In this special sermon, Pastor Babij explains the biblical foundation for a plurality of elders and deacons in the church and clarifies that these are the only two scripturally based church offices. Pastor Babij delineates the biblical qualifications for elders and deacons, their respective spheres of responsibility, and the necessary character of their wives. Pastor Babij concludes with an exhortation for Christians to give their elders and deacons the scripturally mandated submission.
This morning is a bit of a historical event before us because we are going to look at ordaining our elders and deacons, so we’re going to be looking at several passages of Scripture. Some people may not even know where these things are in Scripture or they never may have realized that the church ought to be doing this.
When I first came to Calvary some 34 years ago, there was really no clear doctrine here. There were just a few people. I begin to do evangelism and we got to see people get saved, and really understand what the Gospel was and what real conversion was. Then, I realized that in the mind set of most of the people was that just a single pastor and deacon made all the decisions.
In July 1987, I started preaching on eldership. Some people never even heard the word elder before, and I began to preach on eldership and the role of deacons and where they fit. We wanted to move from an unbiblical form of a single elder and as a single deacon to a more Biblical form where there is a plurality of elders, which is shared ministry and leadership.
In Scripture, no passage suggests that any church, no matter how small or large, only had one elder or one deacon because of the weight and vastness of the work. It’s important for men to be coming up, who are going to be qualified Scripturally, to be able to fulfill these rolls.
On this Lord’s Day, the passages of Scripture will focus in on elders and deacons. There are only two offices given to the church in light of the teaching of Scripture and the duty of the church to ordain elders, and I’ll describe what ordination is a little later on.
I bring this responsibility before you, as the gathered body of believers at Calvary Community Church, that we need to ordain our elders and deacons. So far, this has been the third time we have ordained elders and deacons. The first time was in November 1999. It took that long for people to get what elders were. Then, in 2008, and day on February 24, 2019. Scripture says in Titus 1:4-5:
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you
It was important wherever a New Testament Church of gathering believers were, there were to be elders in that place. Whether they were sent there or whether they were raised up there in that place. It takes a while sometimes to raise up elders. There may be one-pastor church until he raises people up to take those slots.
Elder becomes a common word in Scripture, but sometimes people may get confused a little bit because there are three terms that are used in Scripture. One, it’s an elder where we get the Greek word presbuteros. This word emphasizes the man in his character, in his heart, and in his life. An elder also includes someone who is older from the Old Testament. They do have to have some age, some experience, some spiritual knowledge and growth of the word of God, and they have to have a certain level of spiritual maturity. The Bible describes them as men who are full of the spirit and wisdom.
Bishop is another word that you see in Scripture, which is epískopos in Greek. This word really has to do with him being a guardian or someone who guards over people, which emphasizes his function. The last one is a common one, which is a Pastor. In Greek, it is the term poimen, which means Shepherd, and how he feels towards the sheep, who has been entrusted to them. The shepherd is one who takes care of the community of believers including guiding, carrying, and looking after with an emphasis on the governing aspects of its administrative role.
What people don’t realize is that all these three words are talking about one person. One person with three different functions, so these are talking about the functions of the elder, the pastor, and the overseer. They’re all the same person, so they’re not three different people or three different levels. Acts 20:17-18 brings these three words together:
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18And when they had come to him, he said to them…
Then, Acts 20:28 says:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
All three words are talking about the same person. They are to Shepherd those who Christ has purchased with His own blood. The Lord is entrusting the people that He died for and saved into the trust of certain men within the congregation. Meaning, the men of the congregation have to be growing at least in the character qualities of what an elder is. An elder must have character, and not just any character, but a character that is defined by the Bible.
Once you read these characteristics, you may say to yourself, as I said to myself when I first read them, I don’t know of anybody who could meet these character qualities. The standard is extremely high.
God is not looking for degrees. He’s not looking for hyper skill. He’s looking for character. He’s looking for men, their wives, and family that have integrity. That’s what He’s looking for. He does save men and their families to be qualified with these characteristics. Titus 1:6 says:
namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
Meaning, this is kind of a controlling characteristic. They are above criticism, or they are above being blamed for something. In other words, they are unimpeachable. Any accusation that levels against a particular officer like an elder cannot have any footing in reality, so they must be a person like that.
