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The Calling of Ordinary Men

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2023 1:00 am

The Calling of Ordinary Men

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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February 20, 2023 1:00 am

Jesus selected twelve ordinary men to be special recipients of His earthly teaching. Pastor Mike Karns preaches from John chapter one.


Well, my sermon tonight is entitled, The Calling of Ordinary Men. The Calling of Ordinary Men.

I read from John chapter one where Jesus called his twelve apostles and just simply ordinary men, nothing extraordinary about them, common men. And when he called them he said to follow me, come and see, follow me. And Jesus assumed responsibility for these men and he said to these fishermen for them, I will make you fishers of men. I will make you. Your responsibility is to follow me.

I will assume responsibility of making you the men I want you to be. These men, these twelve ordinary men, their one distinguishing mark noted by their enemies was that they had been with Jesus. Oh, that that could be said of us.

As the world examines our life and tries to be critical of us and to demean us, that they would be forced to say they've been with Jesus. Such men turned the world upside down. Their critics said that about them in Acts chapter 17 and verse 6. But as we think about the men that Jesus chose, ordinary men, he didn't choose a single rabbi, he didn't choose a single scribe, he didn't choose a single Pharisee, he didn't choose a single Sadducee, he didn't choose a single priest. Not one of the men he chose came from the religious establishment.

The choosing of the twelve apostles was a judgment against institutionalized Judaism. He chose instead men who were not theologically trained, fishermen, a tax collector, and other common men. God chose the humble, the lowly, the meek, and the weak.

Why? So that there's never any question about the source of power when their lives change the world. It's not the man, it's the truth of God and the power of God in the man. Listen to this short quotation from John MacArthur in his introductory pages of his book, Twelve Ordinary Men. He said, the twelve were personally selected and called by Christ. He knew them as only their creator could know them. In other words, he knew all their faults long before he chose them.

He even knew Judas would betray him, and yet he chose the traitor anyway and gave him all the same privileges and blessings that he gave the others. Well, from a human perspective, and I stress human perspective, the propagation of the gospel and the founding of the church hinged entirely on twelve men whose most outstanding characteristic was their ordinarianess, ordinary men. There are four lists in the scriptures of the twelve apostles. Matthew chapter 10 verses 2 to 4, Mark 3 verses 16 to 19, Luke 6, 13 to 16, and then Acts 1 verse 13. All four of those passages give us the list of the twelve apostles. Now, John doesn't give us a list, he gives us the narrative of Jesus interacting and calling his men. But of those four passages that I mentioned to you, in all four, those biblical lists, the same twelve men are named. And the order in which they are given is strikingly similar. The first name in all four lists is Peter.

He stands out as the leader and the spokesman for the whole company. The twelve are also arranged in three groups of four. Perhaps you'll hear some things that you really hadn't thought about when you examined this list, but three groups of four. Group one always has Peter at the head of the list. All four of those lists, Peter's the first one mentioned. And that group also includes Andrew, James, and John. The second group always features Philip first, and includes Bartholomew, Matthew, and Thomas. Group three is always led by James, the son of Alpheus. And that group includes Simon the Zealot, Mark, and Judas Iscariot.

Now Judas is omitted from the list in Acts chapter 1, because he has already gone out and hung himself. But in the three lists where Judas' name is included, his name always appears last, along with this identifying mark, that he was the traitor, the traitor. The three names at the head of each group seem to have been the group leaders. Again, the three groups always appear in the same order. First Peter's group, then Philip's group, and then James's group.

Probably didn't, maybe you've, maybe you've seen this before. This was kind of new to me as I've studied this, and I thought, well this is insightful. The groups appear to be listed in descending order based upon their level of intimacy with Christ. The members of group one were in all likelihood the first disciples that Jesus called, and that's what we discover here in John chapter 1.

They had been with him the longest, and of the four in group 1, Peter, James, and John form an even closer inner circle. You recall on the Mount of Transfiguration, recorded in all of the Synoptic Gospels, who was there on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus? Peter, James, and John.

And in ministry context, it's interesting to discover these same three are given extra privilege and extra insight and opportunity to learn from Christ. I'll just read one verse in Mark's Gospel. Jesus is healing a daughter, and it tells us in verse 37, and he permitted no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

Then he came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. But again, Peter, James, and John. And then on the Mount of Olives, again in Mark's Gospel, listen to who is in this choice company with Jesus.

Mark 13 verse 3, now as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter James and John and Andrew asked him privately, tell us when will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled. Again, that first group. Who is in that group? Peter, James, John, and Andrew. And then in Gethsemane chapter 14 verse 33, well verse 32 and verse 33, it says, then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane and he said to his disciples, sit here while I pray and he took Peter, James, and John with him and he began to be troubled and deeply distressed. That's group one.

I think you probably have picked up on that in your own reading. Group two does not have such a high profile, but they are still significant figures in the gospel accounts. Group three is more distant. They're rarely mentioned in the narrative accounts of Christ's ministry and the only member we know much about is Judas because of his treachery. So although there were 12 apostles, only three seem to have had the most intimate relationship with Christ. Peter, James, and John. Jesus kept these three men very close to him. Next came Andrew and then the others and obviously in declining degrees of close friendship. Now when you think about these men, there is amazing diversity among them.

