Part 6 -  Discriminate or liberate? (what the world is really waiting for)


Before I start the concluding part of this 6-part series, I would like to thank Pastor Alan Hewitt for his teachings on 'Gender - The Missing Link?', Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt for her books and detailed research on this topic which inspired me greatly, and to all those who have had input into this series.  I would also like to thank those who have encouraged me (both male and female alike) to bring this 'hot potato' teaching, and I realise I have stuck my neck out (so to speak) in doing so.  I would also like to thank my very hungry teenager for having to wait for meals, whilst I have been doing this series!  I have had an enormous amount of feedback, which has been mainly positive but also some negative.  As I have previously mentioned there are many STRONG views held on this topic, and I pray that, if anything, it has brought a very difficult topic to the surface for further personal study.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, and give us revelation on this issue.  Once again, thank you to all who have taken the time to read this lengthy series.  (I don't think I have ever been on my knees more since bringing this series.)


Before we open our Bibles, this is a quote out of Dr. Susan Stubbs Hyatt's book 'In the Spirit We're Equal' - talking about the culture of the times of the King James Translators.  King James himself was a well-known king who hated women.

'When the monarchy was re-instated in 1660, the throne had the ongoing task of stabilizing society, and the idea of the divine right of kings remained in tact.  This doctrine intensified the sense of authority already inherent in the head-of-State/head-of-Church concepts.  The English King was now authoritative in the state as 'King', that is, as God's designated ruler of the earthly kingdom, and as 'high priest', that is as God's representative earthly ruler of the Church.  NOWHERE in scripture is this taught.  Nevertheless, this convenient notion of 'divine order' was extended to the home.  According to this teaching, the home was to be seen as a little kingdom where the male was to rule as king of 'his castle' in the same way as the King of England was to rule the State.  Furthermore, the home was also to be seen as a little church, where the man was to rule as 'high priest' in the same way that the King was to rule the Church of England.  So the man was now 'king and priest' of the home with woman as subject both politically and religiously.  This is probably the first time that the link was made between the two separate 'roles' of 'head-of-home' and 'priest-of-the-home', so commonly taught among Pentecostal/Charismatics today.  Yet NOWHERE in the NT are these roles taught.  And NOWHERE in the NT are they linked.  And NOWHERE in the NT is the male given responsibility to dominate the female............. It is expedient for us to understand that the formulators of the prevailing, traditional theology about women maintained the pagan ideas that women are evil, inferior, unclean and unequal.  It is equally important to realize that Jesus taught, by precept and example, a theology of womanhood that was totally opposite to this.'


Ephesians 4:7-13  'But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.'


A survey in 'Christianity Today' magazine of those who responded to a poll showed 88% of the respondents said that there was lots of confusion about the roles of males and females in the Christian World. 78% of those who responded said 'Christian leaders need to speak on the subject'.  So over 3/4 who responded said it was time Christian leaders spoke out on the subject of the roles of males and females in the Christian world.  The reality is that they do not speak out - the reason being -  it is easier not to.  It has been the toughest time for me to bring these 6 teachings, it has been really TOUGH!  It has taken me many years to get the courage to do it too. The issue is MASSIVE, very very big.  The Lord spoke to me about bringing these teachings, I have had many prophesies about it over the years, and I have NOT wanted to do it.  I know also that Pastor Hewitt has taken many years also of study and mustering up the courage to present his teachings too.  I applaud him for that.  (He speaks of the fact that it took 18 centuries for the slaves to be liberated, but even now after 21 centuries women are still not free in the church - and he believes that grieves the Heart of God.)


Pastor Alan Hewitt: 'Discriminate or liberate is the decision the church has to take'.  He gives testimony of a lady who heard him preach on this topic, and she went to him at the end of the service and told him how she had never heard this preached, and it was all too late for her now, as all her life she had been held back, but she told him that there was hope for the next generation.