Secondly, they would be a person who is the husband of one wife. In other words, he is a one-woman man, and absolutely above reproach concerning his marital relationship. That must be the case, especially in the days in which we live today. There’s a fuzzy definition of family, men and women identity is kind of being erased, so the church has to keep all that very clear.
One of the things we have to keep clear is that a man, if he is married, has to have a good growing marriage. Of course, he has to be above reproach in that, which leads me to the third thing of having children who believe. Meaning, he is a good household manager. The verb “believe,” in Titus, means to influence others to cause them to follow a recommended cause of action. To guide them, to direct them, and to lead them.
Basically, it doesn’t mean that his children have to be believers in Christ. You don’t know when they’re going to believe right away. It means that his children have to be faithful to his authority and be listening to his authority. They are not given over to rebellion or riotous living. They’re not senseless or reckless. They are regular kids that are growing up, and they’re learning what it means to live in a Christian home and what the Bible says about life. They’re growing in all of those particular characteristics.
The next one would be that he is someone who is not self-willed or arrogant. That means he finds out what is God’s will. He is someone who is looking at the Lord and asking for advice as to what the Bible says about things. Whatever God gives him and entrusts to him, he wants to manage it well, so he takes very he takes delight and he takes it seriously.
He is not an arrogant person. He wants to seek out the will of God, in the word of God, and is willing to hear sound and wise reasoning to make decisions based on balanced thought. Thus, he’s not self-willed. He realizes that he has to sometimes pull the information that comes from the congregation to make good decisions.
He’s not just making that on his own. He has the other elders to talk to about other issues. Sometimes elders know things that some of you will never know as far as things that are going on in the congregation or in someone’s life. They are not someone who is self-willed and says, “I know all the answers. I don’t need any of your comments or input.” Rather, he is welcoming input, comments, and wants to make the right decisions.
Then, he’s not quick-tempered. Meaning, he’s slow to get sinfully angry and he knows the anger of man, as it says in James, does not accomplish the righteousness of God. He walks not in the flesh. He desires to walk in the spirit, not the flesh, so he is in control. Thus, he is not addicted to wine. It is against a person who habitually drinks too much, who are drunkards, or who are heavy drinkers. That’s something that should never be part of his character.
It’s not necessary for officers to be teetotalers, but he is responsible with the use of any kind of alcohol. That’s not something that he would depend on. He is not controlled by any outside substance whether it be this or some kind of drug to get along or get through life. He is in control of that, he can say no to it, and is very cautious about it if he does partake.
Also, he’s not someone who is pugnacious, which means he is not violent. He’s not a brawler. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He’s not fond of sorted gain, which has to do with money pertaining to being shamefully greedy for material gain or profit. He does not have his heart set on accumulation of material things.
In other words, he has a good grasp of a Biblical view of money knowing that money is only for this side of eternity. You’re not taking it with you no matter how much you have. You are to work to have money to be able to give and supply the needs that God will allow you to supply. He gives generously and sacrificially.
Thus, he is hospitable. He is open-handed. He’s willing to be hospitable in any way he can to help somebody. He also loves what is good, which means he is open-hearted. He loves what brings good results. I believe what grieves an elder the most would be somebody who does not listen to sound, Biblical truth. Therefore, they reject it and reject their counsel when the council is coming right from the word of God.
Meaning, they are also sensible, which means upright and just. They want to live a holy life. They want to be fair. They want to be honest. They want to be reliable. This all comes under the umbrella, as the spirit of God gives self-control to them, he knows his strengths and his weaknesses and endeavors to bring them under the power of the Holy Spirit to use them for the benefit and edification of the church.
Lastly, included in 1 Titus 1:9, is that he holds fast to the faithful Word:
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
He has a growing knowledge of God, His word, and his own gifts and abilities to teach and live out the principles of Scripture. He is continually growing in these characteristics. This is not a perfect person. This is a person that has flaws, that is still dealing with sin, yet God is developing in them these characteristics.
