Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. – Acts 6:1-7
The office of the deacon is a refutation of Gnosticism. Anyone who says that the physical needs of the church and of the body do not matter, have taken a scalpel to the institution of the church and have removed the office of the deacon. We of course shall seek to do no such thing. A local assembly of believers is not a group of unembodied souls who operate only a spiritual plane who need no physical substance to survive. No, we are men and women, creatures, made in the image of God, put on this earth, formed from the dust and the breath of God. And as such, we are dependent creatures. We are dependent on God to provide our sustenance, which he does through various means in the world. We are not gods, or creators. We are creatures. We bleed when cut, we shiver when cold, we thirst when parched, we hunger when without food. We are not beasts of the field. We are men and women, boys and girls. We need food, clothing, and shelter. We get sick, we get robbed, we can become disabled. We need one another. And Jesus does not ignore these needs. He cares greatly that these needs be met, and He has implemented means by which these things may be met.
Jesus Christ Himself has come in the flesh as a man, in order to redeem the body, not just our souls. We have sinned in our bodies, our flesh is corrupted with sin, and therefore our body needs redeeming. Physical death is the result of sin. In eternity we will not be spirits floating around on clouds, we will have bodies, resurrected and perfected bodies. The ideal is that we have perfected bodies, not that we be separated from our bodies. Our whole bodies have suffered from sin, and Christ has come to redeem the total man – mind, soul, and body. And if the church neglects the needs of the body; if the church allows the widows among her to go hungry and have need; if the church allows the fatherless among her to lack clothes and provision, the church has in practice denied that Jesus has come in the flesh to redeem the whole and total man. We are not caring about all that Christ cares about. If we do not provide for our own family, we are worse than unbelievers.
So one of the ways that Jesus has sought to it to care for the physical needs of the church, particularly widows and orphans, is through the diaconate. God cares so much about the physical needs of the church, that he has established an office of the church to attend to that very thing. There are only two biblically established offices of the church, and one of them is set aside for this purpose.
So Marc, Daniel, and Zack, what you are called here to do, is of utmost importance. God cares very much about it. By being committed to the fulfilling of your service as a deacon with excellence, you can show how much you believe in the incarnation of God. You can show how much you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. And how much you believe in the redemption of the total man.
On the other hand, just because the role of the deacon is very incarnational, so to speak, that certainly does not mean that it is carnal. It is most certainly not carnal. The deacons are not just to be good ole boys with a hammer and duct tape. They are to be spiritual men. They are to be godly men. The requirements for a deacon have everything to do with the godly character of the man.
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise[d] must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. – 1 Timothy 3:8-13
Gentlemen, this is what you must be. Too often in our modern context, the deacons are carnal men. They’ve been known to plan coups against their pastors, or to operate as a deep state elder board. Such things are what unqualified men do when they are placed in the office of deacon. Such men will not gain a good standing for themselves and will not gain great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
There are two great detriments and tools of Satan that infiltrate local churches and poison and kill them. One is false teachers in the pulpits. The other is conniving deacons behind closed doors. We ask God in his mercy, that neither would be true at Hope Baptist Church. When a church has faithful elders, and faithful deacons, that is the ministry of Jesus on earth. In Acts chapter 6 when they installed deacons, the word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly. The people of God are getting prayed for, counseled, and preached to, and no one is going hungry or unclothed. May God grant us to be such a church.
So men, I charge you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and before this church, to serve well as deacons, to continue to prove yourselves as godly men, to follow the example of the ultimate servant Jesus Christ, and to sacrificially love and serve the people of Hope Baptist Church. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.