ALL ARE CALLED
Scripture: Acts6: 1-7.
THEME: The church suffers problems because of change resulting from growth of the new Way. In dividing the missions of the church, the Apostles show that all Christians are called to some mission (based on their gifts). Each Christian is to help spread the Word by their life and words, yet there are specialty missions that particular people are called to accomplish.
Read Acts 6: 1-7.
I. Problems occur in the new Way.
A. Anytime a group grows there are problems caused by that growth. There is an old management axiom that goes: “Growth always results in changes, and change always results in problems.” This is true whether we’re talking about IBM, Flowers Bakery, the Convenience store down on the corner, an elementary school class, the ladies garden club, or the church.
1. But most of the secular groups don’t have Satan doing everything he can to undermine them, as he is constantly doing in the Church.
2. Growth is particularly mentioned in the discussion of this problem: (v. 1) “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing. . .”
3. When you double the size of a group, there are always problems:
a. The new group (or at least some of them) wants power.
b. The old group (or at least some of them) doesn’t want to share it.
c. You need larger places to meet.
d. There are always more people to be ministered to.
e. Some just need teaching – some need more serious help.
4. Not all problems are necessarily bad – they just need resolution.
a. And they need solving before things turn ugly, and into a fight. (split)
B. The problem in the new church first comes to the leadership’s attention as a complaint: or more accurately, a murmuring. Murmuring is always viewed negatively in Scripture.
1. In this case, I’m sure Luke is thinking back to the days of the Exodus and the 40 years wandering in the Desert. (See Exodus 16: 7; Numbers 14: 26-29)
2. It happened in the New Testament. (See Mark 14: 4-5; 1 Corinthians 10: 10-11)
3. Murmuring is never a good thing – but bringing the problem to the leadership is (a good thing).
C. The Apostles gather the believers together (probably in Solomon’s Colonnade to solve the problem.
1. The problem would not have been solved by the 12 taking over the charity ministry of the church.
2. Such a step would have only created larger problems:
a. The church would have stopped growing in numbers.
b. The believers would have stagnated in their development as disciples.
3. The real solution is proposed:
a. Those who have the calling and the gifts to do the charity mission are selected, presented, and blessed by the 12 in their new position.
D. We know the problem is solved because:
1. There is no further mention of charity distribution problems.
2. (v. 7) “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
II. The lesson of each believer being gifted and called to a particular mission, and their responsibility to accomplish that mission.
NOTE: One little thing we need to notice is that there is no hint whatever that the Apostles regarded the social work as inferior to preaching/prayer, or beneath their dignity. It was entirely a question of calling.
A. This short little episode in the life of the early church teaches us a lesson that is very valuable to us today. Many times over the years it has been lost and re-found, and lost and re-found.
1. Too often in today’s churches we find a tiny group or even one individual doing the entire missions of the church.
2. This results in at least four significant problems:
a. The missions of the church are not accomplished at all, or at best poorly, or inefficiently because those few doing them are totally overwhelmed.
b. Believers do not seek or find their gifts, and as a result sit on the sidelines watching the few doing what they should be doing. They change from believers into spectators.
c. Those outside the church see this happening and get a totally false impression of what the church is supposed to be.
d. Those who need the missions of the church do not receive them; therefore they suffer needlessly – or may even remain lost to the faith entirely (during this life and the whole of eternity).
3. Let’s look at each of these four problems and see how we can learn from them and solve them.
B. The missions of the church are not accomplished at all, or at best poorly done, or inefficiently done because those few who are trying to do them are totally overwhelmed.
1. This problem happens when everything is piled on the pastor.
2. “Well, we’re paying him to be our pastor and do this – let him do it.”
3. This is a common attitude in small churches like ours.
4. Sometimes there are three or four who learn their gifts and take hold of certain missions of ministry.
5. Very quickly, all other missions of the church’s ministry get piled on them.
6. “Well, Susie doesn’t have a job, so she can do that stuff.”
7. “Jim likes to do ministry. No sense in us trying to do something he likes to do.”
C. Believers do not seek or find their gifts, and as a result sit on the sidelines watching the few doing what they should be doing. They change from believers into spectators.
1. Every believer has been given one or more special gifts from the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 12: 4-8) “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
(1 Corinthians 12: 4-7) “ There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
2. If you are not actively involved in the missions of the church – you are missing out on one of the greatest spiritual activities of your life – and you are not following Christ’s commands.
3. It is just like an athletic contest: you are either players on the field taking part in the games, or you are a spectator sitting in the stands, doing absolutely nothing.
4. There is no middle ground between participating and sitting in the bleachers.
5. You may say, “Well, I give money to help the work.” That is a needed part, but you will find that you are to give of your money, your time, of YOURSELF to Christ’s ministry to the world.
6. If you’re not giving of all (money, time, self), they you are cheating not only the Kingdom of God, but yourself.
7. That is the sad part – you cheat yourself when you sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
D. Those outside the church see this happening and get a totally false impression of what the church is supposed to be.
1. Think about the widows in Jerusalem during this problem – not those in the church, but non-believers: “They were having a problem distributing food and clothing to our widow friends, but they fixed it. They not only fixed it, but they put a group of truly great men in charge of it to make sure that it was really taken care of permanently.”
2. Other non-believers – such as the priests – saw the way those who were not called to be “Apostles” or “preachers,” but were “laymen” jumping in and helping with the work of the church and carrying out what was clearly God’s will for these widows.
3. Why do you think that, all of a sudden, “a large number of priests became obedient to the faith”? It was because they saw people doing God’s work because God’s work needing to be done, not because they came from a family who had always done it, but because it needed to be done – and they were eager to do it – for God, not man or recognition.
E. Those who need the missions of the church do not receive them; therefore they suffer needlessly – or may even remain lost to the faith entirely (during this life and the whole of eternity).
1. These widows direly needed this help – and God had promised them that He would look after them: (Exodus 22: 22-23) “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” (Deuteronomy 10: 18) “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”
2. If the Apostles had continued to preach and do what they could to help the widows, the widows would not have been well cared for – and the word of God would have suffered. Widows might have starved: not for lack of food, but for lack of good administration and supervision of the distribution efforts.
3. Or, let’s go the other way: the Apostles give up preaching and concentrate 100% on taking care of the needy. The needy would have had food and clothing and whatever physical things they needed, but who would have preached the Word of God to them? Who would have been the primary witnesses to Christ Jesus’ resurrection?
4. Here’s how verse 7 would have read if the Apostles had quit preaching to care for the needy: “So the word of God died in Jerusalem. The number of disciples stagnated, and they lacked for direction and instruction in becoming better disciples and drawing closer to God. The priests joined the Sadducees in persecuting the movement. And an unknown number of people were consigned to hell for eternity because they did not hear the word of God and Way of Christianity preached to them.”
So, what are you going to do?
Are you going to sit on the sidelines and watch the overwhelmed few try to do it all?
Or are you going to learn your Spirit-given gifts and apply them?
Are you going to get in the game and do your best for Christ?
For ALL CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO FULL TIME CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
WILL YOU ANSWER HIS CALL??