I believe that all men should be aspiring to these characteristics. Even if you never become an elder, these are the kind of men that not only the church needs, but that families, society, and the world needs. These are the kind of men that when bosses are looking for people, they’re looking for these kinds of people. They are not finding to many of that today, but they should be finding people that are in the church because they are realizing that these are the things that honor God. These are the things that give you influence and give you the ability to say things were people actually listen.
Secondly, I want to stress the specific functions of church elders. The first function would be that an elder function’s as a shepherd in the field watching over his flock. Acts 20:8 says:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
He is to tend the sheep, he is to keep the sheep, and the shepherd is responsible for the welfare of the sheep. He is to guard them from wolves or false teachers. He is to expose false teaching, false philosophies, and the false way people may conclude on how to live your life. When the elder is not present for some reason, he is to be warning them what may come when he is not around. Acts 20:29 says:
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
There are people that are going to come along and they’re going to want their own congregation. They’re going to draw people away and it could be that they’re good teachers, or they’re good or able to articulate and manipulate people very good. They have a charismatic personality that is magnetic, and people are drawn to them.
A lot of people that are head of colts could be presidents of corporations too because of their charismatic personality. They’re able to do that and manipulate people. That’s not what an elder is in the church. An elder is a humble man, who wants to take the welfare of God’s sheep and be responsible with that. Also, a shepherd’s responsible for feeding the sheep. Acts 20:27 says:
For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
Then, a shepherd is responsible to care for them and to pray for them when they are in difficulty. Imperfectly, elders are to manage people and give oversight to people. That is one of the first functions they have.
Secondly, an elder is a governor in the assembly ruling over the flock. Here are all these three words coming together. God has given to elders a sphere of rule. The extent of his rule is his own household first, and then all who come under the sphere of his rule in the local church. That is why passages like these that I’m going to mention bear out the authority in the pastoral office with politically incorrect words such as obey and submit. For example, an elder, in his home, his wife is to submit where it tells us in Ephesians 5:22:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
As the church is subject to Christ, so also the wife ought to be to their own husbands in everything. Christ is the elder and the husband’s example. Christ’s rule over the church is a considerate rule, it’s a faithful rule, it is a gracious rule, and a tender rule.
Thus, the elder, the pastor, and the bishop is to have the rule in his home that is like Christ’s rule over the church. He is to rule his wife lovingly, and the wife, who submits to the rule of Christ in the home, becomes a beautiful picture of what God intended. The home becomes a picture of how Christ loves the church.
His rule is fair, it is firm, and it is affectionate toward his wife and toward his children. In other words, their home is a haven. It’s a place where you have a good time, you rest, and you enjoy yourself. It is not a place where you’re walking on eggshells all the time.
Rather, it’s a fun place in the sense and it’s a good place to because he makes it that way. Also, in his home, his children are also to submit where says in 1 Timothy 3:4:
He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
In other words, having his children in submission. If you can’t take care of the little league, which is the family, then you can’t take care of the big league, which is the church. They both go together and are connected to one another.
Once you become a Christian, you realize that the church and the family go together. They dovetail together. Thus, the mark of a submissive child is I’ll do what pleases my father, and that’s the mark of a Christian to the Lord. I’ll do whatever you want me to do Lord. I want to obey you. Ephesians 6:1-2 says:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER…
This is the one that may be difficult today for some people. His rule also is a rule that goes into the flock. In other words, the flock are to submit. Hebrews 13:17 says:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
In other words, his rule and his function to govern has to do with you too. If they have the qualifications and they have the office, which God has given them, then you’re to submit to them because they watch over your souls. They’re concerned about your eternal destiny. They are concerned about what’s going on in your life. It says to do it with joy, not with grief because that would be unprofitable not for them, but for you.
Unfortunately, dealing with people and all kinds of sinful situations doesn’t always go very well where you have to deal with a lot of grief in the ministry. It’s heavy being in the ministry and being an elder, or to be deacons that have to deal with mercy situations that don’t always go the way people expect them to go. Sometimes, you feel that you have failed them because you didn’t do it the way they thought you should. However, you did it the way that would honor God, but they were looking for something else.
