Sermon – Following the Heavenly Deacon (1 Timothy 3:1 – 3:16) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 8 of 18

Following the Heavenly Deacon

Tom Sweatman, 1 Timothy 3:1 - 3:16, 12 March 2023

Tom continues our series in 1 Timothy, preaching to us from 1 Timothy 3:1-16. In this passage we see Paul outlining the characteristics of deacons in the church - and what it means for us today.

1 Timothy 3:1 - 3:16

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 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 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.

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

  He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
      seen by angels,
  proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
      taken up in glory.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

1 Timothy chapter 3. Here is a trustworthy saying. Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him.

And he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a recent convert or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. In the same way, Deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, not pursuing dishonest gain.

They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested. And then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.

Those who those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that if I am delayed, you will know how peep how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household. Which is the church of the living god, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great. He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the spirit.

Was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. Well, thanks Dean. And as ever, if you can keep that passage open in front of you, my name is Tom. If we haven't met yet, I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church, and it's great to be with you this morning, opening this bit of God's word together. If you are if you are new and it's your first time and I know there are some businesses amongst us.

It's lovely to have you, and I hope you have felt warmly welcome this morning. If you're new to Christian Things and haven't spent an awful lot of time in the bible before, then it's lovely to have you. We've been working our way through this series in the new testament. This is 1 timothy. This is a letter that was written in the first century by Paul.

He was an apostle. He was a follower of Jesus Christ. And he's writing this letter to a man called Timothy who is both his colleague and his dear son in the faith. So they have a great relationship, and Timothy is a young Church Plantar pastor in Ephesus, which was not famous for being Christian. It was a very dark place, spiritually dark, lots of immorality, lots of idolatry, and here is Timothy with a team of people, and he's trying to establish and look after a gospel light in that dark place.

And we've been working our way through it. All of the previous sermons you can catch online and here we are in chapter 3 and we're gonna be focusing mainly on versus 8 through to 13 this morning. So as we get into that, let's bow our heads and pray and ask for the Lord's help. Father, we thank you that this word that was written down so long ago for a person that we've never met in a place that most of us have never been to into a context, which is difficult for us to understand. That into into this is your living word that is true across all the ages and for all of your people in every place.

And we thank you that we have some moments together this morning to look at it, and we pray that you would give us by your spirit insight into these words that we might understand the things that have been written and that we might have hearts that want to be changed as you address us through your word that we would leave here different people in Jesus' name, amen. Now if you have been with us as we've looking at 1 timothy, you will have seen God's passion for the nations. God is a God who wants all kinds of people in all kinds of places who work in all kinds of areas to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. He told us that in chapter 1, if you look back to chapter 1 sorry, chapter 2 verse 4, he says, God, our Savior. Wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, wants all people to be saved.

And to come to a knowledge of the truth. And 1 of the questions that we've been asking in light of that verse is what kind of people does god want to reach the nations? How is the world going to be reached for for Christ? And Paul has been telling us in this letter that the people with a message are the people who are gonna reach the nations. So if you look at chapter 1 verse 15, Paul says about himself Here is the trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.

Christ Jesus came into the world to safe sinners of whom I am the worst. So how are the nations gonna be reached? By a message, Christ came into the world to save sinners? How else are the nations gonna be reached? By a people who live out the message.

Have a look at chapter 2 verse 8. Therefore, I want the men everywhere to pray lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. In other words, he wants the men in the church to be different from the men in the world. It's easy to be about arguing and disputing. We see that everywhere.

Is Gary Linica right? Is he wrong? Should he be suspended? Should he be allowed to carry on? Is the government racist?

Are they not? Let's argue about it. Every newspaper this morning will be bickering and arguing about that particular subject. Not that it's unimportant, but what he says is I want the church to be known for men who pray, who put down arms and lift up holy hands without disputing and without anger. That's vital for our witness to the world to have holy men who pray.

That's what he's saying. Chapter 2 verse 10, we look to these verses as well. He wants the women to be full of good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. And that too is gonna be connected to our witness to the world. He wants the women in the church to be adorned with beautiful Christian work to live good deeds which commend the gospel and which honor the Savior.

That's what he wants in the world because that's vital to our to our witness. And so you see Paul's great concern here is that the church radiates out the gospel into a dark world. Both with a message that they proclaim and a life that they lead, that's gonna be essential for our witness in the world. And in chapter 3, he turns his attention to leaders. He turns his attention to leaders in the church.