Five things I would like to share with you:

1. We must consider the scriptures: As Christians, when it comes to faith and practice, we must ALWAYS look to the Word of God.  Psalm 119:105 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.'  In recent weeks, I have shown you principles of proper interpretation of scripture 'hermeneutics'.  I have expounded Genesis 1-3, we have looked at the role of women in the Old Testament, we have looked at how Jesus treated women in the Gospels, we have looked at how women operated in the New Testament, we looked at how Paul dealt with the issue in difficult passages.  I have opened up texts over this series that you may never hear get preached on again in your life.  We have dealt with the issues, and the overview we have seen is this:  Men and women were created equal, they were both made in the image of God, one was not made superior, one was not made inferior.  They were both given identical roles. In society they were told to rule, in family equal roles - both to be fruitful.   Both were responsible for the Fall, and prejudices against Eve and bias against Eve, and negativity against Eve as it has been throughout Society over many, many centuries was unwarranted and unjustified.  I gave many quotes of some of the hostility against women because of the prejudice against Eve.  One of the early church fathers (Tertullian)is indicative of that kind of prejudice - this is what he said "You - women are the devil's gateway.  You - are the unsealer of that forbidden tree.  You - are the first deserter of that Divine Law. You - are she who persuaded him, who the devil was not valiant enough to attack.  You - destroyed so easily God's imaged man on account of your desert, WOMEN that is DEATH, EVEN THE SON OF GOD HAD TO DIE!! - Women - You take the blame"  That was the culture that permeated society and male dominance as we have seen came not as a result of the Will of God but as a consequence of the Fall of both.  The attitudes to women in culture have been set around the world from a prejudice from Roman, Jewish and Greek Philosophists, but when Christ came, He came to set the captives free, he came to bring freedom to those who were bound.  THANK GOD!  


In the Christian message, the Gospel confronted the world and its' treatment of women and Christ thank God has done more in the world for women than anyone else has ever done, and He levelled the playing field.  In Acts 2, in the New Community, the Holy Spirit 'FILLED THEM ALL'.  The prophesy of Joel was that  'I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.'  So in the upper room, there was no distinction between gender or class.  The New Testament women functioned according to the 5-fold gifts that we read in Ephesians above.  Women function in leadership roles, and nowhere in the NT are church roles defined on the basis of GENDER.  Sadly, restrictions eventually were imposed on women by men, in the same way Christians promoted and endorsed slavery, by prejudiced reading of scripture, so women have suffered great injustice, and the church have been guilty of making distinctions, where the Bible rules them out.  Lauren Cunningham (the founder of Y.W.A.M.) wrote a great book called  'Why Not Women?' and tells a story of a woman called Sophie Miller. Sophie Miller went out as a missionary to Columbia in the late 1940's, she worked near where the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers came together and started at LEAST 500 churches, but since she had been taught that a woman should keep silent in the church,  she taught all her converts OUTSIDE the building!!!!!!  When it rained, she would take all her students under some kind of shelter or lean-to so that her students didn't get wet, but she wasn't teaching them INSIDE the church!  Was that right?  This is what Lauren Cunningham says "Was this necessary?  Is the church a building?  Of course not, the church is the people".  So these are the kind of ridiculous situations we get into when we have this prejudice against women in church life.  I remind you of the 'preponderance' of scripture.  (The surpassing influence of scripture.) How many people take one or two hard to interpret verses and wipe out the 'preponderance'.  What we must do is use the 'preponderance' to interpret one or two difficult verses. In the 'preponderance' of scripture it is obvious when looked at without bias or prejudice there is every ministry open to women and to men alike.  May Eleanor Fray - an Assemblies of God Evangelist said this "God Almighty is no fool, I say it with reverence, would He fill a woman with the Holy Spirit, endow her with ability, give her a vision of souls, and then tell her to shut her mouth?"  So we must consider the scriptures, and over this series we have done that.


