Monday, August 25, 2014

A Must-Read for Every Man and Ministry to Men


Christ lived fundamentally as a man empowered by the Spirit…

Over my years of ministry I’ve read and reviewed hundreds of books by men for men about manhood and masculinity. Most are out of the same cut of cloth – good advice for better living, spiritual technologies to work harder, being better and so on. The only authoritative, accurate book by men and for men, however, is the Bible. From start to finish it is God’s self-revelation and the story of why and how He sends Good News into our helpless, hopeless estate. My secondary go-to source for ministering to men is great theological works. One such new edition is The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ by Dr. Bruce Ware. Ware gives us a profound insight and appreciation for the significance and reality of the much ignored and misunderstood doctrine of the humanity of Christ. In it he tackles some thought-provoking questions about Christ’s identity and he offers a robust defense of the masculinity of the God-man Jesus Christ.

In view of the heightening confusion over gender roles, even in churches, Ware presents a strong, cumulative case that Jesus lived his life fundamentally as a man, empowered by the Holy Spirit with the power, grace, and wisdom he needed, moment by moment and day by day, to fulfill his Father’s mission. When we realize that Jesus was truly a man just as we are, his sinless life seems all the more incredible. But Jesus’ obedience and miracles were not performed by Christ “tapping in” to His divine power, but rather through his being empowered by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:38, Isaiah 11:1-4). Ware gives us twelve solid reasons why Jesus was human, why the Savior had to be male and why the sacrifice for sin we need had to be both God and man.


Ware helps us to see that Jesus lived his life as one of us — as a full and complete human — who carried out his obedience with the same resources now given to us. Jesus knew and relied on the Word of God, prayer and, very importantly, the Holy Spirit who indwelt him. If Jesus lived his life as a man, in the power of the Spirit, believing the Word and praying to the Father — these are all things that we, too, have as Christian men. Therefore, it is right to call us to “follow in his steps,” and we can rightly look at Jesus as an example for how we should live in light of the gospel:


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11  


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two Theological Statements About Biblical Manhood and Womanhood



Complementarianism
                        from the Gospel Coalition’s Founding Documents (Article 3

"We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God's agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God's wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments."

                                                     Danvers Statement
In December, 1987, the newly-formed Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood met in Danvers, Massachusetts, to compose the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Prior to the listing of the actual affirmations that comprise the Danvers Statement, we have included a section detailing contemporary developments that serve as the rationale for these affirmations. We offer this statement to the evangelical world, knowing that it will stimulate healthy discussion, hoping that it will gain widespread assent.

Rationale

We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:

The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity:


the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;

the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;

the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;

the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality;

the upsurge of physical and emotional abuse in the family;

the emergence of roles for men and women in church leadership that do not conform to Biblical teaching but backfire in the crippling of Biblically faithful witness;

the increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts;

the consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;

and behind all this the apparent accommodation of some within the church to the spirit of the age at the expense of winsome, radical Biblical authenticity which in the power of the Holy Spirit may reform rather than reflect our ailing culture.


Affirmations

Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:

Both Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18).

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).

Adam's headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).

The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Gen 3:1-7, 12, 16).

In the home, the husband's loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife's intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.

In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.

The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18; Gal 3:28). Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Gen 2:18; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15).

Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.

In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands' authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands' leadership (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7).

In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:11-15).

In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Pet 3:1-2).

In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God's will.

With half the world's population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).


We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.




Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Have These Things Happened?



Below is a brief but powerful excerpt from the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 1983 address upon his acceptance of  the Templeton Prize, which "honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” His prophetic warning of what happens to a nation that forgets God has also been borne out in America over the past thirty-one years.

"More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened. Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened. What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.”


Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, (December 11, 1918 – August 3, 2008) was an eminent Russian novelist, historian, and tireless critic of Communist totalitarianism. He helped to raise global awareness of the gulag and the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system. He wrote many books most notably "The Gulag Archipelago" and "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works. For the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature", Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Value of a Masculine Ministry


“The Frank and Manly Mr. Ryle — The Value of a Masculine Ministry"
John Piper - Desiring God 2012 Conference for Pastors “God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Body of Christ"
January 31, 2012


God has revealed himself to us in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen, and as Father, not Mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son. The Father and the Son created man and woman in his image, and gave them together the name of the man, Adam (Genesis 5:2). God appoints all the priests in Israel to be men. The Son of God comes into the world as a man, not a woman. He chooses twelve men to be his apostles. The apostles tell the churches that all the overseers—the pastor/elders who teach and have authority (1 Timothy 2:12)—should be men; and that in the home, the head who bears special responsibility to lead, protect, and provide should be the husband (Ephesians 5:22–33).