1 writer says that the spiritual direction of a leader's life is of paramount importance in regard to the furtherance of the gospel. The spiritual direction of a leader's life is of paramount importance in regard to the furtherance of the gospel. And if you were here last week, that's exactly what Pete was showing us from those first 7 verses. When a Christian leader, 1 who claims to be a a spokesman of Christ trying to live an exemplary life for Christ, falls in the world, it brings shame and dishonor upon the bride of Christ and upon the name of Christ. And so Paul wants the leaders in this church to be godly for the sake of our witness to the world.

Doesn't look good before a watching world. Does it? If we preach a message that we then fail to live, he wants consistency in message and in life, that's what we saw last week. And really, today, we're going to see much the same, much the same thing. For the health of the church, And for the spread of the gospel, the church needs leaders that are modeled on Christ.

Now last week, as I say, Paul was Pete was rather Paul Pete was teaching us about overseers in the first few verses. And this week, we're looking at Deacons. In verses 8 to 12. And what strikes us, and I don't know if it struck you as you were reading it, is not the difference between elders and deacons, but the remarkable degree of similarity between them. What Paul wants of these deacons is not that they're the best managers or they're the best economists or the most persuasive speakers as helpful as that stuff might be.

He wants them to be a type of person. You notice his emphasis. It's not so much on what Deacons do but who deacons are. That is critical for the health of the church and for our witness to the world. So what do we learn here about Deacons?

Well, 3 things. Paul tells us who they are, he tells us how they serve, and he tells us what they gain. And that's what we're going to look at, who they are, how they serve and what they gain. Now I looked up a definition of deacons online just to see what it kicked out. And I found this from the encyclopedia Britannica, and hopefully it will come up.

If someone could click it on for me, that would be great. They are a member of the lowest rank of the threefold Christian ministry. A basic but subservient ministerial order help us responsible for the practical and charitable fungions of the Christian community. Now there is something true in that definition. When you look at how the word deacon is used in the new testament, they do often look after practical things.

So here's the word from from John 2. This is this is where it comes up. The master of the banquet, this is the wedding at Kayna, the master of the bank it tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants or the Deacons who had drawn the water new. So in that particular story, the deacons have got the job of drawing the water.

It's their job to look after the practical matters of the bank where. Okay? The host has got to give himself to hosting and entertaining and welcoming that Deacons look after the practical stuff. So that is true. And it is also true that Deacons look after charitable matters in the church.

So have a look with me at chapter 6. This this in some ways is quite an important section and many people see it as the birth place of Deacons in the new testament, although the word isn't mentioned here. You'll know that in acts chapter 6 perhaps that there was an issue arising in the church where some of the widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So some were being left out, others were getting the food, and it was gonna be causing a bit attention. And so here's what the apostles decide.

The 12 gathered all the disciples together and said, it would not be right for us to neglect the Ministry of the Word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters choose 7 men from among you who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. And so in this case, and let's call them Deacons for argument's sake. The Deacons have got a very, very important job to do.

It's a practical job because they need to get some kind of rotor together to make sure the widows aren't overlooked in the distribution of food. It's a charitable job It's full of compassion. They want to show charity to those who are in need. It's a very important job because it's about church unity, isn't it? If you have no deacons, then there might be all kinds of tensions in the church that will get worse and worse, frac pictures that will get deeper and deeper.

You need deacons to bring about church unity and also it's important because it frees up the apostles to do what they were called to do, which was to give their time and attention to the ministry of the word and to prayer. So That is a big part of what Deacons do. It's practical. It's charitable. And yet for all of that, I think if we leave it there, we'll miss the biblical richness in the word deacon.

We'll understand what they do but not who they are. Have a look with me at mark 10 at verse 42 to 45. This is the versus Deane quoted at the beginning. And I've put the word deacon where it occurs here in this, because I think it just changes the emphasis really helpfully. Jesus called them together the disciples and said, you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the gentiles lord it over them and their high officials exercise authority over them, not so with you.

Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your deacon. And whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the son of man did not come to be deacon, but to deacon, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Isn't that fantastic? Okay.

