Message One:
The Purpose of Woman According to God's Creation

Introductory Word

In this conference we will cover the effective operation of the sisters in the church life. We will firstly look at what the Bible says about the meaning and purpose of the sisters' existence. Then we will cover how the sisters should operate in their human relationships, particularly as wives and mothers. Thirdly we will see how sisters can become pillars in the church life. And lastly we will have a question and answer session. We look unto the Lord that He would speak to us an encouraging word that would strengthen all of us in our following of Him. We also pray that this conference would enable us all to become a real blessing to the church life in our localities.

God's Creation of Man: Male and Female

What is the purpose of woman according to the Bible? For our basic understanding we must come to the beginning of the Bible to see God's creation of man and woman. Genesis 1:26-27 says, "And God said, Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have dominion.... And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." There are two different verbs used in the creation of man: "make" and "created." First God said, "Let us make man." Then the Bible continues, "And God created man." The word "created" was used when woman was involved. "And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." When God created man, He created them male and female.

Sisters, we need to realize that in the sight of God, it takes a male and a female together to compose the unit called "man." When God created man, He did not just create one man. He created the male and the female, and together they were called "man." These verses show us that by ourselves we are not complete. If a brother is by himself he is not complete, and if a sister is by herself she is not complete. The only exceptions are with a special arrangement and calling under God's divine government. In principle, God always looks at two as one unit. When God sees a brother, He spontaneously and automatically sees the brother's wife. When God sees a sister, He also sees the sister's husband. For this reason a brother can never say, "I am prevailing, but my wife is defeated," or, "My wife is prevailing, but I am defeated." This kind of speaking is not healthy, because from God's perspective there is no such thing. God only sees one unit, made up of male and female. If one half of the unit is prevailing, the other half is also prevailing. If one half is defeated, the other is also defeated. This is not according to our concept. We do not usually realize that this kind of oneness exists between a husband and a wife. But God sees this oneness absolutely and completely. The husband and wife are inseparably and totally one in God's sight. When we have such a high realization, we will understand that a sister alone is not complete in herself.

Man's Need for a Woman to Be His Helper

Genesis 2:18 describes in detail how the woman came into existence: "And Jehovah God said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper as his counterpart." A wife should learn to speak to her dear husband in this way. "It is not good for you to be alone." This principle is lost in today's culture. In today's culture and society, a wife is supposed to be struggling for her "rights" as a woman. There is no view or realization that man is alone and needs a counterpart. But what does God say? "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper as his counterpart." When the Lord speaks of woman, He speaks of her as a helper. This means that a sister's existence is with a specific goal. A man might be able to come into existence in a seemingly random way, as if he was born without a goal. But a woman can never come into existence this way. Why? Because man was simply made, but woman came into existence with a specific purpose in view.

Genesis 2:19-20 says, "And Jehovah God formed from the ground every animal of the field and every bird of heaven, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called any living animal, that was its name. And the man gave names to all cattle and to the birds of heaven and to every animal of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper as his counterpart." God brought all the animals to Adam, but Adam did not find a helper. In other words, there was a kind of "dating" going on here. God was basically telling Adam, "Pick up one of these animals as your wife. Would you like to marry a lion? Would you like to marry a dog?" And Adam was so brilliant that he was able to name all of these creatures. But eventually he said, "Not one of these animals matches me. Not one of them can become my wife." Adam was just not able to find any creature who could meet his need.

After Adam named all of the animals, and realized that none of them matched him, the Bible continues the story: "And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And Jehovah God built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man" (Gen. 2:21-22). Although this story seems so simple, it is actually an exact picture of what happened as a result of the Lord's death. In Genesis, Adam slept; on the cross, the Lord "slept." As he slept, Adam's side was opened; while the Lord was on the cross, His side was pierced (John 19:34). Jehovah God took something out of Adam, one of His ribs, and used it to build a woman. And in like manner something came out of our Lord Jesus, the blood and water which flowed from His side, and this produced the church as His counterpart. In the same way that God sees a man and his wife as one entity, God also sees Christ and the church as one entity.

The Significance of the Woman Being "Built"

There are three different words that we have to pay attention to: "made," "created," and "built." "Made" refers to something produced from something else already in existence. Man was made out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). He was made not out of something precious, but rather out of something base and common. However, God made man according to His likeness. Man appears just like God. So on one hand, man is precious, having been made according to God's appearance. But on the other hand, man is corruptible and base, having been made of the dust.

Then for God to accomplish His purpose with man, there was the need of something created. "Created" refers to something produced out of nothing. We were created in God's image, and this refers to our spirit. Our body was made out of the dust, but our spirit was created out of God's breath of life. Our created part is much more precious than the part of us which was made. Furthermore, when God's breath of life came into contact with man's physical body, a third part of man was produced. Man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). So from God's creation of man, we have a spirit, a soul, and a body.

