Fit To Serve
Key Texts: Acts 6:1–15; 1 Timothy 3:8–13
Summary: God’s Word gives us a clear direction on who is fit to lead and serve the body of Christ. There is much to celebrate, and calibrate in our church culture as we make disciples and build qualified men to lead.
While this is not necessarily a Father’s Day Sermon, we will celebrate the work in the lives of many of our men today. The call to action may surprise you…while men and women and boys and girls will have an opportunity to respond to the Gospel today, there will also be a collective action on the part of the church membership as a response.
TEXT: 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.
RECAP NARRATIVE OF PASSAGES (V3)
• There was a legitimate need
• It couldn’t trump the greatest need - the Word of God
• You (congregation, brothers and sisters) choose men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, full of wisdom
• We (Apostles, leaders) will appoint
This morning, I want us to look at a biblical rubric for successfully building, equipping, and celebrating men of integrity.
MUCH TO CELEBRATE
As we come to days like this…we have much to celebrate. We have much to celebrate in the ebb and flow of so many of you that step up to the plate regularly to serve in meaningful and selfless ways.
The Apostles in Acts 6 were equally thankful as the congregation of disciples was able to quickly celebrate and identify men of great character to assist in practical areas of ministry.
Acts 6.3 JB Phillips Translation
“You, our brothers, must look round and pick out from your number seven men of good reputation who are both practical and spiritually-minded and we will put them in charge of this matter.”
Acts 6.3 AMP
“ Therefore select out from among yourselves, brethren, seven men of good and attested character and repute, full of the [Holy] Spirit and wisdom, whom we may assign to look after this business and duty.”
“DEACON DISCLAIMER” - Some of you are connecting the dots.
• When you think of Deacon, it’s possible some pictures come to mind based on your past church experience, or your family’s experience that (while they may have seemed to work well for that congregation) are not anchored in Scriptures.
• Deacons were appointed by the elders/pastors/shepherds from men who had been chosen by the congregation.
• The role of Deacon is a role that is designed to serve the physical needs of the church
• Deacons do not hold teaching or ruling authority in the church but exercise responsibility for the physical needs of the congregation. [Brian J. Tabb, “Deacon,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).]
While we are going to talk about those men who were appointed as Deacons, the focus of today’s message is clear.
• If there is anything to celebrate within the Church, we will make our boast in Christ alone.
• If there are characteristics that qualify one for serving the church, we recognize they are only a result of
• the transforming power of Christ at salvation.
• the renewing power of the Word of God when it is obeyed
• the sanctification process of walking in the Spirit each day
• If there is anyone to recognize within the Church, we will endeavor to honor them the way the Bible does,
• by appointing them to the joys of serving the body
This morning, we’re going to celebrate what God is doing in our midst, and formalize that in the coming months as we appoint some men for specific areas of ministry and service to the body of Christ.
1. What’s DISTINCT about these men in Acts 6:3?
Acts 6:3 ESV
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.
-- GOOD REPUTATION (martyeo)
• pleasant, joyful, agreeable
• to be approvingly testified of based on firsthand experience
• Example - Jesus in Luke 4 after he read from the Scripture and declared that, “today this reading is fulfilled in your hearing - v22 has the same word… “spoke well of” (Luke 4:22)
Luke 4:22 ESV
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
-- FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Therefore, in seeking to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit we must pursue him indirectly - we must look to the wonder of Christ. If we look away from Jesus and seek the Spirit and his power directly, we will end up in the mire of our own subjective emotions. The Spirit does not reveal himself. The Spirit reveals Christ. The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness he gives as we gaze on Christ. The power of the Spirit is the power we feel in the presence of Christ. The joy of the Spirit is the joy we feel from the promises of Christ.” -Piper
• Be Filled with the Spirit
Ephesians 5:18 ESV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
• Living/Walking by the Spirit
Galatians 5:25 ESV
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
-- FULL OF WISDOM
• Wise, wisdom—a moral rather than an intellectual quality. To be “foolish” is to be godless (Ps. 14:1; comp. Judg. 19:23; 2 Sam. 13:13). True wisdom is a gift from God to those who ask it
• Job asked the question as he was confessing the goodness of God.
Job 28:12 ESV
“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?"
Job 28:28 ESV
And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”
• James 3.14-18 Earthly ambition vs Heavenly Vision
James 3:14–18 ESV
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
2. What’s DEMANDED for being appointed to serve in 1 Tim 3:8-13?
- Is it more than warm bodies?
- Is it more than a recruitment strategy for volunteers?
- Does it bear any Gospel-Revealing characteristics?
