The Blessing of Deacons

Text: Acts 6:1-7                                                                      4/23/2017

Main Point: God has blessed his church with deacons.

Church polity, or government, can be a lot like money. We can trust it, put our hope in it, or ignore it. It is easy to find a person who puts her trust in money. This person thinks she is okay because she can pay the bills, has sufficient insurance, and is saving enough for retirement. Money makes her feel safe. Others put their hope in money. This person thinks he will be happy if he gets a little more. He lives in a constant state of frustration because he doesn’t have what he thinks he deserves. More money would solve his problems, or so he hopes. Still others choose to ignore the subject of money. I think this is where most of us are, seeing that American credit card debit recently crossed the one trillion-dollar threshold. We don’t care if we can pay for it, don’t even think about that, just buy it. This leads to crazy amounts of stress because we know we are in trouble but we never really know how much trouble. Just go buy something else and forget about it.

I bring this up because many of us think about church structure or polity like we think about money. Some of us put our trust in polity. This person thinks she’s okay because all the offices are there and they are all filled. We’re safe because, while the world is changing rapidly, the church remains the same. The way this person “does church” provides comfort and security. Still others put their hope in the church. After trying to bring change to the political world and failing, this person turns to the church. If only he can get the church in order then he will feel like he’s done something. He can’t change the world but he can change this church. His hope, his legacy, is polity. Still others, and again it’s probably most of us, ignore polity all together. Like forming and keeping a personal budget, forming and keeping a biblical church structure just isn’t a priority. We ignore polity because, after all, just getting ministry done is ultimately what matters. We’ll let the eggheads fight about polity while we go win souls for Christ!

Like order and structure in our families, like order and structure in our finances, God has revealed his intentions for order and structure in the church. We put our trust in the gospel, not in polity. We put our hope in Christ, not in polity. And we will not ignore polity. Instead, we seek to understand how we out to behave as a church. There is a blessing for us in a proper understanding of the offices of member, elder, and deacon. Having looked into congregationalism and the office of pastor/elder/overseer, we now need to seek God’s blessing through the office of deacon.

Acts 6:1-7

I. We want deacons because they bless the church in many ways

Deacons are awesome. The more I study this office and the more I spend time with faithful deacons, the more I see how helpful deacons actually are. Let’s talk blessings, #blessed

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by protecting and restoring joy in the body

In Acts 2 the church is in a most excellent state. They are growing in the gospel, they are caring for one another, prayers are being answered, and as any has a need the church body is meeting those needs. Acts 2:46, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The church in Acts 2 is marked by glad and generous hearts. They are sincere, happy, and focused on caring for one another. But then things go sideways; Acts 6.

Acts 6:1, as the church grew, so did the number of needs. When the number of needs grow, but the people available to meet those needs does not grow, it is a recipe for strife. The Hellenist widows, that is the Greek speaking Jewish widows, began to complain about being neglected in the daily distribution of food. They were hungry and had no means of income. The church was responsible for caring for its poor but these women were being overlooked. What was the outcome? Complaining started to happen. No longer were they looking after one another resulting in glad and generous hearts. They were growing bitter.

The solution was to create a new office, an office that hadn’t existed previously in the temple or in the synagogue. The office of deacon was created in order to restore and protect the joy of the church. Biblical deacons bless the church by helping address conflict in the body. Deacons are spiritually-mature gospel-saturated men. They have been given authority to meet needs and help the church. Don’t complain, go to the deacons. Deacons bless us by protecting our joy and unity. Also,

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs

This is the model we see in Acts 6. When we compare the qualifications of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 we see quickly that their character qualifications are almost identical. What differs is their job descriptions. While elders must be able to teach, there is no similar requirement of deacons. The title, deacon, gives us insight into their job. Deacons are set apart by God to serve the church like a table-waiter. This is why, among us here at Mambrino, our deacons are actively involved in benevolence or mercy ministry. When a member of the church or community comes seeking financial assistance, it is the deacons who respond. What if you need work done around your house? What if something needs to be fixed on church property? Deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs. Go and ask them for help. Go be blessed. Deacons bless us with joy, they bless us by meeting needs, and

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by encouraging biblical elders

I gave this truth to you earlier regarding elders; biblical elders bless the church by encouraging biblical deacons. When elders do their teaching and equipping work it frees the deacons to focus on their ministry of meeting needs. When the deacons focus on their ministry of meeting needs it frees the elders to focus on their ministry of teaching and equipping. We need clarity in these offices so we can do more better. Faithfulness in one office encourages faithfulness in the others so that the church is blessed. Another avenue of blessing relates to discipleship.

  • Biblical deacons bless the church by modeling and encouraging sacrificial service

Every Christian is called to serve others (1 Pt 4:10). Every deacon is a servant. So, should we pay deacons to serve in our place so we don’t have to? If we have biblical deacons are we off the hook? No, we should look to deacons as models of ministry. Just as we look to elders to teach us how to rightly handle the word of truth, we  also look to deacons to teach us how to rightly meet the needs of our members and neighbors. Deacons set the pace for service in the church.

Romans 12:8 tells us some members will be particularly gifted with generosity and doing acts of mercy. I think it is a fair connection to say the deacons should be actively looking for and encouraging those members who are gifted in the body to perform acts of mercy. Deacons should be multiplying themselves, equipping others to meet needs. So, deacons do not just bless the church by meeting needs. They also bless the church by setting the example and raising up others who are glad and generous givers. We need deacons because they are a blessing and now

II. We need to think about the church as a family

In many ways, deacons are to elders what wives are to husbands. Stay with me, and think about responsibilities. It is the responsibility of husbands and elders to lead. It is the responsibility of wives and deacons to help accomplish the mission in the family and in the church. When husbands and wives neglect or overstep their responsibilities then the family suffers. When elders and deacons neglect or overstep their responsibilities then the church suffers. The dysfunction of the family is mirrored in the dysfunction of the church.

