Office of Deacon (#4 – THE Qualification) – Acts 6:1-7

As we have seen, the Jerusalem Church was having problems. Like a teenager growing too quickly, its bones and muscles weren’t keep pace with one another. There were so many new converts – many of whom were extremely poor – that some were being missed in the daily ministration of food and support. So the twelve Apostles recommended that the church seek out men – “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” The church then went to work, and in some way which is not explained, they came up with the recommended number of candidates. “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.” The twelve told the church to look for men who were thoroughly honest and particularly sagacious and judicious – wise in a practical sense. But the most important qualification for office was more spiritual – they must be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” There are two purposes for this message today. One, we are in the midst of a short study on the office of Deacon and to be “filled with the Holy Ghost” was one of the criteria by which candidates were to be considered. And then second, Deacons are not the only Christians who are supposed to be “filled with the Spirit.” You and I are also to be so filled. This is a condition which is supposed to be true of all of us....

June 20

On this day in 1768, a Baptist church was formed at Gorham, Massachusetts. Joseph Moody was called as pastor, but soon after his installment the tax assessors visited him, demanding that he pay the parish tax for the support of the Congregational state church. The tax was $6.00. Not only was Brother Moody unable to pay such a sum, he was also unwilling. So the assessors confiscated his horse. He petitioned the Assembly in Boston for the return of the animal, but his request was refused. A few years later, eighteen members of the nearby Baptist church in Warwick were seized for failure to pay their parish tax. In the dead of winter, these men were transported forty miles and cast into jail. On February 15, 1775, Isaac Backus presented their case before the Legislature in Boston, but his request for relief was ignored. When the Baptists began writing letters to the Boston newspapers, the assessors answered by publishing a vindication of their actions. It read, “We apprehend that every body politic have a right to choose their religion, and to enact laws for its support, and that they ought so to do; and since Congregationalism is the choice of the people of this province, the religion which our forefathers had in view to establish in coming over to this country, we think there is good reason why dissenters from should pay to the support of it; especially since it is one condition upon which they receive and hold their lands.” The last statement was totally untrue. These, and many similar events up and down the coast, took place...

Office of Deacon (#3 Solution) – Acts 6:1-7

I’m sure you remember the family of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. In Luke 10 we are told about a dinner hosted by Martha, which included Jesus and His disciples. I can just imagine the pressure Martha felt about feeding the Saviour and His disciples. Mary, Martha’s younger sister, wasn’t much help, choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet to hear His instruction. “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me” – Luke 10:40. “Left me to serve alone” includes the word “diakonia” (dee-ak-on-EE’-ah). “I’m the only acting deaconess.” “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” I see a parallel between that dinner at Martha’s house and the work being done in the House of God. The Apostles were being expected to handle both the spiritual and secular responsibilities of the feast. And some of the Helenists in the church were complaining that their tables weren’t been serve properly. “Lord, dost thou not care that some of our widows are being neglected? Bid your apostles therefore that they help them.” In both Luke 10 and Acts 6 we see TWO KINDS of MINISTRATIONS or service. Somehow the TWELVE Apostles learned of the murmuring of the Grecian part of the membership. I know that some people don’t like the fact that Matthias...

Office of Deacon (#2 the Problem) – Acts 6:1-7

The early days of the church in Jerusalem were as unique as they were exciting. People were being converted in prodigious numbers – unparalleled at any point since. And after the ascension of Christ a pair of God’s angels offered wonderful encouragement to the eleven, which I’m sure they shared with the others – “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Under the circumstances, and with the Messianic teaching those men had, don’t you think they expected the Lord’s return sometime during their lives – if not right away? They, and the church lived, served and worshiped under the expectation of the imminent coming of Christ. Acts 1 tells us that the disciples entered into an upper room in Jerusalem, and “these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Acts 1:14 speaks about 14 tor 18 people – the disciples and a few ladies – before we come to verse 15. Acts 1:15 says, “And in those days (apparently a few days later) Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples… (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty)…” Apparently it took a few days for some of the brethren to return to Jerusalem from Galilee. Does that mean that the 500 brethren who were witnesses to the resurrected Christ were on their way? Maybe they were still scattered across Galilee but will later become a part of the church in Jerusalem....

June13

In my reading of early Baptist history in this country, some names often come up – Shubal Sterns, Daniel Marshal, and John Gano, for example. But Joseph Breed is not usually one of them. The Great Awakening brought many true converts into the Congregational churches of New England. Joseph and Priscilla Breed were among eighty who joined the congregation in Groton, Connecticut. In about 1753 the Breeds were led of the Lord to help Daniel and Martha Marshal evangelize the Mohawk Indians. That went well until the French and Indian War put the missionaries in danger, so they carried their evangelistic zeal to northern Virginia. There they ran into a Baptist church near Winchester, where they learned the truth more clearly, and the members of both families were baptized by immersion. Bro. Breed then began to travel with Daniel Marshal to Mill Creek, Virginia, where God blessed with the salvation of souls. It was there that Marshal’s brother-in-law, Shubal Sterns and his family, joined the group from New England. It was on this day (June 13) in 1755 that a letter arrived describing the spiritual need and opportunities of North Carolina, and the trio of preachers moved their families to that new mission field. At Sandy Creek, N.C., a work was begun, and over time its influence spread hundreds of miles in every direction. While Sterns continued to minister at Sandy Creek, Daniel Marshal traveled as far south as Augusta and Keokee, Georgia. In the mean time, Joseph Breed took a young and gifted convert, Phillip Mulkey, to a tract of land between the Tyger River and Fairforest Creek...

