Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Women's Ministries in the Church: Conflicting or Complementary?


There is no denying the fact that the ministries of Brothers and Sisters have occupied important place in the functioning of the local church. This is acknowledged and underscored by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles. But there are different points of view as far as the types of ministries both brothers and sisters ought to perform in the gatherings of the believers. With regard to the ministry of sisters, there is wide range of opinions and points of view. It ranges from total involvement at one extreme, even in leadership roles in certain Christian denominations, and total denial of opportunities for Sisters in any ministry whatsoever in certain churches. There are those who teach against head covering for Sisters in the large evangelical communities on the one hand while there are others who insist on head covering even in their homes (as we are to pray without ceasing and would need head covering almost 24 hours a day). In this light, it is profitable to examine the biblical position on the ministries, roles and responsibilities of sisters without bias or preconceived notions.

The Common Ground
The Bible teaches emphatically that both men and women are equal before God and in relation to God. Man and woman were equally created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). They are equal in God’s sight with regard to the salvation of their souls (Galatians 3:26-29). Both men and women are co-heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). The woman is not inferior and less important than the man. This is reflected in the way God relates to man and woman and how they relate to God.
Framework for Ministries in New Testament
Even though men and women both serve the Lord and His church in significant ways, we should not conclude that God has intended men and women to function in the same capacity. They have different roles and responsibilities in the ministries of the church.
Here we should be careful to understand that even though all believers are imparted spiritual gifts, some are exclusively for ministries in and for the general assembly, like shepherding, preaching, leading, guiding and teaching all the believers. Many other gifts are for use for all believers on a personal and individual basis (help, prayer, encouraging, giving etc.). We are all called upon to heed to these instructions in the Word of God. 
We see that general accountability in the administration of the spiritual gifts in the assembly is vested with the ministering brethren who are the spiritual leaders of the church like elders (pastors), teachers, evangelists and deacons. All believers should exercise their spiritual gifts under the leadership of the assembly which is given to the brothers (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 2:5-9).
The Bible clearly defines the role of the women in the church, as in the family and society. It is abundantly clear that the Bible doesn’t envisage women to be in the leadership role of the church (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35). This means that they are not envisaged to be pastors, elders teachers and preachers in the assembly. The Bible warns that the church should not be marred by the leadership of women because in the beginning, a woman was used by the enemy to mar the first creation of God through sin (1 Timothy 2:12-14). Thus women are not expected to take leadership roles, but to take supportive role in the church.

Examples of Women’s Ministries

During the Old Testament times, several women were given spiritual responsibilities, like Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Chronicles 34:22) and Anna (Luke 2:36). They performed their ministries under the Law and within the restraints laid down in it. Hannah followed this restraint in keeping silence in the Temple of God as she prayed quietly when her lips moved, but sound didn’t come out (1 Samuel 1:13).

The New Testament introduces us to Priscilla (Acts 18:26) and Phoebe (Romans 16:1) who were involved in the ministries of the church by involving in evangelism, teaching of individuals and sisters. These ministries were definitely on the basis of the spiritual gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit.

When we study the subject of spiritual gifts, we see that the Spirit of God imparts spiritual gifts to all believers (Romans 12:3-10; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11) which include sisters as well as brothers. The sisters are to minister on the basis of their spiritual gifts, just as men, in the assembly of God’s children on the basis of the spiritual needs of the believers.

