Investment with purposeful service (Acts 6:1-7)

MOTIVATE

–        Deacon Recognition

o 1Timothy 3:8-13

o   Recognize rotating Deacons: Argenis Delacruz, Bob Fulton, Carroll Gray

o   Recognize all new Deacons

  • Bible Group 1 (Teacher: Brown):  Deacon Jason Montagne
  • Bible Group 2 (Teachers: Roorda/Montagne): Deacons Chris Roorda & Bill Swartz
  • Bible Group 3 (Teachers: Voelp/Fulton/Shaker): Deacons Wael Shaker & Darrin Benning
  • Bible Group 4 (Teacher: Takemori): Deacon Bill Voelp
  • Bible Group 5 (Teachers: Chambless/Dutton): Deacons Sam Dutton & Curtis Fox
  • Bible Group 6 (Teacher: Fulton): Deacons Jim Cline & Fred Delp
  • Deacon Emeritus: Dick McGunigale

o   Recognize Deacon Ministry ordination: Wael Shaker

  • Mark 9:35 “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

ü  Servant of Jesus through commitment to Christ and Word

ü  Servant to your family through care of wife and children

ü  Servant to church through contributing with fellow Deacons to love and lead SPBC.

ü  Prayer from fellow Deacons

 

–        Church Conflict & Resolution

o   Story of a man who was stranded on a deserted island. After many years the man thought he’d never be rescued so he built a home. However, one day he saw a ship in the distance so he built a fire to generate smoke for signaling the ship to his rescue. Indeed the plan worked and a rescue crew came to the island. After initial conversation the captain of the rescue crew asked how the man survived on the island. So the man pointed to a house he made and explained how he fished & gathered food. The rescue captain pointed to two other buildings and inquired what each of those were. The man noted one building was a church he built and went to each week. The captain asked about the other building and the man said, “Well one day I got angry at that church so I built another one to attend.”

  • Sometimes we can experience conflict at church and be uncertain how to resolve it so we just leave and go find a new place of worship.
  • Today’s message is about another starting point to spiritual growth:starting point promo

o   April 3     Instruction with practical teaching (Matthew 7:21-29)

o   April 10   Interaction with providential relationships (Acts 1-2)

o   April 17   Implementation with personal disciplines (Acts 2:42-47)

o   April  24  Investment with purposeful service (Acts 6:1-7)

o   May 1      Incidents with pivotal circumstances (Acts 9)

  • Investment implies a duration of time with willingness to engage and endure for the long-haul.
  • Investment implies distribution of resources with expectations of future reward.

o   Our service to God is an investment not for reward but because we have already been rewarded in Christ. 2Corinthians 9:12-13, 15 “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God… they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others… Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.”

o   Yet, we believe there is a reward for those who give faithfully of their time, talents, and treasures. Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

 

EXAMINE           Investment with purposeful service (Acts 6)

Ministry that preaches gospel truth and practices gospel love will experience both development and discord. (Acts 6:1-6:2)

In this passage, Luke notes a sandwich comment regarding the development of the church.

6:1 “Now in those days when the disciples were increasing in number…”

6:7 “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

Luke frequently highlights the church’s development and growth

Acts 2:41 “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

Acts 2:47 “…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Acts 4:4 “But many of those who had heard the word believed and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” {Adding women and children the church was likely 10-15K}

Acts 5:14 “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women”

Acts 6:1 & 6:7

Acts 9:31 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

Acts 11:21 & 24 “And the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”

Acts 13:49 “And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region [Antioch in Pisidia].”

Acts 16:5 “So the churches [in Derbe and Lystra / Galatia] were strengthened in the faith and they increased in numbers daily.”

Acts 17:12 “Many of them [in Berea] therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”

Acts 19:20 “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily [in Ephesus].”

As mentioned last week, Acts is an apologetic for those who doubt or disbelieve Jesus. A person may discount the Gospel (Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn) accounts but they still must deal with Acts showing the historic launch of a widespread, multiplication movement of Christianity; especially among those whom were in conflict with and crucified Jesus AND especially in the midst of precarious and perilous persecution. In fact, it was “the blood of the martyrs as the seed of the church” (Athanasius).

è In 1897 H.G. Wells published a science fiction novel called The Invisible Man. The plot involves a scientist who creates a chemical to make objects invisible and he haphazardly applies it to himself to become invisible, which at first was clever but soon became a calamity. In the end, the invisible man was never visible until he died. Likewise, Jesus’ death makes His life and love visible. So too as Christians we must die to ourselves to provide a picture of the life and love of Jesus Christ.

è Preach gospel truth and practice gospel love. These were the distinguishing marks of the early church that resulted in God-glorifying development. Even secular society noted this about Christianity as the Roman Emperor Julian said, “the impious Galileans [the name given by Julian to Christians] support our poor in addition to their own”[1]

*Invest – Invite – Incarnate – Intercede                          *JORBaltimore on May 27 & July 9

*The Well: donation & participation                                 *Support SENT Nicaragua

Simultaneously while the church developed with growth it also experienced discord. Another way Acts is an apologetic is that Luke does not conceal the character flaws or conflicts of the early believers. Luke tells of the disciples gazing into heaven at Jesus’ ascension instead of going about their mission (Acts 1:8-11); a husband and wife who lied and lacked integrity (Acts 5:1-11); negligence and racial discrimination of Greek widows (Acts 6:2); prejudice against a Pharisee who wanted to repent, who’d go on to become the most famous missionary and write at least 13 NT letters (Acts 9:26-27); Peter’s & apostles racial preconceptions (Acts 10; 11:1-18; 15:135); Paul’s dispute with John Mark (Acts 15:37-41).

In this case a complaint [γογγυσμὸς / gongusmos: grumbling] by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (6:1).

