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.


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