2. We must celebrate our diversity: Equality does NOT mean sameness. All men are equal, all women are equal, men and women are equal but they are not the same.  It is O.K. to be different.  It is O.K. to be YOU.  In fact, it is vital that you are you, as it is only by being you as a man or woman that you can fulfil the purpose of God for your life.  When it comes to purpose of God for your life, the same things that are open to men are open to women as well.  Psalm 139 says we are ALL fearfully and wonderfully made.  It says that all our days ordained for us, were written in His book before any of them came to be.  When you as a woman or a man enter this world, you enter it with a plan that God has for your life.  You are sent into the world and God's got a book already written about you.  When we come into this world, as soon as we come out of our mother, the first thing that happens is someone looks at our genitals.  So from the moment of that first look, the stereo-typing by culture begins.  From the sight of our genitals, the colour of our clothing is decided, the nature of our toys is decided, even, sadly the joy of our parents can be decided. How many times has 'it's a boy' or 'it's a girl' brought disappointment?   A family may have 4 girls and be wanting a boy to discover this new baby is another girl, as if a human life is a commodity, instead of recognising if it is a boy or girl, we should recognise that it is a gift from God with a destiny!  So no matter where in the world we are born, we will be shaped by that culture. If I may be so bold as to remind you (excuse the forwardness here), that 'your bits' are given for reproduction, it is not our body that is the image of God - God does not have a 'body' as He is Spirit.  When He made us in His image, He made us male and female (he didn't make our 'bits' like His 'bits' as God does not have these 'bits').  The image of God is moral power, creative capacity, the ability to love and be loved, it is these qualities that are the image of God in humanity. You are more than your body.  The Bible describes your body as an earthly tent, it doesn't say an earthly 'female' or an earthly 'male' tent.  We are not 'our bodies' - we are a person created by God that lives in a 'body'.  Our reproductive 'bits' are for reproduction.   So therefore our destiny is not according to our 'bits' it is according to 'the book, that He has written about us before we come into the world.  Let me stretch this further, with much respect, if Jesus had been born in a woman's body, he would still have been the 'Son of God'.  Please do not get offended, it is to think about.  Every single bit of the human D.N.A. of Jesus Christ came from a woman. Jesus was not a man before the incarnation, He was the second person of the Trinity.  I want to challenge your thinking here. Everywhere the scripture states 'son of man' the Greek word used here is 'anthropos', meaning humanity, and not 'man'.  Jesus is the saviour of humanity, it is O.K. to be black, it is O.K. to be white, it is O.K. to be Jewish, it is O.K. to be Gentile, it is O.K. to be male, it is O.K. to be female, it is O.K. to be English, it is O.K. to be American - with God THERE IS NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS (Acts 10:34). 

Let us celebrate diversity, let us remember that in His Kingdom there is NO distinction. Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian says "Discrimination of any kind, is a monstrous denial of oneness of the Church of Christ."  Whilst we celebrate diversity, it is not right to judge other homes or marriages or judge other people on the basis of how you or your life is.  It is O.K. to be different, it is O.K. for a woman to work and support the man for some marriages.  Think about it, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the children are the women's responsibility, the Bible is clear that the children's responsibility lies with both the man and the woman.  Culture, stereo-types our thinking, so then we say 'that is how it should be!'.  I know of men who have gone to Bible College for a couple of years whilst their wives kept them.  Some wives have had 3 jobs to support their husbands going through Bible College, often having babies to support too! It isn't the normal thing that everybody else did, but we all have to work out what is best for us and our marriages.  It is EVEN O.K. for men to cook and iron!!!!   It may be in your family that you take on the traditional role, well that is O.K. too, but DON'T JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE!  Diversity is O.K.  I remember my own mother with 'Mrs. Beeston's cookbook' - it was a woman's place to cook and keep house, my mother never learned to drive as it was for 'men only' back then! Today, there are more men chefs than women. It is O.K. to be a chef.  Just because a man is a chef does not make him effeminate! It is even O.K. for men and women in marriage relationships to agree to their roles depending on what SUITS THEM.  It does not make a woman masculine, or a man feminine, if they do things outside the normal stereo-type that CULTURE dictates.

Suzanna Wesley had 19 children, including John and Charles.  I reckon just having those two would have been enough as regards a destiny.  She was the wife of a vicar, and in a culture where women were frowned upon, she had a meeting every week where she preached to over 200 people, and turned people away.  It wasn't the done thing!  Can you imagine how many times she was taken to one side and told 'Suzanna you have 19 kids! that is your role in life'  That would have robbed her of her ministry.  John Wesley described her as a 'preacher of righteousness', even though he fought against it for many years, but had to eventually accept the fact that God was using his mother to preach.  (See link if you are interested in her life story and ministry.