We need to clarify roles. Deacons are not do-boys or yes men. Wives are not slaves. The offices of deacon and wife carry identity, work, and authority. A deacon’s identity is a servant of a particular church. His work is to meet needs in order to protect and strengthen joy. His authority is to collect and disperse funds as well as train and send out ministers of mercy in the church. While elders and deacons are not essential for the existence of a church, they are both necessary for a healthy church.

I want to offer an honest word of critique aimed squarely at us pastors. One of the reasons churches struggle to enjoy a biblical leadership structure is elders seem to be faithful to the church about as long as husbands remain faithful to their wives. When the going gets tough, elders and husbands either check out or run off. The difficulty finding faithful pastors should not surprise us. It is difficult to find faithful husbands. We need elders who will stick around and labor for the good of the church like a husband and father sacrificing and working for the good of his wife and children.

But it takes two to tango. Beware of the non-committal husband and

  • Beware of the insubordinate and nagging wife

The sheer number of horror stories and jokes about deacons reveals a glaring problem. Deacons and elders work together for the good of the church. When deacons refuse to work with the elders there will be big problems. Avoid deacons who think their calling is to keep the elders in check, constantly nagging and complaining. Deacons who want to stir up controversy in the church, are as helpful as an insubordinate or nagging wife. And I think it is necessary to note that a great deal of the problem with bad deacons can be tied to bad elders. When the office of elder is neglected or abused then the office of deacon will suffer. Likewise, when the office of elder is faithfully discharged then the office of deacon will most likely blossom and vice versa. So please do not hear this as an indictment of deacons as a class and it is certainly not the case for our deacons here. We are blessed with faithful, godly, and biblical deacons. It is our responsibility to raise up and affirm more men like them.

  • We do need to challenge common misunderstandings about deacons

We must also beware of the unfit deacon. To keep the image going, beware of the unfit girly-deacon. Now there is nothing wrong with being girly. Women should look and act like women. But men should look and act like men. Women should not look and act like men and men should not look and act like women. Deacons should act like deacons. So, what should we avoid when raising up and affirming deacons? Look back at the way deacons should bless the church. If deacons bless the church by meeting physical needs then we should avoid selfish men. Ask, does he actively and sacrificially work to care for people in need? Then he should be considered. Next, if deacons bless the church by encouraging biblical elders then we should avoid men who don’t understand polity. Men who play the devil’s advocate, or like controversy, are unfit to serve as deacons. Never affirm a man who likes to stir the pot. A deacon’s responsibility is to speed up and advance the work of pastors, not serve as a check or governor on their work. A deacon’s responsibility is to strengthen and protect the joy of the church. A man who constantly produces strife and conflict is unfit for the office.

Another common misunderstanding is seeing deacons as a separate branch of government, like elders are the Senate and deacons are the House of Representatives. I understand the sentiment but if taken too far, the separate branches idea puts elders and deacons at odds with one another. Some may even think elders are Republicans and deacons are Democrats, so that opposing philosophies or personalities are encouraged. Maybe you have heard of schisms in other churches trying to get their man elected as deacon in order to represent their desires in the church. This is not helpful or biblical. Instead of being a separate branch of government checking the authority of elders, deacons are mature and godly workers who help keep the elders going. Instead of houses of government, think about a team. The elders are like coaches and the deacons are like trainers. Both groups work together to keep the team healthy and help each player improve.

That leads us to a helpful form of deacon ministry

  • Task specific deacons

In Acts 6, those men weren’t chosen because they met the qualifications. They were chosen because they met the qualifications and there was a job to do. These proto-deacons of Acts 6 were charged with making sure the Hellenistic widows were cared for by the church. They had a specific and helpful job description- make sure all the widows have enough food and money for daily life.

Originally, it appears that deacons served the church through what we call benevolence. Deacons have particular responsibility for caring for the poor. If someone has a financial need then they should go to the deacons. Additionally, it is right for us to think about the deacons taking on those tasks in the church that must be done but are not necessarily related to teaching. Tasks like greeting, benevolence, counting offerings, building maintenance, running the sound board, and setting up for church meals could easily be given to task-specific deacons. Do the members need help around the house, a ride to the doctor, or meals during illnesses? Then you members should go and take care of those needs. As those needs multiply or continue over a long period of time, we should expect a deacon to take the lead to ensure the need is met. So please do not think that deacons do all the work. Elders and deacons work together to make sure the members are healthy and able to do the work.

As we move forward as a church, it is my recommendation to you that we adopt task-specific deacons. The starting point is not with a man but with a need. The elders, current deacons, and the members will work together to determine these needs, find suitable men, and then appoint them to the work. Deacons should not continue on in the office indefinitely. It’s not once-a-deacon-always-a-deacon. Instead, it’s here’s a need that is distracting or dividing the church and here’s a man to meet that need. When the need no longer exists, or the man needs a rest, then he no longer serves as a deacon. He returns to the regular work of a faithful member.

As we close this morning I think it will be helpful to step back and get the big picture.

III. The big picture

  • In a healthy church, every member is being equipped and doing ministry

Here, I remind you that we are all in need of sanctification. No one here is perfect. We all need to helped along against sin, toward Christlikeness, and with the work God has given us. We all experience seasons of need. So, if you see a need, meet that need. Do you see guests among us? Go and greet them. Do you see members who need encouragement? Go and encourage them. Does someone need to be discipled? Offer to meet up to read the Bible and pray together. Is something old, worn, or messy? Clean it up or replace it. We are after every member ministry. Let’s get specific.

  • In a healthy church, every elder is equipping the members for ministry through preaching, teaching, and overseeing ministry

The primary task of pastors is to shepherd the sheep. Elders are under-shepherds, entrusted by Christ with caring for the members. Are you struggling against sin or with unbelief? Are you wanting to grow in godliness? Come and be fed through preaching and seek out opportunities to talk with your pastors. But elders can’t do everything.

