Question: Can elders be elected by the believers?
Answer: No. Elders cannot be elected, because they are appointed by the apostles. Presently, they are appointed by those who are doing the work of the apostles. The Bible never uses the method of election. Only once in Acts is the word appoint used; it is used in the appointment of the first seven deacons (6:3). Actually, these deacons were first tested by the apostles and then appointed.
Question: There are so many pastors in the denominations. Can it be possible that not one of them is a genuine pastor?
Answer: As far as their ordination is concerned, no human- ordained pastor is a pastor. As far as their gifts are concerned, it is possible that among those who are ordained by men, some have the gift of pastoring. No one can become a pastor through human examination, graduation from seminaries, ordination, or invitation. There has never been such a pastor in history. If he is truly a pastor, he must have received the gift of pastoring from God.
Question: How does the pastoral gift build the church?
Answer: The word pastor has been used only once in Ephesians 4 [according to the Chinese Union Version Bible]. In other passages, the word is translated “shepherd.” The words pastor and shepherd are the same word in the original language. The meaning of this word is to feed and guard. Those who are given the gift of pastoring should be able to lead and feed the believers. They should be able to lead others to grow step by step, discuss and study the Bible with others, and pray with others.
An evangelist is one who leads others to salvation and brings in men. A teacher is one who can release the truth and make others understand and see the truth in a clear way. A pastor or shepherd is one who leads others to advance; he does not necessarily have to be able to preach, though some are indeed able to preach. The function of the pastors is to feed the believers.
Question: Can a woman have the pastoral gift?
Answer: Gifts are given without distinction of sex. A woman can also have the pastoral gift. The daughters of Philip had the gift of prophecy.
Question: Can sisters testify and preach the gospel to unbelieving men?
Answer: The Bible has not clearly said no to this, but neither has the Bible encouraged it. There is no clear pattern in the Bible for us to follow. Personally, I think that if the sisters do anything beyond their covered position, they have gone beyond their limit. The covering that I am speaking of does not refer only to a piece of cloth on the head (which is also an important sign) but to the hidden and submissive position which God has allotted them. Even brothers should have their heads covered before God. The brothers cover their head under Christ. Christ is the head of everyone, while the man is the head of the woman (1 Cor. 11:3). Therefore, a woman has two heads. On the one hand, a woman covers her head in Christ and, on the other hand, she covers her head through the man. The covering on a woman’s head symbolizes her submission under the authority of the brothers and her not acting in an independent way. The sisters can do many good and precious things. But they have to take a few brothers as their covering so that both glory and shame will fall on these brothers. Therefore, it is improper for sisters to go to a place to do some pioneering work alone.
A certain Western magazine once reported the words of a sister: “I used to think that I had to do everything by myself and that I had to charge forward alone. When I became sick and returned to my home country, I discovered that everything I had done was wrong, and I confessed my mistakes to God.” Many people think that since Deborah was raised up from the Israelites, there could be one today. But we have to remember that not every Israelite woman was a Deborah! Moreover, even Deborah took Barak as her head. All genuine women want to do this. All genuine women honor what God has done, and they honor the place and order that God has placed them in. Because I am not a sister, it is somewhat difficult for me to say these words. If I were a sister, I would be more free to say this. Sisters should always stand in a covered position. This does not mean that sisters should not work. It merely means that God has appointed the brothers to be the protector of the sisters. The ones who assume the headship should be the brothers; all the glory and shame should go to the brothers. This does not mean that the brothers covet the sisters’ glory. Rather it means that the brothers protect the sisters and maintain the order God has established.
It is a woman’s nature to stand in a non-prominent position. This is why Paul reminded the women that their nature tells them this. If a wife sits in the place of a husband and becomes the husband’s head in a family, how can that family stand? It will surely not stand. If a church acts this way, will it still be a church? The virtuous woman recorded in Proverbs labors, works, and hopes that her husband receives the glory in the gate of the city.
The most precious thing is to be submissive to authority. The relationship between a servant and his master, a child and his parents, a wife and her husband, a citizen and his country, and a woman and a man should be one of submission to authority. God pays much attention to the question of authority, while Satan pays much attention to power. If a man only asks if a thing can be done and does not ask if a thing should be done, he has fallen already. Therefore, every sister should stand in the position of submission to God’s authority. The question of authority is the greatest and most crucial one. Unfortunately, it has produced little effect on the brothers and sisters.
Therefore, according to the light of the Bible, sisters should not open their mouth in the church meetings. If they want to testify or preach the gospel to individual men or to groups of men, they should do it in a covered position.