Not to be deacons, but to deacon and to give his life as a ransom for many. And, you know, this was a lesson that the disciples had to learn over and over again. They really struggled with this 1 because they were surrounded by expressions of worldly greatness. You know, on 1 side, they had the pharisees loarding it over people with their religious laws. On the other side, they had the Romans looking powerful with all of their military might.

They were surrounded by that and yet Jesus has to tell them over and over again that in my kingdom, That's not worth that much. That doesn't look that great to me, loarding it over people in a religious way, or ruling over them with military power. I am among you, he says, as 1 who deacons I'm among you who's 1 who serves. That's what greatness is in my kingdom. And so you see a deacon is not just a what, they are a who.

It's not just about the jobs that they do, but the sort of people that they are They're like Jesus who don't demand to be deaconed, but to deacon and to lay their lives down for the sake of other people. That's the essence of the job. And this is something that Timothy and his leaders would have to remember Because if you've been following this series, you might remember that in the church was all kinds of worldly power You had false teachers coming in, and they were starting to argue about their gene allergies. They were starting to go on about false doctrines. They were starting to forbid foods that God said were okay to eat.

They were starting to mishandle the law and bring burdens upon the people. In other words, they were just like the Pharisees of old using their religious authority in order to impress. And Paul is saying to Timothy, please don't get drawn in to that way of thinking. That is not what greatness looks like in the church. You remember our lord Jesus who did not come to be deacon but to deacon and to give his life as a ransom for many.

And so Paul is saying to Timothy, make sure that your overseers in verse 1 to 7 and your deacons in verse 8 to 13. Are different in terms of their calling, but not different in terms of their character. For the health of the church, And for our witness to the world, we need shepherd servants leading in the church. Shepard 1 to 7 servants 8 to 13. That's leadership in the local church.

So that's who they are in essence. But how about in practice who were these deacons in practice in the life of the church? Well, have a look with me at Philippians 1 1. Sorry, there's quite a few cross references this morning, but I think it think it helps build the picture. So this is Paul, writing to the church in Filipi, and he says Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all god's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi together with the overseers and the Deacons.

So you noticed those 3 categories that he talks about there: servants of Christ is to all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and the Deacons. So if there's all of God's holy people, the Christians, there's overseers and those deep there's Deacons. Those are the 3 categories he talks about. So you could say that in 1 sense, every single Christian is a deacon. Right?

We're all called to be servants of 1 another like Jesus. But clearly, in the church, there were these capital s servants. These ones who were recognized in the congregations as those who led, like Christ, who were deacons. So it is for everyone, but it does seem that there were special people known for their deaconlike qualities in the church. And you get that in 1 Timothy 3, if you look with me at verse 8, where he says in the same way, Deacons or Deacons likewise, as other translations have it.

In other words, he seems to be moving on to a new category here. It would be slightly odd if he was using that word just a shorthand for all Christians. So he talks about overseers and Christians likewise. Now it does seem deacons likewise. This is a group of people that he is addressing in the church.

And it seems that both men and women held this position in the New Testament Church. This important deacon position. Have a look with me at verse 11. It is a tricky verse and you'll see from your footnote if you've got a bible why it's tricky. So what I've done is I've put a load of different translations on the screen for you to get a sense of where people land with this.

So at the top, you've got the NIV. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect. ESV, their wives likewise must be dignified. CSP, Christian Standard Bible, wives likewise should be worthy of respect. And then my personal favorite, the King James, even so their wives must be grave.

Which I think is fantastic. Isn't it? I don't know if you've ever been to those churches where they've got a bible verse over the pulpit or over the church. Just 1, and it's normally Jesus' lord or sir, we would see Jesus I think this is a good candidate, isn't it? Their wives must be grave, you know, over the top.

So as you can see, most of the translations take it not to mean women but to mean wives, the wives of the Deacons. And yet, in every case when you look at the footnote, they say, by the way, this could be women. Or by the way, this could be wives. We've put wives, but it could be women. Could be women.

Could be wives. So it's quite hard to actually know who Paul is talking about in verse 11. And if you want to know the different arguments for and against, you can you can come and see me. But however it lands here, there are other verse which help us to see that no women did hold this position in the church. Have a look at Romans 16 verse 1.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Kingkreya. I asked you to receive her in the lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her the help she may need from you for she has been the benefactor or the patron, very generous giver of many people, including me. You see how he describes her. She is both a sister in the lord. In other words, she is a Christian and she is a deacon of the church in King Korea.