We read about the admonition of Paul to the sisters to do their ministries by covering their head only. This includes prayer and prophesy (forth-telling or preaching and not foretelling) (1 Corinthians 11:5).
Luke writes about the four daughters of Evangelist Philip. These young ladies had the spiritual gift of prophesy (forth-telling or preaching and not foretelling) (Acts 21:9). At the same time, we can notice that when the Spirit wanted to foretell something to Apostle Paul, He used a brother to speak to him and not the sisters, even though these four forth-telling sisters were there (Acts 21:10-11).
All of these evidences prove beyond the shadow of doubt that Sisters are given spiritual gifts and ministries by the Holy Spirit and that they are expected to minister to the needs of believers in the church and people outside on the basis of these gifts.
Women’s Role in the church
Sisters are given a distinct role to teach and build up other sisters, especially the younger women folk (Titus 2:2-5). The areas of their teaching are not necessarily the doctrinal truths which are normally taught by the men who have the teaching gift and responsibility. The elder sisters have the mandate to teach the younger ones biblical truths related to behavior, character, attitude, family and social relations. These include:
i.                     Discipling younger sisters in their daily walk
ii.                   Exercising self-control in their personal and social behavior
iii.                Relation with husbands in loving, respecting and submitting to them (to the married ones  and those who contemplate marriage)
iv.                 Biblically correct children wisely and prudently
v.                   Personal restraint in passions, aspirations and desires
vi.                 Modesty in personal appearance as good examples to others and for keeping testimony
vii.                Uprightness in character and behavior
In these areas, a woman understands other women more intimately and can exercise her prophetic (forth-telling) gift to minister to their spiritual needs. They may teach the younger ones individually, counsel them individually and in small groups and in the gatherings of the sisters.
What the Bible teaches about women with prophetic (forth-telling) gift leads us to think that there are regular gatherings of the sisters during the week. Otherwise, where would the sisters who have the prophetic gift exercise it? How else would the assembly know that certain sister has the prophetic gift? Surely she doesn’t have permission to exercise her prophetic gift in the general assembly gatherings but only in the gatherings of sisters in the church or in the community and among children (like Sunday school).
It is also true that the prophetic gift is not to help women in their physical needs alone like what Tabitha (Dorcas) did. Tabitha probably also had a prophetic role in reaching out and teaching the women at Joppa. We read about Phoebe who was a deaconess in the church in Cenchrea and Priscilla who was a partner in association with her husband Aquila in building up Apollos. Paul also speaks about several sisters who partnered with him in his long years of ministry at various places, in Romans Chapter 16. We also read about such ministering sisters who battled in gospel with Paul like Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3). These sisters were not necessarily cooks or butlers of Paul, but his associates in spiritual ministry with spiritual gifts and who worked among the women folk in the places where Paul ministered.
Practical considerations
When Paul mentions about women prophesying with head covering, he can only mean that women have such a role in the church. But prophesying by sisters could only be exclusively among the sisters in the assembly, as the sisters are not permitted by the Bible to teach or lead the brothers in the assembly (1 Timothy 2:11-15).  
But women’s gifts are to be used in the assembly as authenticated by the Scripture, among sisters, outsiders and children who may be baptized at a relatively younger age, or even unsaved children. But it may be administered under the general leadership and the guidance of gifted men in the assembly. Sisters would do well to remember that they have to exercise their gifts in humility, contrition and submission. Sisters should accept and perform these ministries with grace and without rebellion or conflict. At the same time, the leadership of the church should not be tempted to suppress the spiritual gifts of the sisters, but fan it to flame (2 Timothy 1:6).
Lastly, the New Testament emphasizes the role of sisters also as godly mothers who bear and bring up children for God (1 Timothy 2:15). In this, Jochebed (Moses’ mother) and Hannah (Samuel’s mother) were great examples in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we have the example of Lois and Eunice (the grandmother and mother of Timothy) (2 Timothy 1:5).
In conclusion, we may say that what the sisters are instructed to do cannot be done by the brothers effectively. What the brothers alone should do must not be taken over by the sisters. Thus we serve the Lord in His Church in a complementary manner. That pretty well summarizes our concerns about the role of women in the church.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Thought Life and Witnessing

Among the many counseling mails I receive, the following was received from a 15-year old boy by the name Joe (name changed). Pertinent parts of his mail read as follows:


Hi uncle:

I am a high school student from a Christian family and am born again. I want to be baptized. But I feel that I am often faced with temptations by the devil. I am unable to control my thoughts and make it clean. Uncle, will you please give me some tips which I can follow to remove these temptations. I have nobody else to share this burden with. Please pray for me, uncle. I am much disturbed about lack of victory in my Christian life.   

