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Ask Your Preacher

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I've Got A Job For You!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012
     I have been reading your posts about deacons, and a recent situation that has come up at our church makes me think you might be able to help.  I am not an official deacon at our church.  However, I have been serving our elders by using my unique talents and abilities to perform several chores… some of which were done by previous deacons no longer alive.

At a recent elder/deacon meeting, I was told one deacon expressed concern that I was acting as a deacon.  He felt that I should discontinue the chores (website help, audio/visual support, etc.) until I am recognized as an official deacon.  They all agreed there wasn't anyone better qualified at handling those jobs, but there was apparently still much disagreement on what I could scripturally do, and nothing has come of it.  Can I serve the elders even though I'm not an official deacon, and really what is the difference, so I can explain it?  Thanks.

Sincerely,
Not A Deacon

Dear Not A Deacon,

The key to understanding this issue is to remember that all Christians are deacons, but not all Christians are elders’ deacons.  Let us explain.  Jesus was called a deacon to the Jews (Rom 15:8), the apostles were told to be deacons (Mk 9:35), and godly Phoebe was called a deacon to the church (Rom 16:27).  ‘Deacon’ just means ‘servant’.  Every Christian is to be a servant to the church… but only certain qualified men are allowed to be the type of servants that help the elders do their job.

The office of deacon (1 Tim 3:13) is a unique position designed to remove the burden of service from the elders, just like the benevolence situation in Acts 6 placed an added burden on the apostles (Acts 6:2-3).  A deacon, under the oversight of the eldership, has the authority to undertake tasks that normally would require an elder.  Deacons can deal with sensitive issues like benevolence, worship organization, counseling, and church finances that wouldn’t ever be shuffled off on a “normal” church member due to the task’s importance and delicate nature.  These are all areas that an elder would normally have to be very hands-on with, but thanks to deacons, the elders can breathe easier.

There is no hard and fast rule as to what jobs require a deacon and what jobs don’t, but the general principle is: if it requires an elder’s touch, then it can only be delegated to an “elder’s deacon”.

Seeing The Heart

Monday, February 06, 2012
     What were king David’s good attributes, and what were his bad ones?

Sincerely,
Pros And Cons

Dear Pros And Cons,

That is the kind of question that is hard to answer because David, like all people, was a complicated man with a long list of strengths and weaknesses.  Since it would take a novel to describe the intricacies of David’s character, we will focus on what God says was David’s greatest strength and what He said was David’s greatest weakness.
David’s greatest strength was that He was a man after God’s own heart.  God specifically chose to make David king because of David’s attitude and faithfulness (1 Sam 13:14).  David didn’t always make good decisions, but he looked at the world through the eyes of a man that wanted to do what God said.  When David took on Goliath, he had courage because he saw Goliath’s immorality instead of Goliath’s size (1 Sam 17:45-47).  David sought to follow God’s laws and let God’s Will be his guide.
David’s greatest weakness was his sin with Bathsheba.  In 2 Sam 11, David yielded to temptation and slept with another man’s wife and then attempt to cover it up by having her husband killed.  David allowed his power as king to cloud his judgment, and he fell into a tangled web of his own creation.
However, in the end, David received forgiveness because when Nathan confronted him with his sin, David’s heart shone through.  Instead of denying the sin or killing the messenger, David uttered the humble words, “I have sinned against Jehovah.” (2 Sam 12:13)

Voice In My Heart

Monday, February 06, 2012

(This question is in response to “Something To Do”)

     Is prophecy not one of the spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12?  When we feel that Jesus is calling us to do something or leading us in a direction, is that not communicating with us?  Why would Paul need to say in Gal 1:8 that if someone "should preach a gospel *other* than the one we preached to you", why not just say all preaching henceforth is false?

I am honestly asking these questions and not trying to be sarcastic; thank you for the time spent looking into this.

And by the way, thank you for posting the "Faith Over Feelings" post – not enough Christians seem to see this, and this was the best and simplest way I've seen it done.  I am thinking of sharing it with our youth group.  God bless.

Sincerely,
Pondering Prophecy

Dear Pondering Prophecy,

We don't take your question as sarcastic – it is a very valid concern.  So let's see if we can break the subject down verse by verse.
Prophecy is a spiritual gift, and all spiritual gifts are no longer around.  In fact, one of the primary purposes of 1st Corinthians chapters 12-14 was to explain to the Corinthian church that they shouldn’t get too excited about spiritual gifts because the gifts wouldn’t be around forever, and what was truly important was a life of faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).
Prophecy, speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, etc. were all gifts from the Holy Spirit.  The way that people received those gifts was through an apostle laying his hands on them (Acts 8:17-18).  Since it took an apostle to convey the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gifts would cease with the death of the last person that the last living apostle laid his hands on.  In fact, God promised that this would happen.  Paul says that spiritual gifts would eventually perish once God had given us the complete and perfect Bible (1 Cor 13:8-9 – read more on this subject in “Gifts That Stop Giving”).
In Gal 1:8, Paul said not to preach another gospel because the Bible is meant to be our only guide.  Whatever we preach must be exactly what God says, no more, no less.  We are warned to never add or subtract from God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19) and that we should never go beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6).
The problem with trusting in a feeling or that “voice in our heart” is that everyone has feelings, and feelings are very subjective.  God even warns that every man does what is right in his own eyes (Pr 21:2).  Even an atheist believes that what he is doing is correct.  Though intuition and our own personal feelings can often be right, they must always be in subjection to the Bible, which is how God speaks to us.

Child At Heart

Sunday, February 05, 2012
Hello; I'm wondering if a person is born with mental deformities and can't understand the concept of the Lord, will they still reach heaven?

Sincerely,
Heart For Others

Dear Heart For Others,

Those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children.  In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:

  1. Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
  2. Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
  3. Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).

Children and those with certain mental handicaps do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).  Just like children, they will go to heaven.

Whose Servant Pt. 2

Saturday, February 04, 2012

(This question is a follow up to “Whose Servant?”)

     Help me understand how Philippians 1:1 deals with elders having scriptural oversight over deacons?  How does this passage say that "deacons serve elders"?

Sincerely,
Context Please

Dear Context Please,

In hindsight, Php 1:1 does seem like a rather obscure reference without a little clarification.  Our point was that the only time that deacons are ever mentioned is with elders.  There are multiple references of elders without deacons, but zero Bible examples of deacons without elders.  Paul told Titus of the urgency to appoint elders in every church (Tit 1:5).  Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in the congregations that they had started (Acts 14:23).  As Paul said, the elders have the responsibility to feed the church (Acts 20:28), and that is the pattern we see over and over again.  Congregations need elders because elders lead those congregations.  On the other hand, we are never told that congregations have that same need for deacons, nor do we see any congregations that had deacons without elders.  Php 1:1 was a reference (albeit all too vaguely) to that fact.

The word ‘deacon’ just means ‘servant’ and is used throughout the Scriptures.  Matt 22:13 uses the same Greek word to describe a king’s servants.  Rom 15:8 refers to Jesus as a deacon of God to the Jews.  Deacons are always mentioned alongside those that they serve.  Since the deacons we are talking about are never mentioned without elders, the implication is that the deacons serve the elders, and if you don’t have elders, you wouldn’t have deacons… the exact pattern we see throughout the New Testament churches.

The Bible gives no example of a congregation having deacons without elders.  Where the Bible is silent, we must be to (1 Cor 4:6).  Hope that provides the clarification we should have given in our first answer.

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