Why Would God Call Me “Helper”?
Women, let’s set aside our own distorted views of what it means to help and ask God to show us how he planned this calling to be a blessing to us, to the men in our lives, to our community, and to all creation. We live and serve to please One, and he delighted to make us helpers in his grand plan. Oh, that we may delight in this calling too.
For Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:20)
Helper. Many women in our day have chafed at this word, at this characterization of our calling from God. A helper is clearly not in charge. A helper is not usually center stage. A helper may feel (and rightly!) that she has gifts and talents that enable her to do the work better. A helper rarely gets as much recognition for her work. A helper may feel like a second-class citizen. And we could go on.
Some of these assumptions may be true, some are outright lies, but all of them miss the point. Each of the above statements comes from the perspective of fallen creatures, socialized in the modern world; none seriously attempts to consider what the Creator himself had in mind when he designed and assigned callings to men and women.
When God created male and female, he did not mean to glorify men and demean women, as if helper somehow meant lesser. God created humans — men and women together — as the pinnacle of all creation, crafting both in his very image (Genesis 1:27). He created them with distinct and complementary attributes, inclinations, and gifts that make them indispensable to one another and to his plan for filling the earth with his glory.
Helper with Equal Honor
Now, God did make man first, and he gave man the primary responsibility (and accountability) for the outworking of his plan (Genesis 2:7, 15–17; 1 Timothy 2:13) to extend his glory (Ephesians 1:10). But by giving man primary responsibility and accountability, did God intend for Adam to be a mini-god on earth, decisively higher than his wife, who was also made in God’s image?
No. Before God made Eve from Adam, he humbled Adam by permitting him to discover how impossible his task would be without help — God’s help and human help. God had already indicated that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18), but then he set Adam to naming all the animals, building to the discovery that “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:19–20). Then, at the creation of Eve, Adam’s “at last” shows the relief and delight he felt (Genesis 2:23). He knew he needed a helper for this mission.
Woman, then, was not created as a subjugated slave, but as a means of mutual blessing for them both. She was, and is, an essential partner and helper in the grand work of subduing the creation and filling the earth with God’s imagers, giving glory upon glory to the eternally worthy God.
The twisted lie that Adam is more important, that Adam’s call means power and privilege, and Eve’s subjugation, springs out of the pride that human hearts have harbored since the fall. Men too often have been puffed up to lead with domineering power, and women too often have been puffed up with righteous indignation, asserting that they have just as much of a right to power and privilege as men do.
Of course, Adam could not assume responsibility (and accountability) without the associated ability (and burden) to make critical decisions. But all throughout the Bible, and especially in the life of Jesus, we see that every earthly power is subject to the righteous and holy God.
You Might also like
Do Women in the Church Really Know God?By Redeeming Family — 11 months ago
Women are not inferior to men by Gods design. We have been made to have the knowledge and personal relationship with our God. As women, we need to get away from thinking we need women only books and Bible studies. Instead, lets realize that we are Gods children just as men as and should spend our time in theological study.
I grew up in the church attending every Sunday service, Sunday school, vacation Bible school and confirmation classes. I loved God and thought I knew all there was to know about him, but I was wrong. Throughout my life, I have learned that I don’t know enough about God and I never will. Each stage of my life has taught me that there is so much more for me to learn. There were times when I was doing the bare minimum in my Christen life and thought I was fine. But looking back, I realized I did not prioritize God our Father and I was not growing in Christ. Over time, I have come to realize the importance of knowing God. The importance of spending time with Him, and the peace that comes from a personal dependence in God.
Growing up, I thought that Biblical study was for the men, the leaders in the church. I never thought there was a need for me to know more about God. I never felt a need to strive to grow closer to him. But boy was I wrong. Women should be taught about God. Not just the basics, but deep theology just like men. But what exactly is theology and why is it important for women to know? Theology is simply the study of God.
