Reformation, Revival & the Role of Women

Psalm 85:4-6; Habakkuk 3:2
       Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again?
       O LORD, revive thy work.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I believe that the imperative need of the day is not simply revival, but a radical reformation that will go to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies and deal with causes rather than with consequences, with the disease rather than with symptoms.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There has sprung up in the Church of Christ an idea that there are many things taught in the Bible which are not essential; that we may alter them just a little to suit our convenience: that provided we are right in the fundamentals, the other things are of no concern…But this know, that the slightest violation of the divine law will bring judgments upon the Church, and has brought judgments, and is even at this day withholding God’s hand from blessing us.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): In many ways the root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teaching of Scripture. We accept what Scripture teaches as far as our doctrine is concerned; but when it comes to practice, we very often fail to take the Scriptures as our only guide. Instead of taking the plain teaching of the Bible, we argue with it. “Ah, yes,” we say, “since the Scriptures were written, times have changed.”
      Dare I give an obvious illustration? Take the question of women preaching, and being ordained to public ministry. The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy prohibits it directly. He says quite specifically that he does not allow a woman to teach or preach. “Ah, yes,” we say, as we read that letter, “he was only thinking of his own age and time; but you know times have changed since then, and we must not be bound. Paul was thinking of certain people in Corinth and places like that.” But the Scripture does not say that. It says, Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence, I Timothy 2:11,12.

JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): And why, I pray you? Was it because that the apostle thought no woman to have any knowledge? No, he gives another reason, saying, Let her be subject, as the law saith, I Corinthians 14:34.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: “Ah, but that is only temporary legislation,” we say. [But] Paul puts it like this: For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety, verses 13-15. Paul does not say that it was only for the time being; he takes it right back to the Fall and shows that it is an abiding principle. It is something that is true, therefore, of the age in which we live. But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching—when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The Holy Spirit has commanded, Let your women keep silence in the churches, I Corinthians 14:34. Then will the Holy Spirit now prompt testimony meetings and mixed prayer meetings where women are encouraged to speak before men? It would be blasphemy to say so.

JOHN BROADUS (1827–1895): Others lay stress on the word ‘church’ or ‘churches,’ and hold that the apostle means a formal public meeting, as distinguished from what we call a social meeting, such as a prayer-meeting, or the like. Applying a purely modern distinction, they say that a woman is forbidden to speak in ‘church;’ but that does not forbid her speaking in a prayer-meeting. The answer is that the New Testament knows no such distinction. In fact, the very abuses in public worship which the apostle seeks in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and chapter 14 to correct, are such as could only have arisen in an informal meeting, where everyone thought himself at liberty to rise and speak. Moreover, the same word ‘church’―the Greek meaning an assembly―is applied to meetings in private houses, as that of Aquila and Priscilla, or that of Philemon and Apphia. So this distinction also fails.

B. B. WARFIELD (1851-1921): It would be impossible for the apostle to speak more directly or more emphatically than he has done here. He requires women to be silent at the church meetings; for that is what ‘in the churches’ means—there were no church buildings then. And he has not left us in doubt as to the nature of these church meetings. He had just described them in verses I Corinthians 14:26-33. They were of the general character of our prayer meetings. Note the words “let him keep silent in the church” in verse 28, and compare them with “let them be silent in the churches” in verse 34. The prohibition of women speaking covers thus all public church meetings—it is the publicity, not the formality of it, which is the point.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I do not believe that by any of these [Scriptures] the prayers of women are to be despised, but by these we are taught who, as the mouth in assemblies to pray, is commended to us…Women may, yea, ought to pray; what then? Is it their duty to help to carry on prayer in public assemblies with men, as they? Are they to be the audible mouth there, before all, to God? No verily, and yet the command is general to all to pray.*

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The woman might, doubtless, say “Amen” to the public prayers, and also sing with the congregation to the honour and glory of God.

JOHN BUNYAN: When women keep their places, and men manage their worshipping of God as they should, we shall have better days for the church of God in the world.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): Scripture is very plain as to the place of the woman…We do not, of course, expect that persons who are bent on carrying out their own thoughts; whose will has never been broken; who reason instead of submitting to the authority of Scripture; who say, “I think,” instead of seeing what God thinks—we do not expect that any such will approve or appreciate what we have advanced.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is only one adequate explanation for the state of the Christian Church today, it is the apostasy of the Church itself…She must repent of setting up her own thinking and methods over against the Divine revelation given in Holy Scripture. Here lies the reason for her lack of spiritual power and inability to deliver a living message in the power of the Holy Ghost to a world ready to perish!

C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ’s Church. And until we come back to that the Church will have to suffer.

*Editor’s Note: As John Bunyan points out, it is obvious that women are to be present in prayer meetings with their men. But it is equally obvious that anyone praying audibly during the meeting acts as a temporary spokesman for all those united in prayer, verbally presenting their petitions to God. And this is certainly acting in a public leadership role, a role forbidden to women by Scripture. However, when any man or woman adds an “Amen” of verbal assent to the that prayer, they have prayed as fully as the man who has spoken the words.


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