  • In a healthy church, every deacon is protecting and strengthening joy by doing what needs to be done

Are you discouraged, unable to pay your bills? Go seek the help of a deacon. Are you a single-lady or widow and need work done around your house but you are afraid to just call someone in the phone book? Go seek the help of a deacon. Do you see something around the buildings that needs to be tended to? Go talk with a deacon. As elders help us lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us, so also deacons help us lay aside the physical and financial distractions that so easily entangle us.

When we talk about biblical members, elders, and deacons we are talking about a healthy church that enjoys Trinitarian unity. We want our unity to match and proclaim the unity of God himself. Oh, how good it is when the family of God dwells together in spirit, in faith, and unity. Oh, how good it is when we have biblical members, elders, and deacons. Let’s pray and work for unity.

Deacons, Purveyors of Joy

Cornelis Van Dam writes:

A key reason for appointing men to minister at tables was to protect the joy of the fellowship of believers. When the legitimate needs of the saints were not being met, there were complaints, indicating that there was unhappiness. Fractures were developing  in the community. To address this situation, the seven were chosen. Their task, in a nutshell, was to see to it that there were no needy so that everyone could rejoice and celebrate the salvation and freedom given by Christ. They could employ others to make sure that all needs were taken care of. These seven and the deacons that followed, like other office-bearers, were given to the church ‘for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [diakonia], for the edifying of the body of Christ’ (Eph. 4:12). Deacons are to safeguard the communal joy of the fellowship of believers so that everyone in the church can function according to the God-given responsibilities each has been given. Several responsibilities derive from this key duty. Deacons need to focus on the poor and needy, on the lonely and sick–indeed, on all those whose joy in the Lord is being challenged by their circumstances. Also, deacons need to direct their attention to those members of the congregation who have the necessary gifts that can help restore joy in those who are losing it. In other words, deacons are to see to it that the appropriate resources, talents, and attributes found in the congregation are put to use to alleviate suffering and want. Finally, deacons have a the responsibility to mobilize the members of the church to diaconal service both within and outside the congregation. After all, believers were to do good to all people (Gal. 6:10).

From The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy, page 72

Serve Well; 1st Timothy 3:13

Text: 1st Timothy 3:11                                                       2/3/08 AM

Thesis: The deacon’s reward is a good standing and confidence in the faith.

 

Intro: Today I plan to let you in on what has become quite the secret.

Our culture is caught up in the pursuit of self-esteem; how can I win a place of favor with people and how can I gain confidence with people?

Our churches are caught up in the pursuit of God-esteem; how can I win a good standing with God and how can I gain confidence with God?

There are boatloads of answers out there written by people with boatloads of letters after their names.

Do you know that God answers this question for us? Until I did a detailed study of our passage today I would have struggled to formulate such a concise and helpful answer.

We are still talking about the requirements for deacons from 1st Timothy chapter 3. And we are talking about serving well.

 

Read 1st Timothy 3:8-11

 

I) It is required of a deacon that he serve well

That’s good to know but what does it look like?

a)      We are looking for sheep

i)        Turn to Matthew chapter 25.

ii)      In verses 14 through 30 Jesus tells us the parable of the talents.

iii)    Jesus here explains what he expects of all of us as his servants not just what Jesus expects of deacons as servants.

iv)    But, if Jesus expects this of all of us as Christians then we are safe to start here with expectations of deacons.

v)      A master calls three of his servants to him and gives them some of his money according to their ability and the master goes away.

vi)    One servant is given 5 talents and he doubles that. One servant is given 3 talents and he doubles that. And the last servant is given 1 talent.

vii)  The last servant knowing the expectations of his master fearfully goes, digs a hole, and hides the money in the ground. He’s afraid of messing up.

viii)            The master returns and the servants are called to given an account.

ix)    The two who use what they have been given are rewarded. This is said to both of them, verses 21 and 23,

x)      “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

xi)    But concerning the one who was afraid and hid what he had been given the master took away what he did have and told possibly the other two faithful servants to cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

xii)  What’s Jesus referring to? He’s talking about the final judgment of all mankind when those who belong to God are separated from those who do not.

xiii)            The sheep are on Jesus’ right hand and the goats are on his left.

xiv)            Read verses 34-46

xv)  Deacons of Mambrino Baptist Church are you a sheep or a goat?

xvi)            Are you serving well?  Are you setting the example and living out for your church family what it means to place your trust in Christ and obey His commands?

xvii)          Every man we will consider for the office of deacon should have his life scrutinized with the question, is he a sheep or is he a goat?

xviii)        We’re looking and praying for sheep.

b)      How does a person become a sheep?

i)        What gets your motor running? What causes you to head out on the highway of loving sacrificial service?

ii)      Traditionally the Southern Baptist approach to invigorating service has been the guilt trip.

iii)    We are made to feel guilty so we do something for about a month until the guilty feeling wears off again.

iv)    Guilt is a horrible fuel for service.

v)      The only sustainable fuel for sheep-like service is a right relationship with God.

vi)    I gave you these three principles last Sunday night and I’ll give them again. If we are going to love, pray, and serve we must build our lives on these three truths:

vii)  One, God loves us. Two, God has given us commandment He expects us to obey. Three, obedience to God’s commandments leads to increasing joy.

viii)            Jesus loves me, Jesus has high expectations for me, and living in accordance with Jesus’ expectations will produce real joy in my life.

ix)    That’s the process of salvation. That’s the process of service.

x)      It’s coming to grips with God’s great love and His righteous standards. And it’s trusting in Jesus to get us where we need to be.

xi)    The person, or deacon for that matter, who does not serve well is missing God’s truth.

xii)  We as a church must consistently pray for our deacons asking God to show them Christ’s love for them, Christ’s expectations for them, and the joy that is theirs when they serve well.

xiii)            We as a church must consistently demand of our deacons that they show us Christ’s love by working for our obedience and our joy.

xiv)            If a deacon does not do this he does not serve well and like the wicked servant his disobedience rightfully earns him the wrath of Almighty God.

xv)  Now that sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? God’s response to disobedience is harsh but God’s reward for faithfulness is wonderful.

