DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Pictures of the Church (1 Timothy 3:14-16)

  • please turn with me tonight to 1 Timothy 3:14
  • (1 Timothy 3:14) Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that,
  • (1 Timothy 3:15) 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.
  • (1 Timothy 3:16) Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, 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.

  • tonight we come to the very heart of this letter
  • as we look at these verses, we're dead center in this epistle
  • the first three chapters have given Timothy some positive instructions
  • the last three chapters give negative warnings
  • and here we have the very purpose of the letter - the reason for Paul's concern
  • he is writing to instruct on how believers are to act within the church

  • you've probably heard of Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers football team
  • he majored in the fundamentals
  • once, after a very bad game, he stood in the locker room, held up a football, and said, "Gentlemen, this is a football"

  • we need to be reminded of the fundamentals
  • we need to reminded why we're here
  • and this passage tells us

  • verse 14 says:
  • (1 Timothy 3:14) Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that,
  • "these instructions" can be taken two ways
  • he could be referring to the things he's just written about church leadership
  • or he could be referring to the entire epistle
  • it seems likely that here Paul is speaking of the entire purpose of his letter
  • he's giving his reason for writing
  • since it appears that Paul was unable to come as soon as he originally had hoped, he wrote this letter to strengthen Timothy in leading the church

  • this passage not only gives the reason for the letter, but it also gives the theological basis for it
  • its basic message is that order is necessary for the church, precisely because of what the church is
  • God's church is his chosen instrument to proclaim the saving truth about Jesus Christ

  • now, this is what gets me
  • the church in Ephesus was far from being in perfect condition
  • Timothy, the leader in that church, didn't always have the chutzpah necessary to confront those who needed confronting
  • there where false teachers within the church
  • it was far from the place it should have been
  • and yet it still was the church

  • so here Paul presents three pictures of the church
  • I'd like to unfold these pictures as we try to develop an understanding of why Paul even cares about the church
  • you see, if you have a low opinion of the church, you won't care how people conduct themselves
  • you won't care about its leaders or its worship
  • but if you have a high opinion of the church, as Paul presents here, then you will be very concerned about the conduct and organization of the church

  • so what is the church?
  • three things
  • THE CHURCH IS GOD'S FAMILY
  • (1 Timothy 3:15) if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household...
  • God's household is translated by some - including the King James - as being a house, or as referring to a building
  • that is possible, especially in light of what Paul is about to say about the church being a pillar
  • but I don't think that's what he's talking about
  • I think Paul is getting at the fact that the church is God's family
  • each congregation is a part of the church of the living God
  • we are members of God's household, and must conduct ourselves accordingly
  • (Galatians 6:10) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
  • and one of my favorite verses:
  • (Ephesians 2:19) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,
  • that's who we are

  • the Bible doesn't say we're like a family; the Bible says that we are a family
  • in fact, your spiritual family is going to outlast your physical family
  • now, the Bible says that you are a member of God's family
  • it's not optional
  • every Christian needs to be part of a church family
  • a Christian without a church family is like a person who says "I want to play NFL football but I don't want to be a part of any team" or "I want to be in the army but not serve in any platoon" or "I want to be a bee but I don't want to be a part of the hive" or "I want to play an instrument but not be in an orchestra."
  • the fact is, we need each other to be strong in our Christian faith.

  • when you're saved, you become part of what is called the universal church - that general, universal church that is comprised of all believers who are ever lived
  • just like when you were born, you were born into the human race
  • but when you were born, you were born into a family
  • and when you were born again, you were born into a church family
  • there are over thirty commands in Scripture that you can't obey unless you're part of a church community

  • this obviously means a lot of things
  • it means that diversity is healthy, just as in your family there's a great deal of diversity
  • it means that we need to get together for more than just a sermon every Sunday
  • as a family we need community and support
  • it means that we support each other when needed
  • it means that we exercise discipline as necessary
  • it means that we aren't just an organization
  • we are a family

  • the second term that Paul uses is also found in verse 15
  • WE ARE THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD
  • (1 Timothy 3:15) 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.
  • the emphasis here is on the character
  • the church, by its very nature, belongs to the living God
  • (Acts 20:28) Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
  • Paul called the church in Ephesus "God's own possession, to the praise of his glory"
  • Timothy was leading the Ephesian church - one that was located in a center of pagan worship
  • in a place where there were assemblies of dead idols, what a difference to be part of the church of the living God

  • the third term he uses is also found in verse 15
  • (1 Timothy 3:15) 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.
  • WE ARE THE PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF THE TRUTH
  • the temple to the goddess Diana or Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and it was located right there in Ephesus
  • it had one hundred and twenty-seven pillars around it, each a gift of a king
  • all of them were made of marble, and some were studded with jewels and overlaid with gold
  • the function of the pillars was not just decoration, but to hold up the immense roof

  • here, Paul says that the church is the pillar which supports or holds up God's truth
  • every church, he is saying, is responsible to support and bolster up the teaching that has been delivered to us
  • every church is to be a strong bulwark of the gospel against th e assaults of false teachers
  • doctrine isn't very popular these days, but it's what we're called to defend
  • it's the deposit that's been given to us for safeguarding
  • John MacArthur writes, "Churches that tamper with, misrepresent, depreciate, relegate to secondary place, or abandon biblical truth destroy their only reason for existing and experience impotence and judgment"

  • what is the truth we're called to safeguard?
  • what should we major in?
  • I heard of a pastor this week who is getting squeezed in his denomination over a relatively minor theological point
  • but what should be our focus?

