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Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:8-13
THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE BAPTIST DEACON
Intro: This is the second in a series of messages designed to teach us about the office of the Baptist Deacon. There will be two more sermons in this series leading up to our Deacon election in just a few weeks. I hope you are seeking the will of the Lord concerning the men you will vote for in that election.
Last Sunday we talked about the reason for the Baptist Deacon. A little refresher might be in order today.
We learned that the office of Deacon was created to fill a void in the church. The congregation needed to be served and the preachers did not have enough time to look after the spiritual needs of the church and the physical needs as well. The church was instructed to select, from their number, seven men who would be over the business of service in the church.
We learned that the Deacons were never intended to function as “church bosses. They are to be the servants of the people, looking after the needs of the congregation. The word Deacon translates a word that means a table waiter; a domestic servant; one who attends to the needs of others.” The word literally means “to kick up dust.” It is the image of a servant working so hard and moving so fast that he leaves a cloud of dust in his wake.
We also learned that Deacons who are willing to serve the people of the church as very much needed in our day. However, men who only want a position or a place of power in the church are not needed in the office of Deacon and should never even be considered for that office.
Now that we have some understanding of what place a Deacon is to hold in the church, let’s turn our attention to the qualifications for the office. The Bible is crystal clear concerning the kind of man who is to be considered for the office of Deacon. There are certain requirements that he needs to meet, if he is to be eligible for election to that office. So, as the Lord gives liberty today, let’s once again focus our attention on the Baptist Deacon. I want to preach on The Requirements Of The Baptist Deacon.
I. THE DEACON AND HIS FAITH
(Ill. Any man who serves as a Deacon in a Baptist church must be a man of faith. His faith should be evident in his words, his works and his walk. The Bible speaks specifically to the faith life of the Deacon.)
A. He Must Be A Saved Man Acts 6:3 The church was told to look ye out among you seven men… In other words, the Deacons were to be active members of the community of faith. The phrase implies that they were to be saved men.
Now, it should go without saying that only saved men should be chosen as Deacons. After all, every candidate that will be voted on will be a member of Calvary Baptist Church. Still, the church should do all it can to insure that it elects saved men.
There is no way to know whether a man is saved or not for sure. The best we can do is to look for the clear signs of a living faith. Let me give you a checklist of spiritual questions that can be applied to any life. And, while only God knows the condition of any heart, there is certain evidence that can help you see where another person stands with the Lord.
1. Do they have a clear testimony of a life changing salvation experience? Can they tell you how they were saved?
2. Do they live a clean, holy life? (2 Cor. 5:17)
3. Is the Lord, the faith and the church a major part of their life?
4. Do they walk in love toward the brethren? (1 John 3:14-15)
While none of us are in a position to judge the salvation experience of any other person, the Lord Jesus did say that a person’s spiritual root would be proven by their spiritual fruit, Matt. 12:33. Normally, we should refrain from the habit of “fruit inspection. However, when we are considering men as Deacons, we must be sure that we only select saved men!
B. He Must Be A Separated Man Acts 6:3 of honest report This phrase means that the men chosen to be Deacons must have a good name among the people. The first Deacons were entrusted with the churches money. The people needed to be able to trust them.
· We still need men who are trustworthy in the office of Deacon. They must be men of personal integrity.
· They must be men who will do the right thing regardless of the personal cost.
· They must be men who speak the truth in their words and in their walk.
· They must be blameless. In other words, they must be men at whom no one can point an accusing finger.
· They must be men who live for Jesus at home, on the job, in the community and in the church.
· They must be men who are worthy of the respect of the church.
C. He Must Be A Spiritual Man Acts 6:3 full of the Holy Ghost The Deacons are to be men controlled and led by the Spirit of God. The command found in Eph. 5:18 must be true in the Deacon’s life. The word “full means, thoroughly permeated with; full, complete; lacking nothing, perfect. He is to demonstrate that he is a Spirit-filled man by constantly displaying the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23.