II) The deacon who serves well is rewarded

For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

a)      He is rewarded with a good standing

i)        There are two dimensions to the reward of good standing and the reward of confidence.

ii)      There is the reward between the servant and God and there is the reward between the servant and those he serves.

iii)    A deacon who serves well is given the blessing of a good standing.

iv)    We saw this clearly in Matthew 25 when Christ tells the faithful servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into my joy” (vs. 21&23).

v)      When we know Christ as He truly is and He strengthens us with the power of His resurrection we live lives that please Him.

vi)    It is such a gift of grace that faithfulness is not dependent on IQ, wealth, beauty, or personal exertion.

vii)  Here’s that truth from the mouth of the Apostle Paul,

1st Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

viii)            Do not let go and let God when it comes to work. We must work hard. God expects us to work hard.

ix)    Where we let go and let God is in the areas of providing grace to continue on and results to glorify Jesus.

x)      There is where we must get the love of God for us right.

xi)    The God who demands perfection is the God who supplies perfection.

xii)  Through Christ Jesus God gives us the grace we need to serve in the areas where He calls us.

xiii)            We work hard but only because we are feasting daily on the grace, forgiveness, mercy, and strength that are ours in Christ Jesus.

xiv)            We do this through spending time reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture.

xv)  For me there is great grace in getting out my guitar and singing songs of thanks and praise to Christ.

xvi)            Find your biblical supply of grace, get filled up, and then go and serve.  We must live on grace not on guilt.

xvii)          Now, deacons step out knowing this calling is bigger than them and it is a calling to serve in a capacity that they cannot handle on their own.

xviii)        To serve well and gain a good standing before Christ we must trust God to provide the grace we need, we must work hard, and we must leave the results to God.

xix)            The man who lives this way, the Christian who lives this way, will gain a good standing in the church.

xx)  Why does the church respect the likes of Jonathan Edwards, Adoniram and Ann Judson, Lottie Moon, George Whitfield, Jim Elliott, and Joni Eareckson Tada?

xxi)            By their faithful service they have won the respect of their Christian family.

xxii)          Good standings are not just conferred on people. We do not respect those that live shameful lives but have fancy titles.

xxiii)        Deacons do not have good standings simply because they have the name ‘deacon.’

xxiv)        Deacons earn a good standing in the church by serving well.

xxv)          This same holds true for elders.

xxvi)        1st Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

xxvii)      The roles are different between these two offices but the same respect or honor is deserved when godly men fulfill their callings with faith and godliness.

xxviii)    He is rewarded with a good standing and

b)      He is rewarded with confidence

i)        David said in Psalm 34

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

ii)      Now how did David know that? This is how:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

iii)    In his fear David sought the Lord and the Lord delivered David from his fear. God gave David confidence.

iv)    As David sought God’s will and strength to obey, as David looked to God, David was made radiant; there was no reason for him to be ashamed.

v)      Remember the two avenues of each reward?

vi)    There is confidence with God and confidence with people.

vii)  As I have preached through Hebrews God has given me a love for that book so let me read to you from Hebrews how we all gain confidence with God.

viii)            Hebrews 10:19-23

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

ix)    Christ is the only reason for our confidence. Christ is the only reason we can joyfully serve each other, love each other, and know God.

x)      The deacon who holds the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience does so only because he knows the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

xi)    As this deacon tastes the goodness of God He will serve the will of God and even his confidence in God will increase.

xii)  Through faith in Christ we are given the privilege of access to God. The deacon goes boldly into God’s presence and by living there the deacon receives even greater confidence in the power of God.

xiii)            Through knowing Jesus and obeying Jesus’ commands the deacon experiences a true heart in full assurance of faith.

xiv)            The aim of ministry is fulfilled in him- love from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.

xv)  It’s compounding interest. It’s the Lord giving to us in a quantity that overflows.

xvi)            The deacon who serves well from faith in Christ gains even more confidence in the faith.

xvii)          And that confidence with God will give him confidence toward people.

xviii)        Men, listen up because this is where the world gets things dead wrong and if you listen to the world and buy into the world you will get your life dead wrong.

xix)            Where does the world tell us to get our confidence from?  We should get it from ourselves.

xx)  Have you seen those commercials where miserable celebrities who can’t stay out of rehab tell us how to feel better about ourselves?

xxi)            I saw one the other day where I was told that I am born with my own true love. Do you know who that one true love is?  I am my one true love.

xxii)          If I love myself others will love me too.  That is such a lie. If you love yourself, if you are your one true and greatest love, you’ll be a selfish jerk and no one will love you except for your momma and only because she feels like she has to.

xxiii)        We don’t get confidence from ourselves. It’s not an issue of my job title. It’s not an issue of the type of car I drive. It’s not an issue of the neighborhood I live in.

xxiv)        It’s not an issue of where I take vacations or if I take vacations. It’s not an issue of where my kids go to college or if they have a better quality of life then I did.

xxv)          True confidence among your peers comes from serving your peers.

xxvi)        Those deacons who serve well gain for themselves great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

xxvii)      These men know who they are in Jesus Christ, they know they are wretched sinners saved by grace and they are weak vessels filled with his strength,

xxviii)    Christ makes them clean and strong so they serve and they serve well.

xxix)        The guys who use the office of deacon like a beauty pageant to win the votes of the judges always end up being sorry deacons.

xxx)          But then there are those who are deacons serving like the guy at the back of the parade with the shovel and wheelbarrow.

xxxi)        Any fool can sit in a convertible, wave, smile, and throw candy to the kids.

xxxii)      When you look back over the mistakes of your life and you see all the carnage it can cause you to want to give up.

xxxiii)    But when you see a godly man and his wife start to help you pick up the pieces you breathe a shy of relief.

xxxiv)    As this deacon and his wife serve you and serve you well it will cause you to thank God for them and recommend them to others.

xxxv)      As the deacon serves well from faith he will gain confidence in the church, the household of faith.

c)      A good standing with God and man along with confidence with God and man are blessings given to us through the sacrifice of Christ.

i)        Repent of your sins today and learn what it is to enter the presence of your loving heavenly Father through faith in Christ Jesus.

ii)      Place your trust for today and all of eternity in Jesus Christ and you will not be disappointed.

iii)    Deacons, it’s time for you to step up and serve well. Show us what it is to know Christ and make Him known by sacrificing for us and serving us.