We MUST celebrate our diversity.


3. We must confess our mal-practice: It is never easy to admit you have been wrong, many times the Christian Church has been wrong, many times the Church has failed, MANY, MANY times.  The history books contain the evidence. Particularly of a thousand years called the 'Dark Ages' where the Church lost its' way. As Christians, we must never, ever be proud that the Church (or we) have got it wrong.  At times the Church has lost the truth, and smothered the Holy Spirit and introduced man-made traditions and customs.  At times the Church has imposed un-Biblical structures, and throughout history, whenever Revival has occurred, the Church has repented of its' mal-practice. Why is that?  Because when Revival comes and the Holy Spirit moves, a fresh humility comes and pride is slain, and people start to repent, saying we have got it wrong. It is Revival that has kept the Church alive right through the Centuries.  In fact whenever the Church was on the verge of dying, God blew with His breath, burned with His fire, poured in His oil and a fresh renewal occurred and the Church was revived, adjusted and got back going again.  Do you know what has always been key??  Every time there has been a Revival - women have been at the forefront.  When the revival has died down, women have been squeezed out. Throughout history, it has always required someone to 'BEAT A DRUM' at certain times in order to bring change.  In the times of the Reformation, Tetzel was selling indulgencies to people, ripping off the poor, saying that if they paid so much money, he could get their loved-ones through purgatory faster. It was Luther that had to beat a drum and said 'We are justified by faith alone' - someone has to beat a drum where there is mal-practice and to bring the church back to a place WHERE IT REPENTS OF ITS' WRONG PRACTICES. Slavery is an example I mentioned in Part 5.  We looked briefly at Ephesians 5 & 6 - and I showed you in the VERY SAME CONTEXT about the submission of wives to husbands, and even stronger, slaves were told to OBEY their masters by the Apostle Paul.  I remind you that those passages were linked in the same context with the same anointing, with the same Biblical authority by the same writer, and how Christians condoned the wicked practice of selling people on the basis that the Bible says 'Slaves Obey your Masters'!  That went on for centuries. I mentioned also John Newton who wrote the song 'Amazing Grace'. He was saved after a terrible storm in 1748, but what a lot of people don't realize is this:  When he was saved, he didn't stop dealing in slavery, in fact, after he got converted in 1748, he went to Liverpool and purchased 200 slaves, sailed from Liverpool across the Atlantic to South Carolina.  In his hold there were 200 men, women and children shackled together, a third of them dying on the journey across the Atlantic, and what was John Newton doing?  He was sitting in the comfort of his cabin, studying a Latin Bible! When he got to South Carolina he sold those that had survived the voyage, took the money and sat in the Church and praised God. All told, he dealt in slavery for 10 years and most of them AFTER he became a Christian.  Do you know why?  Because slavery was not wrong in the eyes of most Christians in that day and that culture.  It wasn't a problem to anybody.  He wrote those words 'I was blind, but now I see' and afterwards he did see.  When John Newton got the revelation of slavery being such an awful thing, people that knew him said that whenever you met him (he left slavery and went on to be a church minister) you could never spend half an hour with him in any period for the rest of his life when he didn't utter his terrible deep regret over the years he had spent dealing in slaves (but he couldn't see it - but once he did - he repented).  In 1839, when the Slavery Abolition Act was passed - all the slaves in the British Empire were released.  The British Government paid some kind of refund to all those who owned slaves.  Isn't it interesting that the Bishop of Exeter was paid £12,700 because he owned 665 slaves that were released!!!!!  It was Christians like Wilberforce that were fighting and beating the drum against mal-practice!

