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Problems Becoming Possibilities

Acts: Christ Builds His Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:

AG: Born in a Storm
Roger Williams, English-born clergyman, founder of the Rhode Island colony, and a pioneering Baptist, did not discover the lessons of freedom in the quiet of his study. Nor was his message well received in academic circles. In fact, critics churned up a storm. But out of that gathering storm came the clear, compelling voice of Roger Williams—the mouthpiece of God, in a dangerous and frightening world.
Storms of controversy frequently spawn enduring values and beloved institutions.
Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 256). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
TS: We have seen the church at Jerusalem consistently grow even in the face of opposition. However, it wasn’t all peace and prosperity. Like the Bible often does, Luke tells us of troubles within the church
Earlier, the church had a problem with a couple who lied and tried to present themselves as more generous than they actually were. This led to to immediate judgment.
In this text, we see a conflict arise between factions in the church. As this squabble grew, it had to be dealt with.
This conflict had to be dealt with swiftly or the 1st church split could happen.
As the situation is dealt with, the church adds the office of deacon to ensure the needs of all are being met . fairly.
RS: When 2 people are together, there will often be 3 opinions on an issue. Conflict will arise and when it does we have a choice. We can stop and look at the problems we face and let it cripple us, or we can see them as possibilities for growth and greater ministry.
US:

The Problem

Acts 6:1 NKJV
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
Acts 6:
EX: The church at Jerusalem had a problem. A conflict began and a schism was forming.

The Background of the Conflict:

There were 2 groups, Hebrews and Hellenists, within the church.
They joined the church already in one of the two camps.
were from 2 different philosophies and cultures. Hebrews were traditionalists. They spoke Hebrew, read Hebrew Scriptures, and kept the traditions of the faith. Hellenists had “modernized” and assimilated better. They spoke Greek, used Greek OT (the Septuagint), and had adapted more traditions from their culture than from their heritage.
They were from 2 different philosophies and cultures.

“Hellenistic Jews” were Jews from the Diaspora; “Hebrews” were the native Jewish population of Palestine. The Hellenists’ absorption of aspects of Gr. culture made them suspect to the Palestinian Jews.

The Hebrews were traditionalists. They spoke Hebrew, read Hebrew Scriptures, and kept the traditions of the faith.
The Hellenists on the other had “modernized” and assimilated better. They spoke Greek, used Greek OT (the Septuagint), and had adapted more traditions from their culture than from their heritage.

The Cause of the Conflict

The 2 were at odds already due to lifestyle choices.
Now an accusation is made that widows of the Hellenists were not being cared for as well as the Hebrews widows.
Shows a lack of trust
Shows partiality
Shows sectarianism
AP: Conflict is inevitable
We will disagree at times
We will have hurt feelings and face disapointments

The Proposal

Acts 6:2–6 NKJV
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
Acts 6:2-
Acts 6:2–4 NKJV
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
EX: Men were to be appointed to serve the widows.
EXP: Deacons were to be appointed to serve the widows.

The Apostles stayed on Mission

Acts 6:
Acts 6:2 NKJV
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
It wasn’t desirable to leave the Word to serve tables
It wasn’t desirable to leave the Word to serve tables
This doesn’t mean serving tables was beneath them!
It meant they had another mission.
Acts 6:4 NKJV
but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:
They devoted themselves to prayer and ministry of the word
They devoted themselves to prayer and ministry of the word
Their call was to preach and disciple the baby church
They had their hands full!
To serve the tables, they would have left other things undone

The Ministry was to be Shared

Acts 6:3 NKJV
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
Men were to be chosen to take care of this ministry
Acts 6:
Men were to be chosen to take care of this ministry
they were to serve
servants in the church to oversee the ministry of helps to the widows
they were to serve
Men who handled the “tables”
GK word implies more than just meals, it implies financial dealings
GK word for deacon-

The Servants were to be Capable:

Good reputation
Full of the Holy Spirit
Full of Wisdom
From this beginning being made in , the office of deacon eventually grew.
Paul spelled out the requirements in more detail
1 Timothy 3:8–13 NKJV
Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:8–13 NKJV
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Not to be taken as a 1 strike your out checklist
1 Timothy 2:8-
Not to be taken as a 1 strike your out checklist
Not to be taken as a 1 strike your out checklist
This is a description of the character of a deacon.
His reputation should be good
Titus
Uncontrolled by things
He is to be tested
we often set aside a potential deacon and have them serve in order to “test” them.
AP: Deacons are still a vital need in Christ’s Churches
The ministry must be shared

The People

Acts 6:5–6 NKJV
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
Acts 6:5-6
General rule: 80% of work in any organization is done by 20% of the people.
The church is a body
We need what each member can give
We have deacons today who serve in much the same function as the men selected in .
They are a vital part of the ministry of the church
I thank God for our deacons here at Craft!

The Powerful Impact

EXP: Resolving the conflict led to increased ministry
Acts 6:7 NKJV
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The Word Spread

With the ministry shared, the Word was able to be preached more effectively
Vital ministry was being done by both the Apostles and these newly appointed men.

Disciples Multiplied

With the conflict resolve and needs being met, the # of disciples grew
More people were responding to God’s call in faith and repentance.
The church was growing numerically and in maturity.
numerically

Many Priests were Saved

God is a mighty God!
The gospel message reached even priests of God
While this was a great blessing for the church, it probably escalated the opposition to the church.
AP: God’s people serving God’s way will still impact man
AP:
Our reputation and testimony
As we all do our part the ministry is multiplied
More involvement, means more things can be done simultaneously
Each of us, working and leading in our area of giftedness, will be more effective.
God uses His people to carry out His purpose on earth.

Conclusion:

What could have been the 1st church split in the history of the church, became a great moment. God’s people divided the labor, more stepped up to share the load and the conflict became an occasion for growth.
We too are face with amazing opportunities to serve God. We can see needs and complain, or we can see needs and meet them.
I urge you today, step up and do your part.
Find your place of ministry in the church.
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