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DEACON – THE QUALIFYING FACTORS
INTRODUCTION:
ONCE AGAIN, WE ARE NEARLY TO THE END OF OUR CHURCH YEAR, WHICH RUNS FROM SEPTEMBER 1 THROUGH AUGUST 31.
THIS MEANS THAT IT IS TIME FOR US TO FIND PEOPLE WHO WILL SERVE THE CHURCH FOR THE NEXT YEAR IN A VARIETY OF CAPACITIES, AND IT IS TIME TO ELECT MEN TO SERVE THE CHURCH THROUGH THE BODY OF DEACONS.
SO THIS MORNING, WE NEED TO TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO LOOK AT WHAT THE BIBLE HAS TO SAY ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD GO ABOUT DETERMINING WHICH MEN WOULD BE ELIGIBLE TO SERVE IN THIS CAPACITY.
SO TAKE YOUR BIBLE AND OPEN IT TO THE BOOK OF 1 TIMOTHY, CHAPTER 3.
GALATIANS, EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS, COLOSSIANS, 1 THESSALONIANS, 2 THESSALONIANS, 1 TIMOTHY...
AND LET’S STAND TOGETHER AS WE READ VERSES 8 THROUGH 13.
STAND – READ – PRAY
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BEFORE WE GET INTO THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEN WHO WOULD SERVE AS DEACONS, IT’S IMPORTANT TO FIRST UNDERSTAND THE BIBLICALLY DEFINED PURPOSE OF THE DEACON? AND WE FIND THIS PURPOSE IN ACTS, CHAPTER 6…
AND THE REASON FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF THE FIRST DEACONS WAS TO LOOK AFTER THE WELFARE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL CHURCH…
AND TO REMOVE THIS BURDEN FROM THE PASTOR, SO THAT HE (THEY) COULD EFFECTIVELY PRAY, STUDY THE WORD, AND LEAD THE CHURCH.
(ESV) - 6 NOW IN THESE DAYS WHEN THE DISCIPLES WERE INCREASING IN NUMBER, A COMPLAINT BY THE HELLENISTS AROSE AGAINST THE HEBREWS BECAUSE THEIR WIDOWS WERE BEING NEGLECTED IN THE DAILY DISTRIBUTION. 2 AND THE TWELVE SUMMONED THE FULL NUMBER OF THE DISCIPLES AND SAID, “IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT WE SHOULD GIVE UP PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD TO SERVE TABLES. 3 THEREFORE, BROTHERS, PICK OUT FROM AMONG YOU SEVEN MEN OF GOOD REPUTE, FULL OF THE SPIRIT AND OF WISDOM, WHOM WE WILL APPOINT TO THIS DUTY. 4 BUT WE WILL DEVOTE OURSELVES TO PRAYER AND TO THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD.”
SO LET ME GIVE YOU A SOLID DEFINITION OF THE PURPOSE OF THE DEACON BODY…
DEFINITION - THE PURPOSE OF DEACONS IS TO SERVE THE LORD BY CONDUCTING THE CARING MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH - DOING THE WORK OF BENEVOLENCE, VISITING THE SICK, BEING ALERT TO THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF THE CONGREGATION - AND BY PROMOTING UNITY WITHIN THE CHURCH, THUS FREEING THE PASTOR TO FOCUS ON PRAYER AND THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD, AND FACILITATING THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL.
SO THAT IS THE WHY OF DEACONS, BUT WE ALSO NEED TO HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW WE SELECT THESE MEN…
DOES THE BIBLE GIVE US INSTRUCTIONS AS TO HOW TO DETERMINE WHO WOULD BE THE RIGHT MAN TO SERVE AS A DEACON?
WELL, THE ANSWER IS YES, AND WE JUST READ THESE QUALIFICATIONS AS OUR TEXT, SO LET’S WALK THROUGH THEM AND EXPAND A LITTLE BIT.