The Deacons should be men who controlled by the Lord and not by their flesh. When a man becomes a Deacon, there are times when he will hear some sensitive information. He needs to know how to keep his mouth shut. That is a spiritual trait!
In our churches, Deacons can have considerable influence in what is and isn’t done in the church. The Deacon must be more interested in the mind of the Spirit than he is in the will of his friends and family.
A truly spiritual man will have no trouble seeking the face of the Lord in the decisions he is called on to make. The Deacons must be spiritual men who are filled with the Holy Spirit.
D. He Must Be A Sensible Man Acts 6:3 wisdom This word does not imply that the Deacons must be educated men. It does mean that they are to be men who can make sensible decisions based on the Word of God.
A person with wisdom is someone who knows what is right and knows what steps must be taken in order to carry out what is right. True wisdom is being able to understand the Word of God and to apply it to your life and walk.
Thus, Deacons are to be men of the Word. They are to be men who know the Bible and who are able to apply the truths of the Bible to the work of the church.
A man of wisdom does not allow his judgment to be clouded by emotion, personal opinion, family or peer pressure, or any other external influences. A man of wisdom listens for the voice of God and he does what the Lord leads him to do.
E. He Must Be A Scriptural Man 1 Tim. 3:9 holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience The emphasis of this verse is that Deacons are to be men who know the doctrines of the faith and who live them out in their lives consistently.
Holding the mystery of the faith speaks of the entire body of New Testament truth. The Deacons must understand the great and deep doctrines of the faith. They are to be men of the Word; men who know what the Bible teaches. They must know the truth so that they can help stand against error.
In a pure conscience has the idea that the Deacons are to be men who not only know the truth, but who live out that truth in their daily lives. In other words, Deacons should not talk one way and live another!
A man who is to be a Deacon must be a man of the book. He must know what he believes, why he believes it and he must live out the faith.
II. THE DEACON AND HIS FAITHFULNESS
(Ill. Not only is the personal faith of the Deacon of vital importance, so is his conduct day by day. We just mentioned that he is to be a man controlled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. When this is true, he will exhibit certain characteristics in his life.)
A. He Must Be Faithful In His Temperament The Deacon is to be grave. This word does not mean that a Deacon should never smile or have a sense of humor. Some people think that holy people are sour people. They never laugh or have a good time, but always must look as if they have been eating persimmons. Surely that cannot be the kind of men God wants representing his church to the world.
By the same token, a Deacon must not be a flippant, silly man who makes light of serious spiritual matters. He can enjoy life and be joyous and happy, but he understands that some things are deadly serious and he treats them with the respect they deserve.
The word “grave means honorable, worthy of respect, pious and holy. It refers to a man who is held in high esteem for the godly lifestyle he leads. So, a Deacon is a man who has earned the respect of the church because of the way he carries himself.
B. He Must Be Faithful In His Tongue not doubletongued This world literally means saying the same word twice. It speaks of a person who talks out of both sides of his mouth. The Deacon must be a person who is in control of his tongue. A loose tongue is clear evidence that a person is not filled with the Spirit, James 1:26; 3:2. (Ill. Pro. 10:19; 13:2-3; 15:2; Eph. 4:29)
This matter of the tongue is a three-fold issue.
· The Deacon must not be the kind of person who will say one thing to one person and another to someone else. He must not be double-tongued.
· The Deacon must not be a gossip. He must not talk about others and use his position as a perch from which to sling dirt.
· The Deacon must be a man whose word is dependable. He must not be a man who is careless with the truth. If a Deacon tells you something, you should be able to depend on what he says, whether it is in the church, on the job, in the home or around the community. A man who is prone to telling untruths is not fit to be a Deacon. That man lacks integrity!