Their personalities, their interests cover a wide spectrum. The four that are in group one seem to be the only ones tied together by common denominators. They were all four fishermen. They were two sets of brothers. Andrew and Simon Peter were brothers and James and John were brothers. They came from the same community.

They apparently had been friends for a long time. But outside those four men who shared the same occupation and lived in the same area and were two sets of brothers. Then we have Matthew. Matthew, he's in group two. He's a tax collector.

Simon in group three. He's a political activist. He's a zealot. They all had vastly different personalities. Now we know Peter served as the spokesman for the group. He was eager, aggressive, bold, outspoken, and yet John, on the other hand, spoke very little.

What diversity and personalities and interests among the 12. In the first 12 chapters of Acts, John and Peter are constant companions, but there are no words of John recorded in the first 12 chapters of Acts. Bartholomew openly confessed his faith in Christ and was quick to respond in faith. He's in the same group and sometimes paired with Thomas.

Think about the contrast between the two. Bartholomew openly confessed his faith in Christ, was quick to respond in faith. Thomas was what?

An outspoken skeptic, a doubter, and seemed to need and demand proof for everything. I read to you from John chapter one that gives us the description of Jesus calling John and Andrew. They, in turn, on that very same day brought Peter, who was Andrew's brother.

James, the remaining member of that group, was John's brother. So it was undoubtedly Andrew and John who brought him to Christ. John 1 43 to 55 describes the calling of Philip and Nathanael or Bartholomew.

They were called the following day. So these six had a history that went back to the very beginning of Jesus's ministry. And what prepared them to serve Christ and his church on the earth when Jesus returned to heaven? Jesus set them apart. He called them and their responsibility was to follow him, learn from him, and to be made the men that Jesus wanted them to be. And oh, how those men turned the world upside down. Scripture seems to make a great deal yet of their human weaknesses.

Ordinary men. The scriptures do not cover their defects. They made the learning process difficult. They were slow to learn. They lacked spiritual understanding. They lacked humility. Matthew 20 verses 20 to 28.

They were jostling with one another about who would be the greatest among them. Often their lack of faith or their weakness of faith is drawn attention to. Four times in the gospels, Jesus says to them, oh ye of little faith. Mark 4 verse 40, how is it that you have no faith?

Mark 16 14. He rebuked their unbelief and their hardness of heart. They lacked commitment.

What do I mean by that? Well, in the garden when the heat got turned up, when the soldiers came, they were there with Jesus, but Mark 14 verse 50 says they all forsook him and fled. All of them. They lacked power on their own. They were weak and helpless. Question. Why would Jesus single out men who had little understanding, lacked humility, lacked faith, lacked commitment, lacked power? Why would he choose them?

Well, there's a number of answers to the question. One would be that's all he had to choose from, right? That's all he had to choose from. Nobody stood out. Nobody was an exception. But let me give you some reasons why I think he chose ordinary men. I think he chose ordinary men so that there would be no room for boasting. I think he chose ordinary men so that no flesh would glory in his presence. I think he chose ordinary men so that the grace of God would be magnified and not the men themselves. I think he chose ordinary men to increase human dependence upon God and his grace and not upon man and his abilities. Paul said in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 7, we have this treasure in earthen vessels.

What are we? What were these ordinary men? They were just earthen vessels. But what was the treasure? The treasure was the gospel. The treasure is the grace of God. We have this treasure in earthen vessels. This is the wisdom of God that confounds human wisdom.

Why? Why do we have this treasure in earthen vessels? Well, Paul says that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. Well, tonight we will officially install a new a four new men to join the remaining 11 who make up the Beacon Baptist Diochenate. The office of deacon is not a position for self-promotion, but it is first and foremost a position for serving the needs of the local church under the supervision of the elders, the pastors of the church. You know what a deacon is? A deacon is a servant. Jesus was the first deacon. The Bible tells us he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

No longer I read my Bible, the more I think important and critical is the object lesson that Jesus gave with his disciples in the upper room when he girded his loins with the towel and took the basin and washed their feet. In the context, when they were jostling for positions of power and who would be the greatest, what did Jesus do? He served them. He took the lowly place of a servant and when he was done he said to do likewise.

That's what we're to be. That's what a deacon is. A deacon is a servant. Now let me turn you to that passage in 1 Timothy chapter 3 where we have instructions for deacons. 1 Peter chapter 3.

There aren't many places where we get these instructions. The beginning of chapter 3 is the qualifications for overseers or elders or for pastors. That's verses 1 down through 7. And then verse 8 says, likewise deacons. And then there are five qualifications given there.

They must be reverent, not double-tongued, not giving them much wine, not greedy for money, and hiding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. So verse 8 and 9, five biblical qualifications. Then verse 10 says this, but let these also first be tested. Let these also first be tested. Then what? Then let them serve as deacons.

That is a passive imperative. The candidates are to be evaluated. They are to be examined in the light of the biblical qualifications. That's why the five qualifications are given first.