Also, an elder function’s as a teacher in the assembly instructing the flock. 1 Timothy 3:2 says:
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach
What sets an elder apart from a deacon is that he is able to teach. He is able to handle the word of God correctly. He’s able and desires to declare to them the sheep and the whole counsel of God. All elders are to have the aptitude to teach. Some are given over to this responsibility full-time, like me, and some are not. Some have jobs and are considered lay-elders. This is not necessarily a Biblical term, but they have all the responsibilities and they give as much as they can in their eldership and responsibilities towards the church.
All elders, no matter what they’re doing, are able to teach. He needs to continue to grow in his God-given gift to teach in the assembly. He is apt to teach. He is not only able to teach, but willing to communicate to others the knowledge which God has given him. He is one who is fit to teach and ready to take on the opportunities and responsibilities of giving instructions to other people from the word of God. The Bible warns us in 1 Timothy 5:22:
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
Don’t go laying your hands on them and saying okay, they have an office now. You must test them. You have to look at their life. You have to examine them. You have to see what’s going on both in and outside the church building, and their responsibilities on the grounds in their own home and job.
If they’re going to be four minimum requirements for elders, it would have to be something like this. Number one, he must have a character growing in-sync with Scripture. Secondly, he must have a grasp on the basic content and doctrine of the Holy Scripture like it says in Titus 1:9:
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
A Biblical elder must stick to the word of God, and not his own opinions, notions of the world, or of some famous teacher. He must give them God’s word because truth does not change. Other things change, but truth does not. Thirdly, he must have a proven ability to clearly communicate the word of God. 2 Timothy 2:2 says:
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:15 goes on to say:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
They have a good hermeneutic. They know how to handle the Bible. When they come to certain passages of Scripture, certain pros, and certain end-time passages, they know how to handle those and how to use them in regard to the rest of the Scripture. They are able to do that. They are able to accurately, without shame, handle the word of God so they can do the work of ministry.
This leads me to the second office and that is the diaconate, and I am going to deal with the diaconate the same way I’ve dealt with the elders because that’s the way the Bible does it. First of all, God is looking for character. He wants men who has character. In Acts 6:2-3, we see the formulation of the diaconate. There was a problem and they were called together to solve that problem:
So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
It’s not just any old person who volunteers. It’s somebody who has character. They are someone who gets put in charge of things, who have wisdom and who are being led by the spirit of God. In 1 Timothy 3:8-13, it says the qualities of a church deacon.
He is worthy of respect. It pertains to appropriate and befitting behavior and it implies a dignity and respect. There is something honorable about the man that is worthy of respect, which is their character. He has desire that people see and can observe about wanting to honor God with his life.
In 1 Timothy 3:10, they are to be sincere, which means they are to be someone who cannot be criticized. They cannot be held blamable about something or they are someone who cannot be impeached because the accusations that somebody may bring against them cannot stick. Again, deacons are not to be indulging in much wine. He must be responsible in what would control him or what can throw him off track. He is someone who is responsible with anything that has an outside influence such as alcohol or drugs.
Pertaining to honesty, he is not to be pursuing dishonest gain, shameful greed, or just wanting to have material profit. He does not set his heart on accumulated material things or wealth. He has a good grasp of a Biblical view of money and he gives generously and sacrificially.
Another one is that he’s not double-tongued. Meaning, he does not pertain to a contradictory behavior based on pretense or hypocrisy. In other words, he’s not two-faced or hypocritical. He does not speak out of both sides of his mouth different things.
His character quality is not limited to his speech, but also to his behavior. He’s consistent, he’s predictable, and you know what he’s going to do. Sometimes when people know what you are going to do, then that’s the reason why they don’t come to you. They already know what you’re going to tell them, so they go to somebody who is not going to tell them what you’re going to tell them, and they’re going to take their advice.
These are qualities that are commendable in the church. Next, they must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They’re not teachers, but they hold to the mystery of the faith with a sincere conscience. Their belief is genuine and pure. It’s the real thing. This is a real believer. This is a real genuine person. You don’t have to try to figure him out. He’s there and has a firm grasp of sound doctrine and he lives by the word that he says. That’s who he is.