  • in verse 16, we have an early hymn that contains the gospel in a nutshell
  • it's about Jesus Christ
  • how do we know it's a hymn?
  • it has the style of a hymn - it's uniformity, rhythm, and parallelism
  • it contains six truths about Jesus Christ
  • by the way, Paul emphasizes the person and work of Christ a lot in Timothy
  • why? probably because it was a doctrine under great attack

  • you'll notice in verse 16 that what is about to be said is "without question"
  • in other words, it's the unanimous agreement of believers that these things are true
  • they're beyond dispute
  • it's called "the mystery of godliness"
  • a mystery isn't something that is all mysterious and mystical
  • it really means something that was once hidden and has now been revealed
  • Jesus is the true revelation of godliness - and he has been revealed to us

  • so what is at the center of our faith?
  • six things:
  • first, Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh
  • God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth
  • you can go today to Bethlehem, and visit what is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ
  • scholars aren't sure about a lot of places in Israel, but by ancient accounts it appears that they got that one right
  • you can actually go to the very probable location where Jesus Christ was born

  • many cults and world religions challenge the faith at this very point
  • but what a remarkable fact: the personhood of Christ; that he is the living, eternal God in human flesh

  • second, Jesus Christ was vindicated in the Spirit
  • what does this mean?
  • well, it could refer to the fact that the Holy Spirit vindicated him as the sinless Son of God, meaning that the Spirit said, "He is for real; he is the Son of God"
  • how? by resurrecting him
  • the ultimate vindication of Jesus took place when he was raised from the dead

  • or, it could be that Jesus was vindicated in his spirit - in other words, he was vindicated in his own spiritual nature
  • that his spiritual nature vindicated him
  • (Matthew 3:17) And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
  • 1 John 2:1 calls him "Jesus Christ the righteous"
  • Hebrews 7:26 describes him as "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the nations"
  • although he was fully man, he was sinless and perfect

  • which view is right?
  • was it the Holy Spirit vindicating him, or his spiritual nature?
  • we don't know, and in any case, both are right
  • perhaps a double meaning was intended

  • third, Jesus was seen by angels
  • throughout his ministry, angels ministered to him
  • they announced his birth
  • they ministered to him during his temptation; they strengthened him in Gethsemane
  • and they observed him during his death and resurrection
  • the angels rolled way the stone at the door of his tomb
  • and they announced his ascension
  • angels were involved with his ministry from beginning to end
  • this statement could even have in mind the worship given to the ascended Christ in heaven

  • fourth, Jesus was preached among the nations
  • Jesus commissioned us to preach to the entire world
  • this is taking place
  • the gospel is being preached; this is our mandate

  • fifth, believed on in the world
  • at the first public preaching after the resurrection, three thousand people were saved
  • in the days that followed, thousands more believed
  • the gospel is spreading

  • sixth, was taken up in glory
  • this shows that God was satisfied with his work
  • (Hebrews 1:3) After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

  • this is the Gospel in a nutshell
  • God became man, died for our sins, triumphed over death, was honored by angels and feared by demons, and ascended into heaven
  • this message has been preached all over the world, and many have believed and been saved
  • and it's why I take the church - God's family, the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth - so seriously

How to Handle Temptation

  • this morning we're going to look at man's oldest problem: temptation
  • this is something that goes as far back as Adam, yet is as contemporary as today
  • you may feel a little like Alexander Woollcott, who said, "All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening"
  • sometimes, even when we know what is right, it's difficult to say no
  • in the immortal words of Oscar Wilde, "I can resist anything but temptation"

  • now, right off the bat it's important to distinguish between trials and temptations
  • the Bible uses the same word for these two terms, but with two very different ideas
  • there's a big difference
  • trials are situations designed by God in order to help us grow
  • temptations, however, are designed by Satan in order to cause us to sin

  • the Bible promises a reward for those who withstand temptation
  • (James 1:12) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial [or temptation], because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
  • in the Greek games of that day, a head wreath was given to the winner
  • the equivalent today would be a gold medal
  • God promises us a victor's prize when we meet a temptation head-on and prevail
  • not only that, but our lives will be blessed or happy
  • I want to resist temptation!

  • the question is, how?
  • how do I handle temptation?
  • the Bible, which is very practical in this area, gives us three principles

  • ONE: BE REALISTIC
  • (James 1: 13 NASB) Let no one say when he is tempted...
  • the Bible doesn't say, "if you are tempted," the Bible says "when you are tempted"
  • temptation is a fact of life
  • I am tempted, you are tempted, Jesus was even tempted

  • I remember hearing a preacher once say, "I haven't been tempted in thirty years"
  • I remember sitting in the pews saying, "Yeah, right!"
  • if you're not being tempted, you're not even alive!

