Every Mother Can Be a co-Redemptrix

by Reverend Anthony R. Locke
Mother’s Day 2012

1 Timothy 2:15
English Standard Version

15  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.[1]

I like to think of my mom as a co-Redemptrix.

That’s not a word we Protestants use. If you grew up Roman Catholic then there’s a good chance you studied the co-Redemptrix work of Mary. Catholics describe the mother of Jesus with three labels: the co-redeemer, the mediator of all grace and our advocate.

Mary is described as a co-Redeemer because she submitted to the will of God that the Redeemer should be born through her body by the power of the Holy Spirit. She prayed, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38).

Secondly, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary is a co-Redeemer for her heart was pierced through with many sorrows while at the foot of the Cross. She is called the Woman of Sorrows like Jesus is called the Man of Sorrows. The Catholic Church would like people to believe that the suffering of Mary provides grace.

Of course, Protestant ministers are quick to point out that there’s only one Redeemer and Savior of mankind, that being Jesus. No one helped Jesus redeem mankind. No one is on an equal level with Jesus to save sinners. Only Jesus can satisfy the wrath of God against His enemies and make atonement for His people.

On the surface it looks as though the Roman Catholic Church makes itself an easy target, but the truth is that the Roman Catholic Church has never defined the word co-Redemptrix.

A petition was started in 1990 to urge Pope John Paul II to declare Mary as the co-Redemptrix and then define the term. More than six million signatures were gathered from 148 countries, including those of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, and 41 other cardinals and 550 bishops. A Vatican commission in 1996 voted it down 23 to 0.

So for Mother’s Day I am going to do the work of the Pope and explain how All Mothers bring salvation to their family. Just call me Pope Tony.  =)  I am going to tie together the term co-Redemptrix with 1 Timothy 1:15.

God says in Genesis that the Savior of the world would come through a woman. That woman was Mary. Mary did submit herself to the will of God and cooperate with God’s redemptive plan for Messiah to come through her womb. She cooperated with the redemptive plan.

That’s how many people interpret 1 Timothy 1:15.  That mankind was saved, when through childbirth, a woman brought the Messiah to the world. There’s definitely some truth to this interpretation, but it’s not the primary interpretation of our passage.

The most helpful way to understand our verse is that family matters, starting with child bearing, but including all the family matters of the home, are the primary area of accountability for a Christian woman before God.

A Christian mother might drive a school bus, work accounting, drive in NASCAR or manage a corporation, but her primary accountability before God is to train up her family in the faith, with love, unto holiness and self-control.

Even nature teaches us this truth. Men don’t birth babies. We have babies, but we don’t do the birthin’. If we did the population would be in serious decline.

God sends children through strong women and attaches the needs of the child to the mother. It’s axiomatic: an undeniable truth of life. Even the best of selfless men can’t figure out a way to give birth, breast feed or mother a child. God will judge the women for how well they did these things.

God refines a woman’s faith within the context of family life. My family often jokes on Sunday morning that we almost lost our religion trying to get all the children in the car and on time for church.

Ladies, answer in your mind, how hard is it to persevere in submission and respect toward your husbands? We men are God’s abrasive tool for your sanctification before God!  =)      When children reach the terrible twos they are being used by God for your sanctification.

The authenticity of your confession of faith is at stake. The assurance of salvation in your own heart will either be diminished or increased by how you act and react within the home. This is how John Calvin and Martin Luther understood this passage.

You are not saved by being a stay at home mom. You are not saved by being a good wife. No. You are being sanctified and your faith is being tested.

You are persevering in your salvation as you work redemptively within your home to grow your family in faith, with love, unto holiness and self-control. This is how women work out their salvation in fear and trembling before God. This is how you ladies join with Jesus, mothers cooperate with Jesus, to raise their family in the Christian faith.

I believe my mother will receive the eternal reward for having worked together with Christ to raise our family in the Christian faith. My mother worked as a co-Redemptrix with God to bring me to salvation. She didn’t add to the work of Christ, but she worked with Christ to bring me to faith.

Every mother can be a co-Redemptrix is she works with Christ to bring her family to faith. By your prayers, using the word of God as part of your parenting and instruction, by your godly living, in love and holiness you can bring our lives under the constraints and freedom of God’s law.

So whether you are a mother, grandmother, sister or daughter, you are commissioned by God to train others in faith, motivated with love while modeling holiness, to instill godliness and self-control in the lives of those that you touch.

If you will do this then you will have great reward in heaven, and your life will fulfill its’ primary purpose: glorifying and enjoying God within the family environment.

May God give us the grace to be all that He calls us to be in Christ Jesus.

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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