Masculine Christianity

From all of this, I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And, being a God of love, he has done it for the maximum flourishing of men and women. He did not create women to languish, or be frustrated, or in any way to suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy, in a masculine Christianity. She is a fellow heir of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families where Christianity has this God-ordained, masculine feel. For the sake of the glory of women, and for the sake of the security and joy of children, God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.

And, of course, this is liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse, because there are views of masculinity that would make such a vision repulsive. So here is more precisely what I mean. And words are always inadequate when describing beauty. Beauty always thrives best when she is perceived by God-given instincts rather than by rational definitions. But we must try. What I mean by “masculine Christianity,” or “masculine ministry,” or “Christianity with a masculine feel,” is this: Theology and church and mission are marked by overarching godly male leadership in the spirit of Christ, with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, and contrite courage, and risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading, protecting, and providing for the community—all of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s the feel of a great, majestic God, who by his redeeming work in Jesus Christ, inclines men to take humble, Christ-exalting initiative, and inclines women to come alongside the men with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work. There are, I believe, dozens of sweet and precious benefits that come to a church and family that has this kind of masculine feel.


Traits of a Masculine Ministry

Eight Traits of “Masculine ministry,” or “Christianity with a Masculine Feel” from the life and ministry of J. C. Ryle.

1. A masculine ministry believes that it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.

A masculine ministry puts men at the head of the troop with the flag in hand and the trumpets in their mouths, so that they, and not the women, take the first bullets.

The point here is not that a woman couldn’t endure such assaults. No doubt a godly woman could. The point is not that women can’t endure criticism, but that godly men prefer to take it for them, rather than thrust them into it.

Courage in the midst of combat, especially harsh and painful combat, whether with arms or with words, is not something a woman can’t exercise, nor even something she shouldn’t exercise under certain circumstances. The reason we call such courage “manly” is not that a woman can’t show it, but that we feel a sense of fitness and joy when a man steps up to risk his life, or his career, with courage; but we (should) feel awkward if a woman is thrust into that role on behalf of men. She may be able to do it, and we may admire her for doing it, if necessary. But we wish the men were numerous enough and strong enough and courageous enough that the women could rejoice in the men, rather than take their place.

2. A masculine ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.

Behind the increasing liberalism, ritualism, and worldliness that he saw in the church, Ryle saw a failure of doctrinal nerve — an unmanly failure. Dislike of dogma, he wrote, is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and especially among young people. . . . It produces what I must venture to call . . . a “jelly-fish” Christianity . . . a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. . . . Alas! It is a type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “no dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”


We have hundreds of “jellyfish” clergyman, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions . . . they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views of all.

We have thousands of “jellyfish” sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint. . . .

And worst of all, we have myriads of “jellyfish” worshipers—respectable Church-gone people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than colorblind people can distinguish colors. . . . They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; . . . ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old.47


This aversion to doctrine was the root cause of the church’s maladies, and the remedy was a manly affirmation of what he called “sharply cut doctrines”48 recovered from the Reformation and the Puritans and the giants of the eighteenth century in England.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. . . .

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live—to believe, repent, and be converted. . . .

Show us at this day any English village, or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without “dogma.” . . . Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. . . . No dogma, no fruits!49


The point of calling this failure of doctrinal nerve an unmanly failure is not that women can't grasp and hold fast to the great doctrines of the faith. They can and should. The point is that when the foundations of the church are crumbling, the men should not stand still and wait for women to seize the tools and brick and mortar. And women should expect their men to be at the forefront of rebuilding the ruins.

The point of saying that the remedy for doctrinal indifference is a manly affirmation of “sharply cut doctrines” is not that women cannot or should not make such affirmations. The point is that long, hard, focused, mental labor should not be shirked by men. Men should feel a special responsibility for the life and safety and joy of the community that depends on putting these “sharply cut doctrines” in place. This issue is not what women are able to do, but what men ought to do. J. C. Ryle waited for no one. He took the brick and mortar and trowel and spent his whole life rebuilding the sharp edges of gloriously clear truth to make a place where men and women could flourish in the gospel.