  • some people think that the more spiritual you become, the less temptation you'll face
  • but the most spiritual person who ever lived - Jesus Christ - experienced great temptation
  • the Farmer's Almanac once said, "Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it starts avoiding you."
  • well, that's a crock
  • we all face temptation - young and old, rich and poor - it really doesn't matter
  • we're all tempted

  • there's a misconception that once you follow Christ, you're not supposed to be tempted again
  • that somehow we've all arrived and can fake it
  • "No, I would never think of doing that - how could anybody?"
  • but reality check here - we're all tempted
  • we might be tempted in different areas, but make no mistake about it
  • we're all tempted

  • in fact, it's not even wrong to be tempted
  • it's not sinful to be tempted
  • Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was "tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin"
  • it's sinful to give in to the temptation, but it's not sinful to be tempted
  • we need to be a little bit more transparent than we usually are
  • we all have the same struggles
  • you are not tempted because you're evil; you're tempted because you're human
  • be realistic, and expect temptation

  • TWO: BE RESPONSIBLE
  • it's amazing how much we love to blame others for our own struggles
  • we love to blame other people, Satan, or even sometimes God
  • how many times have you heard someone say, "The devil made me do it"?
  • well, before you begin blaming someone else, take an honest look at yourself

  • for one thing, don't blame God for your temptations
  • (James 1:13) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone"
  • God never tempts anyone
  • in fact, God takes an active role in limiting the temptations you face
  • don't blame God for your temptations
  • Billy Graham said, "God never tempts any man. That's Satan's business"

  • don't blame external circumstances or people for your temptations
  • I sometimes find myself saying, "He made me angry," or, "If I hadn't been in that situation, then I wouldn't have been tempted"
  • but Jesus said:
  • (Matthew 15:19 NLT) For from the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander
  • in other words, temptations and sins don't come from external sources - they come from within

  • don't blame God and don't blame other people
  • the fact is that I bring most of my problems on myself
  • and so do you
  • if we're ever going to be able to handle temptation, we have to accept responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming others
  • first, be realistic: expect temptation
  • second, be responsible: don't pass the buck when you're tempted

  • THREE: BE READY
  • when temptation comes, be ready
  • be prepared
  • (1 Corinthians 16:13) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith.
  • (Matthew 26:41 NLT) Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.
  • (1 Peter 5:8 NLT) Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.

  • how do you prepare for temptation?
  • well, temptation never gives us advance notice
  • it usually catches us very much by surprise
  • often, it can come at a time of great success, or when we least expect it
  • (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.

  • nevertheless, there are steps we can take to prepare for temptation
  • where do you begin?
  • you begin by understanding how temptation operates
  • 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT) says, "We are very familiar with [Satan's] evil schemes.
  • the one thing that you can say about Satan is that he is remarkably consistent
  • God wants us to understand how he operates, and he hasn't changed his methods very much
  • it's very easy to understand how temptation works
  • temptation is never just a one-time act
  • it's a process, and James tells us the four steps Satan uses in order to tempt us:

  • first (verse 14), "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desires..."
  • the first step of temptation is desire
  • temptation begins as an inside job
  • while there's an outer component - something external - what really kicks in is one of our internal desires
  • many of the desires that God has given us are routine and necessary
  • we all have desires to eat, sleep, work, love, to be loved
  • but a runaway desire is a destructive desire
  • that's where it begins - with desire

  • the second step is deception
  • verse 14 says, "he is dragged away and enticed"
  • James uses a couple of hunting terms
  • "dragged away" is a hunting term for getting caught in a trap
  • and "enticed" is to catch by using bait
  • the strategy is to take on of our desires, and to drag us away from our normal response by using bait
  • it's a deceptive trap

  • what kind of bait does Satan use on you?
  • you use different bait for different types of animals
  • the devil knows your hot button
  • he knows exactly what will work on you

  • Jesus said in John 8:44:
  • (John 8:44 NLT) [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
  • Satan's character is deceptive
  • and his chief tool is deception
  • even though we know this, it's amazing how we still take the bait over and over and over
  • and we go from step one (desire) to step two (deception)
  • but temptation always looks better than it really is
  • the payoff is never there
  • desire turns to deception

  • the whole purpose of temptation, by the way, is to substitute something for God
  • to replace him with a superficial quick-fix that feels good for a moment, but has devastating results

  • step three is disobedience
  • verse 15 reads, "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin"
  • at this point, the temptation shows itself in some sort of action
  • the bait has been accepted, and disobedience is the result
  • what starts out in your mind eventually comes out in your lifestyle
  • that's the way it works

