Sermon: Christ’s Gift to the Church (Part 2) 1 Timothy 3:8-13

Christ’s Gift to the Church (Part 2)

1 Timothy 3:8-13

Primary Truth Taught- God ordained the office of deacon to manifest Christ’s love for His bride in tangible ways.

Introduction

Last week we saw that the purpose of the office of elder was to edify the body and build her up in Christ for the work of the ministry. The office of elder has as its foundation the teachers of Israel including the prophets who stood before the people and taught them the ways of God.

We shift to the New Covenant and discover the New Testament continuation of the OT teachers especially the OT Prophets…
Ephesians 4:11–16 (ESV)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

So, Christ is building up His bride, the church, in knowledge of who He is, so that His bride can love Him more and not be taken in by crafty or cunning lies. The office of Elder then, is to encourage maturity of faith in the body of Christ which will result in maximum joy for the worshipper and maximum glory for God. We saw that those called to the office are men who are above reproach so that those whom they lead cannot say, we’re not going to listen to the elders because their lives are not backing up their words.

Can a worshipper who is enduring a major trial or a great need be entirely focused on Christ? Can a suffering worshipper who has no where to turn experience maximum joy and bring maximum glory to God? Can a worshipper who doesn’t know where his or her next meal is coming from be entirely focused on Christ in worship? NO…that’s where the office of deacon comes into play…

Now, we turn to the office of deacon. Why did Jesus institute this office? What are the qualifications He requires, and finally, what is the task of the deacon?

Deacon…1249 diákonos (from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly” and konis, “dust”) – properly, “thoroughly raise up dust by moving in a hurry, and so to minister” (WP, 1, 162); ministry (sacred service).

To help us understand the purpose of the office of deacon, I want to lay out a biblical principle. As the Church serves one another and meets the needs of its members the world will stand up and take notice.

John 13:34–35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

One of the best ways the local church does evangelism is by loving one another within the body of Christ. When we care for each other in tangible ways the world (lost people) notice and are very curious and some will be saved.

So, to make sure that those within the local church are being cared for, Jesus has called men and gifted them with the heart to care for those within the local church.

Why did Jesus institute this office?

The reason you need both elders and deacons is to care for those within the church spiritually and physically.

The reason is because Christ’s love needs to be tangibly manifest in the congregation. And the elders cannot fail to devote themselves to the shepherding work of teaching and praying and leading the congregation in discipleship. So, the elders–the apostles–say to the people, “Look, here are the qualifications for the men that are going to lead in the mercy ministry in our congregation. Now you pick some men that meet those qualifications.”

The congregation looks at those qualifications, and they look at the men in the congregation, and they say, “We’ve got seven men there that meet those qualifications.” And so the Apostles appoint those men as the first deacons of the church, because Jesus, you remember, has told the disciples that their witness to the world will depend on the way that they tangibly love and serve one another. “The world will know that you are My disciples as you love one another.” [1]
Elders meet spiritual needs
Deacons meet physical needs
Both working together, as God has purposed, will result in maturing, loving, joyous believers.

1 Timothy 3:8–13 (ESV)

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 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.

 

  1. The Deacon’s Qualifications

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless…

12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

What are the qualifications He requires?

Dignified- Not in the way we often think of the word, dignified…but here it means that this man is carries himself in a godly manner. Not only outwardly but inwardly also. He is dignified in his thinking and attitudes.

Not Double-Tongued– He does not say one thing to one person and something else to another.

Not Addicted to Much Wine- Here, in the original Greek, the phrase means does not linger over his wine. If he drinks wine at all, he is very moderate in its use.

Not Greedy for Dishonest Gain- Not an embezzler or one who cannot be trusted when it comes to money. He doesn’t serve as a deacon for monetary advantages.   The example from the Bible would be Judas…

John 12:4–6 (ESV)

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Now we look to positives…

They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.-

Here is a trait you might not think about. Another qualification is that when trials come this man does not throw in the towel, quit, or retreat. He holds tightly to his faith when others may let go of theirs. He does so with a clear conscience. In other words, he is one who keeps his conscience clear and clean through spiritual discipline and repentance when needed. The doctrine that marks the deacon is perseverance. He is an example to the congregation of one who when suffering is not complaining, whining, or murmuring but being refined and praising God as he counts his trial as joy.

  1. The Deacon’s Wives

11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.

Some try to teach that this passage is speaking of deaconesses rather than the deacon’s wife. I believe it speaks of the wife of the deacon because she too will engage in much the same ministry her husband does as she partners with him, especially, when it comes to ministering to the women in the church. She too is to be dignified, not a slanderer, sober-minded and faithful.

The deacon and his wife will set the example for others in the church to follow. That’s why she too must have many of the same godly characteristics that her husband has.

