Thoughts on the office of a deacon

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Thoughts on the office of a deacon

  1. 1. ... ) . L{-· I........ ,( .- THOUGHTS ON THE OFFICE OF A DEACON BY ELDER DONALD B. ELLIS _..~//-- // / / / ~-- / ... ~ ~-·-
  2. 2. 1 For they that use the office of a deacon well purchase tothemselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith whichis in Christ Jesus. 1st. Tim. 3:13. Im sure that many good and sincere deacons, brethren andchurches have questioned in their minds whether this has beenfulfilled in the past or whether it is being fulfilled today. Is there still a place in the Church of Jesus Christ for theoffice of deacon? I say there is and scripturally taught.We praythat God will give us liberty to honestly search it out, andif it be taught in the Hvly scriptures, let us begin to use theoffice well. In the 6th. chapter of the Acts of. the Apostles, the bookthat brings us so many plain and beautiful examples as how thingswere done in the days of the inspired Apostles. The Apostlesbrought out that so much of their time was spent in the waitingon tables, that they were neglecting the ministry of the wordand the Church should choose out men of honest report, full ofthe Holy Ghost and wisdom. In Acts 6:5 we read " and the sayingpleased the whole multitude ", which means as the church was ofone mind on this matter. Should not we as the Church of JesusChrist have the same mind, even as a mark of identity of theoriginal church? These chosen men were to be servants of the church, and beingused as such, notice the result as recorded by Luke Acts 6:7"and the word of God increased and the number of the disciplesmultiplied in Jerusalem greatly and a great company of the priests /feJ.:::.fwere obedient to the faith. tt This is ample/!. that it pleased Godwhen deacons were so used, for He blessed the church greatly intheir obedience.
  3. 3. 2 Oh how we ought to please Him, not that we would build up our precious churches, but because we love God so, and secondly be- cause we love our unfortunate and weak brethren to the end that we will have an abundant, daily administration to their needs. The men were ordained to this work by prayer and laying on of hands of the Apostles, ordained men to serve or administer to the members needs Acts 6:6. Some argue that these men were not deacons as they were not named as such in the scriptures, but let us examine the title of a deacon as it is taught in the Greek language. The word deacon is a transliteration of the Greek diakonos, which means servant. This word was brought into the English language as deacon. An example of the same practice is baptize, which comes from the Greek noun baptisma or the verb form baptizo. We can gather from this that they were ordained servants or deacons. Now notice that this greek word diakonos means a servant in relation to his work and the greek word doulos ~~~ ,.,.,.fliT I Tq -~~-"""..._,_, ~--- -~~- T~ Lfl A .1 .·. I 1/ <i&... -~ ··_···· -------- ,..__ .., means a servant"" as a slave. One is a servant to ~-~J,£orm a service ) "".·""-Fi """"" """""""""~ .. ~····-~--~ the other a slave belonging to a master.~~::--~w~"·~-- The deaconship is definitely taught in the scripture as an office in the church. The purpose of the office is to free and assist the pastor so he might give himself to continual prayer and the ministry of the word. A pastor of a church should have a love for his people that their every care and need would be a burden on his heart, yet if it be so, he would soon be so en- gulfed in petty details and problems that he would neglect his bible study and prayer. The result being that the body of Christ would suffer loss not being edified or fed properly in a spirit- ual way.