  • and finally, step four is death
  • verse 15 concludes, "and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death"
  • that's the ugly consequence of falling to temptation
  • if we win over temptation, we get a crown of life
  • but if we fall to temptation, we get death
  • that's the consequence
  • you don't get to choose the consequence; the consequence is built right in
  • one pastor says, "I am free to have my kicks but I am not free to eliminate the kickbacks. I am free to make choices but I'm not free to choose the consequences"
  • by yielding to temptation, one may lose in a moment what it took a lifetime to gain

  • the place to start in resisting temptation in step one
  • before you take the bait, before you're disobedient, stop!
  • it's like a novice skier going down a black diamond slope
  • the time to stop is before the descent
  • be realistic - you're going to be tempted
  • be responsible - don't blame someone else
  • be ready - know how temptation works

  • we're going to close off this morning with some very practical steps you can take when you're tempted
  • before we do this, let me remind you that if you haven't been born again - if you haven't begun following Jesus Christ - then you can't effectively resist temptation by yourself
  • you can fight off some of it, but you need the supernatural power that God gives to his children

  • the promise I'm about to read is for followers only - but you can become a follower yourself today
  • (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT) But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so you will not give into it.

  • what can you do when you're tempted?
  • believe that God has seen it before
  • it's nothing new
  • it's not unique to you
  • "they're no different from what others experience"
  • God has seen this same temptation over and over

  • believe that God will limit its intensity
  • "He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it"
  • God will never let you be tempted more than what you're able to bear
  • he automatically prevents Satan from giving you more than you can handle

  • and believe that God will make a way out
  • "When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give into it"
  • there is always a way out
  • Satan never backs us into a corner without God providing a way of escape

  • what's the payoff?
  • (James 1:12) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial [or temptation], because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

  • let's pray
  • you might be here this morning, having struggled in a particular area for years and this morning you realize why you've been losing
  • you're trying to fight Satan on your own power, but your own power isn't enough
  • you've never come to God and admitted that you've sinned
  • you've never given your life to him, and trusted in Jesus to fix the damage caused by your sins

  • this morning you can pray, "Jesus, I want to be reborn. I want a fresh start on life. Would you forgive all the sins I've ever committed and help me start over today"
  • that's why Jesus died on the cross
  • you can invite him to be the controller of your life

  • you might be struggling
  • what is your hot button? where does Satan bait you?
  • it might be that you're struggling with the way you treat your spouse, a tendency toward exaggeration or anger, lust
  • it could be a lack of control financially or with your weight
  • God knows what you're going through
  • he's seen it thousands of times
  • he wants to help you - to wipe the slate clean, to give you power over temptation

  • accept responsibility this morning - don't blame others
  • admit there's a weakness
  • ask God to help you
  • thank him that he has promised to limit the intensity of the temptations you face
  • he has provided a way of escape
  • ask him to help you
  • Amen.

Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

  • please open your Bibles to 1 Timothy 3 tonight
  • we've been looking at the first manual ever written on how to run a church
  • you might remember that it was written by Paul to Timothy, who was leading the church in Ephesus at the time
  • and so far Paul has covered such issues as correcting error, prayer, the function of women in the church, and elders

  • tonight we come to the subject of deacons
  • the Greek word for deacon, diakonos, as well as the related words diakone? ("to serve") and diakonia ("service") appear over a hundred times in Scripture
  • but only twice is the word translated deacon
  • (Philippians 1:1) Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
  • and in the passage in front of us:
  • (1 Timothy 3:8) Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
  • the original meaning of the word was that of menial service
  • the idea is that of waiting on tables
  • the word serve began to be used within the church to refer to serve and minister to one another
  • but a select group of people were appointed and actually called deacons or servants

  • well, where did they come from?
  • do you remember in Acts 6 where the Greek widows started grumbling that they weren't being properly looked after by the apostles?
  • seven men were appointed to "wait on tables" - to serve these widows
  • some think that these men were the first deacons within the church
  • the problem is that these men are never identified in Scripture as being deacons
  • they might have been, but we just don't know

  • it's frustrating to realize that nowhere in Scripture are we told what deacons are to do exactly, besides the obvious fact that they were to serve
  • we'll examine what the Scripture says here about deacons, before I propose a model for deacons and how they function within the church

  • what does 1 Timothy tell us about deacons?
  • THE FIRST THING IT TELLS US IS THE QUALIFICATIONS OF MALE DEACONS
  • (1 Timothy 3:8) Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

  • (1 Timothy 3:9) They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
  • (1 Timothy 3:10) They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
  • (1 Timothy 3:12) A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
  • once again, notice that when God looks for servants within the church, he first looks for people whose hearts are right with him
  • God isn't as concerned as talents and abilities as much as he is concerned with the spiritual condition of his servants

  • and here, just like with the elders, we have a list of qualifications for those who are to serve as deacons
  • and you could say that there are five areas in which a deacon needs to be qualified
  • he has to be a person of personal integrity
  • "men worthy of respect" means that they were to be serious, dignified, and stately
  • I don't think it means that they can't have a sense of humor
  • but they have to be men who understand the seriousness of life

  • sincere literally means not double-tongued
  • in other words, not a person who says one thing to one person and something else to another
  • it can't be a duplicitous person