3. A masculine ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.

Ryle is most famous today for his work on holiness and sanctification. And the overwhelming impression you get in reading his book on holiness is how unsentimental and rugged most of it feels.50 That is, it feels very much like the New Testament, especially the Four Gospels.

Over against the perfectionism and Keswick quietism of his day, he was unrelenting in stressing that sanctification, unlike justification, is a process of constant engagement of the will. And that engagement is war. He asks,

Is it wise to teach believers that they ought not to think so much of fighting and struggling against sin, but ought rather to ‘yield themselves to God’ and be passive in the hands of Christ? Is this according to the proportion of God's Word? I doubt it.51 


Words such as these appear to me clear, plain, and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson. . . . That true Christianity is a struggle, a fight, and a warfare.53


“A true Christian,” he said, “is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.”54 And this is true at every stage of maturity: “The old, the sick, the dying, are never known to repent of fighting Christ’s battles against sin.”55 The tone he sets for the Christian life is “the soldier’s life.” “A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.”56 “He that would understand the nature of true holiness must know that the Christian is “a man of war.”57


Of course, this is not the only picture of the Christian life; but it is a true and prominent one. And Ryle sets it forth with clarity and with a tone that fits the soldier-like theme it is. But the point, again, is not that women cannot, or should not, fight sin with as much urgency as any man. Nor is the point that she is unable to see these things in Scripture, bring them out, and press them on the conscience. She is fully able to do that. The point is that the theme of Christian warfare and other rugged aspects of biblical theology and life should draw the men of the church to take them up in the spirit of a protective warrior in his family and “tribe,” rather than expecting the women to take on the spirit of a combatant for the sake of the church.

4. A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.

One of the heaviest and most painful realities in the Bible is the reality of hell. It is a godly and loving and manly responsibility of the leaders of the church not to distort or minimize the weight and horror of hell. Ryle faced the same thing we do. In 1855, he preached the sermon that 24 years later was published in the expanded edition of Holiness. There he said,

I feel constrained to speak freely to my readers on the subject of hell. . . . I believe the time is come when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of hell. A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us “that God is too merciful to punish souls for ever—that there is a love of God lower even than hell—and that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly some of them may be, will sooner or later be saved.”. . .  We are to embrace what is called a “kinder theology.”. . . Against such false teaching I desire, for one, to protest. Painful, sorrowful, distressing as the controversy may be, we must not blink it, or refuse to look the subject in the face. I, for one, am resolved to maintain the old position, and to assert the reality and eternity of hell.58

He pointed out that no one in Scripture “used so many words to express the awfulness of hell” as Jesus did.

Hell, hell fire, the damnation of hell, eternal damnation, the resurrection of damnation, everlasting fire, the place of torment, destruction, outer darkness, the worm that never dies, the fire that is not quenched, the place of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, everlasting punishment—these, these are the words which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself employs.59

He confessed that it sounds dreadful. But then said that the question is: “Is it Scriptural?” If it is, we must not shrink back. “Professing Christians ought to be often reminded that they may be lost and go to hell.60

Ryle’s manly courage that takes up a heavy and painful reality and presses it on people who may not want to hear it was not a callous courage.

God knows that I never speak of hell without pain and sorrow. I would gladly offer the salvation of the Gospel to the very chief of sinners. I would willingly say to the vilest and most profligate of mankind on his deathbed, “Repent, and believe on Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.”61

The point is not that women are unable to lift the weight or bear the pain of the reality of hell. The point is not that they are unable to press it into those who don’t want to hear. The point is that one of the marks of mature manhood is the inclination to spare her that load and its costs. We admire her for embracing the truth, we share her longings to nurture with tenderness, and, if we can, we carry for her the flaming coals of final condemnation. 


5. A masculine ministry heralds the truth of Scripture, with urgency and forcefulness and penetrating conviction, to the world and in the regular worship services of the church.

Not all preachers have the same personality or the same tone. Some are louder, some are softer. Some speak faster, some slower. Some with long sentences, some with short. Some with many word pictures, some with fewer. Some with manifest emotion, some with less. Some with lots of gestures, some with few. These differences are inevitable.