The Deacon’s Family; 1st Timothy 3:11-12

Text: 1st Timothy 3:11-12                                                1/27/08 AM

Thesis: The church must test the deacon, his wife, his marriage, and his entire household.

 

Intro: As a person studies more and more of Scripture the importance of the family becomes obvious.

It doesn’t matter if you are reading the Old or New Testament; the family is important under both covenants.

Reading through Nehemiah we repeatedly saw the names of families working together to build.

Reading through Esther we see the influence of even extended families as Mordecai raises and challenges Esther.

In Acts we’ve seen the influence on the whole family when someone is saved by God’s great grace.

It should therefore not be any surprise that as we turn our attention again to deacons we find attention given to his family.

When we look to affirm men as deacons we must look at his marriage, his children, and his collective home life.

The reasons to look into a man’s home are legion. The deacon’s relationship with his wife reflects his understanding of Christ and the church and it’s not just the man who is called to serve.

You can fool someone on a Sunday but spend years together and you figure out quickly what’s real and what’s just a show.

We must look to his children and house as well because those two things are good indicators of what his fruit will be in the church.

As we read God’s word let’s pray for humility and strength to obey.

Read 1st Timothy 3:8-13

 

I) The Deacon’s wife is a suitable helper

a)      First let me make it obvious that I am taking the interpretation that 1st Timothy 3:11 applies to the wives of deacons.

i)        A group of godly women set apart for special service.

ii)      I hold to this interpretation for grammatical, theological, cultural, and traditional reasons.

iii)    I understand a case can be made for women serving as deacons. I also understand that a case can be made for a group of women who are called by the name deaconess.

iv)    Based on my convictions about this text and our church’s history I’m adopting the translation of wives, meaning the wives of deacons.

v)      There are expectations of these women. Not just that they be something but that they do something.

vi)    Namely, they are to serve alongside their husbands by serving the women of the church.

vii)  I’m not going to spend any time defending my position now. If you’d like to talk with me about it I’d love to do just that.

viii)            Throughout history godly, conservative, bible believing men and women have agreed with this interpretation and disagreed with this interpretation.

ix)    So, if you want to talk about it then I’m in. But if you want to fight about it then you win.

x)      Back to the point; a deacon’s wife is a suitable helper.

xi)    I’m drawing this out of God’s intention for every wife, the Christian wife, and then the deacon’s wife specifically.

xii)  In Genesis 2:18 the Lord God makes a profound statement, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

xiii)            Man, even in a state of sinless perfection, needs some help so God makes woman.

xiv)            God makes Eve, gives her to Adam, and the first marriage is begun.

xv)  Guys, you want to put some life back in your marriage? Tell your wife that you appreciate her and tell her specific areas where she is the perfect help for you.

xvi)            Ladies, you want to put some life back in your marriage? Find ways to humbly help your husband.

xvii)          Now from Titus 2:3-5, older women are to teach the younger women what is good, “and so train the young women how to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

xviii)        Here is why I’m so excited about our Women’s Minis-tree: they are committed to a Titus 2 model for godly womanhood in the church.

xix)            Ladies, doing this stuff doesn’t come naturally. You need godly women to help you, to teach you, and to encourage you.

xx)  Deacon’s wives should be intricately involved insuring that the women of the church are being discipled.

xxi)            Every wife is called by God to help her husband. A Deacon’s wife is no different and she helps her husband by serving the church.

xxii)          One difference between every woman in the church and the deacon’s wife is that the expectations on her are higher. Here are those expectations from 1st Timothy 3:11

b)      She must be dignified

i)        An elder must manage his own household well, with all dignity; verse 4.

ii)      A deacon likewise must be dignified; verse 8.

iii)    Their wives likewise must be dignified; verse 11.

iv)    When we were looking at what God had to say about elders I gave you a definition of this word ‘dignity,’ ‘reverent,’ or ‘grave’ as some translations have.

v)      Dignity means, “a manner or mode of behavior that indicates one is above what is ordinary and therefore worthy of special respect” (BDAG).

vi)    This woman is no ordinary woman. There is a mindset about her, a lifestyle about her, born out of godliness.

vii)  She has a Christian worldview which means she thinks biblically. It means the way she sees the world is the way God sees the world.

viii)            She’s devoted to hearing God’s will and she’s dedicated to following God’s will. This type of woman will be dignified.

ix)    Wives of deacons when you live out before this church and the younger women what it means to be devoted to Christ and your husband you do your church a great service. Show us the power of Christ.

c)      Next, the deacon’s wife must be an encourager

i)        Deacons’ wives must not be slanderers.

ii)      This word ‘slanderer’ is the word often used to reference the work of Satan (Matthew 4).

iii)    Don’t give Satan any opportunity among us by complaining, whining, badmouthing, gossiping, or accusing people.