Why the Study of Theology is Necessary
The study of theology for all members of the household including men, women and children, is not just a side issue of the Christian faith but is a central necessity. Theology is the building block of our faith. How can we follow a God that we do not take the time to know? Our God has given us His infallible Word to study to learn more about him. Much like children need to be taught the alphabet and phonics before they can read on their own, we need to be taught theology. Once we have the basics of theology we can dive deeper into God’s word. God has called us to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Our primary way to grow in our knowledge if we spend time studying him through the reading of his word, prayer and serving him.
If we do not know our God then how can we call ourselves Christians? Being a Christian is not meeting with God when its quiet, meditating in nature or singing songs. Being a Christian is about belief in Jesus Christ as our savior, being saved through faith and our relationship with God our father. Every other relationship in our lives will end. We will lose friendships, parents, spouses and children but we will never lose our relationship with God. You will spend eternity with Him if you are His child.
Think back to when you were first in a relationship with your spouse. If you’re anything like me, you wanted to spend all your time with that person. You talked on the phone, emailed, texted and hung out together as often as you possibly could. A relationship starts by getting to know the other person so you can learn to love them, enjoy them and serve them to your best ability. Our relationship with God is very similar. We need to spend time with him, getting to know him so we can love him, enjoy him and serve him better. When you have a personal relationship with God our father, you want to learn more about him. That is the study of Theology.
Response to Tom Hervey’s ‘Reflections on the Statement by the PCA Coordinators and Presidents’By Chris Bryans — 10 months ago
What Mr. Hervey also means by the “separation of law and gospel” is as unclear to me as some of the issues of the Statement seem to be to him. How the separation of law and gospel relates to the issue at hand is also a puzzle to me. The same statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is part of law AND gospel. This needs further elaboration and I look forward to it.
Mr. Tom Hervey has offered a lengthy and searching essay concerning a Statement by Coordinators and Presidents of committees and agencies of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), that appeared in ByFaith webzine concerning racial justice. In his thought-provoking essay, he takes the agency heads to task on many issues that need further discussion. I believe that many of the points he makes in his piece are excellent, well balanced, and represent an honest, Christ-centered commitment to the Scriptures and to our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I certainly applaud Mr. Hervey’s concern that zeal without knowledge is not productive. I share his concern. My hope is that Mr. Hervey will continue to read and think deeply about the experiences of people of color, present or past. However, some of the assumptions lead me to believe that more research and careful listening is needed.
For one thing, the issue about who “we” are. The article lists the staff. Responsible people and those who feel that they must respond to the times. One could ask the same question of the Founders in their drafting of the Preamble. Certainly, “we” did not include everyone either. Justice and righteousness is something to strive for. It is part of the race we are in. Whether or not Mr. Hervey agrees with the authors of the Statement, one must ask who he does identify with if not the “we” included in the Statement.
Hervey suggests that in a time of moral foment that words spoken in truth and humility are NOT likely to be well-received so perhaps we should find some other vehicle. But for the people of God, the current climate should never dictate whether we respond biblically. Is he distinguishing between law and gospel here? I hope not. Truth and humility, especially when I am under pressure from unbelievers are non-negotiables according to I Peter 3:15-17.
He insists that the writers of the Statement do no exegete the Scriptures properly. However, I want to point out that the Statement does not say that foreigners were MORE oppressed than citizens but that they were oppressed and Isaiah calls this out as sin. Missing from the Hervey’s discussion is the clear prohibition of such in the Exodus 22. Why is the command even there? To remind the Israelites that they, too, were ethnic strangers in Egypt and oppressed. In other words, don’t do it – you know what it feels like (empathy?) Yet he chooses to quibble with the fact that sometimes foreigners were the oppressors themselves within national Israel. I’m not sure I understand all the ink devoted to watering down the clear prohibition of oppression of outsiders.