And that is the language of office, isn't it? It's she she holds a position. She's a sister, but she's a deacon in the church. She's a deacon of the church. In Kymriah.

Okay? So who are these demons? Well, in essence, they're servants like Christ. And in practice, it seems to be that they were godly men and women who were recognized in their congregations for serving like Jesus. That's who they were.

So firstly, who they were, the deacon. Secondly, let's look at how they serve. We've looked at who they were. Now let's see how they serve. So we've had a look at John 2 and at 6 and seen some of the things that Deacons did in the life of the church.

But when you come to 1 timothy, it is striking, isn't it? How few jobs there actually are? They're not We're not told what jobs they actually did in the life of the church, which I think is quite important. Because what Paul is saying is that they are servant minded people. And therefore, they respond to the needs of the congregation.

Yeah? That's what a servant does. They don't say, this is my job. I've always done it. I will always do it.

This is my committee. A servant hearted person says, okay, what are the needs of this congregation? What do they need? What is needed here? Well, we'll lay our lives down in order to help with that.

That seems to be what happened in acts chapter 6. You know, they set up a little committee in order to help the widows to make sure they got bread, I don't assume that that committee remained for life. That you had the bread committee for the widows that continue to meet month after month after month even after the issue was long gone. I assume they were responding to the needs of the church, setting up little committees, doing what was needed, closing the committee, setting up another 1, doing what was needed. Closing Committee because that's what a servant does.

They doesn't insist. This is my job I do it for life, but they give themselves. They lay themselves down. For a particular church. Okay?

So it seems that that's what they were doing. But again, the emphasis from 1 timothy 3 is never on the what, but on the who. They are serving by being a sort of person. Have a look at verse 8 with me. Let's get into the the little list.

In the same way, Deacons are to be worthy of respect And then there are 3 knots after this in the most literal translations. Let's be worthy of respect, not double toned, That means that word sincere, not double toned, not indulging in much wine, not pursuing dishonest gain. So that's what it means to be worthy of respect. They are not to be double tons. I don't know if you've ever seen those those old weather veins that go on top of churches or high buildings, and they're designed to show you which way the wind is blowing.

And they spin in order with the in order to show you the direction of the wind. That is not the sort of deacon that you want. You don't want 1 who just changes depending on which way the wind is blowing. You know, if he's talking to this group of people in the church, he blows that way with them. But then he goes to talk to another group of people in the church and he blows that way with them.

You don't want a weather vane deacon because that's how that's how power works in the world. If you enter an organization and you want to get to the top very often, you might have to have superficial friendships, you might have to have quick betrayals, you might have to have surface smiles only. You know, there's a lot of double tongue in order to get power in the world. Paul says, look, a deacon mustn't be like a weather vane. It mustn't just change with the wind because it's very, very hard to trust a person like that, isn't it?

Very hard to trust the weather vane deacon, so not to be doubletoned. He says they're not to be given to much wine or dishonest gain. Which I think is shorthand for saying they need to be free from addictions. They need to be free from the things which are going to in slave them like too much wine and being addicted to money. And that makes sense with the servant definition, doesn't it?

Because somebody who's taken up with addictions is all about self-service. They've got to get the drink and the money that they need in order to serve themselves. And therefore, they'll have no time to serve the people of God. They can't be addicts in that way. And this is why Phoebe, I think, is such a terrific example of a deacon because she was a patron so she clearly had loads of money, but she was always giving it to the gospel.

She wasn't into making dishonest money. She wasn't addicted to cash in that way. She was a giver, a better factor, a generous servant of the church. That's what he says Deacon should be like. Verse 9, he says they must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience Keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

It's interesting in act 6, isn't it? That they don't just choose any men for this job. They chose they choose men who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. They choose godly men. And that's what he's saying here.

Deacons don't have to teach like elders in verse 1 to 7, but they do have to deeply believe the truth. They have to hold onto the truth with a clear conscience, which means they hold it at the deepest level of who they are. All their decisions and their conscience is wrapped up in the word of God. They believe it that deeply. They're not to be like the false teachers.

If you have a look back to chapter 1 and verse 18, have a look how Paul describes them. Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophet policies once made about you so that by recalling them, you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck and regards to their faith. A deacon doesn't do that. They don't trample all over their consciences. They don't suppress them.