Ephesians 4:29 says, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

iv)    Do not tempt people to sin by the things you say. Encourage people to greater faithfulness by what you say.

v)      Ladies you must go to war against using slanderous speech. You must die to yourself and live for Christ otherwise you will live for yourself and do damage to Christ.

vi)    The church where Timothy was had a problem with ladies being busy bodies and gossips saying things they should not say (1 Tim 5:13).

vii)  The church would gather and there would be needs among the women that other women needed to meet but instead of caring for others these women were slandering others.

viii)            If you are a deacon’s wife it should be your prayer and intention every time we meet that God would use you to encourage other women.

ix)    If you find yourself slandering or tearing someone down you need to stop acting like the devil, repent to God through faith in Christ, and get on with serving.

d)     Now, the deacon’s wife must be intentional

i)        The deacon’s wife must be sober-minded.

ii)      The same thing was said of elders in verse 2.

iii)    She shouldn’t be frivolous with her judgments or a goofball. She shouldn’t fly off the handle at the slightest thing or the smallest difficulty.

iv)    As she serves and cares for those in need she will be called upon to make decisions for the good of others.

v)      Can she think for herself? When it comes time to think for her self does she do a good job?

vi)    And a deacon will face difficulties.  When he does, what kind of advice will he receive from his wife?

vii)  Will she immediately jump to defend his honor without first giving thought to what honors Christ?

viii)            Will she work with a sober mind for the glory and fame of Christ’s good name or will she be combative defending the name of her husband?

ix)    John MacArthur often says something along the line of, “there is much to be said for long term faithfulness in one direction.”

x)      This is true for the pastor, the deacon, and the deacon’s wife. Without a sober mind the train will derail.

xi)    Then there is this all encompassing statement

e)      She must be faithful in all things.

i)        She is suitable if she lives a respectable life, controls her tongue, keeps a level head, and is faithful in everything else.

ii)      When setting up the requirements for a widow to be added to the church list this is what was said.

iii)    Read 1st Timothy 5:9-10

iv)    If these things must be present in the life of an older widow who is receiving aid from the church how much more should these things be present in the life of a deacon’s wife?

v)      Is she a worker? How’d she do with the kids? Does she open her home to friend and stranger alike? Is she a servant? Does she take care of the sick? Is she devoted to the ministry God has given her?

vi)    If the lady is a trouble maker before she steps into this role you can bet it will only get worse with time and opportunity.

vii)  If the lady has set the example of a life lived for Christ and the honor of her husband before he became a deacon you can rest assured she will do the same after he becomes a deacon.

viii)            Now allow me to make a connection between 1st Timothy 3:11 and Titus 2:4, the passage which calls on the older women to train the younger women.

ix)    A deacon’s wife is a woman who devotes herself to serving and training the little girls, young ladies, newly-weds, moms, and women.

x)      She serves them and trains them to be godly.

xi)    If you are one of these wives and are not involved personally in serving and training women to be godly then you are not faithful.

xii)  As we need men to hold fast to the mystery of the faith with clear consciences we need women to model for us what it is to be faithful. We need ladies who will invest.

xiii)            In the context of the requirements for a deacon know this: the spiritual condition of a man’s wife says a great deal about his own spiritual health and abilities as a leader.

xiv)            If his devotion to her and leadership of her is fruitless then why should we expect anything different from his devotion to and leadership of the church?

xv)  Read 1st Timothy 3:12

II) The Deacon’s family is a testimony to Christ

a)      His marriage must reflect Christ’s love

i)        It is expected of every husband that he love his wife like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph 5:25).

ii)      When looking at leaders we understand that the way a man cares for his wife will be the way he cares for the church.

iii)    The way a man is devoted to his wife will be the way he is devoted to the church.

iv)    If there is faithlessness towards his wife then beware because that could lead to faithlessness towards the church.

v)      As with the requirements for a pastor I take this ‘one woman man’ requirement in conjunction with the others to refer to the man who if married has never been divorced.

vi)    There is restoration and great fruitfulness for the person who has been divorced.

vii)  Humor me for a moment as I make an application, not a new translation.

viii)            Galatians 3:27&28 say, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female.”

ix)    By inference, there is neither married, nor divorced, nor remarried. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

x)      When it comes to Christ’s love for us in salvation it doesn’t matter if you are single, married, divorced, or remarried.

xi)    But when it comes to service and leadership different people are called to different venues.

xii)  The woman is not less than a man because she is a woman but their callings will be different.

xiii)            The divorced man is not less than the married man because he is divorced but their callings will be different.

xiv)            And the ‘one woman man’ requirement is more than just ‘still married’. A man can have a marriage of 60 years and still not qualify.

xv)  He must love his wife and give himself up for her.

xvi)            How can a man love the church and serve the church like Christ did if he does not first love his wife as Christ commands?

xvii)          If he blows it with her he will blow it with the church.

xviii)        So ask, ‘How does he talk about his wife? How does he serve his wife? Is he devoted to her?”

xix)            To be a deacon a man must be devoted to his wife.

b)      As a father he must invest in his children

i)        Deacons must manage their children well.

ii)      Through child-bearing God gives the father the high calling of raising his children in godliness.

iii)    It is a stewardship of great proportions.

iv)    Being a father is a great blessing and after not even two years of it I feel the difficulty and the pressure.

v)      Understand this, the way he treats his wife and the way he treats his children will be the way he treats the church.

vi)    Here’s a simple test for a deacon: where are his kids and what are they doing? What kind of people are they?

vii)  I’m not saying deacons’ kids have to be saints but if they are rebellious hellions at age 5, 25, or 45 the church should ask why?

viii)            If the kids are still home does he handle their rebellion and their obedience with godliness? If he doesn’t is he quick to repent when corrected?

ix)    If the kids are gone and he didn’t handle them well is he quick to repent and seek restoration?

x)      The man who does not diligently seek the spiritual well being of his children be they in his home or grown and gone is a man unfit to be a deacon.

c)      And finally, as the man of the house he must take care of the house

i)        If a guy doesn’t care for the needs of those in his own home he will not care for the needs of those in his own church.

ii)      There is something wrong if a man, within his means, does not take care of the things that need to be taken care of.

iii)    If he’s able, does he have a job? Does he make sure the bills are paid and there is food on the table?

iv)    Is the home and the car kept up? Are the kids clean and clothed with plenty to eat?

v)      And most importantly, does he lead and set the pace for spiritual growth and discipleship? Does he challenge everyone in his family to grow in Christ?

vi)    He doesn’t have to do it all himself. He can’t do it all himself. It’s a matter of making sure these things are done for the good of his family.

