Summary: A sermomn about "All member ministry", really
The choosing of the seven Acts 6:1-7 WBC 16/6/2 am
The Satanic Strategy
= true that wherever God is at work, the evil one is at work, too
- even in the church
These were days when ‘the number of disciples were increasing’ (v1)
- can see Satanic opposition building in the background
His first strategy to stop the Word spreading was PERSECUTION
- = silly, really. Seldom stops it. Here and in history
- even persecution to death only proves to be the seedbed of further spreading
- one of the major challenges we face is INDIFFERENCE!
Second strategy was that of corruption of the church
- usually has to do with money (sex or power)
- was, here. Ananias and Sapphira
- =NOT the issue that they didn’t sell all. Rather that they pretended they were “very spiritual” with regard to money, and were in fact lying. Lying to gain prominence, power.
- Where God is in great power, you just can’t get away with these things. “what you got away with in the outer courts will kill you in the Holy of Holies”
- = an illustration of why you just can’t go to heaven ‘as you are’
- = an incentive for you, me to realise “the things we have done last week DO matter to God”. He is not ambivalent to them
- as HE is here, now… get them sorted.
= tragic how often the work of God is destroyed by corruption of the church. Have seen it in the USA
- a number of prominent folks are NOWHERE, now
see it in our press. Corruption. Desire for prominence-> faking of qualifications (may God have mercy of us all). Lifestyles inconsistent with Christians (laity and clergy alike)
Satan now tries his third strategy to destroy God’s work. It’s the best. Works! (nowadays, anyway. Didn’t here)
= two components to it. One is division. The other is distraction
= typical scenario. You know the story.
- where there is growth there is grumbling.
- (some don’t experience this because they’re DEAD)
- actually- you lot don’t grumble much. Seriously! (that’s not excuse to start!). Because you’re so darn nice! It’s great, actually. Dunno how I’ll pastor any church after this!
- Word = lit ‘murmuring’. It’s the same word as used in the Gk translation of OT Hebrew passage where the Israelites murmured against Moses
- Probably murmured to the apostles, against the Hebrew Jews
Such ‘murmuring’ is inappropriate to Christians. And so- this is just what Satan wants
The complaint is about the welfare of the widows
- who God has promised to protect
- who the church had taken responsibility for if not able to support themselves, or had no living relatives
don’t think it was a deliberate neglect. = administrative oversight. Things just get too busy!
- = specific to the Grecian Jewish widows
- so there’s a cultural aspect to it. It’s not a division of language as many of them spoke Hebrew and Greek (cf Paul)
- = their background culture.
- The Jews from the Diaspora in Gk culture weren’t getting as god a deal as the Hebrew Jews
But the issue is more than just cultural tension and division. It always is, in our churches. It threatens to do what Satan had strategised (and always aims to do)
= distract from the preaching of the word and prayer
- because without it people don’t hear about Jesus
- watch for stuff that happens when Jesus is being spoken about!
Note: it’s not a distraction for all. Rather SPECIFICALLY those who have been called to this task
There’s no hint that this work was below the apostles. It was an issue of ‘calling’
- had no liberty to be distracted from what God had called them to
- the consequences would be too far reaching!
The apostles have the idea- but they don’t impose it on the ‘church’- they gather them all together and say ‘you choose these people’
- 7 of them!
- = interesting! = very Biblical number
also very interesting that where before (v2) the apostles have said ‘we mustn’t neglect the ministry of the word’
- they now say (and add) “we will give ourselves to the ministry of the word AND prayer” (v4)
- which is of course so true as without prayer to know what God wants to say and prayer for the seed sown to germinate- very little happens
What is most interesting, though, is who they chose. Look at them
- what links them?
- They’ve all got Greek names!
- One of them wasn’t born a Jew. He was a convert (proselyte) to Judaism… and then became a follower of Jesus
- The rest of them, I reckon, were from Jews of the Gk Diaspora