C. He Must Be Faithful In His Temperance Not given to much wine This means that he is not a man given to drunkenness or other forms of substance abuse. The Deacon must be a man under the control of the Spirit and not chemicals.
In Paul’s the drinking wine was acceptable. Everyone drank wine, but it was mixed with water. The alcohol in the wine killed the bacteria in the water and made the water drinkable. Also, there was no social stigma against drinking wine in those days.
In our day, some have taken the phrase “not much wine and have concluded that a little wine is okay. They are seriously misinterpreting the Bible! For one thing, our water is drinkable as it is, it does not have to be mixed with wine. For another thing, there is a tremendous social stigma attached to drinking in our day. Those who drink are perceived to be worldly. A man who wants to be a Deacon must abstain from all appearance of evil. Thus, a man who drinks is not qualified to be a Deacon.
D. He Must Be Faithful In His Temptations Not greedy of filthy lucre This phrase literally means not out to make a dishonest dollar. The Deacon should be a man with a spiritual attitude toward money.
He should never see the church’s money as belonging to him. The Deacon should not be tempted to use the church’s funds to increase his personal wealth. He should not see money as something to be held onto.
He should see the money the church as the Lord’s money and not as his own. When a man beings to think that he controls the purse strings for the church, both he and the church are in trouble! He should view it as a tool to be used for the glory of God, to further the work of the church and the Lord.
E. He Must Be Faithful In His Testing let these also first be proven The word proven means to test, to examine, to scrutinize. The idea being that no man should be ordained as a Deacon until he has been tested. The needs to be sure of the caliber of men they are placing as Deacons.
This would suggest that a new Christian should not be chosen as a Deacon. A new Christian has not had time to demonstrate that his testimony is real. He has not had time to grow in the faith so that he might be an example to other believers. He has not had time to have his faith tested to be sure that he is made out of the real stuff.
(Ill. In my first church I suggested a Brother to be a Deacon and was told that he was too new to the community. He had lived there for 20 years!) So, what about a new member? If they are saved and have a good testimony and the church wants them to serve, there is no prohibition against them being ordained.
(Note: The tense of this verb indicates an ongoing testing. The Deacon is not to be ordained and left to his own devices. He must continually be examined by the church as to his qualifications to serve as a Deacon. When he stops being qualified, the church should have the will to set him down!)
F. He Must Be Faithful In His Testimony blameless This word has the idea of being above reproach. It literally means he who cannot be arraigned or brought up on charges. In other words, the Deacon is to be a man against whom no one can bring an accusation or make a charge. It is the idea of being so clean that no charges will stick. The Deacon should be like Teflon. When charges are made, there will not be enough evidence for them to stick.
In his personal life, his public life, his family life and his faith life, the Deacon is to be blameless. A man that can be accused of wrongdoing is not the kind of man a church needs in a position like that of the Deacon. The church needs men who are clean, holy and who will be good examples to both saints and sinners.
G. He Must Be Faithful In His Tasks let them use the office of a Deacon You will notice that the word is use and not fill. There are too many men who want to fill this office and too few who are willing to use the office.
How does a Deacon “use his office? He uses is by actively seeking ways to serve the local church. Men, there are always visits that needs to be made. There are always people who are sick and hurting. There are always people who are grieving. There are always people who are lost. A good Deacon is a man who understands that his duty is to actively serve the church for the glory of God. May the Lord give us men who will seek ways to serve the Lords people.
III. THE DEACON AND HIS FAMILY
(Ill. One other area of the Deacon’s life that needs to be considered is the area of the Deacon’s family life. Two things need to be said here.
First, God has certain standards that He expects the Deacon to maintain in his home. Any man who does not maintain these standards is not qualified to serve.
Second, some people believe that the Deacon must be a married man. The Bible does not say that he has to be married, nor does it say that he has to have children. A single man can be called to serve as a Deacon. However, if he is married and if he has children, the Lord does expect him to meet certain standards in his home life.
