Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Status of a Deacon

The term deacon comes from the Greek word diákonos meaning servant or minister, one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, attendant, the servant of a king, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use, a waiter, one who serves food and drink.
The role or office of deacon was developed in the early church primarily to minister to the physical needs of the members of the body of Christ. In Acts 6:1-6 we see the initial stage of development.
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the church began to grow so fast that some believers, particularly widows, were being neglected in the daily distribution of food and alms. Also, as the church expanded, logistical challenges arose at meetings simply because of the size of the fellowship. The apostles, who had their hands full caring for the spiritual needs of the church, decided to appoint seven leaders who could tend to the physical and administrative needs within the body.
Acts 6:2–4, NLT,…So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, "We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word." …..
Verse 5 (KJV) ….And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of (a convert from) Antioch:
Verse 6 (KJV) …Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Two of the seven deacons appointed here in Acts were Stephen, who later became the first Christian martyr, and Philip the Evangelist.
Stephen performed great wonders and miracles among the people of Jerusalem. Jews of the outer provinces began to argue with him, but they could not win against his spirit-filled wisdom. So in secret, they convinced false witnesses to lie, accusing Stephen of blasphemy against Moses and God. In ancient Judaism, blasphemy was a crime punishable by death. The accusers brought Stephen before the Sanhedrin, the great council, where the false witnesses said they heard Stephen say Jesus would destroy the Temple. Stephen launched into a powerful defense, detailing the history of the Jews from Abraham through the prophets. He concluded that the Sanhedrin had murdered the prophesied Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The crowd became furious at him, but Stephen looked up to heaven:
"Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:56, NIV)
At that, the mob dragged Stephen out of the city and began to stone him. They laid their coats in front of a young man named Saul of Tarsus. As he was dying, Stephen prayed to God to receive his spirit, and further asked God not to hold the sin against his killers. Stephen "fell asleep," or died. Other believers buried Stephen and mourned his death.
Philip the Apostle was one of the earliest followers of Jesus Christ. Some scholars speculate that Philip was first a disciple of John the Baptist, because he lived in the region where John preached. Like Peter and Peter's brother Andrew, Philip was a Galilean, from the village of Bethsaida. It's probable they knew one another and were friends. Jesus issued a personal call to Philip: "Follow me." (John 1:43, NIV). Leaving his old life behind, Philip answered the call. Philip learned the truth about the kingdom of God at the feet of Jesus, then preached the gospel after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. Philip fervently sought the Messiah and recognized that Jesus was the promised Savior, even though he did not fully understand until after Jesus' resurrection.
Now these are two tuff acts to follow, but they demonstrated the first acts of deaconship.
The first reference to an official position of deacon in the local congregation is found in Philippians 1:1, where the Apostle Paul says, "I am writing to all of God's holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons." (NLT) While the New Testament never specifically defines the responsibilities or duties of this office, Paul explains the qualities of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
1 Timothy 3: 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
Vs. 8…not indulging in much wine….. 1 Timothy 5: 23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. This passage of scripture is not to celebrate that believers can go out and just drink. This gives understanding to being "disciplined”, in other words, “only drink wine to assist with illnesses we encounter”. Titus 1: 7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Verse 8 of Timothy also speaks of “dishonest gain”. This can be looked at as saying, “not being a crooked individual”, or “not beating people out of their money”, etc. This word dishonest, is an adjective meaning not honest; disposed to lie, cheat, or steal; not worthy of trust or belief.
Vs. 9….must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith….. Here’s where I have to stop for a minute, keeping hold of the deep truths of the faith. What are the “deep truths of the faith”? First let’s define the word “faith”. Faith - belief that is not based on proof; confidence or trust in a person (as in their ability), thing, deity, in the doctrines or teachings of a religion, or view. In other words, faith is belief with strong conviction; firm belief in something for which there may be no tangible proof; complete trust in or devotion to. So a deacon is to keep hold of the deep truths of the belief with strong conviction, having complete trust in and devotion to “what”? Truth, faith has some significance to how a deacon is to have a “clear conscience” of truth.
Faith is possibly the single-most important element of the Christian life. Hebrews 11:6 states, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." The Bible gives this description of faith in Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Scripture explains that the source of faith is God: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith exist in having a deep confession within oneself that El Shaddai, God, Elohim, The Creator of all that Exist is real. Now before we go any further, I don’t want to confuse anyone by the names I just spoke:
El Shaddai is conventionally translated as God Almighty is one of the Judaic names of God.
Elohim is simply a name for God in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Now, the more I begin to look at this position of a deacon and various positions of leadership in the church, one something stands out, qualities of Jesus Christ. No matter what position of leadership one holds in the church, Jesus Christ is the foundation of the example. In today’s society people will write books on how to be a deacon. Individuals will stand a say they are the example of a deacon but nobody can do it like Jesus. To hold the title of deacon is to perform a portion of the services that God Himself performed in the human existence. What better way to hold the example of than being Christ-like in our duties. All these positions of leadership in the church hold reference to the complete body of Christ. Being a pastor, deacon, elder, evangelist; all has to be done individual in the body of the church organization but Christ did all this in is Existence as The First Church. One man can’t be like Christ because we come in this world knowing nothing, innocent to all that exist. Christ came into a world that he, himself created, so he knew from birth why the sun revolves around the earth. Christ knew from birth how the birds are able to fly. Christ knew from birth how each part of our bodies operate and function. Christ came into the earth knowing how and why we sin. We only know from exiting our mother’s womb that something bright is in my face and something just hit me. Then we see some people looking at us making a bunch of noise that I don’t understand. Our lives begin in innocence and we have to look to the One and Only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to gain insight on how to live this life effectively. We are all in this state and that’s why God assembles us all together, in one body, to complete the mission he has established for all of us, here on earth. The deacons of the church work under the direction of the pastor, who is led by Christ. John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The biblical requirements of deacons are similar to that of elders, but there is a clear distinction in office. Elders are spiritual leaders or shepherds of the church. They serve as pastors and teachers and also provide general oversight on financial, organizational, and spiritual matters. The practical ministry of deacons in the church is vital, freeing elders to focus on prayer, studying God's Word, and pastoral care. Nowadays, as in the early church, the role of a deacon may encompass a variety of services and differs from denomination to denomination. In general, however, deacons function as servants, ministering to the body in practical ways. They may assist as ushers, tend to benevolence, or count tithes and offerings. No matter how they serve, Scripture makes it clear that ministering as a deacon is a rewarding and honorable calling in the church:
Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. (NIV). Most people believe that as a leader, they do not have to follow. This is where they are wrong, the greatest of all leaders are great followers. The Greatest of all leadership, Jesus, followed the teaching and instructions of God our Creator. Matthew 16:15-19 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Romans 15:7-12 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.
To be in leadership in the Body of Christ is to first follow the Instructions of God. Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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,

Following God’s Word of Instruction in leadership allows the congregation inspiration to abide in God. 2 Corinthians 3:2-18…You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Romans 15:4-5 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,