Hervey also appears to erect a straw man by assuming that “people of color” and “ethnic outsiders” are synonymous when the Statement does not imply such a relationship. Ethnic outsiders could include any category of immigrants. And need I remind the author of an entire OT book devoted to such sojourners/outsiders? I really don’t understand the point. Don’t oppress the vulnerable. Period. We do not want to lower ourselves to the clever gymnastics of pro-slavery apologists trying to counter the growing abolitionist sentiment in the Antebellum era. Suddenly there was this crying need to defend the institution of slavery by clever exegesis without dealing with the other, more basic scriptural issues such as the impact of slavery on the institutions that God had created – the family for one.
To me it is perplexing that he attempts to undercut the argument of extending justice and care for all people in Exodus to make the argument that this passage did not include criminals and the Canaanites. I would not imagine linking the two together. I am not sure why he does.
Too, his quibbling over the meaning of “Jesus serving outsiders proactively,” makes me want to ask more questions. Precisely then how does Mr. Hervey define service? Does it include evangelism? Healing? Preaching? Or are these separate categories of ministry (perhaps I shouldn’t use that word since it is a synonym of “service”). And if Jesus’ initiation of contact with the Samaritan woman was not proactive, then how would the author define it? Reactive? Jesus initiated the contact and chose to take the direct route through Samaria rather than around it as many devout Jews would do. And how does he assess the value of the parable of the “Good Samaritan” which clearly would have been an insult to devout Jews (represented by the priest and Levite)? I could go on. Does not the Holy Spirit’s initiation of the mission to Cornelius qualify as “proactive?” Philip’s trip to Samaria? His conversation with the Ethiopian eunuch? One pillar of the Reformed faith is that God is always the proactive one. We are not. Hervey seems to imply that because Jesus’ interactions with Gentiles were few, that they were relatively unimportant. Unless, of course, one delves into Acts, right?
His discussion of the passages in Galatians and Ephesians regarding spiritual and social unity is certainly on target. However, I fear that these same arguments are often used as an excuse for Christians to avoid confronting injustice in biblical terms wherever we find it. When I was in the Air Force, I confronted a senior NCO who was using some very inappropriate language toward a young female airman. Should I have refrained from this because there was no specific command to do so? The author’s argument has often anesthetized churches against confronting any injustice, including racial injustice, especially in the 20th century or failing to carefully listen to the voices of the oppressed wherever we find them. And when they did, they were labeled either liberal, social gospel advocates, outsiders, or worse, Communists. Today, they are just called “woke,” leftist, socialist, and yes, Communist. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson’s words about calls for American liberty from Britain, I find that the loudest calls for the status quo come from those who do not take these voices seriously.
“But it is a fair question just what is entailed in standing against injustice in the church.” I am reminded of the question of the Pharisees to Jesus in Luke 10:29, “But he wanted to justify himself,” so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” I believe Mr. Hervey is a godly, skilled expositor and interpreter of Scripture. Surely, he would recognize that the authors of the Statement are not advocating a radical socioeconomic restructuring of our church and a muzzling of the gospel but a recognition that there is or there may be a problem and we need to do something about it. Only in the area of racial injustice does there seem to be a pulling back from the clear demands to examine ourselves.
I also find the analysis of Jesus response to the question of the Tower of Siloam and Pilate’s brutality curious. Jesus responded to their questions in ways that truly revealed their hearts. After 9/11 I heard John Piper speak of what should be a similar response to the question of that tragic day. People who ask such questions are focused less on socioeconomic injustice than they are about why “bad things happen to good people.” Jesus cuts right through that. And so should we. Jesus responded in much the same way that he did with the question about taxes to Caesar. He was not going to be drawn into a trap by dealing with secondary issues. Neither should we. But if the matter is a primary issue for which prophetic responses are appropriate, this is a different story. Here, we must go back to the role of the Church in every age for calling out injustice. We did it in the early church with infanticide, with gladiatorial combats, with indulgences, with slavery, with fascism, with Bolshevism, with civil rights, with abortion. Are we to stop now because we are afraid of misunderstanding the terms of the fight? The answer to that is not less talk about the issue but more and, as Mr. Hervey rightly points out, more precise talk. And all in love.
