Deacons serve a critical role in the church of Jesus Christ. In 1 Timothy 3, we see the two primary offices of the church: pastors (also called elders, overseers, and bishops) and deacons. Tonight we look at how deacons are a partnership of courage and care.
Good morning! God calls us to be merciful as He is merciful. How is that possible, since we are fallible, frail, and faulty imagebearers?
Let’s read the full paragraph:
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Jesus Christ, Luke 6:32-36
In our flesh, we love those like us, lend to those who are friends and who will repay us–yet, Christ calls us to love our enemies sacrificially, knowing that our reward will come not necessarily in the “here” but in the hereafter.
God extended mercy to us when we didn’t deserve it. Now, we as imagebearers and covenant bearers of Christ behave as Christ on earth–which is what the church is, the body of Christ.
It’s not just Christ in you but Christ through you. Don’t be a reservoir–be a conduit of His grace and mercy to others.
Good morning! The Apostle Paul calls us to think on the things of the Spirit.
Christ embodies each of these perfectly. If ever anyone walked the earth with the qualities, it was Christ. And as we think on Christ more and more, the more we will think on the qualities that he has that are listed here—and the more we will think and practice on them.
We must remember, Christ is in us. Colossians 1:27 talks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He is our hope in all we have. He is in us. He in enough. But that’s not the last list: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
Learned, received, heard, seen. What do we mean here? It’s a perfect progression. We learn the truths of Scripture and, ultimately, about the person and work of Jesus in and through us. But it’s not enough just to learn, but to receive it—that is, to embrace it, surrender to it. “Heard” means the continual listening of the word either from the pulpit in the main gathering, or in discipleship and conversation. “Seen” means that you are seeing Christ exemplified in Paul and those around him.
We won’t connect with something that doesn’t directly minister to us—but maybe God is calling you to (1) be reminded of things as a safeguard for you –remember 3:1, but also (2) to remember that Jesus himself did not come to be served but to serve, and God is calling you to serve as well. It’s not about you. Say that with me: “Church is not about me!”
Matthew Henry once said, “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” You see, friends, we fight for truth. But if truth of God’s Word is not a part of the contention, then we strive in humility to stay level-headed and look to restore. We go to our prince of peace in prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:8-9 talks of thinking and practicing aspects of the Christian life.
Matthew R. Perry, Ph.D., is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO.
Good morning! Perfect love is that which is fueled by and tethered to God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. If we are in Him who is love, then we have no reason to fear any punishment (4:18b) because Christ has taken our punishment on our behalf.
Too many Christians live in fear because they do not understand nor have they received the full import of the gospel. The great doctrine of substitutionary atonement–Christ atoned for our sins (paid for them) on our behalf (our substitute). The gravity of understanding this doctrine will bring about a gladness in our hearts and minds for Christ’s sake. I’m thankful for Nick Batzig’s insight here:
Whatever other dimensions belong to the work of Christ crucified, on this much we must be settled: The principal work of Jesus on the cross was atoning for the sins of His people by standing in their place and bearing the consequences and judgment of their sins. Jesus was constituted a sinner—though without any sin of His own—by the imputation of the sins of God’s people to His own person so that He might bear that sin in His body on the tree and receive the just punishment for those sins. In doing so, Jesus atones for the sins of all those for whom He died, removing their guilt and providing the basis of forgiveness for their sin. When we come to understand this in our hearts, we sing: “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood. Sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior!”Nick Batzig, “Why is Substitutionary Atonement Essential?”
Have you received Christ, who died on your behalf for your sins? Are you walking in the light, in love, in power, and in sound mind (2 Tim 1:7)? Look to the cross and the empty tomb and see what Christ accomplished for you!
Matthew Perry, Ph.D. is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO
Good morning! We as followers of Jesus live in the “already” and the “not yet” when speaking of the Kingdom of God. Through the Church of Jesus Christ, He has established His kingdom here on earth spiritually-speaking. Upon Christ’s return, He will establish His literal and visible Kingdom.
“The day of the Lord” is a theme that plays prominently in the Prophetic Writings. This theme reminds God’s people that (1) this world will not last forever, (2) we have responsibilities as Kingdom people in the meantime. For those who are not among God’s people, they share the reality of the first item mentioned previously: this world will not last forever. Yet, they are called to repent of their sin and brokenness and turn to Christ as their righteousness.
Do you realize that time is short?
Do you know that Christ will return in glory to gather His people?
Do you know that Christ will return in glory to judge those who refused Him?
Do you know, dear Church, that time is short and that we have responsibilities tethered to the Great Commission?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:15-17
Matthew R. Perry, Ph.D. is Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO.
There is no shortage of books to give pastors and Christians ideas on how to “do church.” But let’s not forget about the “best of books.”
Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.
Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
Once for all, O friend, now believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
Now we are free, there’s no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
“Come unto Me,” O hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.
“Children of God,” O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.
–Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876)
Spurgeon is my pastor—at least he’s my dead pastor! He was a man passionate for the Scriptures, passionate about the sovereignty of God, and passionate in evangelism! His Lectures to My Students, The Soul Winner, and An All-Around Ministry are must-reads for all aspiring and experienced ministers of the gospel, without question.
I have been very interested in what his view was concerning the translation of Scripture. I know he used the Authorized Version (a.k.a., the King James Version of the Bible). With his ministry being in the 1850s through his death in 1892, I know this was the primary translation in churches, though there were others that were developed (as there were when the 1611 KJV came out).
As there is now, there was then about which is not just preferred, but which is superior. From my observations, five camps exist now in their view of the King James Version:
- KJV Only: In this camp, it is not just the Greek and Hebrew texts that are inspired, it is this particular English translation that is inspired as well. All others are not simply seen as good in need of fixing, but perversions of God’s Holy Word. In fact, the few that are in this camp do not refer to this as the King James Version but the King James Bible. It is not just one version of many—but the only Bible that is needed.
- KJV Preferred: In this camp, there are those who prefer the KJV, but who believe it is one translation out of many translations into the English and recognize that the other translations in evangelical mainstream do not deny any major doctrines. Even if a word may not be in a certain verse, it is found elsewhere in the Scriptures, thus affirming that orthodox doctrine.
- KJV Friendly: In this camp, the KJV may not be the version they feel compelled to use for whatever reason, but understand the history, the beauty, and the importance of that version.
- KJV Hesitant: They will use this in a pinch (in other words, only if no other version is available or if they are preaching in a church that is KJV Only), but avoid it because they hesitate to use a version relying on 17th century English in the 21st century.
- KJV Never! In this camp, the KJV is (sadly) not in their library at all. The dated nature of the wording make it difficult to understand—often having to take as much time to explain what the 17th century English means, if it’s pronounceable.
Again, given that Spurgeon was around in the latter half of the 1850s, he was around when other versions other than the King James/Authorized Version of the Scriptures were being translated—in the same spirit that came about when the KJV was translated in 1611. Here are some quotes below (HT):
Do not needlessly amend our authorized version. It is faulty in many places, but still it is a grand work taking it for all in all, and it is unwise to be making every old lady distrust the only Bible she can get at, or what is more likely, mistrust you for falling out with her cherished treasure. Correct where correction must be for truth’s sake, but never for the vainglorious display of your critical ability. [Commenting and Commentaries, p. 31.]
The end of this quote gives a good word. If you are KJV Hesitant or KJV Never, do not belittle those who are in the other camps!
No one will doubt that Spurgeon was Baptist to the bone and no one would doubt his commitment to the Scriptures. But he recognized from his voracious studies that all English translations will have places where correction will be needed—but it’s no reason to distrust other translations that aim to place Jesus and all other orthodox doctrines in high order.
In message 1604, “Heart Disease Curable,” Spurgeon says,
Concerning the fact of difference between the Revised and Authorised Versions, I would say that no Baptist should ever fear any honest attempt to produce the correct text, and an accurate interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. For many years Baptists have insisted upon it that we ought to have the Word of God translated in the best possible manner . . .. By the best and most honest scholarship that can be found we desire that the common version [KJV] may be purged of every blunder of transcribers, or addition of human ignorance, or human knowledge, so that the Word of God may come to us as it came from His own hand.
Remember, Spurgeon loved the KJV. Loved it. His camp is KJV-preferred. But he had a view in showing that it is a translation! Errors that are in any English translation can fall into, as D.A. Carson says, intentional and unintentional.
Consider this example from Carson:
Before the printing press the New Testament (and all other) documents were copied by hand. People are not capable of copying a lengthy piece of written material without introducing errors. This is easily proved. Sit down and copy out the Gospel of John (from whatever translation you like). After you have finished, read it through and correct it. Then give it to two or three friends and have each of them read your correction. No more evidence will be needed [Source, p 14].
Spurgeon was all for scholarship being used to find a better (read: more accurate) translation! Even the KJV was revised in 1887—for the KJV Bible we have is not the precise one found in 1611. The newer translations come out of late not because of a hatred for the Word and a desire to pervert the Word but for a desire to help make the Word clearer. Some succeed, some do not! Some try to make it more palatable for the modern reader, thus loosening the thrust of the original Greek and Hebrew. But by and large, these translations work to honor the originals to help those in the faith.
“Greek is the sacred tongue, and Greek is the Baptist’s tongue; we may be beaten in our own version [the KJV], sometimes; but in Greek, never” (Autobiography, vol. 2, p. 327).
Spurgeon spoke that the “Greek” (the language of the NT as well as the Greek OT known as the Septuagint) is the “sacred tongue.” Not English—for English didn’t come into its origins until 1000 A.D. or so. Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic were the languages God used for His original inspired texts.