Also, he is a man who is tested, proved to be faithful, and serving God. Meaning, if there is nothing against him, then let them serve as deacons. The congregation recognizes that this guy has been faithful. This guy has been doing this with praise and joy, which is someone who is ready to get into the office and serve.
Of course, he is a husband of one wife, and is above reproach concerning their marital relationship. He is someone who manages his household well. He’s a good household manager. He has faithful children who are listening to him, not given to riotous or rebellious living. On Top of all that, there is a tremendous thing that is said about a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:13:
For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
In other words, heavenly reward and a smile from Jesus when deacons have functioned in their office well. Wow, that is amazing. 1 Timothy 3:11 includes the wives. Now, I do not believe women will hold an office of deacon, but the Bible is saying that the women who will be the wives of the deacons are to be women who are dignified, who are not malicious gossips, but temperate and faithful in all things.
They’re going to be serving alongside their elder or deacon husbands, and they’re going to be privy to a lot of information about people that only they know. Thus, they’re not to be malicious gossip. They can’t be talking about what’s going on when you know that’s supposed to be kept in private. The woman has to be as qualified as the man, so he can serve in his office and she can come along side of him and serve with him.
Even though she does not hold the office, she is to be as qualified in character as he is, so the information and the things they do deal with in ministry will be dealt with in an honest and in a way where people can trust them with even personal things.
So, our elder wives are Yiyin Ho and Sherrian Crumbley, and the deacon wives are Shae Bibbo, Rebecca Fantuzzo, and Natalie Gussis. Those are the women that are coming alongside their husbands and they are aiding them, ministering with them, and lot of times if a man’s going to go somewhere and have to deal with a woman, he brings his wife with him, or another elder or deacon with him. He is never going alone to go and minister to possibly a woman, who is hurting or vulnerable, so he needs to protect himself because of what other people can say.
Also, it’s always good to take somebody else because whatever is being said can be cooperated with somebody else who heard it. Then, you can bring your facts together, write it down, log it in, and as you do that, it is much more helpful than doing something on your own. This brings the wisdom of plurality, the wisdom of more than one person doing the ministry.
Believe me, the wives in our church have been tremendous blessings to the work of the ministry and all the things that have to get done behind the scenes such as all the little details the men don’t see and will never see. The women see it, and sometimes the men need convincing – we need to do this. They come along and they finally convince us because we’re not in violation of any Scripture or any kind of principle that would be hindering, so let’s do it.
Here, the women are mentioned because they are vital to the function of the church, to the continued character of their husband, and the ministry that goes forward. We cannot do without them at all, and they are very much needed.
This brings me to the function of the deacons. The first function of a deacon is the ministry of relief to the elders. Acts 6:2-4 says:
So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
That’s what becomes the focal priority of the elders. Thus, the preaching and the teaching of the word of God and prayer is should always be the primary business of the church. Everything else is secondary to that. If those things aren’t getting done, then we are putting something else in front of it, and we will end up moving Scriptural priorities to the wrong places.
The practical care for the needy is important, and that’s why we have deacons. However, it is not the first priority and it’s not the first priority of the deacons. It does come in a close second or in conjunction with carrying out the primary task. The mercy task is always present and will always be there. There will always be needs that need attention, which is where the deacons become vital.
When the Hellenistic and Hebrew women were increasing in number that’s when deacons were called in, so they can relieve the apostles. Then, the elders would be devoted to prayer in the ministry of the word and it would not be hindered. Meaning, the deacons make sure that these two priorities stay priorities as part of their job.
The twofold responsibility of an elder would be the ministry of the word, and then also the ministry of prayer. Again, the deacons are so vital to make sure that these two priorities stay priorities.
When you start ministering the people’s needs, it gets complicated, and not one person could handle all that. Even though the elders are accountable for giving that responsibility to the deacons, it is too burdensome to do the mercy and the Word ministry of the church together.
God has ordained the diaconate to be the administrative body that sees the mercy needs of the community, both the believing and unbelieving, and to give relief to the shepherds, to the pastor, and to the elders of the congregation of that activity, so that they may devote themselves to the word of God and prayer. We can never get away from that in Scripture.