Another thing: I try my best to send gospel messages to my friends, but I'm scared that the relationship between me and my friends will end because of this. Please pray for me. I am also praying. 

Please give me a reply soon, uncle.

Bye uncle.


10th June, 2016.


I wrote the following reply to Joe, part of which I want to share with all the Youth and Young At Heart. 


Hello Dear Joe:

Thank you so much for your kind mail. Thanks for writing about your burdens in your Christian life. I assure you that I shall prayerfully help you with some tips.

I am glad you are thinking about speaking to your friends about Jesus. Fear always comes from the devil. If you trust Jesus and leave the consequences to Him, He will give you the boldness to speak to your friends about Jesus. Jesus will take care of the consequences. You should be as loving as possible when you speak or send gospel messages to them. Please take care not to get into any argument while speaking. Whenever there is disagreement, make it “agree to disagree agreeably” and have peace. Keep the relationship going and continue to pray for them. God will work in their hearts and will bring about a change in them one of these days. Remember, you are the ‘only Bible’ they read and so be very careful the way you live among them, speak and behave. They will watch all of these in you and will evaluate you.

I am glad that you are desirous of getting baptized.  This is one of the earliest steps you should take in your Christian life to demonstrate that you love Jesus more than anything or anyone else in this world. When you have this desire, the enemy will try to pull you back. But you should refuse to be pulled back by any force. Prayerfully submit yourself to the Lord and ask Him to take control of your thought life and desires. Whenever temptations come, do the following:

1.        Denounce it in the name of Jesus Christ and ask in prayer that it is removed from your thinking. Keep praying continuously, everyday and at every opportunity (James 4:7/1 Peter 5:8-9)

2.        Pray for strength to resist the devil (Matthew 7:7-11)

3.        Guard your eyes and ears from seeing or listening to anything that will try to tempt you (Job 31:1; Proverbs 4:23-27; Matthew 6:22; 1 John 2:16)

4.        Whenever there is a failure, confess it to the Lord and ask for forgiveness (1John 2:1-2)

5.        Then thank God for the victory you experience each time (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Joe, please remember, victory is never permanent; it comes to us one step at a time. You can get victory over sin and thought life step by step and a day at a time. So live carefully and confess and repent each time you fall. You cannot stop temptation, because it comes from the outside. But you can keep away from it and from all its entry points and be careful not to fall into it. Spend much time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study. These are ways to get victory over thought life. Also as much as possible, please don’t be alone anywhere, but always be with others, like mom, dad, brother and Christian friends.

Please note the following verses which will help strengthen your fight against sin and thought life. Study and meditate on these verses. The result will be amazing.

1.      Romans 6:12-14 (Submit our bodies and our whole being as instruments for God to use for His glory)

2.      Romans 13:14 (Make efforts not to make any provision for sin and wrong thoughts)

3.      1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (We are not ours and we should allow God to do what He pleases only in our lives, thoughts and bodies)

4.      2 Corinthians 7:1(Keep yourself cleansed through reading of the Word, confession and prayer)

5.      2 Timothy 2:22 (Flee or run away from all circumstances which would prompt us to sin)

6.      1 Peter 2:11(Keep away from fleshly lust which try to enter your mind)

7.      Philippians 4:8 (Think about sublime, noble and holy things all the time, as much as possible. Fill your heart and thoughts with it)

8.      1 John 1:9; 2:1-2/Proverbs 28:13 (when you have a failure, confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. God will definitely forgive you)

9.      Romans 12:1-2 (Submit your body and mind to God during daily prayer’ Live daily with this fact that your bodies are already submitted to God and that it is not right to take it back from Him)

10.  Psalms 119:11 (Spend much time in the Word of God – read, meditate, memorize and study)

11.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (Look at Jesus by faith and be occupied with Him and things concerning Him

12.  Proverbs 18:10 (Call on the name of the Lord in moments of fierce temptation)

Please follow this pattern of life every day. Also I recommend the following for you to consider and implement soonest possible:

1.      Have a QUIET TIME every day. Select and read a small portion and meditate and study that portion. God will speak to you from that portion to strengthen your spiritual life

2.      Find a PRAYER PARTNER who is closely known to you. Perhaps it could be a friend or some other youth from the assembly or outside the assembly. Meet with him sometime during the week and spend some time in prayer together. This will strengthen your spiritual life.