I am not sure where Mr. Hervey is going in his brief comment about Romans 13:10. In attempting to separate law and gospel he believes that Paul is not discussing the gospel but the Law. The author is correct but only in a limited sense. And, as I am sure Mr. Hervey will recognize, although Paul lays out the gospel in Romans chapters 1-11, the applications of the gospel present themselves in the beginning of chapter 12 and continue to the end of the book. Just as he did in Ephesians and Colossians.
“This may seem an unfair charge….” Hervey seems to believe that the expression of sorrow over oppression would therefore, logically include supporting those whose values we do not share (i.e. BLM). I agree – this is certainly an unfair charge and I am puzzled why the author would include it. It is, however, consistent with his fears that recognizing our responsibility to condemn and destroy racism automatically leads to losing ourselves in social justice movements and destroying our mission. One does not logically follow the other. It reminds me of the many fears generated by Black equality in the 50s and 60s which I will not go into here. It seemed logical to those who feared it. But it is a fear. That is all.
Perhaps if the Statement had defined its terms more carefully, Hervey may have had less of an issue with its so-called ties to “contemporary activist rhetoric.” Unfortunately, apart from three examples (also inadequately explained) he seems to fall unintentionally into similar errors. It may have helped if he had cited precisely what makes these terms “activist rhetoric” and to cite the sources he is using. Certainly, we can all profit from careful attention to definition and eschew the claims of CRT. Yet labeling something as “contemporary activist rhetoric” rather than careful exegesis of why this rhetoric does not align with Scripture takes more than the paragraph allotted for it in this essay.
The author’s comparison of the level of rioting with the 1960s seems to be ahistorical. Suffice it to say that “1960s rioting” taken over several years beginning with the tragedy of Watts in 1965 cannot be compared with what took place over the past two or three years. I am not sure where the author has obtained his history of the 1960s. It is important to keep in mind, too, that many of the key marches and rallies in that decade and since the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-1956 were non-violent although there was plenty of provocation that would have made them violent apart from commitment of the movement’s early leadership to Christian non-violence. It seems that the author is gravitating toward a “Et tu, What-about-them?” argument rather than engaging with the Statement’s aims and designs.
The author also contends that certain so-called “contemporary activist rhetoric” identifies sins that the Bible never calls out including “racial sins,” “silence in the face of racial injustice,” privilege.” This statement reminds me of the argument I often here that since Jesus did not condemn homosexuality, it must therefore be ok. When we approach those sins – any sins in the light of God’s complete revelation from Genesis to Revelation we realize how extensively corrupt our sinful hearts really are – especially those of us who are redeemed. The Puritans practiced a form of self-examination at least weekly before the Sabbath – rigorous as it was – to root out every conceivable barrier between them and God. Dare we do less? Can I claim that because the Scriptures do not specifically call out racial sins that I am therefore not obligated to repent of it if I am guilty of it? Do I look at an attractive woman and then look at her again? Do I steal a few paper clips or a sharpie from my desk at work? Do I unconsciously look behind me on the street because a person of color is following me or hold tightly onto my possessions? Do I get nervous when a see a car full of young Black men circling my block at night? If the answer is “yes” or “maybe” to any of these questions, I need to take a Puritan approach to my own indwelling sin, call it whatever you wish.
Certainly “All Lives Matter, as Mr. Hervey says.” But I must remember when I make that claim that I have just communicated something very different to the person making the claim that “X” Lives Matter. I have told them in so many words, that their experience or pain means nothing to me. What if it were a believer confessing a real and painful encounter to me? Do I disregard their own real experiences simply because “All Lives Matter?” Doesn’t this violate the nature of the body of Christ and our call to suffer and rejoice with those who are suffering and rejoicing, as the author rightly pointed out earlier?
