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The Office of Deacon

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2021 2:00 am

The Office of Deacon

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 19, 2021 2:00 am

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I invite you to turn your Bibles to first Timothy chapter 3, we looking at verses 8 to 13 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain and must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience let them also be tested first, then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderous but sober minded, faithful in all things let deacons each be the husband of one wife managing their children in their own households. Well, 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 may be seated.

Spray heavenly father in your divine plan in your wisdom you sent your son into the ministry of your son, and the revelation of the gospel you appointed the apostle Paul and Paul in his apostolic ministry has given us this letter written to Timothy but an application for the church universal. We ask that as we go into the word this evening that we would gain much wisdom they would see the wisdom of your word that we would see the way that you have prescribed order in your church asked that she would give us humble hearts to give a servant hearts that we would all be deacons that his servants of one another, servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, or bless reading the word, and delivery of the word. As we go into your word to see what it is to be a deacon is the office of a deacon, your sins, and we pray on is good be with you and an honor to bring the word of God to you this evening and if you were here last month I preached on the office of elder. And tonight I want to talk about the office of deacon. These are perpetual eternal offices within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in this office goes back to ask chapter 6. The elders are in the church there preaching their teaching, their administering sacraments. But as the needs of the congregation arose.

The elders were called upon to do more physical service for the local church, which was taking them away from their role to preach and to teach and to prayer and sacraments and so they needed another group of officers within the church that would serve in a more physical capacity and so this office in the church is the office of deacon of the Greek word meaning deacon office literally means a servant. This is a service role within the church were to serve God were to serve others, and we are broadly to serve the church. The local congregation of believers. There are some that are called specifically to the office of deacon would be clear were all called to serve role to be little D deacons, but there is an office of deacon that is distinct and that leads the church by example in service and mobilizes other members of the church to exercise their gifts of service throughout the church. Our book of Church order says the office of deacon is a is to minister to those that are in need, to the sick to the friendless and any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality that is developing within the church. An attitude of generosity and any who may be in the church develop devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people and to distribute these gifts, the deacon is a leadership role, but one of service leadership and as I said last month. There is a distinction between leading and the church and being a member in the church we see these moral qualifications of these two separate offices that are very similar is a great deal of overlap but Paul adds to the deacons they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience and not be double tongued Paul omits apt to teach because the role of the deacon is not a roll of teaching within the church. The axonal work is a roll of service but it is an essential part of the local church. So again, going back to the book of acts they had the word ministry cover they had the apostles. They had Christ's disciples right there in the local church. They had teaching and preaching in prayer covered but what they did not have was a ministry of deeds ministry of works that would go alongside this message of serving one another, and so half the churches ministry and one sins was missing and so there was this need that we need to not only preach the gospel but also live that out and we need men that will lead us as we live out this gospel message and ask chapter 6, verse one. Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists that is the Greek speaking Jews arose against the Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution so there was a physical need for the Hellenist widows.

They were not being taken care of. There was a need for mercy ministry within the local church in the 12 some of the full number the disciples and said it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. The elders saw their role in the church, which was to teach, to preach and to prayer and to serve tables. That is to provide for the physical needs of the church was to take them away from their God ordained task in the local church and so what they needed in the local church was men that could serve in practice continuing in verse three. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the spirit of wisdom, we will appointed this duty, we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word and what they said, pleased the whole gathering and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit and Philip and procure us in the Kaner and Timon Parra mass and Nicholas a proselyte of Antioch and a set before the apostles and they prayed and laid hands on them. The apostles ordained these men to the office of deacon and so again it's reflecting in our book of Church order. Men of good spiritual character honest repute exemplary lives. Brotherly spirit warm sympathies and sound judgment. We need men of service and of wisdom that are full of the Holy Spirit.

How do we know that a man is full of the Holy Spirit, we see the fruits of the spirit in his live amended or marked by love and joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

These are men that not only have faith, but they act it out. They have the faith and the practice covered, but with this ordination. The church is covered both faith and practice is now complete the local church ministry is thriving in verse seven tells the word of God continued to increase in the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. And so this is our background, we have the establishing of the office of deacon in the local church and now as we go into verse eight we need to look at the moral qualifications of a deacon in the local church starting in verse eight deacons likewise must be dignified like King James version says Amanda must be grave that is serious solemn, dignified worthy of respect. A man that is reverent, a man that is honorable and that gives us three applications on how a man is to be dignified. First, a man that is not double tongued Amanda does not double talk is not insincere in his words. He's not saying one thing and doing another. He's not hypocritical deacon is not a flatterer deacon does not make promises of financial contributions and then change their position.