3.      Along with the Bible, please read good CHRISTIAN BOOKS, like True Discipleship (By William MacDonald). I shall send you a set of books if you contact me (E-mail:)

I hope all of these will help you in your Christian walk.

My recommendation is that you need not wait to decide about baptism. If you have the assurance of salvation, without the shadow of doubt, please go ahead and get baptized. As you obey the Lord, He will give you the strength day by day to resist the devil and give you victory over your thought life and sins. Thus each day you will have a closer walk with the Lord.

Dear Joe: Please write to me if you have further questions about any of the above or anything new. I will continue to remember you in my prayers that the Lord will protect you from all evil, strengthen you to resist the devil and sins in your thought life and take good care for you. Remember! There is victory waiting for you each day as you live that day in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Joe: If you want to speak to me, please send an e-mail, and I shall call you or send you my mobile number. I will be careful to protect your identity. 

With prayers and love in Jesus

Oommen Philip uncle
Dear Readers: If you have any comments or questions regarding the above, or any other issue which concerns your Christian life, please write to me to

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The Lord’s Supper: 
Confusions of Semantics and Synonyms


The Lord’s Supper is often mistaken for the Lord’s Table due to semantics and synonyms. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke clearly about His Supper and showed how it is to be observed. In spite of such Biblical clarity, our minds get cluttered in words and wrong practices which often emanate from traditions and lack of careful study of the Word. There are many who link the Lord’s Supper with ministries and even leadership roles rather than allow it to capture our minds and spirits and get ourselves lost in the wonder and awe of the greatness of the cross and the death of the Savior. Many often equate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ with the ‘Lord’s Table’ and give undue importance to the furniture and the settings of the table. Others think that worship is impossible without the ‘Table’ and confuse between worship and remembrance. Many go away from remembrance meetings without adequately remembering our Lord, His sufferings, His death and resurrection as their thoughts center on the Table and all the blessings the Lord has for us on His Table. 
The Lord wanted us to remember Him in more ways than one. He wanted us to remember what He has taught us and asked us to practice it to challenge the world and its ways. He wanted us to remember and proclaim His death and confess it in our lives by the observance of the Supper. At the same time, He has invited us to His table to partake in all that He has prepared for us all the days of our lives. These are distinctly different and distinguishable, yet there are truths which bind together if we meditate on it with expediency and devotional dynamism. He

Why the confusion?

The common confusion about the ‘table’ and the ‘supper’ originates from the similarities that we read in 1 Corinthians 10 about the bread and the cup in relation to His Table while the same elements mentioned in all passages related to the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11. It is true that both the supper and the table belong to the Lord and His people are the partakers of both. Both indicate privileges and responsibilities. These similarities make some think that they are one and the same. But if the table and the supper denote the same truth, why has the Holy Spirit used different words? Is there any possible difference between the two? Is it possible to understand the truth that is embodied in both, distinguish them carefully and experience both uniquely? 

Blessings and Remembrance

1 Corinthians 10:16 speaks about blessings that we receive from the table of the Lord. So it is profitable to understand what is meant by ‘table’ in this and other passages in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we read about the ‘table’ of the Lord in many passages in the Old Testament to which Paul connects as he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Though the Table of the Lord is mentioned in both the Testaments, the Lord’s Supper is a truth that is taught, commanded and practiced in the New Testament only. The Lord spoke about the portion of the priests at the altar as the table of the Lord (Malachi 1:7, 12) which the priests were given to enjoy. Psalms 23:5 speaks about the table the Lord prepares for us. That table contains all the spiritual blessings that the Lord has in store for us as we tread the enemy territory. The table in the wilderness prepared by the Lord is spoken about in Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalms 78:19 and in Proverbs 9:2. In all these situations, the table speaks about the provisions, care and blessings that the Lord has for His people. Here the idea of wooden furniture is not at all envisaged, although sometimes even a literal table, like that of David from where Mephibosheth ate, can be seen as a physical illustration. Thus we see ‘table’ as a generic expression of all that the Lord gives to His children on a daily basis in terms of His care, caring, provisions and blessings. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10.

