The Big Issue

Saturday 29th December’s Telegraph referred to the recent trouble between two Presbyterian ministers in Portadown as a “Presbyterian Pickle” and a “sad saga.” Many no doubt would agree that the whole saga is indeed a sad and sorry one and hope and pray that “good might come of it yet.” It is however a pickle that is easily resolved. Resolution of the matter and indeed good coming from it will only happen when the real issue is seen. To date the whole episode is being portrayed as an issue about gender, or conscience, or discrimination, or accommodation or church law.

While these may be issues that no doubt sell papers and grab the headlines, none of them come anywhere near the real issue. The big issue here is none of these blood pressure raising topics but something much more important. The real issue, the big issue is the authority of Scripture. The real issue is listening to what God says and not what we think might be best.

All of us have a natural and sinful bent that makes us imagine that we know better than God. The sooner we wise up to that fatal flaw in all our hearts the better. The God of the Bible is our loving, caring Creator. There is nothing to know that He does not know. In His love and kindness He has given to us the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments. The self declaring statement of the Bible is that it is the breathed out Word of God. Every sentence, every word, every jot and tittle given by God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” (II Timothy 3v16) That means that it is without error, thoroughly dependable and trustworthy for it is His Word. Since it is God’s Word it will not bring any harm, only good to those who will listen in humility.

In His remarkable book God has told us who He is, who we are, what has gone wrong with the world and most of all about the only answer, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ coming to earth to live, die and rise again. The Bible also gives clear instructions as to how the church is to function. God tells us who belongs to the church, how the church is to worship, how the church is to be governed.

In I Timothy chapter 2& 3 God makes it very clear that the leadership of the church is to be in the hands of suitable, Biblically qualified men. God has said that clearly. It is not that He is down on women or that somehow God is a little backward and behind the times. It has nothing to do with culture or the developments of society. God makes it crystal clear that He has set the order on the basis of how He created things and what happened at the Fall.

If only we would listen to what God says and not imagine that we know better. None of us can afford to sit on the fence when it comes to the authority of the Word of God. If the Bible is what it says it is – the breathed out Word of God, then we should to a man, and a woman, close our mouths, open our ears, humble our hearts.

Then there will be peace in the church and blessing for all.

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