But when the Bible speaks of the woman, it says that she was built: "And Jehovah God built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman and brought her to the man" (Gen. 2:22). For the man to be produced, it was very simple. God simply formed the dust, with Himself as the pattern, breathed in the breath of life, and man became a living soul. With the woman, however, the matter was more complicated, because the woman was built out of something from Adam. The woman was built out of something from man. Why was she built? "And Jehovah God said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper as his counterpart." The woman was built to be the helper of the man.

The Wife Being Built to Meet Her Husband's Need and with His Spiritual Profit in View

Sisters, you need to see again that in the sight of God, the man and the woman are one entity. Then what is the woman's place? According to the Bible, the woman's place is that of a helper. She is a helper to meet man's need. This means that a wife's place is to meet her husband's need. Because she is a helper to meet her husband's need, her coming into existence was somewhat complicated. The woman was not "made." The woman was not "created." The woman was "built" to meet the need of her husband. This is a profound matter. Anything that is "built" requires a blueprint, which is an exact design according to a specific purpose. Every woman was built according to a blueprint. This blueprint is the man for whom she was built.

There is a difference between a man and a woman. A man can be somewhat rough or crude, because he was made. But a woman has to be fine and delicate, because she was built. A man can be common, because he was made. But every woman is specific, because every woman was built in a detailed way according to a specific purpose. This is why every sister is unique. Every sister should realize, "I am special. I was built for a reason. I was built with a purpose. I was built to meet my husband's need." And every married brother in the church life should treasure the sister the Lord has given to him. The brothers should realize, "My wife is unique. On the whole earth, there is no other sister like her. She was built to be my helper. She is exactly what I need."

This realization does not come with today's culture. The modern thought is that woman should be equal with man, or even stronger than man. To speak of the purpose of a woman's existence being to meet her husband's need would be considered nonsense. But according to the Bible, the man and the woman have their respective functions. Between a wife and her husband, who is more fragile? We would all probably agree that it is the wife. But at the same time, which one operates in a greater and finer capacity? Again, it is the wife, because she was built, and not merely made. Anything that is built will operate more than something that is made. Anything that was built will be fine and delicate, but anything that is made can be quite rough and coarse. The man was made, and the woman was built. This really means that man has no way to compare with woman. A sister can tell her husband, "You were made, but I was built." A sister is a delicate, precisioned entity. But no matter how wonderful a sister is, she must remember that she was built for one purpose: as a "helper" to her husband. The husband is the blueprint for the sister's existence.

Man was created with something glorious in view. He was created in God's image and after God's likeness for the fulfillment of God's purpose. But man by himself has no way to attain such a glorious existence. For this reason, God realized that man needs a helper. Who is the helper? All of you dear sisters are the helpers. This kind of help can not come from something which is merely made. This help can only come from something which is built. Every wife is built with her husband's spiritual profit and gain in view. So sisters, you need to see a profound yet simple vision. You need to see that God never intended for a woman to be a unit by herself. In the sight of God, the husband and wife together are one entity. Then with this realization, you should value who you really are: a "helper." You were made according to a purpose. What is that purpose? To be a help to your husband. Every wife came into existence by being built according to her husband's need and with his spiritual profit in view.

Sisters Should Be Peaceful and Restful: They Are Who They Are Because the Lord Built Them That Way

You sisters are exactly who you are supposed to be. The Lord is absolutely satisfied with you being the way you are, because He built you in every detail according to the blueprint of your husband. It is a blessing to have this realization from the Lord. This realization will free you sisters from so much unnecessary pressure to change yourself. Sisters often become very frustrated with self-imposed standards. Sisters must realize that who they are in their person is exactly who they are supposed to be. Every sister is the way she is because of her husband's needs. This includes all of her strengths and weaknesses, and all of the things she would rather change about herself. Sisters do not need to be someone they are not. The sisters should be at peace with how the Lord has built them.

Sisters put a lot of pressure on themselves. Very few sisters are restful and peaceful. A sister usually desires to be someone different than she really is. With almost every sister there is a struggle taking place within her, because she is striving to become what she is not. Sisters, you have to realize that you are not intended to be so "spiritual." You are not intended to be someone different than you already are. You should be restful, because the Lord built you as you are, with the intention that you would be a help to your husband. It is by being who you are that your husband gains the most profit. No husband can ever gain more profit or be more helped by his wife if she tries to become what she is not. Sisters should be restful, joyful, and peaceful. When you become so aware of your limitations, and when you desire to be someone that you cannot be or do something that you cannot do, then you should remember that you were built to be the way you are. You should realize, "I was built with this limitation. I was built without this ability. The Lord wants me to be exactly who I am, because that is the best way to meet my husband's need." This is why the sisters should be restful and joyful.

The brothers should also have this realization. When a brother is first married, he may try to reform and change his wife. But eventually he should learn to just take her as she is, and be joyful. He should realize, "The reason my wife is like this is because I need her to be this way. She was built and designed for me. It is by being exactly who she is that she is a blessing to me from the Lord." Every husband should appreciate his wife based upon how she was built. Brothers always have their concepts about what a "good wife" should be, but only the Lord knows what kind of helper is best for each husband. The Lord knows how to build a wife to meet her husband's need and to render him the most spiritual profit.