The Lord’s Table is for us to partake, enjoy and receive as we fellowship from it. It is what we receive from the Lord. Is that what we do at the Lord’s Supper? Not at all! The Lord’s Supper is not a time of receiving any blessing from the Lord, but a time to remember and proclaim the Lord and His death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

The Lord’s Supper is observed as often as we gather to remember the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26) and proclaim His death. We read that it was being observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), largely to commemorate the day of resurrection of our Lord. The Jewish day was from twilight to twilight which is why Paul preached till midnight which caused the sleeping Eutychus to fall down and die. But there is no mention of a particular time or day to gather at the Lord’s Table because we are always at His Table to receive all that He has spread before us. As we draw near, we don’t  need to do anything physically to draw from a physical table, but appropriate from a spiritual table that is full of all His goodness spread before us for as long as we are in this life and will extend to all eternity. 

Remember how the Lord’s Table is differentiated from the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:18-21) that the idolaters draw from! But we do not see any such distinctions about the Lord’s Supper which is solely set up by us to remember our Lord and to proclaim His death. 

It is also interesting to distinguish the order given at the Lord’s Table and that of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table, we have the cup first and then the bread whereas at the Lord’s Supper, we first take the bread and then the cup (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). The significance of this distinction is pertinent. The blessings of the Lord’s Table with all His care and provisions come to us through His shed blood and so we draw near unto the Table of the Lord through His shed blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord first by breaking and eating from the bread. The bread reminds us of the persecution that the Lord endured in His body, and how He was crushed and mutilated by men at first and then crushed in the hands of the Father during the three hours of darkness. Afterwards we remember His shed blood through the wine which was the purchase price of our salvation and how when the whole blood was shed, His life was completely given for us. 

Let us also note that the Table of the Lord is invisible and that we enjoy all the blessings that the Lord spreads before us by faith. But the Lord’s Supper comprises of the visible bread and cup of wine which we see and partake of physically. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper, but there is no commandment to observe the Lord’s Table which is a continuous spiritual experience of all believers. 

We receive from the Lord’s Table all that the Lord gives us, but the Lord’s Supper is a time when we remember the Lord, His sufferings, His death and Resurrection till He returns for His Church. So the Lord’s Table is a continuous experience of receiving and enjoying what the Lord grants to all His children whereas the Lord’s Supper is heavenward from our hearts when remembrance and thanksgiving go up from our hearts. As we remember Him, we cannot but worship Him for what He is and what He has done for us.

Interestingly it is the Lord who invites all His children to His Table and gives them all His blessings all the time. They come and draw from His Table and get themselves enriched to live as His children. But the Church has the responsibility to administer the Lord’s Supper and even keep the visibly unworthy persons from partaking of it (1 Corinthians 5:11-12). 

It is also true that the bread at the Lord’s Table denote all believers and their unity as one body of Christ. But at the Lord’s Supper, we remember the broken body of our Lord as we partake of the bread. This is a serious distinction as we draw near the Lord’s Supper to remember Him.
The Bible warns all who ‘live’ in an unworthy manner as they enjoy the blessings made available to them at the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21), but those who ‘eat and drink’ in an unworthy manner at the Lord’s Supper are warned of dire consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29). 

The Whole Truth

Every child of God is expected to bear witness to these truths and must clearly distinguish between the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper and partake of both in full significance and keep away from fallacies and fads which the enemy brings to confuse us. We must give thanks to the Lord at His Supper for everything that He has done for us on the cross. We must also gratefully enjoy all the spiritual provisions that He has filled His Table with so that we will all be enriched in every aspect of our Christian life day by day.