NOTE: Even though the Acts 6 moment may have been temporary and specific for the communal nature of the Church at Jerusalem, it still instilled the necessity of having the right people in the right place to minister in the church for the glory of God.
1 Timothy 3:8–13 ESV
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 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.
-- SINCERE (v8) - diginified, not double-tongued
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
-- SOBER (v8)
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
- not an addict, self-controlled
- “Much good is done in the life of others when they have leaders and teachers who model the ability to live free of addictions and compulsions.” -Thabiti M. Anyabwile
-- SATISFIED AND CONTENT (v8)
1 Timothy 6:5–6 ESV
and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,
- (still connected to non-addictive tendencies from above)
- not greedy, “got-to-have-it-all”, money is my motivation and I’ll do anything to get ahead
-- SETTLED IN THE FAITH (v9) “holding to the faith with a clear conscience”
- not blown about by every wind of doctrine
- not consuming more youtube, blogs, and books than God’s Word
-keeps the main things the plain things and the plain things the main things
- “…with a clear conscience” they PROFESS one thing and POSESS something else / Their audio matches their video
Ephesians 4:14 ESV
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.
-- SEASONED (Tried and True) (v10) “tested first…prove themselves blameless”
- “A person with a deacon’s heart is one who looks for opportunities to serve. As a person is given more responsibilities in the church, his ability to serve in a responsible manner and his ability to relate to others should be examined.” -40 Questions about Elders and Deacons
- This doesn’t mean they have to be OLDER MEN that have been saved for 20+ years. It does mean though, minimally, that this believer has a chance to prove himself in battle when he was tested/tempted/in the midst of a trial.
- This is not a microscopic view of every moment, but a broad view of one’s life in Christ - are they above reproach / no accusations could be made.
James 2:14 ESV
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
-- STRENGTHENED BY THE FAMILY (vv11-12) “wife” “children” “households”
- the wife is a complement - she is as much a woman of God as he is a man of God
“The wife of a deacon must be a trustworthy person. The character of a deacon’s wife is important to the success of his ministry. She must be committed, self-controlled, and faithful like her husband.” 40 Questions about Elders and Deacons Godly Wife (1 Tim. 3:11)
- Him - Loving the wife and Christ loved the church
- Them - Shepherding the hearts of the family toward Christ
Malachi 4:6 ESV
And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 5:28 ESV
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Colossians 3:19 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
3. Who is DEMONSTRATING this here and now?
- Who are the men you thought were already deacons?
- Who are the men you would call if your family had a need (that weren’t pastors)?
- Who are the men that you know would pray…and selflessly DO if they could
- On behalf of the pastors of West Cabarrus Church, we are saying, “there is a need”
- we have widows to be cared for
- there are opportunities for orphan care that we need to be engaged in
- there are opportunities in the worship gathering for men of honor and distinction to be trusted with serving (communion, offering, other matters)
- On behalf of the pastors of WCC, we are asking you to “choose”
- Write down the names of 2 men in your bulletin right now.
- TODAY, Pray and ask the LORD to show you how to proceed.
- Nominate as many as you like, (1 form per nomination) (more forms at the Welcome Center or online under Resources)
4. How can we DEVELOP one another to be qualified to serve?
- With Bibles open, we will fix our eyes on Jesus
- In all areas of ministry, TOGETHER in WORSHIP, COMMUNITY, SERVING, AND REACHING OTHERS, we will make disciple-making disciples
- (In doing that,) We will call men and women to be men and women of God!
- With Bibles open, we are building on the historic strengths of our Men’s ministry but anchoring all of our metrics to disciple-making and building one another up to be men that…
• have a good reputation
• learn to walk full of the Holy Spirit
• exercise Biblical wisdom
• are Sincere
• Satisfied and Content
• Settled in the Faith
• Seasoned (Tried and True)
• Strengthen and be strengthened by the Family
- TOGETHER IN SERVING - that’s the theme for today.
- Not just warm bodies…not just delegation of duties; this is ENTRUSTMENT in ministry.
- The need exits because of the weight of the WORD OF GOD in our gatherings.
- it is the highest element of worship in our gatherings
- it is NOT a mere component of the program
- my responsibility as a preacher/pastor is to do all I can to make sure that no mechanic of ministry or element of worship is elevated above the preaching of the word of God. Everything else can be let go…but that!
- “A solid deacon prioritizes God over man, the soul over the body, and eternity over time even while he attends to the important practical and bodily needs of people.” -Thabiti Antwabile
- This is not the business world. This is not a social club. Your talent is nice but it is not the qualifier. Even the GIFTS of the Spirit DON’T QUALIFY you for leadership…the FRUIT of the Spirit does!