  • and then we come to this phrase again, "not indulging in much wine"
  • not somebody who is known for his use of alcohol
  • not somebody who is lingering beside a bottle all the time

  • "not pursuing dishonest gain"
  • as the deacons in the early church probably dealt with money from time to time, it was important that they be trustworthy in this area
  • that they be free from any love of money that could compromise their integrity

  • then you have their spiritual life
  • (1 Timothy 3:9) They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
  • Paul says that they have to be individuals who hold the faith - that which was once secret, but has now been revealed - in such a way that their consciences are clear
  • they are to be people of spiritual integrity

  • Paul then goes on to talk about their spiritual service
  • (1 Timothy 3:10) They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
  • these are not to be unproven individuals
  • they are to continually tested - not just before they are deacons, but also after
  • they are to be men of good reputation
  • don't ever appoint someone as a deacon to find out how good they're going to be
  • you should know in advance!

  • verse twelve talks about their domestic qualifications
  • (1 Timothy 3:12) A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
  • the Greek literally says that they should be "one-woman men"
  • the idea isn't that marital status, it is faithfulness to their wives both in thought and in deed
  • by the way, it's possible to have been married only once and to not be a one-woman man
  • it's possible, on the other hand, that you might be widowed and remarried, or even in exceptional circumstances divorced and remarried, and still be a one-woman man
  • they must be men who are wholly devoted and faithful to their wives

  • and not only that, in verse 12, they need to manage their children and household well
  • if they can't manage their own household, why should they be considered trustworthy to serve within the church?

  • character is paramount within Christian service
  • you can have everything going for you, but if you don't have character, you're not going to serve well!
  • that's the lesson of these verses

  • well, we're going to get into some deep waters now
  • BECAUSE PAUL THEN TALKS ABOUT FEMALE DEACONS
  • verse 11 reads:
  • (1 Timothy 3:11) In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
  • that is a bad translation - the translators were reading their interpretation into the text
  • in the original, verse 11 says
  • "In the same way, women are to be worthy of respect." and so on
  • the New American Standard Version gets it right here:
  • (1 Timothy 3:11 NASB) Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things
  • verse 11 could either be referring to the wives of the deacons, or about female deacons themselves
  • you could hold either view, but let me tell you why I think he is referring to female deacons:
  • you know that I believe Paul teaches male eldership
  • you'll notice in the preceding section that Paul never outlines the qualifications for elder's wives
  • it would be very strange indeed for Paul to outline qualifications for deacons' wives when he didn't do that for elders' wives, wouldn't it?
  • that would be very strange indeed!

  • secondly, the use of the word "Likewise" or "In the same way" at the beginning of verse 11 would appear to indicate that Paul is giving a fresh category of officials, as he has already in the preceding verses

  • and finally, Paul didn't use the definite article in front of women
  • if he was talking about deacons' wives, you would expect him to have said, "Their wives" rather than simply launching in saying, "Women are to be.." and so on
  • their qualifications, in fact, mirror that of male deacons

  • let me continue by giving you two other reasons why I believe women can be deacons
  • in Romans 16:1, Phoebe, a woman, is mentioned as being a deacon in the church of Cenchrea
  • and one other reason: church history, going back very early, has strong evidence for women deacons
  • Pliny, for instance, in 112 AD, mentions a couple of female deacons
  • why not? the deacons weren't there to lead the church, but to serve in it - probably things such as working with the sick and the poor, assisting at baptisms, and the like
  • why wouldn't women be involved in this task?

  • well, I promised that it would get interesting
  • in case you think I'm an out-and-out heretic in these and other matters, let me tell you I'm in good company
  • even John MacArthur - whom I consider as straight as an arrow - takes the same position
  • so give it some careful consideration

  • AND THEN WE GET TO THE AREA OF A DEACON'S REWARDS
  • (1 Timothy 3:13) Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
  • when I read this verse, I'm amazed that people aren't more interested in serving as deacons
  • two rewards are promised
  • first, they obtain for themselves an excellent standing
  • they will be respected and esteemed by those they serve
  • they will commandeer respect because of their faithful service
  • second, they will gain great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus
  • they will become more emboldened for greater service
  • they will receive a peculiar courage and confidence based on their services
  • the rewards for being a deacon are great

  • well, let me propose a model for how deacons and elders should function
  • I don't think the way we're doing it know is biblical
  • we elect deacons, but we're making them function as elders
  • in addition, we don't really have the biblical equivalent of elders

  • nowhere in Scripture do deacons have ruling authority as elders do, neither are deacons ever required to teach Scripture or sound doctrine
  • it appears that they served - probably both in an administrative way, as well as in a personal way (caring for practical needs within the church)

  • it would appear that the Scriptural model for church government is that multiple elders have authority, conferred by Christ, to rule over a church - to lead the church
  • within the group of elders in a church, probably at least one would be recognized as a teaching elder
  • not an employee, and not someone who has authority over the rest of the elders, but rather just a first among equals
  • it is possible, in the contemporary scene, that authority could be delegated to him for certain decisions, but the elders would govern together
  • the leading elder or senior pastor would not have authority on his own, but the authority would belong collectively to the group of elders