And then he says, let these also first be tested or be approved, be examined. And only after the candidate is approved can he be officially and publicly recognized and installed as a deacon. Now it's interesting, verse 10 does not provide any detailed procedure for examining or testing candidates. Different churches will do it different ways. I was in a church in South Carolina where men were nominated to serve in the office of deacon.

And then there was a scheduled interview. The elders would interview the candidate and would also interview his wife. You say, well, why his wife? His wife's not serving as a deacon. Well, because of the qualifications that are given here. There's those five qualifications in verses eight and nine.

And then there is this, let these also first be tested. Then let them serve as deacons. And then there are four more qualifications given.

Being fine, blameless. Verse 13, or I'm sorry, verse 12, let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own households well. So the qualifications deal with character.

The qualifications deal with a man's home life, his relationship with his children, his house, and his wife. But notice in what's inserted there, verse 11, this is why the church interviewed the man and his wife because verse 11 says, likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. So there are some qualifications for a deacon's wife and the potentials there for that wife to disqualify a man from serving in this office. A deacon's wife must be a rather important person in this equation for God to give qualifications for the deacon's wife. That's the way the church in South Carolina did it. We do not do it that way.

We don't have interviews with the men. I'm going to give time for Pastor Barkman to come and to lead us in the officially installing these men, and I'm sure he's going to say a few things about our process and say a few things about the men who have served and are rotating off, but these qualifications. And then, after the qualifications, there is a promise, verse 13, for those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

A promise, a promise from God, a reward for those who serve well in this office. Now you know the word deacon in its most literal sense means servant. I've already mentioned to you Jesus was a servant. Paul was a servant. 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 5 says who then is Paul and who is Apollos but ministers through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one.

What's interesting there in that verse, 1 Corinthians 3 5, the word translated ministers, again, who then is Paul and who is Apollos but ministers. The word that's translated ministers is the word diakonos from which we get servant. A minister is a servant. Jesus was a servant. Deacons are servants. They serve Christ by serving his church. They are men who voluntarily give themselves to serving others for the glory of God.

Now this is so contrary to natural thinking. In fact, in the ancient Greek world, the mentality was such that if you were to announce that you had been elected to serve as a deacon, the response most likely would have been how could you have let them do that to you? Because to assume the role of a servant was not viewed and esteemed highly, it was viewed very horribly.

Why would you ever become one of those? You see the wisdom of God, how it defies worldly wisdom. God has assigned two offices to his church, two offices of leadership, one the elder pastor, overseer, all the same position, and the office of deacon. And God is doing what he's doing in this world through his church. The church is not to be dismissed.

It is at the heart of what God is committed to do in this world. And what an incredible privilege it is to serve Christ and his church and to serve him in one of these two offices that he has ordained for the functioning for the functioning of his church. So the men that have served our church, they're men who have the evidence of converting grace. They are men who've been examined by these biblical qualifications. I'm incredibly thankful for the quality of men that God has given us in this church, men who are biblically qualified. Now, a perfect man, men who are fully sanctified, no. Men just like the men that Jesus chose, men whose faith needs to grow and develop further, men who have not arrived and yet, but men who are servants and love the Lord Jesus and are, give evidence of being with Jesus.

They're Christ-like. So this is what we do. This is what we do on an annual basis. We have a service that's set aside for the installing of deacons that are added to the diaconate. Fifteen men will serve in that office for a three-year period, rotate off, and each year as men rotate off, we ask you to nominate men that you believe. That's why you get the letter you get. That's why you get the instructions to examine men in light of the biblical qualifications that are given.

It's not a popularity contest. It's men that we are looking to that are biblically qualified to serve Christ and His church in this office. So, but tonight, I want you to be struck by the men that Jesus chose, ordinary men. Who are we as deacons? Who are we as elders? But we are who we are by the grace of the Lord. I hear Stuart Waugh singing that song in my ear oftentimes. I am what I am by the grace of the Lord.

Have you heard him sing that? That's what we are. We're men that God has saved by His grace. And what marks us out?

What gives us credibility in the church of Jesus Christ? We have the mark of grace. God has set His affections on us. God has saved us by His grace.

And we're following hard after Jesus. Well, let me pray, and we'll have Pastor Barkman come and lead us in this installation service. Father, thank you for your word.

Thank you for your ways and your wisdom. Thank you for giving us biblically qualified men to serve your church and to serve you in this office. Father, we thank you for the responsibility you take upon yourselves to redeem men and to call men and to equip men and to gift men to serve your church in this office. Thank you for the men who have served well here in this church through its history. And thank you for the men that you've given us this year that we will be installing in a few moments. And we thank you for your service. Lord, we honor you. We glorify you. We bless you for doing what you've done in our church. We are a rich church, and we're rich in many ways, but we're rich in the resources you've given us, not just financial resources, but human resources, godly men, gifted men, God-fearing men. Men, as we are convinced, are biblically qualified to serve you in this office. Bless these men as they come to be installed. We pray now in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-21 14:24:34 / 2023-02-21 14:33:32 / 9

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