Also, they serve to care for the table of the pastor’s and the elders. They are responsible to make sure that the elders are laboring indoctrinate and have the time to do that. Like that they are not so bogged down with other outside interruptions that they never seem to get to the study of the word of God and to the preaching and teaching of the word of God on regular basis.
Eventually, that gets pushed aside and other things fill in. Let’s face it, we can do a lot of good things, right? However, we have to keep God’s priorities in Scripture, which becomes very vital. The deacons are part of that balance.
Also, they are to care for the table of the Lord. Meaning, the physical needs in the gathering of the Lord’s table such as the preparation and the distribution of the visible elements. They are also preparing candidates for baptism, so we can baptize people.
The physical properties, classrooms, nurseries, buildings, grounds, repairs, and supplies are things that have to be taken care of so we can minister to the people. Parking and building expansions that may be coming in the future are things that can really pull the elders away from the responsibility we ought to be involved in. Another thing is making sure that money is handled correctly. Both the elders in the deacons are to do that responsibly.
Secondly, they are to function as a minister of relief to the needy. Part of their responsibility is to those people who needs help right. Galatians 6:10 says:
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Meaning, their responsibility has an order of priority. It’s the church that comes first and the people in the church. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that we ought not to be ministering to the needs of the unbelieving, but we are responsible to lend aid to both if we can. Sometimes, we cannot, so the church must come first.
They are to serve and care for the table of the poor. It is the duty of the deacons to be aware of those in the assembly with monetary and physical needs. Those who need help with their day’s sustenance, which could mean a loss of a job, poor health, widows, or orphans, and the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Actually, that’s all God promised us anyway. He didn’t promise you a rose garden. He promised you food, clothing, and shelter, and I don’t think anybody is missing out on that this morning. However, they are to be aware of people that are going to have problems.
In putting it all together, based on the institution of official servants called deacons, in Acts 6, along with the distinction of the office of elder along with the priority in the church of helping people, it seems most certain that the deacons job is to support and to relieve the elders so that the people of God may be served in spheres outside the elders primary responsibility, which are clearly delineated in Acts 6:4:
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Alexander Strauch said:
As long as the deacons of the church enable the shepherds of the church to carry out their primary duties, and as long as the deacons minister to the congregation’s welfare needs, they are doing their job.
We are given the real reason for the appointing of of the seven men in Acts 6. The fundamental principle of the diaconal office is to do whatever the task the elders assigned to them in order to relieve the elders from getting involved in activities that would hinder them from accomplishing their tasks.
Prayer and preaching are the two that go hand-in-hand. Deacons are the key to make sure they stay hand-in-hand. In Acts 6, once these men were picked, then they had to be brought before the congregation for final approval, which is what we’re going to look at now.
After all of that, what is ordination. Ordination is simply a confirmation by the church of a man’s call to serve in the office of elder and/or deacon. Ordination by the Calvary Community Church constitutes formal recognition of one’s call to the Christian Ministry, his Biblical qualifications, and his preparation for service. That leads me to the next question: what is laying on of hands?
You may have never even heard of that term before. The New Testament indicates that the elder and deacons were formally installed into office before the congregation by the laying on of hands and prayer. This ceremony is a public appointment to the office of elder and office of deacon in which fellow elders, by laying on their hands or putting their hands on them, would communicate to the new elder-deacon the approval, blessing, prayers, recognition, and fellowship of the church. Acts 6:6 says:
And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
This is the official public recognition before the congregation to say these men are the men that God has given our church to be the elders, who take care of the spiritual aspects of leading the church, and these other men are the deacons, who take care of the mercy aspects of the church. Both of them are necessary to the functioning of the church the way God designed it.
The laying on of hands was a commissioning service to affirm the choice of individuals for a particular task? Although the word is not specifically used here, these seven men, in Acts 6, are thought to be the first deacons. In that passage, it says to look out from among you the people, and this includes the electing wishes of the congregation. The congregation was knowledgeable enough to pick out the men. They didn’t approve of the men, but the apostles would approve them.
Finally, they have the final say just as the elders have the final say in approving man. We may know more about somebody than you do. What happens is that they have electing wishes of the congregation, and the elders lay hands on them after a testing to show their approval. These men must be first tested then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach, which is the same with elders.
