Summary: Laying the foundation for the office of deacons and the role they play in the life of the church.
Are Deacons Needed Today?
The age old struggle in the realms of Christianity has been a fierce fight. On one side, seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, we find the Holy Spirit and the Church. On the other side we see Satan and all of the forces of Hell.
Satan had been trying to figure out a way to stop the church from moving forward:
o So in Acts chapter 4 we see the bitter persecution aimed at the early church, but the apostles stood firm and God came to their rescue.
o In the 5th Chapter we see Satan at work through Ananias and Sapphria, who lied to the Holy Spirit and death pounced on them. As a result great fear fell upon the people and a great number believed and were saved.
o Still in the 5th chapter we see that the disciples were arrested by the religious leaders. They were beaten and told to no longer preach Christ, however they went out rejoicing, proclaiming the Gospel stronger than ever.
Lucifer saw that after each persecution the church went through they came out stronger than before. Now we must never underestimate how wise and cunning he really is. He comes up with a perfect strategy – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
He comes into their ranks and attacks from the inside. He starts a campaign of criticism and fault finding. He gets the people in the church to turn on each other.
It works that same way today. We really don’t have persecution in America – yet. There isn’t anyone coming and dragging us out of the church to prison – or worse. There isn’t anyone going to stand in front of this church and tell us that we can’t have church here today. This is because Satan has figured out that the best way to attack a church is from the inside.
One of the disgraces of Christianity today is that we have so many church quarrels and split-ups. When this happen then lifelong friends are divided, people are hurt, sweet relationships are broken, some quit church all together and then whole generations are lost to the service of the Lord.
The majority of the time when churches squabble it is over some form of gossip, hearsay, misunderstanding or some other trivial matter. It is never about things that matter like great fundamental doctrines of the faith.
There will NEVER come up one single thing in this, or any, church which cannot be settled in prayerful conference – if we are “full of the Holy Spirit”. Then when we march forward in unity the devil will tremble and run away.
Look at how the early church handled this attack and you will see the need for deacons in the 21st century church.
I. The Mumbling of The People.
A. The number had grown substantially in the church.
1. There were two groups: The Jews and The Greeks.
a) To help all those in need, every church member made contribution to the treasury.
(1) Each gave as they were able.
(2) Some gave all they had
b) This was then divided so that no one lacked anything.
2. The problem is that the church was now so large that this distribution was a major task.
a) The Greeks felt that some of the Grecian widows were not getting their fair share, so they complained.
(1) The devil loves it when the church focus on something other than spreading the Gospel.
B. So they had a conference to figure out the best way to handle this matter.
1. Imagine what happened:
a) Perhaps Peter was the first to speak, he was the leader of the church by now --
(1) “Brethern, here is the trouble, Several of our greek brothers have complaint that their widows were being neglected. I have investigated this matter and I have found that their complaint to be justified. Now, of course, no one meant to do this -- we have been so busy preaching and baptizing new converts that this matter has gotten out of our hands. What do you think we ought to do about it?”
b) Imagine John stood up and said:
(1) “Brethern, I too am sorry that this thing has come up and of course, we must correct it. Our church is going along so fine we do not want such a disagrement to cause the Lord’s work to suffer - the world would laugh at us -- they have noticed how we love one another.
c) Then perhaps Philip said:
(1) “There are two courses we can take; We are either to be preachers of the Gospel or we are to be welfare workers. Now you remember our Lord commanded us to go and preach the gospel, so I think that we ought to give our time to the preaching and let the church elect some men to take care of this matter.