Due to the nature of the care a deacon and often his wife administer to those in the church it is very important his wife also possess many of the same qualities.

  1. The Work of the Deacon

What is the task of the deacon?

We’ve already mentioned that the deacon’s task is to meet the physical needs of the church. But it really goes much deeper than that.

God cares for those who are unable to care for themselves within the church. He desires their complete devotion as well. He wants them to express joy unspeakable and filled with glory as the church cares for their needs and raises them up above their struggle to get a clear glimpse of their Savior.

 

Why did the Lord repeatedly express such great concern for the plight of the needy in Israel and warn Israel in no uncertain terms of his great wrath and vengeance to those who afflicted the needy and who did not help them (e.g. Ex. 22:22-24)? At the basis of the Lord’s special interest and care for the needy and oppressed is the fact that he, the Lord, had once led Israel out of the bondage and oppression of Egypt and had claimed them as his own precious possession, his covenant people. And the Lord who saved them from that oppression and bondage no longer wanted to see any of his people bound in any way! Therefore God motivated his laws regarding the poor and needy by saying: “you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today” (Deut. 15:15; 16:12; 24:12,22; also see Lev. 25:38, 42, 55 for a similar justification for helping the poor). God had set them free, and they must stay free of all oppression be it the oppression and bondage of poverty, or of fear, or of loneliness. His people are a royal people, claimed by the Lord of heaven and earth, and they must therefore not suffer any kind of want! He, the Lord, will provide for them (Lev. 26:1-13), but his provision included that his people remember their past deliverance, and appreciate their freedom which they did not deserve but is of grace alone, and therefore obey his good law in joy and thankfulness (Lev. 26:1-13; Deut. 24:19-22; 28:1-14).[2] 

 

Here in the Book of Acts is a picture of turmoil within the early church. There was a segment of the church who were in bondage to hunger and slavery. God says I rescued them from slavery to sin to be my people and NONE of My people are going to be hungry!

Acts 6:1–7 (ESV)

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. 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. 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. But 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 Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Two important aspects of the ministry of the deacon is shown in this passage.

First, they are meeting the needs of those in the church. In this case, the needs of the Greek widows were being overlooked due to fact that the Jewish segment of the church were in leadership positions and their widows were being cared for but the Greek widows were being neglected. This was not being done on purpose but still happening just the same.

So what was the answer to this problem?

The Apostles gathered the entire group together and told them to select seven men filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith and set them aside for this task. So, these seven men of whom Steven is listed first, took care of the situation and cared for these neglected widows. So, first we see are real physical need being met by these, the first deacons. Care for the Greek widows was important and by doing this the church remained unified and on track. As deacons serve faithfully and consistently the love of Christ is manifested to His bride.

Second, they are helping with the daily ministry so that the Apostles can devote more time to prayer and preaching and teaching the Word of God.

The Apostles were basically saying, we can’t do it all, we need help. Since their gifts and calling were concerning the Word of God and prayer, it was God’s desire that they hold up that ministry and the deacons take care of the needs those in the church may have.

So, the faithful and consistent service of the deacons to the real physical needs of the church will free the elders up more to have a more consistent service of the Word to the church. They can devote more time to their ministry.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

This final statement is not incidental and simply a way of closing this section. Because of faithful deacons, the word of God continued to increase…Those who were called to preach and teach God’s Word were able to spend time preaching and teaching thanks to the faithfulness of those seven deacons.

Because of faithful deacons, the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem

Because of faithful deacons, a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

The church was served, evangelism accomplished as even those outside were drawn into the fold.

Application

What truths would our Lord want us to take home from this passage? First, since some of the church’s best evangelism takes place through her being served and serving one another, it is imperative for you to allow the leadership to serve you. So many times I’ve observed people who had a significant need to go unserved because they are too proud or stubborn to let someone help. This is pride and selfishness. When those in the church are ministered to everyone is blessed…and through faithful service even the lost world takes notice.

God ordained the office of deacon to manifest Christ’s love for His bride in tangible ways.

When the Elders are leading the way in biblical truth, teaching and preaching building up the body spiritually and when the deacons are serving in tangible ways, God adds to the number.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Here, in Acts 6:7 Luke reports that the Lord multiplied greatly the disciples in Jerusalem.

Conclusion

The task of the deacon is to have his finger on the pulse of the church and if there are any who are struggling, suffering, discouraged, or if he sees something that is hindering their joy and worship, he must move to meet that need whether it is hunger or some other distracting struggle he must move to meet that need.

 

LORD’S SUPPER

Declaration of Grace

[1] Ligon Duncan 1 Timothy 3

[2] http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V1/1d.html

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