III) On February 10th we will have our regular business meeting. As I said at the January meeting I really like the title “members’ meeting” better.

a)      So, at the February 10th Members’ Meeting we will be spending some dedicated time in prayer for the express purpose of finding and following God’s will concerning the deacons of Mambrino Baptist Church.

b)      We must be in prayer long before February 10. If you haven’t added this issue to your prayer list you’re behind.

c)      Spend time reading and thinking about these requirements and pray that God will lead us to His men.

d)     Go to the church website and read or listen to these sermons again.

e)      God has given us his Scripture so that we will know and do his will. Let’s pray for His will to be done.

The Dignified Deacon: 1st Timothy 3:8

Text: 1st Timothy 3:8-9                                                      1/6/08 AM

Thesis: The deacon must be devoted to Christ.

 

Intro:  In 1st Timothy 3:14&15 Paul makes his reason for writing this letter to Timothy clear: “so that…you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.”

We’ve seen already how a pastor ought to behave in the household of God. Knowing these expectations also gives us the characteristics to look for when calling a new minister.

We turn our attention now in 1st Timothy chapter three to the office of deacon. The Holy Spirit there details the personal expectations that are placed upon every deacon.

Knowing these expectations also gives us the characteristics to look for when setting apart new deacons for service in the church.  And this is exactly what we intend to do.

Lord willing, after we conclude our study of deacons in 1st Timothy chapter 3 we will set aside a small number of men who will be tested and if proven blameless will serve this church as deacons.

So it is important that every member pay attention to what God tells us through Scripture because every member will be involved as we set these men apart.

As we go I’ll give you more specifics. The rough time line in my head is to study the office of deacon for 4-6 weeks then at the end of that time set aside men who will be tested. Upon proving themselves faithful these men will be affirmed as deacons.

It is exciting to look ahead and think of what God is going to do in and through us as His church. 

Read 1st Timothy 3:8-13

 

I) Every deacon is an analogy of Christ

a)      Because the deacon is always and most obviously a Christ-like servant.

i)        The word episkopos means overseer and the word diakonos means servant.

ii)      The names of the two offices of the church give us the clearest description of their duties.

iii)    Mark 10:45, the words of Christ, “For even the Son of Man (which is a title for Christ) did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

iv)    The Son of man came to diakonesai. Jesus came to earth in order to serve.

v)      He came to do the work of a deacon.

vi)    The office of deacon is a glorious thing because it is a living demonstration of Jesus’ servant heart.

vii)  When you look at a deacon you should think, “if Jesus were here serving Mambrino Baptist Church Jesus would be doing what that guy is doing.”

viii)            And Jesus would be doing it with the attitude and humility that guy has.

ix)    When I think of the glorious service of Jesus Christ I think of him washing the disciples feet in John 13.

x)      It was the lowliest of jobs. This was a task none wanted and the servants were required to do. No one volunteered to wash people’s feet. No one but Jesus.

xi)    Foot washing was such a demoralizing task that Peter told Jesus in verse 8, “you shall never wash my feet.”

xii)  “No Jesus, this isn’t right. You’re too good to wash feet. You’re too important to wash feet. Get one of the slaves to do it. You do the stuff that really matters.”

xiii)            But Jesus did not come to be served, he came to serve. In John 13:15 Jesus said, “I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

xiv)            Deacons have been given to the church to show the church the servant heart of Christ.

xv)  This is precisely why the list of qualifications is not a to-do list for deacons.

xvi)            1st Timothy 3:8-13 gives us a picture of who the deacon is to be.  If by faith a man pursues these things for the glory of Jesus Christ he will be a servant.

xvii)          As we continue I want you to keep this distinction in your mind. It will help you as you think about the differences between overseers and deacons.

xviii)        The overseer should display the leadership and teaching of Jesus Christ.

xix)            The deacon should display the servant spirit of Jesus Christ. We need both offices because we need the full display of the glory of Jesus Christ in this church.

xx)  We need leaders, teachers, and servants. We need men whose personal devotion to Christ produces a tangible display of the person of Christ in the church.

xxi)            Let’s turn our attention now to those qualification and we’ll do so with this mindset:

II) Personal holiness is a requirement for every deacon

a)      Every deacon must be dignified

i)        Because the deacon has been redeemed by Jesus and because that deacon is living every day for Jesus there is a dignity about him.

ii)      When you squeeze him it’s not service that comes out it’s Jesus Christ who comes out.

iii)    The deacon must be respectable. This same requirement is laid on pastors in verse 4.

iv)    And for both this is so much more than a superficial Dukes of Hazzard good ole boy morality.

v)      If the only time you hear a deacon or a pastor talk about the things of God is while your in the church building this guy is not dignified he’s a hypocrite.

vi)    The dignified deacon is not a man comes to Sunday night church, tithes, and isn’t divorced.

vii)  The dignified deacon is a man who when you see him you see glimpses of the glory of Christ.

viii)            You see a trust in God that produces powerful sacrificial service in the name of Jesus for the good of others.

ix)    No one inside or outside the Christian community should ever be surprised to learn I’m a pastor.

x)      No one inside or outside the Christian community should ever be surprised to learn that any of our deacons are deacons.

xi)    When a family member, co-worker, or neighbor finds out you’re a deacon they should say, “that makes sense” because of your dignified life.

xii)  Deacons if you are not on the front lines serving this church knowing not just the names but the needs of church members then you are not dignified.

xiii)            And if you are not dignified then you are not qualified to be a deacon according to the standards of Almighty God.

xiv)            Church we must raise the bar for pastors and deacons alike.

xv)  We’re not passing out ice-cream cones on the playground of life.

xvi)            We’re in a battle for souls and we need men who will biblically lead the charge and serve the soldiers.