But preaching, as opposed to teaching — kerussein (Greek) as opposed to didaskein — involves a kind of emotional engagement signified by the word “heralding.” There is in preaching a kind of urgency and a kind of forcefulness. A message is being delivered from the King of the universe — with his authority, in his name — and this message deals with matters of infinite importance, and the eternal destiny of the hearers hangs on how they respond to the message.

This is preaching. And no matter what a preacher’s personality or preferred tone, this preaching necessarily involves urgency and forcefulness and a penetrating conviction which aims to come with divine thrust into the minds and hearts of the listeners. And therefore, this is a manly task. Coming to a people with an authoritative word from God, aiming to subdue the hearts of men, and summon them into battle, and lead the charge at their head against the principalities and powers—this is where men belong.

J. C. Ryle’s preaching is model for preaching in these ways. J. I. Packer refers to his “electric force of utterance.”62 Ryle knew that he had to crucify his florid,63 literary style which marked his early preaching. The nature of preaching demanded something different. Something simpler, but more forceful and penetrating. What developed was really astonishing. Packer describes it, referring to his brisk, spare, punchy style . . . its cultivated forcefulness, its use of the simplest words, its fusillades of short, one-clause sentences . . . its a rib-jabbing drumbeat rhetoric, its easy logical flow, its total lack of sentimentality, and its resolve to call a spade a spade.64

Ryle knew the preaching of his day was languishing. It was “dry, heavy, stiff, dull, cold, tame . . . and destitute of warmth, vivacity, direct appeal, or fire.”65 So he made every effort to break the mold, even as a dignified Bishop of Liverpool. He would keep it simple, but he would untame his preaching. His simple, forceful, clarity was renown. One older lady came to the church hoping to hear the Bishop, but afterwards said to a friend, “I never heard a Bishop. I thought I’d hear something
great. . . He's no Bishop. I could understand every word.”66 Ryle took it as a great compliment.

Listen to what Packer means by the “electric force” of “fusillades” and “rib-jabbing, drumbeat rhetoric.” This is from a sermon on Lot’s lingering as he came out of Sodom and how so many Christians linger as they leave sin.

  • Would you know what the times demand?—The shaking of nations—the uprooting of ancient things—the overturning of kingdoms—the stir and restlessness of men’s minds—what do they say? They all cry aloud—Christian! do not linger!
  • Would you be found ready for Christ at His second appearing—your loins girded—your lamp burning—yourself bold, and prepared to meet Him? Then do not linger! . . .
  • Would you enjoy strong assurance of your own salvation, in the day of sickness, and on the bed of death?—Would you see with the eye of faith heaven opening and Jesus rising to receive you? Then do not linger!
  • Would you leave great broad evidences behind you when you are gone?—Would you like us to lay you in the grave with comfortable hope, and talk of your state after death without a doubt? Then do not linger!
  • Would you be useful to the world in your day and generation?—Would you draw men from sin to Christ, adorn your doctrine, and make your Master's cause beautiful and attractive in their eyes? Then do not linger!
  • Would you help your children and relatives towards heaven, and make them say, “We will go with you”?—and not make them infidels and despisers of all religion? Then do not linger!
  • Would you have a great crown in the day of Christ’s appearing, and not be the least and smallest star in glory, and not find yourself the last and lowest in the kingdom of God? Then do not linger!
  • Oh, let not one of us linger! Time does not—death does not—judgment does not—the devil does not—the world does not. Neither let the children of God linger.67
There is urgency, forcefulness, penetrating power. Preaching does not always rise to this level of urgency and force and authority, but regularly does, and should. Again the point is not that a woman is not able to speak this way. The point is that godly men know intuitively, by the masculine nature implanted by God, that turning the hearts of men and women to God with that kind of authoritative speaking is the responsibility of men. And where men handle it with humility and grace, godly women are glad.

6. A masculine ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.

Leadership in the church — tending and feeding and protecting and leading the sheep — is not only the work of preaching, but also a firm, clear, reasonable, wise guiding voice when it comes to hundreds of decisions that have to be made. This calls for great discernment and no little strength. There are a hundred ways that a church can drift into ineffectiveness; and wise leaders spot these early, resist them, and win the church joyfully into a better direction. And what is required again and again is a decisive strength that does not weaken in the face of resistance.