More recently, in South Africa - the Dutch Reform Church did something very similar. The Dutch Reform Church is a 350 year-old denomination that has strongly taught white supremacy and has argued BIBLICALLY that 'Apartheid' was the Will of God! For 350 years that denomination has maintained that viewpoint, but in 1998, the leaders of that denomination made a statement 'Apartheid was not only wrong, it was sinful and a travesty of the Gospel'. All those years, and then they had to admit, 'we were wrong'.  Whenever you realise that you have been wrong, you need to confess it and change.  When things are wrong THEY MUST BE PUT RIGHT. It is no good us having a series on the equality of gender and the equality of opportunities and the equality of destiny in the Body of Christ, it is not good beating the drum, and then we go and do as James says - we look in a mirror and say 'ah yes' then we go away and forget what we have seen! (James 1:23)  We must confess our mal-practice, otherwise we will not liberate, we will carry on to discriminate.  Many times society has had to say they got it wrong, the Suffragettes fought for 70 years to get women the vote, and now every Christian nation in the world, allows women the vote.  Were they right before, not to allow the women to vote?  Of course not, they did it based on their thinking that women didn't have the sense to know who could rule over them! It is amazing what people can argue when they are bigoted. 

Years ago small children spent long hours in Britain's coal mines - dragging heavy wagons - IN BRITAIN! - do you know why they did that? Because animals were expensive, but children were expendable! That is how Britain looked upon it back then! We look back with shame and think 'how awful that we looked upon animals being more valuable than children'!  So what happened there?  Someone came with a drum - Social reformers like Shaftesbury and others beating a drum and brought in Acts to outlaw things to change society.  Before Booth and Salvation Army got their great campaign of beating the drum going, the pubs of Britain had what they called 'step stools' so the children could actually climb up to the bar to order their gin!!!!!! but someone beat a drum to change society. Hard to believe it, and even the concept of Missionary work was opposed by Christians.  When William Carey went to his denominational leaders to ask for support and endorsement to set up a Missionary Society - one of the leaders said to him these words 'Young man, sit down, when God pleases to convert the Heathen, He will do it without consulting you or me?'  Do you know what Carey did?  He went to India ANYWAY, ON HIS OWN, and thus began the world-wide Missionary movement.  

When a thing is wrong it has to be confronted!  I want to say this with great regret:  Women have had a raw deal in the church and a raw deal from the church. Pastor Hewitt says this "I was like the slave owner, now telling people how to set slaves free.  I was guilty, I was guilty, I was guilty over bad interpretation of scripture - I was guilty of holding people back because of their gender, I was guilty about always thinking about men when it came about any point in leadership, I was guilty!  Over recent years God has had to squeeze me and sqeeze me and sqeeze me - to bring me to a point where I had to confess my sin, my bad attitude and WRONG thinking as regards gender.  To a large degree what has happened to women in the last 2000 years is this:  Christ has saved them and the Church has bound them. Many Godly Christian women had to use their God-given talents OUTSIDE the Church so that we have had successful business women OUTSIDE the Church, successful in Industry OUTSIDE the Church, successful in Leadership OUTSIDE the Church, successful in Education and in anything OUTSIDE the church, but in Church they are treated like second-class citizens AND THE HEART OF GOD IS GRIEVED.  How the Church has treated women has been un-Biblical and unrighteous and we need to repent".


4. We must confront our thinking: The Bible says 'as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is'(Proverbs 23:7).  As a woman thinketh in her hear so she is.   Without CONSTANT renewing of our minds this is what will happen: Culture will ALWAYS squeeze us into it's mould.  You don't just renew your mind once, it is an ongoing thing.  We are growing in our understanding as we renew our minds.  The power of culture is SO STRONG, most of us would not like to admit how influenced by culture we are.  As followers of Christ we are challenged to bring into captivity every thought that is contrary to the mind of God.  My view, your view, our view of gender has got to be 'WORD-SHAPED' and not 'WORLD-SHAPED'.  We have to confront our thinking and I believe that this is a STRONGHOLD issue.  Remember Yonggi Cho, was challenged many years ago by Lauren Cunningham 'Use your women, use your women', he said 'I can't, in Asian culture you can't use women'.  Today that church is 3/4 million strong, and out of the 60,000 cell group leaders, 55,000 of them are women!  How did that happen?  By renewed thinking, not by being squeezed by culture.  The passage of scripture says that the risen Christ 'gave gifts to men'. The Word in the Greek again is 'anthropos' meaning humanity or people. So the gifts were given to the church - sometimes in male bodies sometimes in female bodies! David Cartiledge in his book 'Apostolic Revolution' said this:"Church History shows that in every Revival period women have been used of God and recognised, but in a short time have been relegated to inconspicuous positions, however it also shows that their recognition by God and their involvement in actual Ministry continually re-occurs despite the prejudice of males. Invariably, when a fresh move of the Spirit occurs, women either initiate it or are central to its success".  Charles Finney said "The church that silences its' women is shawn of half its' power."  A hundred years ago a man called Frederick Franson wrote these words "It's amazing how one can get such a false idea that not allGod's children should use all their powers in all ways to save the lost world, there are so to speak many people in the water about to drown, a few men are trying to save them, and that is considered well and good, but look over there, a few women have untied a boat also to be of help in the rescue, and immediately a few men cry out standing there looking idly on and therefore having plenty of time to cry out 'No, no, women must not help, rather let the people drown'" 

