This is part of a sermon that John MacArthur preached in 1986 called God’s High Calling For Women. He gives biblical reasons why women are not to teach nor be in authority over men in the churches but to be silent and then explains this verse: “Nothwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is an excellent sermon and I encourage you to read all of it!
“Nevertheless,” or notwithstanding, or in spite of all that, “she shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness with sobriety and self-control.” Now, look at this verse, what a fascinating thing. She shall be saved through childbearing. Now, this is in contrast to another phrase. Look at verse 14, “Adam wasn’t deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” She stepped over the boundary. She stepped over the line. So, she’s in the transgression. Women are in sin. The stigma of the Fall is on woman. But, she shall be saved through childbearing.
Now, somebody says, “What kind of salvation is this? You mean you’re saved from sin for having babies?” No, it couldn’t possibly be that. Well, notice it says, “She shall be saved.” Future tense shows that it couldn’t refer to Eve. Some would like to think it refers to Eve and the bearing of her children, but it doesn’t, “She shall be saved.” Furthermore, if they continue in faith means it’s more than one woman. Some think it’s Mary and that the she is the she, being Mary, was saved by bearing Christ. It’s a nice thought but I can’t imagine anything more obtuse to this passage. How in the world you could ever read that into it, I don’t know. I don’t see Mary and I don’t see the birth of Christ here. ‘She’ must be the generic sense when compared with the word ‘they.’ The woman was deceived and in the transgression. And nevertheless, ‘she,’ broadens to include all women, shall be saved in childbearing if they continue in, so the ‘she’ sort of melts into the ‘they.’
Now, what is he saying? All women are saved through childbearing. Well, in what way? What kind of a general statement is that? What kind of saved do you mean here? Well, not saved from sin, but listen to this: the word saved can mean delivered, or it can mean saved from things other than sin. What we have to understand here is that all women are delivered. Now, listen carefully. All women are delivered from the stigma of having caused the Fall of the race by childbearing. In other words, women led in the Fall, but by the wonderful grace of God they are released from the stigma of that through childbearing. What’s the point? Listen carefully. They may have caused the race to fall by stepping out of their God-intended design, but they also are given the priority responsibility of raising a godly seed. You understand that?
That’s the balance. Not soul salvation, not spiritual birth, but women are delivered from being left in a second-class permanently stigmatized situation for the violation of the garden. They are delivered from being thought of as permanently weak, and deceivable, and insubordinate.
Can you imagine what it would be like if men had babies, and all women ever contributed to the human race was the Fall? The balance of it: women led the race into sin, but bless God; God has given them the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness.
You say, “How so?” Mark it down, because in the raising of a godly seed, it is the godliness and the virtue of the mother that has the greatest impact on the young life in the next generation. Is that not so? Theirs is the challenge to raise a godly seed. God has designed this to give woman back her dignity. She is saved from the stigma of the Fall, and her path to dignity, and usefulness, and her great contribution comes in accepting what God said that you will bear children. Motherhood then is woman’s appointed role in general.
Now, obviously God doesn’t want all women to be mothers; some of them He doesn’t even want to be married. First Corinthians 7, some have the gift of singleness. Some He allows to be barren for His own purposes. But as a general rule, just like marriage is generally the grace of life, as Peter calls it, so motherhood is that which reverses the stigma of woman and allows them to provide for society the rearing of a godly seed, which in a real sense reverses the curse for which she was so responsible. The pain of childbearing was the punishment for her sin, but the result of bearing the child is the deliverance from the stigma of that sin. Marvelous how God has worked that out.
The pain she goes through reminds her of her sin; the result reminds her of God’s restoring grace and puts her back in the place where she makes a positive contribution to the godliness of the next generation. She may have caused a generation to plunge into sin, but she can, by being a mother who raises godly children, bring a generation to God. What Paul is saying by the Holy Spirit is that a woman must accept her God-given role, and that role is not to give outward overt leadership to the church, but to raise a godly seed, and that’s why he says she’ll be saved in childbearing, but only if, look at it, she continues in faith, and love, and holiness, and self-control. If she is godly, she can raise that godly seed.
