Deacons – Freeing of the Ministry 

I want to start out now with the consideration of what to me, as an elder and a pastor what may well be the most significant work that is required of the office of deacon. And that is the work of  “freeing the ministry.” And to better understand this let us go again to the sixth chapter of Acts, and we’ll look at the original that the church had chosen and placed before the Apostles. Why did these Apostles call for the choosing of these seven men? The answer was very simple, they said “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2). Think about this statement for just a moment. What is the primary duty of God’s called ministry? Is it not for the furtherance of the preached word of God? Yes it is. And before the calling of the church of the seven these Apostles or elders were serving in both capacities. As the elders of the church, they were and are qualified to serve in all of the duties of the service of the church.  But, because of the short comings and limitations of the flesh, they were over whelmed by the sheer weight of the burdens of their labors. 

There were things that needed to be taken care of and they said that it was not reasonable to expect them to be able to do it alone, so they said, “Wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3). This was inspired by God the Holy Ghost in order that the ministry might be set free to give themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” of God (Acts 6:4).  The original seven deacons were chosen and set before the Apostles “and when they prayed, they laid their hands on them” as it is to this very day.

Writing as an elder and a bishop or pastor of a church, I can tell you that it does my heart good to read and to understand this. I can’t tell how much it means to me to have good and faithful deacons in the church. They set me free, but not so much “free from” as “free to” do certain things that need to be done.  These things would be very difficult and maybe even be impossible to do if not for the deacon's wonderful and dedicated service to God’s church and to me the pastor.

I have heard folks who refer to Old Baptist ministers as being only “part time preachers.”  The ministry of the Old Line Primitive Baptist is much, much more difficult than that of the so-called ministry of the world. The ministry is a twenty-four hour seven days a week labour.  Beloved, in the church of Christ, the elders must hold down three responsibilities: first, to the Church and second, to the maintenance of their families, and third, to care for their secular jobs. These humble servants spend much time in calling on and visiting the sick; and they can often be found hard at work on, in and around the church building.  Not to mention there is their time to study the scriptures and to meditate on the word. That’s the reason that I thank God each and every day for the men that God has given to the church and to the ministry who are deacons!

The function of the office of a pastor did not change when God gave the church the office of the deacon, but God gave a wonderful gift to all the pastors and, if we, God’s people, will but learn the scriptural way in handling the office.

 The service that these deacons undertake are the things that belong to pastoral leadership.  They share in the burden with their pastor.  God, the Holy Ghost, in keeping with His wonderful and limitless grace, has created another who is there to help in the detailed execution of these things in order that they not utterly absorb the pastor and elder’s time, thought, and life. They serve first our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Kingdom Church, and second they stand in support of the ministry and to God’s elect.

One way that the deacon sets the pastor or elder free is by they are men, set apart by the church, in which the pastor can have full and free confidence. For example, a pastor must be acquainted with all of the goings on within the church that God has placed under his care.  This is where the deacons come in and serve in a critical way. They are to be the eyes and ears of their pastor, ever feeling the “pulse” of the church. Helping the pastor in such a way requires a relationship that can only exist when the pastor and the deacons share in the new nature that is imparted by Christ. In this way, there is a perfect freedom in having perfect confidence in one another; making the labour of the shared ministry more effective.

When we read in Exodus 17 where the Israelites were to battle the Amalekites, as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites “prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” But Moses became weary and Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under him for him to sit upon, and each one of these men, one on each side took and held up the hands of Moses (Exod. 17:10-13).  What a wonderful picture of the relationship between the pastor and the deacons! The mutual love of Christ binds us together and at the same time sets us free. The best pastor is the one who has faith and confidence in God and faith and confidence in the men that God has given to him to aid him in the execution of his ministry.

The next time that we get together, I hope to examine the deacon’s care for the church and his role in the leadership of the church body. May God bless us to be true and faithful to His cause, and that He might guide us to better understand and work in His Kingdom as good stewards of the things that He gives us.

Elder Thomas McDonald 

The Good Samaritan -  The Craftiness of Lawyers

            Lawyers are unusual.  They speak differently than other people.  I work around attorneys and I’ve learned they ask questions to solicit responses, so they can take the answers and frame the next question, all designed to get the one answer they’re seeking.  When the attorney in our office says “Good Morning,” we hesitate before we answer.  Is that a statement or a question that might be used against us?   Attorneys are tricky with language.  One rule they live by in court is this:  Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer.”  I suppose lawyers haven’t changed much in 2000 years.

            Luk 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?   :26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?   :27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.   :28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.   Luk 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 

            Jesus answered him with the story we call the Good Samaritan.  He reversed the lawyer’s trickery and left him with no alternative when asked this question:  :36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?   :37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

            Jesus knew the man was trying to trick Him; it had become more than simple sport for the Pharisees to try to get Christ to say something they could condemn.  He responds by telling a simple story that exhibits the policy of love thy neighbor and mercy and has but one answer to the question – ‘who is my neighbor?’  Even though it was not the answer they were expecting, they were forced to confess the much maligned Samaritan was the good neighbor in the story.