I grew up white in Honolulu – not on a military base, not in the middle-upper class communities that attended private schools but poor, on welfare, and the product of a single unmarried mom. Thus, as a minority, I was extremely conscious of my color and how intensely hated I was in some areas of the city. Suppose I mentioned this to some of my brethren and was be greeted with “All Lives Matter”’ I would feel that the message really was “Your experiences do not matter – your pain does not matter and therefore, you do not matter.” All lives matter, but so do individual lives. And we are called to love individuals. One cannot picture “all lives.” But I can picture one. And loving and taking seriously the claims of one does not mean that I reject the others. Love is not a zero-sum game – if I love Joe, I cannot therefore love Jack.
We can and should ask for clarification of terms as Mr. Hervey does. But I must always ask myself the same questions I ask unbelievers who are testing me. “If I answer your question to your satisfaction, will it influence what you think about Jesus Christ?” If the answer is “No, then I do what Jesus did when asked about the authority of John the Baptist, “Then neither will I tell you.” So, my question to my brother in Christ is this – if the Statement did answer your questions to your satisfaction would it influence your own reading, listening to, spending time with people who are really hurting in these ways? I must assume that the answer is yes.
Hervey appears to narrow privilege to economic privilege and there I agree with him. But to assume that this is all that privilege is narrows it outside of reality. Certainly, we are aiming for equality of opportunity rather than outcome but let’s take the issue of privilege further. In 1960s and early 1970s Honolulu, I longed for the privilege that came from having Asian or Pacific heritage. I’d be able to blend in. I’d have teachers who looked like me (I had three during my K-12 years). I also wouldn’t be beaten up on the last day of school or isolated in Boy Scouts. I also wouldn’t be teased by my 7th grade shop teacher for being white and dumb. I have since spoken to my peers in education who have been pulled over in their own neighborhood because of their color, had the cops called in front of their own house. Privilege is real. The larger question is, am I humble enough to investigate its manifestations, both present and past, without succumbing to unscriptural ways to dismantle it?
Hervey believes rightly that Scripture speaks for itself. This was a hallmark of the Protestant Reformation and its leaders’ desire to put the Scriptures into the hands of the people in their vernacular. But it was also recognized that Scripture needs to be interpreted. And a false interpretation can lead to disaster. So, when my brother contends that we merely need to let the Scripture speak for itself and not be influenced by contemporary movements or worldviews he is absolutely right. The problem, though, is that history is replete with examples of misinterpretations of Scripture. Using the Scripture to one’s own end. Sometimes I fear that many of my brothers are doing the same thing and I too, must be careful of using the Bible for my own selfish ends. Too many times in American history have we forgotten that our interpretations merely service our own worldviews. Lincoln recognized this in his Second Inaugural Address. In rejecting the German Christian movement’s antisemitic “Aryan” view of Scripture in Nazi Germany, so did Bonhoeffer. White supremacists insisted on the natural inferiority of people of color because of the so-called curse of Ham. This is why we need to listen carefully and read carefully to draw conclusions that do not accord with the Word of God. It takes a tremendous degree of humility and openness to correction to do this. As a history professor I shudder at how much I took for granted until I really started to do this. The assumptions I hear and read on all sides of the ideological divide astonish me. God preserve me from unwarranted assumptions about the people around me. One thing I have noticed is that our society asks few questions anymore. I mean real questions about people that are designed to help me get to know them. No, the questions I see in print and elsewhere are more like the questions a prosecutor poses to a witness. They are accusations disguised as questions and designed to win – not to understand. And, as Proverbs 18:13 warns, giving an answer before one hears is a folly and shame.
I am not sure if Mr. Hervey is actually charging the writers of the Statement with unintentionally seeking to overthrow God’s government or providence. Perhaps it appears that way. But conflating the Terror of the French Revolution and its outcome with the aims of the Statement seems to be on the level of the assumptions I mentioned earlier. May we seek to understand before we seek to destroy, whether these be systems or arguments.