  4. 4. 3 It is indeed of the greatest importance in our lives to be fed spiritually. An example is :ound in 1st. Cor. 9:11 where Paul writes " If I have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thine if we shall reap your carnal things?" This shows the Apo~tles regard concerning spiritual and natural things, in that spiritual things was regarded as greater. So it follows that the of~ice of a deacon should further and assist this great spiritual work. Oh that we would pray often, as a people, for this great work to increase and abound in our day. Some feel that this day is past, as we have social security and various government agencies to care for the poor and have ~j~a universal, fearful obsession and esteem for ·insurance security. Nursing homes are flourishing on every hand and in every city and hamlet. So it seems that the world has realized and taken over the care of the poor widows and orphans for gain. Politicians even gain favor with the the voting people by showing that they have great concern for the underpriviledged. Has God changed and given this business into the.hands of the ~ world? I bel~ve that we are at fault and have doubted our Heavenly Master. If we would return to this great responsibility and work with loVing hearts and compassion for our brethren in need, God will furnish us with the ability to do so. Proof?, turn to 2nd Cor. 9:8 " and God is able to make all grace abound toward you: that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. " This would be a great work and it needs men full of the Holy"
  5. 5. 4 Ghost and wisdom to administer it. Some deacons are only used to pass the bread and wine at communion services, certainly not a duty taught in the bible, and certainly not requir~ing any particular wisdom or spirituality. The question now arises where would we start, should we not start with the church and its compassion on their brethren in ne.ed? In the early days of the church the brethren wene so over- joyed at the revelation of Christ that they held not in high esteem their earthly goodsJiut sold them and had all things common, and came and laid them at the apostles feet. The apostles distributed this wealth as every man had need. It seems the widows had the greatest need. Do they not today? Are not a majority of our faithful brethren in the church, widows? Now Im sure the apostles also used this fdnd for their own needs.also. Proof? Let us reason here. Tb,ey were so bus~ ad- ministering this fundthey couldnt ftnd enough time for prayer and the ministry of the word, so the servan~s of the church were chosen for this work tha.t the apostles· might give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word. Would that have left them any time, before or after deacons, to have worked to earn a living? Paul writes 1st Cor. 9:14 n Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 11 Paul Also writes 1st Tim. 5:17 " Let the :h:lders that rule will be counted worthy of double honor especially they who labor in the word and doctrine." Did not the early church bestow honor on the Apoltles when they gave into their charge their very living? A great responsibility, taking all their time •........_
  6. 6. 5 I feel the double part of the honor is not only to honor them for their usefulness as a preacher but also to furnish them a living th~t their ministry might be full. So now we can begin to see what a· great work that God has . r c.t9Cr", J obligated us with, men fo care for us and to rule over f:? e(~Dr, ~·> a father over his children,and men to be our servants. ,--- z us a:~ A great fault has sprung up in our churches in that the ~rethren have not this concern and sense of responsibility toward brethren in need. They have desired financial security in their own private lives and sought after it to their h~rt, or loss of spirituality and have then taken advantage of govern- ment programs by putting their loved ones on welfar~ when they had plenty to care for them. They have fostered and encouraged the idea that a preacher worth his salt should earn his own. living, to prove his love for the cause. ~his causes a feeling in the church that if you give a minister enough money to re- emb~se his road expenses it is enough. So~e brethren only give a token each meeting with the understanding they ought t~ give I a preacher something, not even wondering what his need might be. While having this mind about helping those in need, churches have gone ahead and ordained deacons in a most solemn way and left them to their own devices, a servant with nothing to serve. Some of these deacons with a false sense of authority and obligation, have begun to rule the church, and have usurped the authority of their pastor, or overseers. Others, having an ---------- honest love and desire to fulfill their office just lapse into a do nothing at all attitude. My heart goes out to these men that wonder what to do when the church h~s no need of them after~
  7. 7. 6~nation. :" What then should a deacon do in this case? The answer is, they shoUld make themselves ready to serve, just as if the church were willing to use them. They should get to know the membership more personaly, to be able to know and detect their needs, also to know his pastor and visiting ministers better. and to know their needs. To have the information ready at hand J - and feel it would be in order for them to admonish a:rrd exhort (f the church as to their needs, ·so that the brethren that are 1 ~,J willing may know their duty. Next they ought to give of their time in bible study, that they may be familiar with the bible taught duties of the deacon, and of the pastor, to know where their seperate duties lie, so•,; as not to usurp authority, but be ready to assist the pastor in the general welfare of the church. They ought to win the confidence of the poor and widows so they may feel free to confide in him as to their need. Many times those in need have too rnuch·pride and will hide their ~eal need even to the hurt of the church. Tpis sort of relationship is ~:-..... very important in the deacons office and foolish is the church ·~ that refuses to use such a man as their servant. There will be a blessing and great satisfaction to the deacon if he will ~ accomplish this much on his own iniative, even if the church ------- wont supply him with any funds. In this church duty to supply the brethren as they have need so that there will be an equality among the brethren, as Paul in 2nd Cor. 8:14-15, 11 That now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may
  8. 8. 7 be a supply for your want that there be an equality: as it_is written, he that b.ad gathered much had nothing over;and he that had gathered little had no lack. Many feel that it is just too much and too hard for us to perform. Yes the task is great but our Lord is greater< and equal to the blessing of it, and we should start. If we start ......... the way will ·open up. Paul writes of this way to start in 1st Cor. 16:1-2, " Now concerning the collection of the saints as I have gi veil order o nr T n~ , Ft ;--:; T 0/{ 1 ~ of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered you, that there .Se no gathering, "collectionsu when I come." Does not this scripture give an order, an ordered example, to us? Does it not directly imply that these brethren and Paul met every first day of the week or Sunday? Does it not teach that every week we should •xamine our income and natural blesaings as to how God has given us increase over our wantf"u1 and need? It should cause our hearts to be filled with thanks-~ giving to God and compassion on His people that are in need. At that moment we should lay it aside and not wait to see:· ) now much might be left after pleasure and eyery day bills and~ putting in the bank, then turn it over to the church to dis- tribute it to the needy. In the early-days they gave it to the preachers for dis- tribution. The Apostle said it should be turned over to the deacons. Oh we should obey this, even though our contribution might be small and insignificant, we should please God by starting.