And you know, to me it’s so sad and tragic that women want to whine over an unfulfilled life because they can’t act like men. And they have the unique privilege of raising a godly generation of children who are nursed at their very breast and who bear an intimate relationship with them that no father can know, and thus do they restore dignity to that fallenness to which they contributed, and thus do they become all that God intended them to be. They are delivered from the results of sin, and able to maintain a positive influence in society, and in the church by accepting the role as a mother who raises godly children. That’s why it says even when younger widows lose their husbands, verse 14 of 1 Timothy 5, “I will therefore that the younger women marry and bear children and rule the house.” That’s their calling. The highest ideal of Christian womanhood is here, and this is how the church is to work, beloved.
Look, we’re led by men in the worship of the church, they pray, they preach, they teach, they give leadership to the church, but the perfect balance of that is the influence of godly women that raised that godly generation. And the only way that will happen is if they, and look at it closely in verse 15, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control. They have to be the kind of woman described in verse 9 and 10, who are not into the clothes, and of the outward flaunting of sexuality and desire and wealth, but they are women whose hearts are marked by godly fear and self-control, who are strong in faith, they believe God, strong in love toward God, who are pure and holy, and who manifest self-control.
Godly Christian women will raise the next generation. You want to know why there’s a Women’s Liberation Movement, because there’s a devil who doesn’t want God to get His work done. Her faith in the Lord, her sincere love for God, her holiness and purity of life, her modest self-control mark her spiritual state as such who will bring forth children who will bless the world. And as she brought forth once a curse, she now brings forth a blessing. That’s her calling.
I think about, in closing, I think about Susanna Wesley, wife of a pastor and mother of 19 children. She’s gone down in Christian history as one of the greatest mothers. Here are some of her rules. Here are the rules she kept. No child was to be given a thing because he cried for it. If a child wanted to cry, cry softly. Nineteen children and it says, in her house was rarely heard loud cries. Second rule, no eating and drinking between meals except when sick. Rule number three, sleeping was also regulated. When very small, the child was given three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon. This was shortened until no sleeping was allowed during the daytime to be productive. Four, punctually the little ones were laid in the cradle and rocked to sleep. At seven pm each child was put to bed, at eight pm she left the room. She never allowed herself to sit by the bed until the children went to sleep. The little ones, fifthly, had their own table near the main table. When they could handle fork and knife, they were promoted to the family table. That is a great idea. Sixth, each one must eat and drink everything before him. Seventh, children must address each other as sister and brother. Eighth, she never allowed herself to show through her ill temper or by scolding. She would always explain and explain. Listen, she spent one hour each day shut up with God alone in her room praying for every one of her children. And her two sons, under God, brought revival to England while France was bathed in a bloody war. We know about John Wesley, but maybe behind all of that was a godly mother, surely that’s true.
G. Campbell Morgan, that great preacher said, quote: “My dedication to the preaching of the Word was maternal. Mother never told it to the baby or the boy, but waited. When but eight years old I preached to my little sister and to her dolls arrayed in orderly form before me. My sermons were Bible stories which I had first heard from my mother.” And G. Campbell Morgan, by the way, had four sons, all four of whom became preachers. And on one occasion when G. Campbell Morgan was explaining all the preachers in his family, someone said to him, “Who is the greatest preacher in your family?” And he replied without hesitation, “My mother.”
Joseph Parker once said that when Robert Moffit was added to the Kingdom of God, a whole continent was added as well, and a mother’s kiss did it. Charles Spurgeon’s father once told Dr. Ford, an American minister, how when he had been taken away from home a good deal trying to build up congregations, there came a conviction that he was neglecting the religious training of his own children. So, he decided that he would preach less. On returning home, he opened the door and was surprised to find none of the children around the hall. Ascending the stairs he heard his wife’s voice and knew that she was engaged in prayer. One by one, she named the children. When she had finished her petition and instruction, Spurgeon said, “I can go on with my work, the children are well cared for.” Now, there is the role of a godly woman in the church. May God grant us such godly women. Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank You so much for Your precious truth. In a world of confusion and chaos where everything sacred seems to be overturned, we can come back and find perfect clarity, understanding in Your truth. We bless Your name. Thank You that the design that You’ve given for us is so clear. O Father, may this church be a church marked out by godly women who bring up a godly generation of young people and thus attain by the Spirit’s power to that divine purpose for which they were created. And may we not waste lives on the trivia of this world while children are lost to the Kingdom. Father, help us to be a beacon light in this generation for this very truth for the Savior’s sake. Amen.
Grace to You