They do not deceive people with offering money and then retracting this is to be double tongued. Even Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no be no. We have to be honest and deacons have to be very candid.

Secondly, a deacon, being dignified, must be not addicted to much wine are devoted to wine. This is a qualification of elders as well to be a lot of overlap because I dressed a lot of this last month and as it overlaps and hidden some of the same notes but expounding further here. Again, this is not a outright prohibition of alcohol. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana. He instituted the Lord's supper with wine, but the concern here is that a man is addicted to wine.

He is influenced by wine. He is governed by it.

He is swayed by it pulses all things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything the deacon is not a man that is mastered by wine someone who is addicted to alcohol to alcohol and so the idea here is that, as they are serving in the church.

They must be in complete and total control of themselves. Third, a man is not greedy for dishonest gain a lover of money or fond of sordid gain. I think in our churches especially applies to our deacons on an elder here in I see the plates get passed and they're out and about, but once they're done.

I mean, they just disappear. I don't know where they go. I've never once carried a plate out of the sanctuary and yet they go down the hallway and then I see them I looked down the hallway into the kitchenette there and there are our deacons. They are handling the money they are collecting the money counting the money that is gathered from the saints again. It's a group of them together. There's full accountability is not just one guy by himself with the temptation to steal. There is a great number of people and eyes and hands organizing this money and counting it together the ideas, it is not even an opportunity to take money out which does happen. Sadly, in the church there many cases of embezzling of funds, but again we set this up in a particular way so that there is no opportunity to sin, but further we go back to the heart issue as we talk to our candidates for deacons. We want to know are you tempted in the sort away. The goal is that we find men that are not prone to greed prone to theft. We want to find men that are not lovers of money men that are not greedy again behind all of this is this money that is donated is money that belongs to the Lord. This money is given by the congregation given to the diaconate that they might be able to administer these funds to those in need and so money is entrusted to the diaconate and administered among the congregation where there is a financial need. Again, how do we know that someone is greedy for unjust gain or mind of Judas Iscariot who would challenge the way that money is used. Someone is trying to build up the bank account rather than channel funds in the right way for various ministry efforts and again I would be clear here is a time to be very careful with our money. We don't want to give money out so liberally that it's kind of careless. We have to be wise and use discernment because again, this is God's money. God is entrusted the diaconate.

He is trusted the church to be wise with the funds that are given in the effort of the diaconate ministry again were approved we see in God's word word is a blessing that we are generous. Proverbs 1917.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord and he will repay him for his deed. As we serve others who are in financial need.

We are serving the Lord. Secondly we see in verse nine that they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Deacons must be believers.

I feel like that's pretty straightforward week we start with saving faith and then do good works. We don't do good work simply to feel good about ourselves. Deacons are not doing good work, so that they can boast in their great diaconate Lefferts. They're not trying to earn their way into heaven, the deacon serves the church and honors the Lord in their service we are serving Christ body as well as the church and so that's the goal is that we would be like Christ.

Christ set the example for us and says be like me and serve one another within the local church and to do that. Deacons must profess faith and hold to the mystery of the faith. I don't want to expound on this too much because we see the mystery in the next passage that I'm gonna preach on verse 16 of it briefly. I'll touch on this first Timothy 316, beyond all question the mystery from which true godliness springs is great, he appeared in the flesh was vindicated by the spirit was seen by angels, was preached among the nations was believed on in the world and was taken up in glory. Here, this mystery of true godliness is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Going back to his incarnation.

His Spirit empowered ministry, that the spirit decisions on him. In Matthew three God approves and ordains in blesses the work of Christ and the gospel message is sent out, and many come to faith and finally his ascension and Paul is writing of this mystery saying that this is the essence of the gospel is the person and work of Christ. Going back to Ephesians 3 we see the mystery is expounded on not only is this gospel message of the person of Christ and who eat what he did on behalf of sinners is expounded to all Gentiles.