A woman reader writing in Charisma Magazine in 1996 said this "We are not women who wish to displease men, we are women who simply and humbly ask that we be given room to be obedient to the Lord who called us".

My conviction is this: It is the enemy not God who wants to hold women back.  I can be sure of this, it is not just men, but many women struggle with this issue too as it can take them out of their comfort zones or what they have always known.  There will be times when both men and women's minds will think either Church culture of Social culture in a way that is contrary to the Word of God .  WE MUST CONFRONT OUR THINKING! The word 'headship' is NOT IN THE BIBLE! Martin Scott in his book 'For Such a Time as This' says "The time has come for Pentecostal women in Ministry to leave their arena of debate and simply be who they are and do what God has called them to do". 

A.B. Simpson was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887, he was criticized for his open policy on women, and this was his response to that criticism "Dear brother, let the Lord manage the women, He can do it better than you, and you turn your batteries against the common enemy". 


5. We must champion the New Community:  A truly Acts 2-type church, a church of anointed men and women filled with the Holy Spirit with each using their God-given gifts to serve our wonderful risen Saviour.  In which each person is humbly respecting the other, each loving the other, each totally devoted to Christ, each working together with a mission to the world.  That is what we must build.  I want to remind you that the Church in the NT is not a 'top-down' organisation, it is a 'bottom-up' organisation.  It is not a 'top-down' where you have a male hierarchy of top dogs, big cheese, big bosses, in fact that kind of viewpoint which is held in many churches is totally un-Biblical. Jesus in Mark 10 and 1 Peter 5 says that is not the kind of leadership we have in the Church.  The kind of leadership we have in the Church is a leadership where respect and submission is earned by hard-work, by loving care, by devoted lifestyle and by divine gifting.  Not by status, not by position, not by gender.  Pastor Hewitt says this "There are some men I would never follow even if they were called Pope, and there are some women I would listen to, receive counsel of and follow who may simply be an ordinary, ordinary but divinely gifted person.  Leadership is about gifting, not about gender. We must champion that reality in the New Community.  Five years ago in a sermon I preached I mentioned about 'I have a dream' and there were 2 lines in that dream that were very relevant - One - a line says leaders serve with humility and not because of ego, status or position, and two - a line says where women are allowed to reach their full potential in Christ and not be held back simply because of their gender.  I preached that November, 1999, and it took me 5 years to come to a point where I could preach a sermon or series on that very thing.  We must champion the New Community as that is what the New Community has to be like.  Our dream friends, is to be a unique Church, and there are few Churches reaching out for what we are reaching out for, few Churches are, but this is our ethos, our philosophy, to have an egalitarian Church, which reflects Galatians 3:28 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female for you are all one in Christ Jesus'  and the World, I believe, is waiting to see that kind of a Church, where black and white are on the same level, where woman and man are on the same level, when Jew and Gentile are on the same level, when an academic and a not-so-academic are on the same level as regards value. Do you want to belong to a Church where you have got prejudice, racism, bigotry?  Of course NOT.  Anything else is an insult to the Blood of Calvary's Cross.  WE WILL FACE CRITICISM, TO BUILD THAT KIND OF A CHURCH, THERE WILL BE PEOPLE TELLING US WE ARE 'WATERING DOWN' THE WORD, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, THERE WILL NEVER BE A WATERED-DOWN WORD FROM THIS PULPIT - NEVER!  WE WILL BE ACCUSED OF ALL KINDS OF THINGS EVEN FROM FELLOW CHRISTIANS.  THREE PEOPLE HAVE COME TO ME WITH A WORD AND TOLD ME THAT BY BEATING THIS DRUM I WILL LOSE FRIENDS.  BY BEATING THIS DRUM THERE WILL BE MINISTERS WHO ARE RIGHT NOW CLOSE TO ME, WHO WILL NO LONGER BE CLOSE TO ME BECAUSE I AM BEATING THIS DRUM. What a strange thing for people to tell you that.  They criticized Jesus for how He treated women, they criticized the Reformers for beating a drum, they have criticized every Revivalist, Evan Roberts beat a drum and suffered eight nervous breakdowns because of criticism from people.  Social Reformers beat a drum, Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and others beat a drum and they got criticized by their peers too.  Wesley and Whitfield beat a drum, so that in the end the Church would not let them speak in their pulpits, so what did they do? They went out and preached in the streets.  Martin Luther King beat a drum, and he got shot for it. To me this is the hill worth dying on - the price is worth paying".  (Pastor Hewitt's words)