Again, I don’t understand how Mr. Hervey separates the message of the gospel with its practical implications. As I view it, the Statement merely commits us to rooting out sin wherever we find it. If that sin is idolatry, it needs to go. If it is greed, it needs to go. If there is any kind of systemic injustice, it needs to go. But to paraphrase the author, what if there is no idolatry? What if there is no greed? Sin has consequences; it is written all over our history. The most deceitful thing we can say to ourselves is, “I don’t need to examine myself in this. I am clean.” Perhaps we are. But I would rather “examine myself (constantly) to see whether I am in the Faith” (II Cor. 13:5). That is my calling. That is the calling of the Church.
What Mr. Hervey also means by the “separation of law and gospel” is as unclear to me as some of the issues of the Statement seem to be to him. How the separation of law and gospel relates to the issue at hand is also a puzzle to me. The same statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is part of law AND gospel. This needs further elaboration and I look forward to it. Unfortunately, although the writer severely takes authors of the Statement to task for its application section, he does not seem to offer any real solutions himself beyond the exhortation to preach the gospel. I certainly applaud that. Workable solutions take time, work, love, blood, sweat, and tears. Perhaps this too, will be elaborated.
Chris Bryans is a member of Northside Presbyterian Church (PCA) and teaches history at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne FL.
The Order of Salvation—The Application of Redemption (Final Part)By Andy H. — 2 years ago
Written by Andy H. |
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
The order of salvation must be understood against the backdrop of man’s total depravity and moral inability. Therefore, God initiates and he does so by sovereignly, effectually calling by life-giving regenerating power. Man then responds in faith and repentance and conversion, and as a result of that he’s joined to Jesus Christ, justified freely, by the grace of God, separated from the bondage of sin, adopted into the family of God.
Faith and repentance, union with Christ, justification all happen at the point of salvation. In addition to that, following justification—not even following, but accompanying it—is what we call definitive or positional sanctification. You would know that when the Bible talks about sanctification, it talks about it in three aspects of positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and perfect or final sanctification. Definitive or positional sanctification is, when by the Spirit of God, we are freed from the bondage of sin. As Paul says in Romans 6, “having been freed from sin, you’re now enslaved to God.” All believers have been positionally and definitively sanctified. All believers have been freed from the bondage of sin. They have been delivered from the dominion of and darkness translated into the kingdom of God’s beloved son.
Paul told the Corinthians, “You are the sanctified, you have been sanctified in Jesus Christ.” And he said in 1 Corinthians 1:2, “to those who had been sanctified.” They are already sanctified in Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, “such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Past tense actions that have separated us from sin. All believers at the point of salvation are positionally sanctified. That means set apart in consecration to God, separated and free from the bondage of sin.
Peter said, “that you are kept by the power of God for an inheritance ready to be revealed.” This world is not our home, we are not to seek the things of this life. Our home is in heaven, our inheritance is in heaven. Our Father is in heaven and every spiritual blessing is ours now and shall be then. He is no longer a righteous judge, he is a loving Father. This is the order of salvation of effectual calling, regeneration, conversion, union with Christ, justification, positional sanctification, and adoption.
All I’ve just mentioned happen instantaneously and it often happens upon the subconscious, non-experiential part of man. The question is how is that salvation applied to us? It is applied by God, the powerful effectual call, regenerating grace causing us to be born again, giving us the gift of faith and repentance that we come to Christ is true conversion. We’re joined to Jesus Christ and we are set apart to God, justified freely by his grace, adopted into his family.
After that, the adventure and the journey of progressive sanctification begins. We’re told to grow 2 Peter 3:18, “into the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter says in 2 Peter 2, “like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word,” that you may grow in respect to salvation. Sanctification as you well know has two parts. Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2 talk about this: the mortification of the old man, and the renewal of the new man into the image of Christ. Now hear me carefully, salvation has several dimensions. We have been saved, we are being saved, we will be saved. We have been pardoned from the guilt of sin, we have been freed from the power of sin. We are being cleansed from the pollution of sin and one day we will be freed from the presence of sin.