So, let’s look at the Lord’s requirements for the Deacon and his family life.)
A. A Word About His Marriage Let the Deacons be the husbands of one wife… There are various interpretations of this phrase. There are those who say that it means one wife at a time. In other words, they believe that Paul is saying a polygamist should not be elected to serve as a Deacon. Since polygamy was not a major problem in that time it does not make sense that Paul is telling a bigamist that he cannot serve as a Deacon. It is almost certain that the early church wouldnt have allowed that anyway.
Others teach that Paul is telling the Deacon to be “a one woman man. That is the literal meaning of the phrase. In other words, the Deacon is to be married to only one woman at a time and he is not to be engaged in extramarital affairs. I agree with that, Deacons should not have more than one wife and they should not be womanizers and adulterers, but this view doesnt go far enough.
I believe that this verse forbids men who have been divorced and remarried from serving as Deacons. This does not make people with multiple marriages second class Christians. As far as I can read, the Bible forbids men who are divorced and remarried from being Pastors and Deacons and that is all. Any other limitation on where and how divorced people can serve goes beyond the clear teaching of the Bible!
The Deacon is to serve as an example. Therefore, he must be above reproach in his married life as well as in his spiritual life.
B. A Word About His Management ruling their children and their own houses well The Deacon must be in control of his home. His wife and children should respect him. If he cannot gain the respect of his family he will probably not gain the respect of the church.
The Deacon should be a man who is in control of his wealth, his possessions and the behavior of his family. When your children are grown, you have little control over what they do, but when they are under your roof, you are responsible for what happens in your house.
Remember, Deacons are to be examples to the church. Their homes should be models of what a Christian home should be.
C. A Word About His Mate Many commentators and preachers in our day look at this passage as listing the qualifications for Deaconesses. Of course, we do not recognize that office. I believe that these are the requirements of the Deacons wives.
The last part of the Deacon’s home to be considered is his wife. She has some qualifications that she must meet. If she doesn’t her husband is not qualified either! Let’s examine the requirements that God places on the Deacon’s wife.)
1. Her Temperament grave We have already learned that this word means honorable, worthy of respect, pious and holy. Like their husbands, the wives of the Deacons are to be women that are worthy of respect and held in high esteem in the church. Any man who has a wife that is foolish, sinful, flippant, makes light of serious spiritual matters, etc, is not qualified to serve as a Deacon. Like her husband, the Deacons wife is to live a life that is worth imitating.
2. Her Tongue not slanderers This means that the Deacons wives are to be women who can control their tongues. They must not be in the business of gossiping and tearing others down by their words. A man who is married to a gossiping, slandering woman is not qualified to be a Deacon.
3. Her Temperance sober The wives of the Deacons are to be free from addiction to chemicals. This word speaks of abstaining from the immoderate use of wine. A man who is married to a woman who is under the control of chemical substances is not qualified to be a Deacon.
4. Her Trustworthiness faithful in all things A Deacons wife is to be absolutely trustworthy. She is to be a woman who can trusted by both her husband and the church. Her husband can trust her to live the right kind of life. The church can trust her to be faithful to the work of the church. She should be active in the work of the church. She should be an asset to her husband, and not a hindrance, as he seeks to serve the Lord. A man who is married to an unfaithful wife is not qualified to be a Deacon.
Conc: These qualifications are stiff, and they are intended to be! The office of the Deacon is a high and holy office. It is a very visible office. A Deacon can either build up or tear down the reputation of the church by how he lives his life and carries out his duties as a Deacon.
We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can elect just anybody as a Deacon. We are fooling ourselves if we think this election is a minor matter for the church. It may be the most serious thing a church ever does outside of calling a new Pastor.
If we get it right the church will be blessed in a mighty way. If we get it wrong, we will pay for it for many years to come.
Again, I am calling Calvary Baptist Church to an altar of prayer. Let us fall down before Him and seek His face in this most important of matters.