THE MAN WHO COULD BE CONSIDERED TO SERVE AS A DEACON SHOULD BE, FIRST...
b. NOT DOUBLE TONGUED
i. THIS HAS A TWO-FOLD MEANING.
ii. ON THE ONE HAND IT MEANS THAT HE SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP THINGS IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE.
iii. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IT SPEAKS OF THE NEED FOR DEACONS TO PROMOTE HARMONY AND UNITY IN THE CHURCH.
iv. A MAN THAT WOULD SEEK TO TEAR DOWN AND DIVIDE THE CHURCH IS NOT DIGNIFIED, AND HE IS DOUBLE-TONGUED.
2. ETHICAL IN HIS CONDUCT –
a. NOT ADDICTED TO MUCH WINE.
i. TOTAL ABSTINENCE TODAY FROM ALCOHOL WOULD GUARD THE DEACON FROM THE CLUTCHES OF INTOXICANTS.
ii. IT WOULD PROVIDE A CREDIBLE WITNESS TO A SOCIETY THAT NEEDS HELP IN COMBATING ALCOHOLISM.
b. NOT GREEDY FOR DISHONEST GAIN.
i. NOT WILLING TO FORFEIT HIS CHARACTER IN THE INTEREST OF FINANCIAL GAIN.
ii. THE QUEST FOR GAIN BECOMES DISHONEST WHENEVER A PERSON MAKES PERSONAL GAIN THE PRIME OBJECT OF LIFE, RATHER THAN GOD’S GLORY.
3. ABLE TO ARTICULATE THE TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL WITH CONFIDENCE –
a. THEY MUST HOLD THE MYSTERY OF THE FAITH WITH A CLEAR CONSCIENCE.
i. NOT ONLY ARE DEACONS TO BE SAVED (THAT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING), BUT THEY ARE TO EXHIBIT A PROPER DOCTRINAL AND MORAL RESPONSE TO CHRIST’S MESSAGE.
ii. THEY MUST STUDY THE WORD, UNDERSTAND THE WORD, AND CORRECTLY APPLY THE WORD TO THEIR LIVES.
iii. TO HAVE A “CLEAR CONSCIENCE,” A CHRISTIAN LEADER IS TO LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT REVEALS CONTINUAL OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S TRUTH AS REVEALED IN SCRIPTURE
b. SO A DEACON SHOULD HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON THE WORD OF GOD.
4. HE SHOULD BE A MAN OF TESTED CHARACTER –
a. LET THEM BE TESTED FIRST…
i. THOSE WHO WOULD BE DEACONS SHOULD BE VISIBLY LIVING OUT THEIR FAITH IN A WAY THAT BRINGS HONOR TO GOD AND A GOOD NAME TO THE CHURCH.
ii. I TELL OUR DEACONS AND VOLUNTEERS ALL THE TIME THAT “VISIBILITY IS CREDIBILITY.”
iii. WHO AMONG US WOULD WANT TO ELECT A DEACON WHO IS A MARGINAL CHRISTIAN...WHO IS DISCONNECTED AND ABSENT...AND WHO IS OF QUESTIONABLE CHARACTER?
b. THEN LET THEM SERVE AS DEACONS IF THEY PROVE THEMSELVES BLAMELESS.
i. “PROVE THEMSELVES BLAMELESS” SPEAKS OF SOMEONE AGAINST WHOM NO SPECIFIC CHARGE OF WRONGDOING CAN BE BROUGHT.
ii. IT DOES NOT MEAN PERFECTION...
c. BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT THE MAN WHO WOULD BE A DEACON IS STRIVING TO BECOME CONTINUALLY MORE CHRIST-LIKE.
5. HIS MARRIAGE SHOULD HONOR THE LORD –
a. VERSE 11 - THEIR WIVES LIKEWISE MUST BE DIGNIFIED, NOT SLANDERERS, BUT SOBER-MINDED, FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS.
i. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE A DEACON SHOULD HAVE A GODLY WIFE.
1. WHO CONTROLS HER TONGUE...
2. WHO CONTROLS HER ACTIONS...
3. AND WHO LIVES IN SUCH A WAY THAT BRINGS GLORY TO GOD.
ii. VERSE 12 – LET THE DEACONS EACH BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, MANAGING THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR HOUSEHOLDS WELL.