They don't say no to their consciences. They are very sensitive to the word of God. And so in church life, if the Deacons could make a decision, which they know is wrong, but it will be lucrative for the church In other words, it might mean more numbers or more money. They don't do it. As siren goes off in their hearts and they listen to it, We're not gonna do it.

It's wrong. My conscience is held captive by the word of God. That is the sort of beacon that you want. And of course, when a deacon has that level of conviction, no job is just practical. Everything that they do takes on a spiritual color.

They may be in charge of organizing meals for new moms. That's not just a job to them. It's meals to the glory of God because they hold the faith deeply. They might be in charge of putting out the chairs. But it's not just a job.

It's chairs to the glory of God because they hold the faith deeply. It might be organizing the sound and making sure we can hear each other. It's not just a job. It's sound to the glory of God because they hold the faith so deeply. Wherever you cut them, out comes gospel.

They hold their convictions very, very deeply. So yeah, they don't have to teach publicly, but they do have to believe sincerely and deeply. That's what he says in verse 9. Verse 10, they must first be tested, and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. Now it's unlikely that he has a formal test in mind here, but his point is as with elders, Don't raise them up too quickly.

Don't raise them up too quickly. If the job was just a matter of doing practical duties. That may not matter so much. But if a deacon is a type of character, then it may take time to see that. That's what he's saying.

You just need to give it a little bit of time try to see how they are at home and try to see how they are down the pub and try to see how they are at work. Just give it a bit of time. Because a deacon is not just a doer of jobs. They are a character. And that needs to be uncovered.

It needs to be discovered. And so that's what he says. Verse 11, in the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers, which literally translates. They are to be worthy of respect not devils. That's the word he used there.

The women are not to be devils. By which I think he means, they're not to speak like the devil. And how did the devil speak, well, with a double tongue, with lies, and with accusations. That's what his speech is marked by lies and accusations in the same way the women are not to be devils. They are to be worthy of respect.

They are to be temperate. That's the addiction language again, isn't it? Not to be given to wine and dishonest game. They're to be feeby like. They're to be temperate and trustworthy in everything.

And then verse 12, he goes on to the family and stresses the importance of that. So do you see do you see what he's saying? Who are these deacons? Well, they seem to be recognized servants in the church and how do they serve the church by being a sort of person. That's how they serve us by living a certain life before us.

And so thirdly and lastly, we've looked at who they are and how they serve. Let's look at what they gain. What they gain. Have a look at verse 13. He says those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing. And doesn't that First bit, remind you of our of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 who served well. And has gained an excellent standing. That's him, isn't it?

It was a joy this week to to be done at Kingston University and I don't know if Ben, if you're planning to use this illustration yourself, apologize if you were. We were down at Kingston University this week, and Ben had the opportunity to speak at this interfaith affair. And so the format was all the religious or some of the religious societies at the university had all set out stands. And then halfway through There was a bit of a break, and then they allowed representatives from different fates to make an address. And Ben was up first and he was surrounded in this sort of stone amphitheatre building in the townhouse on Penryn Road.

There's about 40 people there listening to him from all kinds of different fates. And he was stood up there and he opened up John 13 and was telling everybody that Christianity centers in on a man who was the most powerful, glorious holy man in the universe, and yet he used his authority to wash the defeat of his disciples. He used his power to serve. He didn't go on global conquests. Didn't use his power like that.

Didn't use it in an oppressive way. He used his power to serve. That's how he used it, and that's how great he is. And it was just a delight to hear him announce that to all these people from different faiths. And then afterwards, the Islamic speaker got up.

And really, all that he could say, and you'll think this is an exaggeration, but it's not, is about how useful the various washing laws in Islam are. And he used the example. His big example of that was nasal irrigation. So in Islam, there's lots of laws apparently about how to wash out the inside of your nose. And the reasons that's really helpful is because when something like COVID comes along, everyone knows how to wash their nose.

Now as far as I'm aware, I don't know if Islamic country fared any better in COVID anyway, so I'm not quite sure about that. But you just left thinking, okay, I sort of understand what he's saying here. There's some laws that may or may not be useful for for but it's so different. It's just so different. Yeah.

Here's Ben. He's opening up John 13. He's taken up with the Savior. There's a book he believes in. There's a story to tell.