The Office of Deacon (#1 Background) – Acts 6:1-7

This evening I would like to begin a lesson on the Office of Deacon. It will take more than one message, so it might be better to call this a series. And I’ll be up-front with you. There may be a need to have a few ordained deacons in our church. This lesson is a step toward a decision one way or another. Let me start just a little backhandedly. Will you agree with me that the Philippians is a wonderful book, full of great instruction and blessing? Paul says, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” There is a principle for any Christian to follow. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” There is another. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “Brethren, I count not myself to apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reading forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace...

Adopting the Prodigal – Luke 15:11-24

Most of you are familiar with the Lord’s parable of the prodigal son. This morning, I would like to apply that story in a slightly different way than usual. And ultimately, I’d like to consider the Biblical doctrine of ADOPTION. One of the books I am currently reading is T.P. Simmons’ “A Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine.” While looking at the New Birth or “Regeneration,” Simmons has a single paragraph about adoption. He says, “The New Birth is not adoption.” Adoption is a legal term. It is the immediate result of justification. It is not the same as regeneration. Adoption makes us children of God legally, while regeneration makes us children of God experientially. Adoption brings a mere change of legal relationship. Regeneration changes our moral nature. Adoption has to do with us as the spiritual and moral children of the Devil by nature. Regeneration has to do with us as those who are by nature devoid of spiritual life.” That statement put me on a course of my own investigation of adoption. And I’ll get to that after we reconsider this Prodigal child. “Prodigal” means “wasteful,” or more specifically “extravagantly wasteful.” I have already said that this is one of the Lord’s “parables” – a story used to teach a spiritual lesson. But I have to qualify my statement. While it IS used as a parable, it involved an actual family. Verse 11 says, “And Jesus said, A CERTAIN man had two sons.” There was an actual man – a certain man – who had two sons. So he also had at some point a wife. He may...

June 6

John Waller, a Virginian, was raised in the Episcopal denomination. It is said that he was a brilliant and well-educated student, but in subsequent the years he became somewhat dissipated, eventually earning the nickname “Swearing Jack Waller.” One day, as a member of the grand jury hearing the case against Baptist Lewis Craig and his disturbance of the peace accusation, Jack came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and was later born again. Soon he too, was preaching Christ’s gospel. After one evangelistic service, Waller and five others were arrested. On this day in 1768 they appeared before the county judge. They were accused of being “vagrants, strollers and disturbers of the peace,” because they quoted scriptures, condemned sin and preached the gospel of God’s free grace – all of which was contrary to the colonial law and the edicts of the state church. The court offered to release the men if they promised to preach no more in the area for a year and a day, but the promise could not be made. It is said that Baptist-friendly Patrick Henry vigorously defended the brethren, but it was without effect, and they were sent to the local jail. During their confinement, Waller and the others preached through the grates to whomever would gather outside. Though citizens of the community tried to drive the hearers away, many people – from heads of families to domestics and slaves – heard and were moved by the preaching. Only the Lord knows how many were converted through the suffering of those six brethren. After weeks of confinement by Waller and his friends,...

Words Matter – Psalm 119:89

I hope you are all aware of the praise, and importance, which the Holy Spirit places upon His word. “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” These, and dozens of other scriptures, praise and promote God’s word as a UNIT – as a “book” if you like. The people in Berea “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received THE WORD with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Scriptures – are referred to in these scriptures as “THE Word of God” – singular. But tonight, I’d like to remind you that “the Word of God” is made up of the “words of God.” Just as often as it does of the “the WORD of God,” the Bible speaks of “the WORDS of God” in their variety and multitudes. And as stupid as my statement sounds – they are as equally inspired and important as the entire Bible. For example, elsewhere here in Psalm 119 David says, “Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy WORDS. “How sweet are thy WORDS unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “The entrance of thy WORDS giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”...

May 30

George Pearcy, was born in the year 1813. He was raised in a Christian home and was born again while still a teenager. He yearned to be of service to his Saviour, but because his family was poor, he was unable to finish his education until he was thirty years old, graduating from Columbian college. When the Lord called him to the mission field of China he went back to college to add medicine to his skills. On this day in 1846 he married Miss Frances Miller, and two weeks later he was commissioned at the Second Baptist Church of Richmond to serve as a missionary. Then he and his bride, along with another missionary couple, sailed for China, arriving four months later. After serving in Canton for a while, trouble arose between the English and the Chinese. There were shootings, and burning and looting of the properties of many foreigners. When it was eventually decided that the missionaries should move to Shanghai, they set sail but their ship was caught in the worst typhoon in fifty years. A hundred vessels and a thousand lives were lost in the storm, but the missionaries “escaped all safe to land.” The Lord’s work continued in Shanghai for five years, during which time Pearcy was able to translate the local Chinese dialect to a phonetic system of reading and writing. Then his health began to decline. At one point cholera laid him so low that he lay as though dead. His mind was alert, but his body was so inert he feared that he would be declared gone and he would be...