1. THERE IS AN ENDLESS DEBATE ABOUT THE INTENDED MEANING OF VERSE 12.
2. DOES IT MEAN FIRST WIFE?
3. OR DOES IT MEAN THAT HE HAS ONLY HAD ONE WIFE?
4. WHEN PAUL INTRODUCED THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A DEACON, HE PURPOSEFULLY FOLLOWED, UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE PASTOR…
5. ACCORDING TO VERSE 8, DEACONS ARE TO BE “LIKEWISE” BE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE, WE SHOULD HOLD THEM TO THE SAME EXPECTATION THAT WE HOLD THE PASTOR TO, WHICH IS THAT HE IS THE HUSBAND OF HIS FIRST WIFE, NEVER HAVING BEEN DIVORCED.
iii. BUT THAT CANNOT BE THE ONLY QUALIFICATION THAT WE LOOK TO WHEN WE SEEK TO QUALIFY MEN FOR THIS PLACE OF SERVICE.
1. TOO OFTEN WE CHECK THE BOX OF “NOT DIVORCED,” AND THEN TOTALLY DISREGARD ALL THE OTHER QUALIFICATIONS LISTED IN .
2. BUT WE NEED TO ASK SOME VERY POINTED QUESTIONS OF THESE MEN...
iv. DOES HE MANAGE HIS CHILDREN AND HOUSEHOLD WELL?
1. BY THE WAY, THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT HE SHOULD HAVE PERFECT CHILDREN, IT MEANS THAT HE SHOULD BE EXPOSING HIS CHILDREN REGULARLY TO THE PERFECT TRUTH OF GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND ENCOURAGING THEM TO LIVE IN LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL AS HE LIVES IN LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL.
v. IS HE DIGNIFIED?
1. DOES HE SEEK TO BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST?
2. OR DOES HE SPEND MOST OF HIS TIME TEARING DOWN AND PROMOTING DISSENTION?
vi. IS HE A MAN WHO WILL SERVE THE CHURCH OR SEEK TO BE SERVED BY THE CHURCH?
vii. WILL HE BE A DIGNIFIED MAN WHO SPEAKS THE TRUTH IN LOVE?
viii. IS HE ETHICAL IN HIS DEALINGS?
1. IS HE A DRUNKARD?
a. BY THE WAY, “BUZZED” IS INTOXICATED...
b. DRUNK…AND THE BIBLE EXPLICITLY SAYS, “DO NOT BE DRUNK WITH WINE...”
ix. IS HE FAIR IN HIS BUSINESS PRACTICES?
x. DOES HE HAVE A PROVEN TRACK RECORD OF FAITHFULNESS?
1. IS HE A TITHER?
2. IS HE ALREADY A SERVANT?
3. IS HE SOMEONE AGAINST WHOM NO SPECIFIC CHARGE OF WRONGDOING CAN BE BROUGHT?
xi. DOES HE HAVE A FAITHFUL, GODLY WIFE?
xii. IS HE THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE?
b. IF HE IS, THEN HE CAN BE A DEACON...
c. AND IF HE SERVES WELL...THERE IS...
6. NO LIMIT TO HOW GOD CAN USE HIM –
a. HE WILL HAVE A GOOD TESTIMONY...
b. AND HE WILL HAVE GREAT CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST JESUS.
c. THE CHURCH WILL THRIVE, JUST AS WE READ OF THE CHURCH IN .
CONCLUSION:
BEING A DEACON BRINGS WITH IT THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE MAY BE THE NEED TO ADAPT IN ORDER TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN WORLD…
IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE TO DELETE THE ORIGINAL, BIBLICAL FUNCTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS OF THE DEACON.
AND SO THIS MORNING, I WANT TO CALL THE CHURCH TO PRAYER FOR OUR CURRENT AND FUTURE DEACONS...
AND I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION ONCE AGAIN TO THE FORMS THAT ARE IN YOUR BULLETIN…GO OVER THE FORM…
I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO PRAY OVER THE MEN WHO YOU WOULD CONSIDER FOR NOMINATION…
AND I WANT TO INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME THIS MORNING BY CORPORATELY PRAYING FOR GOD TO LEAD US AND FOR GOD TO RAISE UP MEN WHO LOVE HIM TO SERVE HIM AND HIS CHURCH.
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