Thus speaks Spurgeon on the matter! Heaven knows there are many other opinions, websites, books, and pamphlets out there on various and sundry angles of this issues.
May charity be given to all, regardless of our respective camps.
In many churches, the preaching pastor stands as the primary leader of the church as well. While some are moving away from that model (which I hope to address soon), this stands as the primary model in many churches. But even if you’re not the main preaching pastor, you may still have a responsibility to bring the Word regularly in your local church.
And maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you shouldn’t be preaching to your people or to any other people. You may exegete the Word correctly, have the proper application, phenomenal delivery, and are loved by your people. Still–you may need to sit. Here’s why:
- You don’t believe the Bible is fully inspired (breathed out) by God. Paul urged Paul to preach the Word because this Word was the only reliable word of and from God (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5). The Word is enough to make the man of God mature and complete, lacking nothing. If you stand before God’s people questioning the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, you should not preach.
- You’re preaching because it’s a job, not a calling. Paul wrote: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29). God provides the energy for the struggle due to His calling and galvanizing of our hearts. If you’re preaching outside of the call, but only due to this being a job, you should not preach!
- You don’t love the people to whom you preach. Read Acts 20:17-38 and tell me honestly that Paul did not love the Ephesians church and the elders with whom he served. If you fail to love your people do to a haughtiness and arrogance due to whatever reason, then you should not preach.
- You refuse to adapt to the context in which God has you. God places us where He places us. He is sovereign Lord of all, and therefore He knows where He has His people to serve. I remember times when I allowed my personal preferences to be elevated to tests of faith when it came to programs, music, the works. God had to work some hard things in my life for me to realize that He knew where He wanted me, and that brought joy. If there’s a refusal over a long period of time to adapt to the context in which God has you, then you shouldn’t preach.
- You’re looking to the next venture rather than the venture God has you now. Do you see the place where you serve as the proverbial stepping stone? Are you using the church in which you lead to simply gain experience for the next sweet spot of service? If you are using your people for your own personal gain and not their pastoral well-being, you should not preach.
- If you harbor unforgiveness to a member without going and setting things straight. Matthew 5:21-26 is clear about unforgiveness and anger toward a brother. We should even leave our time of worship to set it straight. Even when people say or do things that slander you with false or misguided information and intentions, God still calls you to forgive. If you refuse to do this, don’t preach on Sunday.
- Your marriage/children need you–and you need to step away for a season. Your family comes first outside of God. If your marriage is falling apart and your children are on the verge of stepping off a cliff, then you should step away to care for them as the only husband to your wife and the only father to your children. Hopefully, your church will understand, but even if they don’t, step away. Don’t preach. Be there as Christ for your family.
Whereas conventional wisdom in most evangelical circles dictates that pastors would do well to avoid the hard texts, my contention is that pastors should never shy away from this. While the Joel Osteens and the Robert Schullers of the world will shy away from such dealings , I believe that many in our pews are just wanting a pastor who will deal directly with what the Bible says and address the issue at hand.
A case in point: in my previous church, I preached on two rather “hard texts” two Sundays in a row: one dealing with the role of women in the church, the other on the necessity of giving. After each of those sermons, one of my deacons came out and said, “Man, I thought you’d be black and blue right now — you really laid it out there.” But the reaction couldn’t have been different. By the grace and glory of God, I received thank you’s for being willing to tackle such issues and helping to make things clear. That will happen more often than not! What joy that brings to a preacher and leader!
Why should we preach the hard texts as well as the other types to our people?
- Those texts are in the Scriptures! Obvious, yes. But I have had well-meaning ministers tell me that just because it is in the Bible does not necessarily mean it will be appropriate to preach on. This is why I make the case for expositional preaching: if forces you to deal with a text that your flesh may tempt you to avoid.
- For all the talk about our people despising authority, I believe they are looking for solid ground on which to stand. We all are. All this noise about postmodernism winning the day is far too premature. It may be prevalent, but it hasn’t won anything. If anything, our culture feels more in the dark than ever because many people’s spiritual journey is leading them down some deadends. Preachers must never forget the supernatural transformational power of the Scriptures that are breathed out by the Spirit of God himself! Never give up preaching! The world may deem it folly, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- People, especially Christians, long to be dealt with honestly. Many in my generation are becoming angry at the church for their failure to teach them the things of the faith. They praise God for churches sharing the gospel with them and showing them Jesus, but afterwards they become afraid of being too doctrinal (read: divisive) and therefore they do not “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
- People feel patronized when pastors fail to deal with a text or issue. When pastors avoid these texts, they are in so many words telling their people, “You really can’t handle this right now.” Yet, pastors who stay with their churches and invest their time in their people can take them along slowly and help them step-by-step. Young pastors especially need to remember that you don’t need to tell them everything you know (or think you know) in one sermon. Pour yourself out into your people and teach them with patience (1 Timothy 4:13-16).
What do you think?