, not female, not black, white nor yellow. Hallelujah?! But now we all are Jesus. What color is Jesus? Who cares? He is wonderful! And so, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, we all put on Jesus, and there is no more Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. This too the Holy Spirit has said in Galatians 3.
Precious Thoughts on Authority
There are many things that the Holy Spirit thinks concerning male and female. These things are precious and we must understand them together. As we consider all the teachings about man and woman, we see that the Father is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of man. Man is the head of woman. But, is not Christ the same as God the Father? Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Yet the Father is over Christ, though they are one. Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” The Father and the Son are one.
Certainly Christ is head over the man. But if we have been clothed with Christ, we are one with Christ. So there is still authority between Christ and the man, yet they are one in another way. There is authority between the man and the woman. The man is over the woman in the same way that Christ is over the man. Yet the man and the woman are one in Christ. So, in one sense, the man and the woman are very equal. And yet there is authority between the man and the woman.
These things are very precious and you must try to understand. The man can serve the woman with a whole heart. A man can love the woman and cherish her deeply. A man, in a way, can make himself a slave to the woman as Christ has come to serve the Church. But even though Jesus washed our feet as a slave would, He still has authority. And likewise, as a man cherishes and loves a woman, even becoming a slave to her in some ways, he still has authority over her, and she must respond to that.
Because Christ is so kind to us and loves us, we shouldn’t forget His authority, should we? There is an order in God. There is authority in God. And when the Holy Spirit speaks these things to us in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2, He is not saying that men are dictators, ruling over the women with an iron fist. Women are not slaves that have to hide in the corner in the darkness. We must celebrate the wonderful gifts God has given our women, and even submit to the gifts that He has put into their hearts. But women must still recognize the authority that God has placed in man. So all of these things are matters of the heart. All of Christianity is a matter of the heart, not a matter of rules and laws. Jesus did not give us a set of rules. He taught us how to have His heart. He teaches us to think like He thinks. Therefore our goal with 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 is to have the heart that He wants us to have about these matters. The Bible is not a rulebook, but a way to have a heart.
Now how does that look in a practical way? In a relationship between a man and a woman, the man will feed, care for, and cherish his wife. He will lay down his life for her in every way possible, even so far as to become a slave as Christ did for the Church. At the same time, the woman will listen very carefully for the voice of the man because that is her heart, just as is the Church’s heart to hear Christ. The woman’s heart is to hear the man’s voice and respond to it. This is not a law, but this is the way Jesus wants us to live in our hearts. The more a man lives that way towards a woman, the more he can hear God. The more a woman lives that way towards a man, the more she can hear God. The Scriptures say, “How can two walk together unless they be in agreement?”
Authority Sets Us Free!
All of these matters are very, very important. When the whole church is together, if our hearts and our minds are right, then the man will be very respectful and loving towards all the women (who will not disappear like the furniture). The men will deeply love the gifts in the women and will not want them to bury their talents. The women will respect the men and, as they are in the gatherings of the saints, will understand the authority of the men and never come over the top of that authority. Paul said, “I do not permit the women to teach with authority over the men.” And yet they can offer their gifts.
A practical example: If one of the women has something burning in her heart to say, she must not bury her talent. She must not ignore the gift of God that is within her because the men need that gift. We need all of Jesus desperately. So if a woman has something burning in her heart that she wants to speak, she can respect the authority of the men by asking permission to say this thing. She should turn first, perhaps, to the authority over her personally. If there is a man in her life that has special authority over her, then she should, perhaps, turn first to him and ask him if it is okay. Perhaps then that man should ask the assembly if it is okay if the woman speaks. If the man does not think it is a good idea for her to speak, or if the assembly does not think it is a good idea for her to speak at that moment, then she should be happy to be silent. She should not resent that or be angry. She should not say, “Well, then, I will never share anything.”
This is how the woman can be Jesus to everyone, with the man still having the authority. The man draws the gift out, but the woman does not push herself to the top. When you look at all the teachings of the word of God together, what you see is that God has a wonderful heart towards women. A woman is not like a chair or a table in the room. She is alive with Jesus and we need her very much. But she must also understand God’s order and not be proud or arrogant. She must be humble in order to offer her gift. This is the order of the angels, the order of God the Father and Christ the Son, and the order of man and woman. We are all one, but there is an order in God that helps everything to work smoothly. We are equal, and a wife’s gift may be even better than her husband’s, but God made him a man and so there is order. Maybe he doesn’t deserve to be in a place of authority. But God chooses things that we must honor, so we must all work together to draw out the gifts and also to love the order that God puts us in so that we can work together.
Where I live, we have some very, very gifted women. The Church there has been blessed by several women who are very, very strong in Jesus. They will all tell you the same thing about functioning within God’s Order—it does not press them down; it sets them free. There is great freedom in offering their gifts rather than just taking authority. It is a very precious thing to be in submission. The women will tell you that it frees their hearts and makes them sing inside to offer their gifts rather than to take. So, while we do not desire to push down any gifts at all, these gifts come as an offering from the women, and that is true in the home or in a gathering of the saints. This is a heart that is precious to Jesus—a heart He will bless.