xvii)          This is why every deacon must be dignified and

b)      Every deacon must not be double-tongued

i)        He must not say one thing to one person and another thing to another person.

ii)      This is crucial particularly because in his service the deacon will find himself as a go-between for the pastor and the congregation.

iii)    Many a church has been harmed by two-tongued pastors.

iv)    Many a pastor has been harmed by two-tongued deacons.

v)      One author wrote, “Since the [work] of such an officer would conceivably take him on constant rounds of visitation, a double-tongued person would spread havoc in short order. This officer must know how to bridle his tongue” (Kent, 132).

vi)    With the institution of the Seven in Acts 6 we learn that these men are to be first and foremost helpers.

vii)  What they do should lend aid to the church. This requirement of the deacon’s tongue makes it clear that what he says should lend aid to the church.

viii)            The deacon is not a creator of problems or a channel through which problems are conveyed to the pastor.

ix)    A deacon is always a biblical problem solver with his words and with his deeds.

x)      And it is true that deacons will often endear themselves to a congregation more than the pastor because they will be on the frontlines of service.

xi)    The deacons tongue must therefore be true to Christ.

xii)  Ephesians 4:29 is required of every Christian and is applicable here to the deacons, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

xiii)            Speak the truth, speak the hard things, and bring correction but always do so for the purpose of building up and always do so with an attitude that is full of grace.

xiv)            To do so is to have a single tongue bridled for the purposes of Jesus Christ.

c)      Next, every deacon must not be addicted to much wine

i)        There is a foolishness and a shamefulness that has always been attached to drunkenness.

ii)      It is impossible to be dignified and drunk. It is hypocrisy to say you are serving those in need while living in a state of indulgence.

iii)    The man who is captured by Christ and living a controlled life for Christ will not be a drunkard.

Proverbs 20 verse 1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

iv)    Does he quench the thirst of his soul with alcohol or does he quench his thirst with the majesty of Christ.

v)      The spiritual disciplines produce physical effects. We are not disjointed beings.

vi)    The pastor and deacon alike must model this hunger for Christ to the entire church.

vii)  And finally for this morning

d)     Every deacon must not be greedy for dishonest gain

i)        Remember Mikey, the kid who would eat anything? Give it to Mikey he’ll eat what other kids won’t. He’ll eat what others kids shouldn’t.

ii)      Deacons shouldn’t be Mikeys willing to do anything as long as they get paid.

iii)    When we view this qualification against Acts 6. In the early church in Jerusalem there were many in the church who were needy and the church was meeting those needs.

iv)    Originally the Apostles were involved in meeting the daily needs of widows. Then some of the ladies didn’t think they were getting their fair share so a dispute arose.

v)      As is often the case, this dispute forced the Apostles to the front and they found themselves no longer spending time in prayer and the ministry of the word but in settling disputes and keeping all things even.

vi)    Birthed from this conflict was a group of men who were appointed to the duty of serving tables; they were responsible for overseeing the distribution of aid were it was needed.

vii)  This would have surely involved finances. At this time there were several thousand Christians in Jerusalem. There were 7 men appointed to meet the needs of the needy. Clearly money was changing hands.

viii)            Where did Judas get the money to buy that field in which he died? He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

We are told in John 12:6, Judas “was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

ix)    I’m sure Judas had his eye on that field for some time dreaming about what he could do with that land.

x)      His greed made the temptation to betray Jesus that much easier for Satan.

xi)    If a deacon is greedy for dishonest gain it will make the temptation to betray Jesus and His church that much easier for Satan.

xii)  How do you know if a man is greedy? It’s pretty easy. He’s always talking about money, he’s always trying to get more money, and he rarely gives away his money.

xiii)            He will regularly talk about what he deserves or what he wants instead of what others need.

xiv)            This type of deacon has come to be served not to serve.

xv)  It is good to work hard. God often blesses in the way of monetary gain. But hard work and blessings spent on selfish ends is a waste.

xvi)            Lying, cheating, or stealing to gain money is not a waste it is sin and reason to disqualify a man from the diaconate.

III) The deacon must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, and not greedy for dishonest gain.

a)      In a nutshell he must not be like the mother who told her daughter to lie in order to win Hanna Montana tickets.

i)        Her ruling desire was not to know God. This led her to do all manner of dishonest things.

ii)      When you look at a deacon you should immediately think that his ruling desire is to know God.

iii)    You see it in his life; he is respectable.

iv)    You see it in the way he speaks; he’s honest with the prince and the pauper alike.

v)      You see it in his diet; he’s not looking to drown his sorrows or lift his spirits with alcohol.

vi)    You see it in his finances; he works hard, he’s full of integrity, and he’s generous.

vii)  Let me close with a question for all of us. What do people see in you?

viii)            This is not a matter of being moral or having a clean nose. Satan can be moral and keep a clean nose when he wants but his end is destruction.

ix)    It’s not enough just to make a New Year’s resolution to stop doing sinning.

x)      God’s call on us is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love our neighbors like we love ourselves (Mark 12:30&31).

xi)    We must devote ourselves to doing something namely knowing and loving God.

xii)  Those who devote themselves to loving God by knowing and serving Him will be dignified, they won’t be getting drunk to feel good, they won’t be lying because they’re afraid of what people might do, they won’t be lining their pockets with dirty money.

xiii)            Please church, devote yourself to learning more about Jesus Christ in the days ahead. Join us in the through the bible reading.

xiv)            Memorize Scripture. Before you come on Sundays be in prayer asking God to fill up your worship with His Spirit and His truth.

xv)  Start and finish every conversation with a prayer asking for strength to love God most.

xvi)            And if you don’t want to? Pray that God will change your heart. Pray that God will change your desires.

xvii)          The God who made the entire universe out of nothing can easily make good desires out of bad.

xviii)        Through faith in Jesus Christ and his work of salvation, trust God to change you entirely.