Packer describes Ryle’s leadership like this:

His brains, energy, vision, drive, independence, clear head, kind heart, fair-mind, salty speech, good sense, impatience with stupidity, firmness of principle, and freedom from inhibitions would have made him a leader in any field.68

Ryle was called by his successor to the bishopric of Liverpool, “that man of granite with the heart of a child.”69 He was described as “the most rugged and conservative of all Anglican Evangelical personalities.”70 He said of his own leadership: “The story of my life has been such that I really cared nothing for anyone’s opinion, and I resolved not to consider one jot who was offended and who was not offended by anything I did.”71 These are the words of man surrounded by a rising tide of liberalism, ritualism, and worldliness in the Church of England. They are the voice of strength against overwhelming odds.

I am fully aware [he wrote in 1878] that Evangelical churchmanship is not popular and acceptable in this day. It is despised by many. . . . But none of these things move me. I am not ashamed of my opinions. After 40 years of Bible reading and praying, meditation, and theological study, I find myself clinging more tightly than ever to “Evangelical” religion, and more than ever satisfied with it.72


“None of these things move me.” “More than ever I am satisfied with [the evangelical faith].” Immovable joy in truth is a precious trait in the leaders of the church. A masculine ministry looks on the forces to be resisted, and the magnitude of the truth to be enjoyed, and feels a glad responsibility to carry a whole people forward into joyful fruitfulness.


7. A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.

The aim of godly leadership is a community of maximum joy and flourishing for everyone within—the women, the children, the men—and maximum impact on the world for the glory of Christ. It’s not about the privilege of power, but about the burden of responsibility to enhance the lives of others.

Ryle was outspoken in his zeal for women in the various ministries of the church. He drew attention to Romans 16, where 11 of the 28 names mentioned are women, and said, The chapter I have mentioned appears to me to contain a special lesson for women. The important position that women occupy in the Church of Christ—the wide field of real, though unobtrusive, usefulness that lies before them . . . I cannot go away with the common notion that great usefulness is for men only, and not for women. . . . It should never be forgotten that it is not preaching alone that moves and influences men. . . . Humanly speaking, the salvation of a household often depends upon the women . . . [and] men’s character is exceedingly influenced by their homes.73


There are countless needs in the community, and needs on the mission field, Ryle says, that cry out for the ministry of women.


There are hundreds of cases continually rising in which a woman is far more suitable visitor than a man. She need not put on a peculiar dress, or call herself by a Roman Catholic name. She has only to go about, in the spirit of her Savior, with kindness on her lips, gentleness in her ways, and the Bible in her hands, and the good that she may do is quite incalculable. Happy indeed is the parish where there are Christian women who “go about doing good.” Happy is that minister who has such helpers.74


The aim of a masculine ministry is the fullest engagement of every member of the church in joyful, fruitful ministry. The aim of leadership is not to be the ministry, but to free the ministry, according to God’s word, by the power of God’s Spirit, for the glory of God’s name.

8. A masculine ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of a wife and children as part of the high calling of leadership.

The year after he came to Liverpool as bishop, Ryle published a book of eight messages for children. It’s called Boys and Girls Playing based on Zechariah 8:5.75 It reveals the rare mixture of concern for children along with a very masculine feel. One of the messages is called “The Happy Little Girl” about a girl he met in public carriage who spoke of Jesus. He asks, “Dear children, are you as happy and as cheerful as she was?”76 And another message is called “The Two Bears” about the two bears that killed forty-two children for mocking God’s prophet. And he says, “Dear children, remember these things to the end of your lives. The wages of sin is death.”77 He was a masculine lover of children.

Before his ministry was complete, he had loved and buried three wives, Matilde, Jessie, and Henrietta. He had thee sons and two daughters. All the testimonies we have of his children praise their father for his care for them. Whether he did this well, the evidence is too sketchy to know. But what we do know is that he tried. He gives us a hint of the burden he carried in his small biography of Henry Venn, who also was made a widower in the pastoral ministry with children to care for:

Those who have had this cross to carry, can testify that there is no position in this world so trying to body and soul as that of the minister who is left a widower, with a young family and a large congregation. There are anxieties in such cases which no one knows but he who has gone through them; anxieties which can crush the strongest spirit, and wear out the strongest constitution.78

But no matter how difficult the home life of a pastor, it is part of the calling, part of the masculine ministry.


Watch a Five-Minute Video of the Opening of This Message