Monday, April 4, 2011

Deacon: Reliable Believers

Please read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 
A DEACON is a servant of somebody.  A Deacon is a helper, or agent of the governing authorities.

In Acts 6, this office was established to supervise food distribution to needy widows.

These men were of high spiritual qualifications-yet subordinate so as to free the apostles for teaching and prayer…not that the deacons did not prayer or do teaching.

They also maintained sound doctrine and the holy lifestyle in the Church.  Not just a social network of loosely collection of nuts, these people were to be Reliable Men:
Verse 13 concludes the list of requirements for office with an encouragement to those who serve well. It parallels the "faithful saying" that follows in this passage (see on 3:1) and is probably similar in purpose. The apostasy of some elders and deacons in Ephesus almost certainly lowered opinions about leaders and leadership in the church and in the minds of outsiders. Confidence in the office and in the people filling that office needed to be restored. Today this same confidence needs to be maintained. So Paul reminds us that deacons who serve well will receive a twofold reward. Among the people, faithful deacons will 
1.) gain an excellent standing, 
2.)a good reputation. They will also grow closer to Christ in faith and assurance.

Four facts stand out from the NT scriptures:
1. Elders and Deacons are the offices in the church. The offices are distinct. Elders are not deacons. Deacons are not elders.
2. The terms, Elder, Pastor (shepherd), and Overseer (bishop) are used synonymously in the New Testament.
3. In the New Testament, elders had the role of the general oversight of the church.
4. In the original language, deacon means Servant or “to serve” or “to wait on.”

The title itself, is as descriptive as any job description could be. In the Bible, words have meanings and the word "deacon" means servant. Here is how the word has been defined in its three different forms:
"Diakoneo and its derivatives, as their origin suggests, are used mainly for personal help to others."
"Diakonia is found 34 times in the NT. It means service at the table as in Lk. 10:40; Acts 6:1, etc."
"Diakanos is found 29 times in the NT. Its primary meaning is one who serves at tables."
("Serve, Deacon, Worship" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Colin Brown, ed., volume 3, pages 544, 546)

"In Philippians 1:1 and in numerous references in early Christian literature outside the New Testament, bishops and/or elders and deacons are mentioned together, with deacons mentioned last. Because of this order, and because of the natural connotations of the word diakonos, most interpreters believe that deacons, from the beginning, served as assistants of church leaders."
(Deacon, Deaconess, Fred A. Grissom, Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman, 1991)

The key word here is Reliable.  We could look at this and feel that if I am not in this office of Deacon, I am let off the hook: it does not apply to me.  Not true—not at all!  ALL believers are to be Reliable people.  And all Reliable people are given tasks or responsibilities in the Body of Christ. 

It does not matter what age or sex the person is, they are to be Reliable.  Well, what does Reliable or trustworthy mean? 

See 1 Sam 29:6 So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you.”  

 And 2Tim 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others

Only one word is used in the NT meaning FAITHFUL.  As in the following verses, this word is used in reference to the Lord’s mercy which is trustworthy.

1 Tim 1:15 and 3:1 and 4:9 are all in reference to a saying that is faithfully being true.
1 Tim 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.

 In the Book of Rev, the two verses there that use this word deals with the truthful words of God, as they are to be believed as being true. 

That is the kind of a person the Word of Truth was given to.  We all have heard this Word of Truth.  Now, we are to live it out in real life.  Here is a trustworthy saying:  Run to follow Jesus; Bend to serve His people. Be fast to serve…

THAT person is to be found to be Reliable and true.  He is trustworthy.  Worthy of all trust.  As in the case of the deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  Look at this list with me.
8 In the same way, deacons are to be 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. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

 11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.   

 12 A deacon must be faithful to his 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. 

 (1 Timothy 3:11 Or … in the same way, deaconesses are…)
I don’t know for a fact what the Greek says but the different translations do reflect the understanding that women can and do have a roll in the Body in this area of ministry. 
Vs 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

We Need to be FAT!
         F-Faithful people - becoming obedient
         A-Available - God doesn’t care about ability, but He cares about our availability.
         T-Teachable - Phil 1:6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

If He has called you to lead, He will open doors for you to do that very thing.  The local Fellowship will see it or not and act accordingly. 

The big concern of the Church today is for us to develop or mature into such people.  Not everyone can lead but everyone can be lead and have influence in other’s lives.  “Even a child will lead them” suggest that when there are obedient Children of God, there is ministry.  We need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  Either you are a missionary or you are a mission field.  Either you are fit and growing or you need the help to get you there.  Let’s be FAT for the Lord.  Let is be Faithful, Available and Teachable. In short: let’s be Reliable Believers.