  • you could argue that the elders should not have unlimited authority within the church
  • perhaps there should be some limitations
  • perhaps the congregation should select them and re-affirm their leadership
  • perhaps some items should be brought to the congregation as a whole
  • an example of that would appear to be church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:4)
  • but while the congregation would have some role, the elders would be empowered to lead

  • well, what about the deacons?
  • who is going to care for people within the congregation?
  • when someone is sick in the hospital, or bereaved, or in need of a visit, who better to minister to them than those appointed in the church as servants?
  • the traditional answer is that the pastor (elder) should do it, but ask yourself - is that the biblical pattern?
  • certainly he's not above that, but can a pastor be an able preacher and teacher, leader, plus care for the individual needs of each person within the church?
  • shouldn't he be more focused on the word of God and prayer?
  • deacons could provide pastoral care to people within the church as needed, as well as help administer some of the programs within the church

  • in the future, we will probably be addressing this issue as a church
  • it's not the most burning issue we face, but it is important

How to Handle Failure

  • last week we talked about our weaknesses - the limitations in our lives that we didn't choose and that we can't control
  • next week we're going to talk about how to deal with temptations
  • but this morning I'm going to zoom into one of the most personal and difficult areas in life - the area of our failures
  • the things in life that we call mistakes, bad choices, regrets, self-inflicted wounds
  • the things in life that the Bible calls sin

  • as you look around you this morning, we all have something in common - we're all sinners
  • the only thing that's different are the details
  • you're a sinner, I'm a sinner
  • as one person said, in a parody of the self-esteem manual titled I'm Okay, You're Okay, he said we need to write a book called You're Not Okay, and I'm Not Okay
  • all of us have regrets
  • the details are different
  • the degrees are different
  • whether or not others know the details is different
  • but we're all in the same boat - our natures are identical
  • there is not much difference between us

  • you and I look pretty good to each other
  • but if you got past the fa?ade in my life, you'd find some pretty ugly things
  • if I managed to get past the fa?ade in your life, I'd probably be surprised at what I found
  • C.S. Lewis said, "Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice"

  • if we were to hand out pieces of paper, and ask you to anonymously write down the current and past failures of your life, and if we were to bring the notes to the front of this church and read them aloud, we would have a very interesting catalog of sins
  • if somehow we could transpose and project the failures of each of our lives and project them on this screen, we would experience two emotions
  • first, shock at how many failures were listed
  • second, relief that we're not alone

  • the Bible says:
  • (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT) The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
  • every single person in this room this morning either has a current secret sin that you are hiding, or else a regret from your past life that you wish you could change
  • Thomas Aquinas once said, "The act of sin may pass, and yet the guilt remains"
  • the Bible says in Psalm 38:4:
  • (Psalms 38:4) My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

  • this morning, I would premise that we are all experts in failure
  • we all have secrets and regrets - current and past - with which we have to deal
  • I'd like to help you become an expert in dealing with failure
  • this is an area of expertise that you and I are going to use over and over and over again
  • so I'd like this morning to give you four steps to expertly deal with failure
  • when a truck with hazardous materials tips over, crews exist that can arrive in minutes and clear up that hazardous waste
  • I'd like to give you four steps this morning that you can take to deal with the hazardous waste in your life
  • they're not magical steps, but rather they're biblical principles on how to handle failure
  • STEP NUMBER ONE: ACCEPT THE FACT THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS YOUR FAILURE
  • it's incredibly hard to cope with failure in life as long as you believe that you're an isolated case, and that nobody will understand what's gone wrong in your life
  • the fact is, you're right - other people might be surprised by the failures in your life
  • but God isn't

  • Psalm 103:13-14 says:
  • (Psalm 103:13 NLT) The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
  • (Psalm 103:14 NLT) For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.
  • when God looks at your life and sees your failures, he's not surprised
  • he remembers what you're made of
  • he knows that that you've inherited a sinful nature
  • God isn't shocked in the least by the failures in your life!

  • in fact, based on the people God tends to use, I'd say that he more than understands failures - he uses them!
  • he took a habitual liar and made him the father of Israel
  • he took a murderer with a tendency toward anger and put him in charge of leading Israel around the desert for forty years
  • he called an adulterer and murderer a man after his own heart
  • Jesus took a loose canon who couldn't resist an opportunity to shoot off his mouth, and appointed him the rock on which he'd build his church
  • it's pretty hard to find anyone that God used in a powerful way who didn't fail in a dramatic fashion
  • and God not only isn't surprised, God is actually a specialist in using broken people to accomplish his purposes

  • I remember as a teenager wrestling with an area of sin in my life
  • I became convinced that I was alone in my sin - nobody else would understand, and certainly not God
  • I remember finally summoning the courage to talk to my friends about my failure, only to discover that it was an area of struggle in their life too
  • and I remember discovering that not only did other people understand, God understood too