There's something great to announce someone who's come and given their lives for the world and served the world in this way. And that is exactly what we saw in Mark chapter 10, isn't it? The son of man came not to be deaconed, didn't come to be deaconed, but to deacon. And to give his life as a ransom for many. That he is our great deacon.

He came from heaven. He left it all behind. And he gave his life to die for our sins, to serve us, to save us. He is our heavenly deacon. And he has gained an excellent standing in his church because of that, hasn't he?

Yeah. Every week we gather here, and we lift our voices in praise to him. He has an excellent standing among us because of his servant work. And the same is true for godly deacons. They may not teach the word, but Paul is saying that their convictions and their faith and the life that they lead is loud in the church.

They may not have a platform voice, but they're loud and they're seen and they're known because of how deeply they love the faith. They gain an excellent standing in the churches where they serve. And with that, he says they gain his assurance which I take to mean that as they see the lord working through them in the church, they personally find assurance in their faith. They grow in assurance, growing confidence. Their horizons broaden.

They wanna serve more because they can see the Lord working through them. And their fellow and their fellow Deacons. Wonderful, isn't it? And the first application of all of this is what Pete said last week, which is for us to simply rejoice that we have so many people like this. Serving in the church.

Pete said last week, didn't he? There are many others doing the job of the overseer And the same is true here. We have so many deacons, men and women who are leading and serving like Christ in the church. And 1 thing that we felt during our elders retreat in January, the elders all went away and we said this at our members meeting in February as well that it that it would be good for us to start using this word a little bit more deacon. And we don't want to just have more meetings and more committees for the sake of it, but rather to recognize those who serve us so well in doing this job week after week in the life of the church.

There's so many doing it, aren't they here and we praise God for that spirit. And lastly, for us all, look with me at verse 14, what Paul says there. Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household. Which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar, and foundation of the truth. In verses 1 to 13, There is quite a lot for leaders in the church, but there's also loads of stuff in those lists.

For every single 1 of us in there. I remember being a a a church training session once and The guy stood up at the front and was speaking on this on this text. And he just said, look, read through it. Look at all the qualifications for elders and deacons. What do you think?

What do you feel? What's your initial reaction as you look at that? And 1 guy sat next to me said what we were all thinking, which was It's a high bar, isn't it? It looks like a high bar. And he said, it is a high bar.

But there's a sense in which nothing is required of leaders that is not required of every 1 of us. Apart from maybe the ability to teach. But what else in this list would be true only for leaders in the church? It just wouldn't work, would it? If Paul was saying Timothy, I want you to appoint Deacons who are not given to excessive drinking, but the members can fill their boots.

Yeah. That's alright. I'm not worried about them. They can throw themselves at it or they want. I want you to appoint elders who are not given to dishonest gain, but the members in the church, they can be swindling each other, every order, every day, every day.

So We know that's not doubting that. All that he says here is the life that he wants to be lived by leaders consistently but it's also the life that is for all of us. He doesn't want the church to have this imbalance where the leaders are suing something that the rest of the congregation aren't called to. He wants symmetry. He wants beautiful symmetry between them.

That the leaders and the congregation are pursuing these things together. All of us pursuing lives that are patterned on Christ himself. And so he says Timothy, I want you to raise up these sorts of people, shepherds and servants. Because for the health of your congregation and for your witness to the world, it is crucial to have men and women like this setting the example in the churches. So let's pray that the lord would continue to raise up and add to our number leaders like this and that we might all pursue these things together.

Father, we praise you for the Lord Jesus, and we thank you that he is our great deacon. Who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. And we're sorry for when we believe the world's narrative about greatness. For where we think it's all about earthly power and looking different to or better than other people. Or using the things that you've given us not to serve but to climb over each other's backs on the way to the top.

We're sorry for that. We'd pray that you would help us all to have this deacon like spirit in us where we would want to give ourselves to serve brothers and sisters in the church. We thank you for the Deacons who are already among us. We thank you that there are many here who have an excellent standing in this congregation, whose lives and faith is on show for us all to see, and we love it, we want to imitate it, we pray that you'd raise up more leaders like that here, and we pray that all of us would think soberly about the list of qualities here and that by your grace, we would pursue lives that are consistent with the gospel and that we ask it all in Jesus name.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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