è Note the unwillingness to address conflict biblically [a complaint arose…].

è Many problems will have a presenting challenge with an underlying deeper problem. Listen for the deeper issue. In this case it was the presenting problem of care for widows but the deeper issue was racial: Hellenists vs Hebrews.

è Also, be careful with those who say “people say…” but are unwilling to be named. In this case it was specifically the Hellenists vs the Hebrews.

The problem was two-fold
1) Organization: The expansion of the church outpaced the equipping of the leadership. The apostles needed to elect and equip more leaders but they didn’t, so issues of conflict arose. In biblical times widows were particularly vulnerable socially and economically. The OT and NT provide regulations for caring for widows (Deut 14:29; 16:11; 24:19-21; 26:12; 1Cor 7:8; 1Tim 5:3-16; James 1:27). The apostles were participating in the service of widows but they could not keep up so there was neglect, a visible and vital omission.

As an organization grows, so do its needs; growth dictates change. The only way to slow or stop change is to cease growth. The dead cannot be changed but living things grow with constant change.

è As our church has grown, what organizational structures need attention and action?

  • SPBC Deacons are aware of some and available to listen to others
  • May 15 seeking to address hospitality & nursery care through training. 

Notice also the church as an organization had leaders who emphasized they could not stop the mission. It seems that some suggested that the apostles slow or stop praying and preaching so much because this led to the growing numbers and the discord among the body; if they would focus more on serving the needs of those they had then their problems would be removed. Yet, this was not acceptable – “it is not right we should give up preaching… we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (6:2, 4).

è Preaching the word requires discipline and devotion (6:2, 4, 7)

è I shared a list of 10 ways our church could be involved in prayer. Has anyone – anyone considered preparation or pursuit in at least one of those ways?

2) Discrimination: Hebrews (national Jews) were being served but not Hellinists (Greek Jews). This issue is more than organizational oversight of feeding individuals since it happened daily, but motivated by racial discrimination. In fact, the racial and cultural issue would be a repeated issue for the early church between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10; 11:1-18; 15:135)

Even today Christianity has challenges overcoming racial tension and trouble. The cure is a clearer understanding of the gospel. All of our backgrounds remind us that we are broken and that we do not belong as a child of God; we’re all sinners. Yet, God through our common faith in Jesus Christ adopts us and brings us into the family, creating a new identity away from race but according to our relationship of faith.

Galatians 2:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

The same is true beyond race to cultural differences where a person was once _____, but becomes a Christian yet they’re still shunned or separated into a different category of the regular church community. This should not be as we are one body in Christ.
Growing gospel ministry will be evidenced by wise leaders and willing servants (Acts 6:3-6)

The apostles handled issue through congregational polity. They “summoned the full number of disciples” (6:2). They communicated the issue, clarified the roles according to God’s call, and commended a solution. They were leaders who solved problems. They were an imperfect community who was open to rebuke but focused on mission.

The issue of serving tables involved distribution of food and financial assistance. It was not a simple or insignificant task that the apostles felt superior to serving. Remember, they are followers of a Messiah who washed feet and suffered on a cross as an example to the believers. Instead, the apostles understood how important an issue this was that they called for qualified candidates to be chosen and commissioned to this task.

The qualifications were to select:

–        from among you: The church was to select individuals who were believers and who belonged to the community of faith. They weren’t seeking the rock stars of secular society but the reliable individuals within their faith community.

–        men: The biblical pattern for leadership both in the home and in the church is unquestionably male. God created men to lead and labor with diligence. Male leadership is not to the exclusion of female serving and shaping the home or church context, yet their calling is complementary rather than egalitarian – equal value but different roles.

–        of good reputation (μαρτυρέω/martyreo = witness): Leadership should not be about personality or politics but reputation. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”

–        full of Spirit: These men were to be known for their character and their relationship to Christ.

–        full of wisdom: These men were to have knowledge and understanding.

–        whom we can appoint to this duty: These men were to be not just spiritual but skilled. This is an area too often where the church lacks; they pick Christians of high character for positions however without accounting if the person is competent for the task.

The apostles proposal pleased the whole company.

–        note the peace, togetherness, unity, focus on the mission.

–        note the responsiveness and active participation of the body to selecting leaders and contributing in ministry.

–        individuals were most likely all Greek

–        the apostles commissioned the leaders with standing before apostles for named accountability, and with prayer of dependence upon the Spirit.

These seven were not ordained to an office, but were commissioned to fulfill a specific administrative task. Further evidence is the fact that these were not selected as apostolic successors but simply serving in fulfilling a need within the community of faith.[2] The word “deacon” (diakonos) never occurs in the passage. The word “ministry” (diakonia) does occur several times, but it is applied to both the ministry of the daily distribution (v. 2) and the ministry of the word, the apostolic witness (v. 4). In fact, the word “deacon” never occurs in Acts.[3]

6:7 and a great many priests came to faith

Priests were responsible for taking care of the poor but here they were acting prideful – those who boasted of religious rules in order to arrest and murder Jesus. They’re still hanging on but now they convert – not just because the Christian’s preaching but because of their practice to care for widows, the very same thing they were supposed to be doing. So, in essence, the priests were converted because they saw faith in action, and especially to a socially disenfranchised group of people.

è Who are the socially disenfranchised among us today that by our commitment to serve and share God’s love would be a shining light to a watching world?

 

APPLY/THINK

Satan tries to distract and destroy the church with attack on Christian unity & urgency.

–        Unity: Church Fellowship & Ministry

o   Conflict is serious

o   Conflict is not a problem but opportunity

–        Urgency: Church Mission

o   The harvest of souls… see people as Jesus does.

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[1] http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Julian.html

[2] Leon Morris, Acts Pillar NT Commentary.

[3] Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 182). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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