  • John 2 says:
  • (John 2:24 NLT) But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew what people were really like.
  • (John 2:25 NLT) No one needed to tell him about human nature.
  • listen: God is never surprised by your failures
  • he knows them better than you know them
  • he saw them coming long before they happened
  • what an amazing fact that God understands your failures and sins - no matter how severe they may be!
  • that's the first step in dealing with your weakness
  • accept that God understands your failure

  • STEP NUMBER TWO: BELIEVE THAT GOD'S LOVE AND FORGIVENESS CAN HANDLE YOUR FAILURE
  • believe that no matter how big or severe your sins and failures are, God's love and forgiveness can handle it
  • Isaiah 1:18 says:
  • (Isaiah 1:18 NLT) "Come now; let us argue this out," says the LORD. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool."
  • the picture is of God as the expert dry-cleaner of souls
  • no matter how permanently stained your soul is with failure, there is no failure too catastrophic that God can't completely wipe it off your permanent record
  • not only does God obliterate the stain, he obliterates the record

  • Romans 5:20 says:
  • (Romans 5:20) But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
  • this could literally be translated, "Where sin is present, God's grace and forgiveness are even more present"
  • the more we sin, the more God shows us his kindness and forgiveness
  • God's love and forgiveness can handle your failures and more

  • someone asked theologian Karl Barth what he would say to Adolf Hitler, and he replied: "Jesus Christ died for your sins"
  • Ron Nikkel, who heads up Prison Fellowship International, gives a message to prisoners in which he says:
  • "We don't know who will make it into heaven. Jesus indicated a lot of people will face surprises: 'Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven.' But we do know that some thieves and murderers will be there. Jesus promised heaven to the thief on the cross, and the apostle Paul was an accomplice to murder."

  • grace has no limit!
  • we never have to worry that our sins are too great!
  • Paul wrote:
  • (1 Timothy 1:13) Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
  • (1 Timothy 1:14) The grace of our Lor d was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
  • (1 Timothy 1:15) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
  • one of the devil's most dangerous lies is that our sins are too great for God's grace
  • let me tell you this morning - God's grace has no limits!
  • no matter what sins you have committed, in the distant past or even in the recent past, God's grace is able to cover those sins and more

  • Edwin Lutzer wrote, "Christ's death on the cross included a sacrifice for all our sins, past, present, and future. Every sin that you will ever commit has already been paid for.There is no sin you will every commit which has not already been included in Christ's death."
  • in fact, he says, "The greatest blunder of Christians is not their failure when trying to live for Christ; a greater mistake is that they do not understand God's provision for sin, defeat, and guilt. We are successful to the extent that we understand God's remedy for failure."

  • this morning, I'm inviting you to realize that God can handle your failures
  • I don't know what they are, but God does
  • I might be surprised at what you've done, but God isn't
  • he knows
  • and his love and forgiveness can handle anything you've done - no exceptions
  • God's forgiveness is as good for big sins as it is for small ones

  • step one is to accept the fact that God understands your failures
  • step two is to believe that God's love and forgiveness can handle your failures
  • STEP THREE: CONFESS YOUR FAILURE TO GOD
  • (1 John 1:8) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
  • (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  • the word confess carries the meaning of agreeing with God and admitting our failures
  • the minute we come and confess our sins to God, what we're doing is agreeing with him about our true condition
  • and at that point, God says, "I'll forgive you. I'll never let you down in this respect. Time after time, when you confess your sins to me, I'll forgive you and purify you time after time"

  • some of you have never done this
  • perhaps you view God as some ogre who can't wait to slam his fist down on you in condemnation
  • the fact is that God isn't surprised by your failures
  • God's grace and forgiveness are big enough to deal with your failures
  • and God has promised that if you come to him and say, "I can't do it on my own. I lead a very imperfect life. I know I'm not good enough. But I realize that you're offering me forgiveness as I confess my failures and follow your son Jesus."
  • if you come to him, God can forgive your failures, no matter how severe they may be

  • some of you think that God's tired of you
  • but God never becomes weary of hearing us confess our sins
  • you might get tired of confessing them, but God never tires of hearing them confessed and forgiving you
  • Isaiah 44:22 says:
  • (Isaiah 44:22 NLT) I have swept away your sins like the morning mists. I have scattered your offenses like the clouds. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.

  • listen this morning: God is not angry with you
  • he is not displeased with you if you depend solely on the death and life of Christ for your acceptance
  • the real question is this morning: have you forgiven yourself?
  • if Christ has paid the penalty for all of your failures, why should you add continual regret to his work?
  • accept that God understands your failures
  • believe that God's love and forgiveness can handle your failures
  • and confess them to God

  • I can tell you how liberating it is to experience God's forgiveness on a fresh and continual basis
  • every day as I confess my sins it's as if I'm given a fresh and complete start
  • that's God's nature
  • it's his promise
  • it doesn't mean that there won't be natural consequences to your failures: there always are
  • but it does mean that if we confess our failures, God will never hold them against us