We have to remember that salvation was strictly for the ethnic people of the nation of Israel was very limited to the Jewish people and now with Pentecost with acts chapter 2. You and your children and those who are far off. This is extended out to all the Gentiles that extended out to everyone throughout the world. This is a eternal universal covenant promise that if you believe in Christ you will be saved. Ephesians 3 tells us the mystery is that Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel, the great mystery is how God would work in a mighty way to extend this promise out to all Gentiles is a universal message for Jew and Gentile slave or free, male or female. We are all united in Christ and Paul says in first Corinthians 4 that we are to be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God and so what is the mystery that deacons hold with a clear conscience. They hold a faith in Christ think they believe the gospel. What we called a mystery is not revealed to us do not have the sum of saving knowledge and God's word to me not go to the text.

Again, this word mystery is pointing to the depths of the gospel. We have a little bit of this, we have an understanding from God's word. But how much more vast is God's knowledge and his plan of redemption. Romans 11 verse 33 sizzled the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.

In one sense you could say that we are treading water in the middle of the ocean and there is a depth to God and his knowledge of redemption that we will never fully understand that the plan of God in the person and work of Christ is this exhaustive thing will never understand fully how Christ accomplished it on our behalf and we will spend an eternity learning more and more about who God is and what he did for us. So the Christian life is about growing in this knowledge of this mystery.

And so these deacons that are elected they are to hold this faith. This mystery of the gospel are to grow in faith with a clear conscience. Third point is in verse 10.

Here, let them be also be tested. Let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless since there is a trial. Much like an elder. You don't immediately make a recent convert into an elder same way with the deacon he is to be tested for a time the amount of testing is not really set out in Scripture. But we do see a man being evaluated before he is added to the office of deacon in this valuation is based on the moral qualifications that we see in this list. We are not based on competency, the ability to fix the billing part of the deacons work here at the church is taking care of the church grounds taking care of the building that we enjoy and I could see a man coming into the church and he's very handy and he's a plumber and electrician entities a carpenter and some might say let's make him a deacon. Let's add him to the diaconate again, this is a required spiritual gifting, not simply the ability to take care of a church building being a deacon requires discernment and generosity and a love for other people. It's not summed up simply in being a plumber or being a carpenter or be able to do electrical work. I would much rather a deacon be filled with the spirit and have a love for the saints, and have zero skills then be a hardhearted plumber or carpenter. The idea is that we start first with a heart that loves Christ deacons have to love the saints, they have to love to take care of and serve one another. I need a social worker before I need a plumber. I need a man that loves the saints and wants to serve the local church, a man that is willing to take care of the sick, the poor, the disabled, shut-ins is a question for future deacons and talk to my youth group and I asked them is your personality more than elder more of the deacon.

Here's a test to be asked here.

Do you love serving others. You delight in providing financial relief for those in financial hardship. You love to help fellow believers when they are sick or in need. My hope is that as we answer these questions at the heart of deacons will be enlightened that they would say yes, that's right. I feel the internal desire to do this, Lord willing it as these character traits are drawn out and as men are called upon to be deacons in the church that the local church will affirm their internal call and elect them to the office of deacon the goal through this testing period is also proven and be blameless to be above reproach.

Just the same as elder, a man must be free from any sort of reputation of scandal Acer reputation that precedes them in any sort of ugly way have to be men there free from any bad reputation. The ideas that we must serve with a clear reputation before the people of God to be elected. Verse 11, their wives must likewise be dignified. This passage is highly debated. The Greek word here is Dunay and it can refer to either wives of deacons, or it can refer to women and so we were to open it up. Women must be dignified speaking of female deacons or deaconesses there some denominations that affirm female deacons and so the site Fabian Roman 16 in the say that she was a deacon asked in the church believe are ESV translates into servant within the church.