The Sisters Being Subject to Their Husbands

For a sister to be the best helper to her husband, she must have a view concerning God's governmental arrangement. Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord." This verse indicates that in God's governmental arrangement the husband and the wife have their respective places. It is much easier for a sister to be subject to the Lord than to be subject to her husband. Why? Because the Lord is so holy, but her husband is so "dusty." However, in God's eyes, the sisters must learn to subject themselves to their husbands, even though they are "dusty." Perhaps when a sister was first married, she imagined that her husband was made out of gold from the New Jerusalem. Soon every sister finds out that her husband was made from the dust of the earth. But even so, she still must submit to her husband. As we shall see, this can only be done by the enjoyment of the Spirit.

The Husbands Loving Their Wives

The sisters must submit to their husbands, and the husbands must love their wives. "But as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be subject to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:24-25). The demand upon the wife is much easier to meet than the demand upon the husband. The husband must love the wife to the degree that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. The husband has to learn to give himself up for his wife. In other words, the husband must lose his personality in the presence of his wife. No lesson is harder for a husband than this. If a husband is always trying to reform his wife, it is because he has not learned to give himself up for her. Many husbands refuse to give up their personalities when there are conflicts at home. This is because they are short of the understanding that each wife is the way she is because that is what is best for her husband.

The Need for the Washing of the Water in the Word

Ephesians 5:26-27 continues, "That He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish." The way that the Lord operates in the church life, cleansing the church by the washing of the water in the word, is also the way the Lord wants to operate in each family. The relationship between husband and wife can be maintained at its highest level only through the continual experience of the washing described in this verse. Once this washing ceases, then God's sweet arrangement between the husband and wife also ceases. The enjoyment of washing may then be replaced by doctrinal law-keeping, in which the husband demands submission from his wife, and the wife demands love from her husband.

The Lord's operation in the family life is according to the same principle as His operation in the church life. He cleanses the church, washing her in the water of the word. The water is the flowing Spirit, the divine life of God. The word here is the instant, living word which the Lord speaks to us. According to Ephesians 6:17, footnote 4, from the Recovery Version, the instant word of the Lord's speaking comes from the constant word of the Bible. In other words, both the Spirit and the Bible are necessary for the washing. For any family to have the reality of the husband as the head and the wife as the helper, the washing of the water in the word is essential. The enjoyment of the Spirit with the truth in the Bible will bring both the husband and the wife into their proper roles.

Ephesians 5:23 calls the Lord "the Savior of the Body." The Lord can only be the Savior of the Body by sanctifying us and cleansing us through the washing of the water in the word. Often in our experience we forget that we are fallen, so we attempt to guide our families with our own ethics and moral principles. We maintain an appearance of peace in our family, but without the washing of the Spirit. If this is the case, then a great part of the church life is gone. Problems in the church very often stem from problems in the family life. Even when both the husband and wife love the Lord, that does not necessarily mean that the family is spiritually healthy. There must be the spiritual, joint-operation of the husband and wife according to God's design. For a family to become a blessing to the church, there is the desperate need for the washing of the water in the word.

"The water in the word" is a meaningful utterance. Water is able to wash and to soothe. In such a busy, consuming world, it is easy for us to become a "dry" wife or a "dry" husband. We simply fulfill our family obligations, but without any enjoyment of the water of the word. It is not unusual to lose the sweetness of a family-life that operates in harmony with the Lord. Therefore we need to be daily saved into the reality of a spiritually healthy family life by enjoying the washing of the water in the word. This means to enjoy the Spirit, to enjoy the truth in the Bible, and to allow the constant word of the Bible to become the instant speaking of the Lord to us.

Our Family Becoming a Blessing through the Enjoyment of the Spirit

God made man in such a wonderful way. He created a spirit within us, by which we can receive and enjoy Him as the Spirit. Yet for some reason we are always neglecting the Spirit with regard to our family life. We need the water, which is the Spirit, for our family life. When we are washed in the water of the word, then our family life will become soothing, peaceful, and enjoyable. In turn, our family will become a blessing to the church.

The subjection of the wife and the love of the husband must take place through the Spirit. Subjection and love that comes out of human strength is of no value. The wife cannot be a help to her husband when she is striving with her natural effort to be subject to her husband, because the element of the Spirit is not there. The Spirit must become the strongest element in the existence of your household. Sisters, your family life, in the church life, must be filled with the fragrance of the Spirit. This does not have to be complicated, but it is absolutely necessary. Sisters should help their husbands and one another to have a strong and healthy spirit. In your family life, perhaps there can be short but genuine prayers before mealtimes. You can keep a Bible near your dinner table, and read a verse before and after eating. There can be many different ways, but you should help your family remain refreshed in the Spirit. Then through the constant cleansing and washing of the water in the word, your family and the entire church life will be richly blessed.

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  Copyright 2001 T. Chu, The Church in Cleveland