  9. 9. 8Paul again on this note in 2nd Cor. 8:12 writes, " For if therebe first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that aman hath, and not according to that he hath not." Cant we seethat if we would start, perhaps we cant take charge of ourwido~s, but we can help. If we cant have a full time ministerwe can help him have more time to devote to study and laboramong the brethren. If one person that is helped by our churchesthanks and blesses God because of a gift, it is acceptablefruit unto God. The gift though must of a n•cessity come froma deacon, as a servant of the body, for if the needy receivesit as a donation from a church, God will be praised. Anotherpoint in this is the recipient of this charity will not suffer:tJM embarassmen~ receiving it from the hand of the servant of·the church as he would receiving it fom an individual. _/ Now a question ar~ses at times, can a worn~ be a deaconess,or should a church recognize a womtn as deaconess~ Let us goto the original meaning of the word in the greek language,where it-means one who serves, not as a slave, but as a servantin relation to his work. In Romans 16:1 which reads, 11 I commend unto you Phoebe ours~ster which is the servan$ of the church which is at Cenchrea." :)The word servant in ttis verse is the s~me word as used for 0deacons. This womftn was commended by Paul and he encouraged 1others to assist her in this business, showing that what everthis womtn, a.:o a church servant, was engaged in was to be J)furthered and not frowned upon or hindered, not withstanding,this scripture dQes not teach that she filled an office, norwas ordained by laying on of hands by the presbytery, The
  10. 10. 9 c :j.. r--scriptures I beli(Ye, are plain, that deacons of the church ~· ~ .are to be husbands, men that are of honest report. Of course jthis does not forbid a sister to dedicate her life to servebidden to usurp authority, as anoffice. _______brethren in what ever way they have need, but would be for- There has been instances that come to our attention where ,brethren uractice the laying of hands on the wife of the Elderand Jeacon by the presbytery as if she were a part of hisoffice. I feel this is entirely unscriptural and should be 1stopped by our Elders before it goes any fuw~r~t~h~e~rj·------------.-· It is a truth that a faithful wife is a great help to a~aeon or Elder, and in many cases has enhanced their ministrygreatly, but she should have no part in the ordination. Alsowhen her husband be dead her part in his ministry would beended. Now this isnt written to discourage the practice ofthe family to come to the front of the church during the preach-ing of· the charge. only the part where the wife comes forwardand kneels beside her husband and the presbytery lay handson both of them. This part is very wrong and ha~Emger intime, to bring in the heresy of women deacons and preachers. This is written in much love for the upbuilding of Godspeople in His blessed church, that they in their depletedcondition begin to recover themselves from the snare of thedevil.Of course this doesnt pertain to all of our churches.Some are using their deacons well and their church conditionproves that it pleases God.
  11. 11. 10 I have met some v8ry able deacons here of late and they are a great credit to the cause. It is my opinion though, that the majority of our churches have failed miserably in the office of the deacon and they should recover themselves and abide in the eachings of the bible.._ . -

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