I want to close with the words of Lauren Cunningham (founder of Y.W.A.M.) one of the world's largest mission organisations "I see every little girl knowing she is valued, knowing she is made in the image of God and knowing she can fulfil all the potential He has put within her.  I see the Body of Christ recognizing leaders whom the Holy Spirit indicates, the ones who He has gifted, anointed and empowered without regard to race, colour or gender, that this generation would be the one who simply asks 'Who is it that God wants to use?"  May God help us. 


I want to say to all the women reading this, that your gender is O.K. - that you are not partially redeemed, you are fully redeemed, I want you to know that you are not afar off, you have been made nigh, just as the men have by the blood of Christ.  I want you to know that man is not the priest of your house, you are the royal priesthood yourself. I want you to know that you are not just an heir, you are JOINT and EQUAL heirs with Christ and all God's people. I want you women to know that you are not limited by your gender, only by your dreams. I want you to know that you are not second-class citizens in Church or in God's kingdom.  We are all 'sons' of God, both male and female. Equal status.  I want you to know that you are here for a purpose - you are people of destiny.  I want you to know that in every single one of you there are gifts and abilities that are to be used for Christ. Right now I want to release you from negative words and negative influence and bias and prejudice that may have come against you.  I want to set you free in the name of Jesus Christ to fulfil every role that God has called you to.  There are Apostles like Junia, Teachers like Priscilla, there are prophets like Phillip's daughters, there are Pastors like Nympha at Colossi, there are Evangelists like the woman at the well, there are leaders like Esther, there are lovers like Mary, there are successful business women like Lydia.  Whether you are called to be a leader, preacher, follower, lover, carer, evangelist, there should be no limits put on you because of your gender. This is your day to rise up.

To all the men that are reading this, I want to say all that I said above, there is no distinction.  We are living in a lost world and Jesus Christ is coming soon, and Society is getting darker.  We do not just need some of God's people to bear light, it needs every one of us, not just some hands to the plough, it needs every hand to the plough.  Hell is against us - but by God's grace if we can build an egalitarian church - that means equality, every one is equal - HELL WILL HATE IT! But the world will love it, as nowhere in the world will you see this. The New Community - we must Champion it - the Church - HIS BODY.

Father - Help us, forgive us where we have been wrong, forgive us for every thought and action that has been wrong, for every prejudice, forgive us, cleanse us, wash us right now in the precious Blood of Jesus, clean us Lord.  And for every woman reading this that has felt capable of better things but couldn't reach out - because somehow it wasn't expected or encouraged, I pray Lord to help every one of the women to be free to be all that you have called them to be and for the men to encourage them in that too.  For the men, help them to rise up too and be all that you have called them to be and that you will help the women to encourage them to do that too.  I pray that we will not look down or up but across at each other as equals, as in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond or free, male or female, but we are all one in Christ.  Do this Father for the Glory of Your Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.