  • STEP NUMBER FOUR: DETERMINE WHAT IT IS THAT GOD WANTS TO ACCOMPLISH THROUGH YOUR FAILURE
  • you're going to say, "What are you talking about? How could God accomplish anything through my failures?"
  • but what you don't realize is that God is able to use our weaknesses, mistakes, and sins
  • he is a specialist who is able to work even our failures into his plans

  • Gordon MacDonald, a man who himself has experienced catastrophic failure, writes, "Broken-world experiences are usually the turn-around moments ushering people into greater and more powerful performances of character, courage, and achievement."
  • failures are, as one person says, the graduate school of character development
  • a football coach said of his team, "We learn almost nothing in victory; but we learn much in defeat"

  • Moses was a man who was connected, educated, and talented
  • but it was only after his world was broken and rebuilt that he became useful to God
  • "In pain, failure, and brokenness, God does his finest work in the lives of people" (Gordon MacDonald)
  • God never wastes a hurt, and he never wastes a failure
  • he wants to take even your failures and turn them into something beautiful in your life

  • God understands your failures
  • his love and forgiveness are big enough to handle your failures, and more
  • he invites us to confess our sins and to even grow as a result of the failures in your life
  • I imagined with you earlier what would happen if everyone here wrote down their sins and failures on a slip of paper and handed them in
  • but I'll tell you what happened here a couple of weeks ago at a concert of prayer
  • on that day, we actually wrote down on our failures on a piece of paper
  • and then one by one, we came to the front of the platform here and deposited the list of sins - the charges against us - into the shredder
  • I read the verse pronouncing God's forgiveness, and we sang a verse of an old hymn:
  • My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
  • My sin, not in part but the whole,
  • Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
  • Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  • and then we moved on

  • I want you to take your greatest failure in life
  • I'd like you this morning to close your eyes and bring it to God - to confess it to him
  • and then I want you to claim Christ's promise of forgiveness
  • shred that failure in your mind - it's gone forever
  • (Psalms 103:12) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
  • and I'd like the privilege of announcing Christ's forgiveness this morning for the worst thing that you've ever done

  • Father:
  • Corrie Ten Boom once said, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed"
  • as we come to you this morning, we confess our sins
  • we give you our greatest failures, and our deepest regrets
  • and we claim your promise to take them and cast them into the deepest ocean
  • remove them from us as far as the east is from the west
  • no matter how deep the stain is of our sins, remove it
  • obliterate the record of past wrongs
  • and make us pure before you, in Jesus' name. Amen.

A Leader's Qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

According to the Bible, elders are responsible to:

  • LEAD - "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Hebrews 13:17)
  • MODEL - "...not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:3)
  • EQUIP - "...pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service." (Ephesians 4:11-12)
  • PROTECT - "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock" (Acts 20:28)
  • TEACH - "able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2); "...those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17)

Qualifications of an Elder

1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4

"An elder must be blameless" (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)

Attention to the selection of a leader saves grief later. Character is paramount.

  1. PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS
    1. "Above reproach" (1 Timothy 3:2) - Probably a summary statement of all the qualifications
    2. "Temperate" and "not given to drunkenness" (1 Timothy 3:2-3) - Moderate in use of alcohol; free from excessive things
    3. "Self-controlled" (1 Timothy 3:2) - Sober-minded; not given to rash decisions based on immature thinking
    4. "Respectable" (1 Timothy 3:2) - Honorable; consistent life
    5. "Able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2)
    6. "Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome" (1 Timothy 3:3) - Sweetly reasonable; not contentious; abstaining from fighting. Not a hothead. "Don't go about the world...carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers" (Spurgeon)
    7. "Not a lover of money" (1 Timothy 3:3) - Not diverted by money from ministry; not greedy
    8. "Not a recent convert" (1 Timothy 3:6) -
    9. "Must have a good reputation with outsiders" (1 Timothy 3:7) - When a Christian leader has a bad reputation in the community, it causes irreparable harm to the church
  2. DOMESTIC QUALIFICATIONS
    1. "The husband of one wife" (1 Timothy 3:2) - Most commentators agree that this means "faithful in marital obligations; monogamous; a one-woman type of man."
    2. "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5) -
  3. RELATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
    1. "Hospitable" (1 Timothy 3:2) - Hospitality was needed to host Christian strangers who might come through town. This doesn't mean entertaining, but rather helping those who are in need of shelter.
  4. DOCTRINAL QUALIFICATIONS
    1. "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 3:9)

A Biblical Picture of Church Government

THE CONGREGATION

  1. The congregation selects representatives and officers.
  2. (Acts 6:3,6) Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom...They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

  3. Unrepentant believers are disciplined by the congregation.
  4. (Matthew 18:17) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

  5. Leaders and representatives are accountable to the congregation.

    (Acts 14:27) On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

THE ELDERS

  1. Direction is set by the elders.
  2. (1 Timothy 5:17) The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

  3. Doctrinal decisions are made by the elders.
  4. (Acts 15:6) The apostles and elders met to consider this question.

  5. Authority is entrusted to the elders.

    (Hebrews 13:17) Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

"Elder-led; congregationally accountable"