            Such a simple story, told in response to an attorney’s attempt to trick the Lord, not only laid out our responsibility to our neighbor, and how we are to treat strangers, but also a details the story of a King who became a neighbor.

            It’s said the scriptures are revealed in layers; you can peel each layer to reveal more and more as God gives you greater grace and understanding.  The first layer here is obvious, do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  Even the heathen can see the lesson presented in the top layer of this story.  But there’s more.

            And Jesus answering said, A certain [man] went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead.  
            A certain man.  The bible talks of certain men.  Jesus uses the term throughout his parables and teachings.  In most instances, we find these “certain” men are so called to indicate their condition before God.  A certain man called Cornelius.  A certain man named Lazarus.  A certain man made a great supper, and bade many. In this story, the child of God is that certain man.

            …went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  In the time of Christ, Jericho was as low as you could go as far as society was concerned.  When we talk of people leaving the church going downhill from Jerusalem, Jericho would be their end.  Historians described it as that day’s Sodom and Gomorrah.  And physically, its location is near the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth near civilization – actually 1,371 feet below sea level at the shore.

            …and fell among thieves.  The road to Jericho was filled with bandits and robbers.  But in our case, we fell among thieves as well.  But our fall was in the Garden of Eden.  We were robbed of every good and perfect gift God had intended for us …which stripped him of his raiment.  Satan’s deceit stripped us of our heavenly raiment, our covering, our protection.

            …and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead.   We were wounded.  The enemy departed and we were left half dead.  Not physically half dead, but half dead in the sense that in Adam we died, yet continued in natural life.

            And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.   The law could only acknowledge our condition, it but couldn’t help us in the least.  It only served to remind us of our state and show us the standard to which we were being held, the goal we could not obtain on our own.

            And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked [on him], and passed by on the other side.  The prophets were of no help.  Our condition didn’t change.

            But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was:  A certain Samaritan; a particular Samaritan.  Christ is the certain Samaritan.  And he journeyed from Heaven to Earth to save His people from their sins.

            The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim), known in the Talmud as Kuthim, are an ethnic group of the Levant. Ethnically, they are descended from a group of Israelite inhabitants that have connections to ancient Samaria from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the beginning of the Christian era. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the term שַמֶרִים (Shamerim), “keepers [of the law]”.Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, a religion based on the Torah. Samaritans claim that their worship (as opposed to Judaism) is the true religion of the ancient Israelites, predating the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

            Jhn 8:48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?  8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.  He didn’t deny being a Samaritan.  It does no harm to the gospel to make Christ a Samaritan – at least for the purpose of our story.  Here’s salvation for the Jews and Gentiles in one body – representing both groups.

            …came where he was -  for it’s clear in our dead condition we could not come to Him, and He stood where we were, in our place, room and stead, 

            and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him],  Who but Christ would have compassion on us?  Who but Christ could come to where we were?  It’s impossible for man to “seek and save that which was lost.”  The world insists you must come to Christ.  Yet here is God’s proper method.

            :34 And went to [him], and bound up his wounds, We don’t have the capacity to bind our own wounds. If you’ve ever tried to bind your own wound, you know you can’t really secure it without helpHere Christ binds our wounds so sufficiently we’ll never be in danger of the binding being undone.  We’re secured, sealed.

            pouring in oil and wine,  - oil and wine, and only Christ could administer the healing power of oil and wine. (Holy Spirit and grace?) 

            and set him on his own beast, we could not get upon the beast ourselves, for our condition was such we had no strength, no power.  And while we might speculate whether the beast was a horse, an ox or an ass, we do note the ownership of the beast…

            and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And placed him in the assembly among like-minded believers. And took care of him.  He lacks for nothing.  He’s ready for eternal heaven.  He only needs to survive this lifetime.

            And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, two coins.  A coin is unique in that it contains two equally important sides that cannot exist without the other.  Two coins, two testaments; we would need those in the inn.  Two pence.  A pence was considered a day’s wage.  Christ left the innkeeper two.  That’s an indication he’ll be gone for two days.  2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  That sounds like he’ll be back after two days. 

            Hsa 6:2  After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

            and gave [them] to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him;  the price has been paid. Take care of him.  Who gets these instructions?  The innkeeper – (we’ll call him Elder.)  Instructions to the Elder to care for the ones brought into the inn; see to their spiritual needs. Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

            and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

            Can you see yourself in this story?  It’s you who were dead in trespasses and in sins, wholly dependant upon the Savior to come to you, where you were.  Yet Jesus must have compassion, pour in oil and wine, place you on his beast, and pay your debt.  The Lord promises even more if need be, and leaves you in the care of the inn’s host for spiritual food and drink, rest and recuperation until He returns.

            What’s your condition today?  Are you enjoying some of the food, rest and comfort of the inn?  Have you checked in with the host?

Brother Royce Ellis