Do you remember when Jesus spoke to the Centurion, the Roman guard? He said to that man that in him, He saw greater faith than was in all of Israel. The greatest faith Jesus had ever seen was in a man who said he knew how to be under authority and how to have authority. The Roman guard said that he would say to his servant “Go,” and he would go. He would say to another servant, “Come,” and he would come. He said he too knew how to respect authority and go and come under authority. Jesus said this was a man of the greatest faith He had seen because he knew how to respond to authority. It was something that set him free, not something that pushed him down.
When Christ is head of the man, the man is set free. Jesus said if we are not His slave, we are a slave of sin. When we choose to not let Jesus be our Master, sin becomes our master. But when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed. Do you feel these things in your own heart? When you obey Jesus, are you free? When you don’t obey Jesus are you dirty inside?
The same is true with a man and a woman. When we respond to God’s order, we are not slaves; we are free. But when we don’t, we become slaves to the wrong thing. A woman that is not under authority with faith will feel dirty inside. She will be confused and frustrated. God gives order and authority in the family and in the Church—not so someone can be better than another person or tell them what to do and order them around. He gives order and authority so that we can all be set free in love and God’s order.
Talking to Daddy as Family
We speak of a way to live, not a way to have meetings. The answers to many practical questions are easier than they seem at first. The more we become a family in truth, the more things begin to make sense. Most people are caught between being a family and being a religious organization. Some groups of people are totally just a religious organization. Others are somewhere between being a religious organization and a family. But, as God brings His Church more and more toward being Family, then more and more things begin to make sense. When we view ourselves as a family, the answers to different questions begin to make sense. Because we love each other so much, we share every part of our lives with each other every day. Now it’s no longer just about meetings. Rather, because our lives are so wrapped together everyday, men know how to treat women and women know how to treat men. If we know how to do it in our homes and in the streets, we will know how to do it in the meetings.
In all things, we must recognize God’s order, but we must also not quench the Spirit. We must recognize order, but we must not bury our talents. So, if all the Saints are together and God puts a prayer in my heart, as a man I might ask if it would be okay for me to pray. If I’m a woman I would probably ask a man if it would be okay for me to pray, and he might ask the whole assembly, “Would it be okay if this woman prays?” If that man and the assembly think it’s okay, then she is under authority. She is covered by authority if we ask her to do it. If she just decides to do it, then that could be out of order. But if we all want her to pray because she is our dear sister, then she is under authority and at that moment it’s okay. These things are true.
We should understand something about prayer. The word “prayer” sounds very religious to our ears. As we become more like family, then the way we work together makes more sense in the meetings. As we all become closer friends of God, then prayer makes more sense. In false religion, people “say their prayers.” In Jesus’ Christianity, we have a friendship with our dear Father. So, what then is a “prayer meeting”? I’m not sure I know what a “prayer meeting” is anymore. I know what it is to have God’s family together. I know what it is to have God’s family talking to their Father together from time to time. But I’m not sure I know what a “prayer meeting” is in Christianity. Can you see the difference? One is religion, and the other is relationship.
We don’t “say prayers,” we talk to Father—just like a young child would talk to his daddy. Does a young child have a prayer meeting with his daddy, or does he just enjoy talking to his daddy? Does he need a meeting to talk to him, or can he just talk to his daddy because he loves him? Well, what if all of God’s little children are in the same room and they want to talk to Daddy? That would not be a prayer meeting. That would be a family being a family with their Daddy. So now you can see perhaps how corporate prayer works. It doesn’t work, per se! What we can do, though, is if a brother loves Daddy and wants to tell Him that, when he gets done, I say, “My turn, my turn, I want to talk to Daddy!” That is how we pray together. That is how we talk to God together, as God stirs in our hearts. A special sister might ask a man, “Would it be okay if I talked to Daddy now?” And so she is still in order because the man has authority over her. But she still has the freedom to talk to Daddy if she has worked that out. This is how we can be with teaching, with prayer, with singing, and with everything because we are family together with our Daddy.
We want to continue to brush all of the traditions of men and religion out the door and just be simple children with each other. We don’t want to be religious, holy men with titles and rituals. We want to be loving children with each other and with our Daddy every day. Meetings take care of themselves because we are family all the time. We talk to Daddy together all the time. We bring the teachings of Jesus to each other all the time. If we all happen to be in the same room, that’s great. But that’s not any different than outside the room 30 minutes later.
A Question About Women
Question: But the Bible says that when we pray, the men raise their hands, but the women do not. So the women can also raise their hands? Can that be right?
Good question. 1 Timothy 2: 8-9 says, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes...”
He says, “I want men everywhere to lift holy hands in prayer... I also want women to dress modestly...” Does that mean that men should not dress modestly? Men must dress modestly also, even though he speaks to women here. And he does not say, “The women should not lift up hands in prayer.” He does not say, “Men must not dress modestly.” Men must dress modestly. Women must dress modestly. If a man lifts a hand, he should lift a holy hand. The key word is “holy.” He should lift a hand that is dedicated to God and wants to serve God. Unless a woman violates authority, if she has a hand that wants to serve God, it might be okay for her to lift it. God did not say that men should not dress modestly, even though he does address the women to dress modestly. God did not say that women should not be able to lift hands in prayer; so maybe it’s okay, if they are holy hands, just as it’s okay for men to dress modestly.