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Breaking Up the Good Old Boys' Club





3. Pentecost broke the gender barrier. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the inauguration of a completely new season in church history. God did a new and marvelous thing. He took the anointing oil that had been reserved only for Jewish priests of the tribe of Levi and poured it out on both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, and Jew and gentile.

When the Spirit was poured out on the men and women gathered in the upper room, each of them received a holy flame. The Bible does not say the men had blue flames while the women had pink flames. The anointing has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with Jesus Christ, the one who baptizes us with His Spirit.

This is why the apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel in his Pentecost sermon, declaring, “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17, emphasis added). And this is why Paul later told the Galatians that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28). Theologians have long referred to that passage from Galatians as the Bible’s great emancipation proclamation. Those who would deny a woman the anointing to preach might as well go back and live under the old covenant.

Equality in Christ does not mean that men and women should be androgynous. Empowering women is not about denying sex roles—nor is it about women overthrowing men. But if we want to be a truly Pentecostal people we must release women to take their place in this newly anointed priesthood.

4. The apostle Paul trained and released women leaders. For centuries traditionalists have misread and twisted Paul’s words about women. Citing two difficult passages (1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:12) they have forged a doctrine of female silence and subjugation that runs contrary to the rest of Scripture.

We don’t have room here to dissect these passages, but it should be noted that Paul was dealing with specific crises in Ephesus and Corinth when he made these statements. If we are to honor God in our Bible interpretation we must look at all Paul said about women, as well as how he worked alongside women.

When closing his letter to the Romans, Paul mentions several women leaders who served on his apostolic team—including Phoebe, a deacon; Priscilla, a skilled Bible teacher; Tryphena and Tryphosa, whom he described as “workers”; Persis, a Persian woman he labeled “hardworking”; and Junia, who obviously served in apostolic ministry (see Rom. 16:1-4, 7, 12). In other epistles he mentions women who led churches, such as Chloe (see 1 Cor. 1:11). He also tried to reconcile Euodia and Syntyche (see Phil. 4:1-3), female ministers who had some kind of ministry dispute.

Paul obviously saw women as a strategic part of God’s plan. When he ventured into Europe he went to the place where women prayed—and Lydia, a businesswoman, was his first convert (see Acts 16:13-14). The Paul who clamped down on female false teachers in Ephesus is the same Paul who supported his female ministry comrades. We need to stop making him out to be a chauvinist when he was the best model of a male leader who empowered women.

5. God’s family is made of both fathers and mothers. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we see a constant theme of male/female partnership: Abraham and Sarah inherited their promise together; Deborah and Barak won a great military victory; Mordecai and Esther overthrew a genocide plot; Priscilla and Aquilla laid apostolic foundations in the early church.

Solomon wrote: “Hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8). From the beginning God called male and female to reflect His image—and the biblical family was formed with one father and one mother. God needed both genders to accomplish His purpose.

Yet in many churches today a woman’s spiritual influence is minimized. We‘ve either muzzled our women or simply displayed them like decorations on a shelf. When godly women are silenced the whole church suffers.

Many Christians are rightly concerned about the advancement of the homosexual agenda in our culture. We oppose the acceptance of same-sex marriage—as we should. But many of the same churches that argue for traditional marriage have adopted a policy of “same-sex ministry.” They only allow men to preach, teach, disciple believers and pastor the flock.

God is calling brave, passionate women of integrity today to step into the role of being a spiritual mother. Will we make fun of them like Eli did when Hannah groaned in prayer at Shiloh? Or will we bless them and make room for their spiritual gifts?

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