But again, Phoebe is a servant, she serving in the church doing a lot of diaconal server roles within the church, but I would argue that she is not in the ordained office of deacon Paul in chapter 2 is already explained to do not permit a woman to exercise, teach or exercise authority over man. This is not simply describing church leadership, but it is prescribing the order of church government. Paul is explaining what church leadership ought to look like in the leadership of the church is given to men to lead well. So when it comes to this office of deep deacon which is separate from the concept of a servant were all to server all to be deacons in the sense of serving one another, the deacon is an authoritative office consisting of men in the church. One way to further argue this is a diverse is preceded and followed by men's qualifications, including verse 12 it says the deacon that is the office of deacon is to be a man of one wife. So here in verse 11 we see a deacon's wife is called to certain qualifications, but again, why would we call the women the wives of deacons to this particular qualification. I thought the office was for men.

Often times, deacons, wives are called to minister to the women in the congregation when a deacon is called to serve a male deacon can be very limited in his ability to help the sick, which might involve feeding, bathing or caring for any female members.

In such cases, a wife of a deacon would be an asset that would help female members who are sick or in distress. Deacons wives are not to be slanderous or so reminded this word slander refers to the study of a false witness the breaking of the ninth commandment, Paul talks about in chapter 5 that there's an issue going about the church is a great deal of gossip. Many learning to be Eilers going about from house to house not only idlers but gossips and busybodies saying what they should not Paul instead is saying that deacons wives are to be giving a true and good witness and to be sober minded, a faithful wife is central to the ministry of the deacon is of the nature of the work for deacons is working with the immediate needs of members dealing with financial difficulties, the part about slander nothing.

This is what this verse means, deacons, wives as they work with deacons in here about the physical needs of the congregation. I think they are closer in proximity to the financial strains the medical issues and very private matters of people's lives and it could be quite embarrassing if that news was to get out and so I think that deacons wives of anyone need to be very careful to use discretion. It just comes with the nature of being a deacon's wife that one has to be serious, sober minded and restrained in gossip or slander and put in people's business in the public ear, so we have to be careful not slanderous but sober minded cycle, either to be faithful in all things. Again, this is going back to a general faithful faithfulness to their husband to their children to others in the church to be consistent. Christians love the church there to love the gathering of the believers. Verse 12. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife managing their children in their household wealth same as the elder again. This overlap in blameless starts with the most immediate relationships in your life. This is not requiring marriage, we can look at this and say deacons are to be a man one wife. Therefore they must be married no deacon can be single but if a man is married he is to model the Genesis creation ordinance where a husband is to leave his father and mother and hold fast to his singular wife. He must be a one woman man must be a man who exemplifies commitment to his wife so he must serve his children well in leadership, he must serve in leadership in his home there are benefits to doing good diaconal work we see in verse 13 for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also for great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. Paul refers to this service as a way to counter progress one's own faith.

Deacons who are called to do diaconal work. They have many opportunities to strengthen their faith in service to other Christians in the church. So if deacons are to go out and be doers of the word.

James tells us they have a confidence in their faith which is in Christ Jesus James chapter 1 verse 22 but be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, you will be blessed in his doing is blessed because he is doing the very thing that our Lord Jesus Christ did, and in doing so and serving others. He is becoming more and more like Christ. Go back to Mark 10 verse 43 Jesus says whoever would be great among you must be your servant whoever would be first among you should must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served. That is not to be deacon, but to serve, but to deacon Christ was a servant Christ was a deacon in heart and give his life as a ransom for many. Again we are called to serve is in the very nature of Christ to serve the church and for our deacons. You are called to lead in our congregation in service for others were responsibility you have to illustrate the love of Christ to the congregation through service.

My hope is that all of us when we stand before the Lord. It's not simply a profession of the faith.

We are not simply hearers of the word are preachers of the word we must be also doers of the word, so please pray for those in training to be deacons here at our local church. Please pray for our current deacons that they would be encouraged to be like Christ and serving within our church that we all have a servant heart not to be served but to serve one another. Spray heavenly father we do come to you in the name your son and we ask that you would write this word upon our hearts that we would be like Christ, that we would have servant hearts that I'd only love you but love the saints, that we would be self sacrificial that we would set aside our own pride, our own desire to be served.

We pray that it would be a reality within our heart that we love to serve. We ask that you would continue to write this truth in our hearts that we would all deacon that we would all serve in the meanwhile Lord please be with us as we go to your table and partake in the Lord's supper is something we pray. Amen

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