I thank the Lord for the men that God has actually given evidence of that calling and readiness. It will be a high privilege to ordain Greg Ho and Khaleef Crumbley as our elders, and then Ermanno Bibbo, Joseph Fantuzzo, and Brian Gussis as our deacons. These men have worked and served in our ministry for several years. Some for a longer period of time.
In this case, the testing period may have been longer than it should have been. Nonetheless, the longer the testing, the more confident we are to lay hands on them to say yes, these men have the character and they meet the minimum, and far beyond the minimum requirements. These are the men that God has given us. They have passed the testing.
Also, they have been tested by you. You may not know that you’ve been testing them, but you have. You’re looking out about what they do, who they are, and what they are about. They have shown me that they have been faithful to the Lord, they have been faithful to the word of God, and they have been faithful to the church and to the people. That’s a great blessing to our church.
Again, this is a historical event, so I’d like for the elders and deacons to stand. I do have some ordination vows that I will give to them, and at the end, you will respond to them.
Having repented of sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ, having been baptized, and having been made a member of the local church. Having faithfully served for many years in many capacities. Having prayed, studied, and grown in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and having aspired to the office of elder and the office of deviant. Having been approved and affirmed to that office after watchful testing and also experiential testing by the elders and by the members of the Calvary Community Church. (Now, all of these are to the elders and they don’t all apply to the deacons, but they do in some way).
Do you now promise to lead a life worthy of emulation? To joyfully watch over the souls of this flock as one who will give an account to God for each of them. To always preach with the day of God’s strict judgement for teachers in mind. To pray, believingly for the sick. To shepherd God’s flock that has been allotted to you willingly, eagerly, and seeking to model first what you asked of them.
To serve the Lord with both joy and tears. To resist every temptation to shrink back from declaring the whole Gospel weather in the privacy of one’s home or in the public square. To preach repentance and faith in Christ alone.
To willingly accept suffering should God place you in a position where obedience requires it. To value the calling and Gospel of Jesus Christ above your own. To guard the church as the blood bought possession of Jesus Christ and thus to care for her as the most valuable possession.
To stay alert at your post. Even willing to rebuke fellow elders, who preach or teach any doctrine not found in God’s word. To live as if it is more blessed to give than to receive. To carefully weigh the words of the Priest’s word in this assembly.
To willingly suffer for Jesus’ sake such as hardship, physical torture, betrayal, inconvenience, exposure, disappointment, persecution, sovereign weakening, calamities, and the daily pressure and concern for the church. (Paul went through all that, not that we’re going to go through all that).
To value the word of God over arguments one. To train yourself in godliness. To labor and strive with persistence in the work of your ministry more than any before you are giving God all the glory for any success. To address men’s lives as well as calling others. To follow your personal growth and godliness and sanctification. To keep close watch on your own life and your own doctrine.
To pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. To never quit, give up, swerve, or slack off in your effort to fulfill your ministry. Not even when you are middle-aged, tired, and suffering.
To despise the allure of riches in this world and to live for the eternal wealth of Christ’s presence in heaven. To guard the sacred deposit entrusted to your care. To teach the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that old men, old women, young men, young women, and children will understand how to adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ with good works. To value Jesus above your wife, your children, your church, your Ministry, your knowledge, yourself, and anything else in this world.
To speak to God’s people with gentle authority. To be zealous for good works. To not be ashamed of the Gospel or the Savior regardless of the audience. To flee youthful sins and run toward being a man of God, who handles the Word of truth accurately. To correct the ungodly with gentleness, not quarrelsomeness. To preach the word of God in season and out of season. Reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with complete patience and teaching. To entrust your souls to the faithful Creator no matter the blessing, the trial, or persecution.
If in the sight of God and these witnesses you do now set your heart to make this pledge, promising that when you fail, you will seek both the forgiveness and restoration as soon as possible, then I call upon you, in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who is a judge of the living, the dead, and this congregation. By His appearing and His kingdom, then answer we do.
The men say we do.
Now, I’d like for you men to come up, kneel down facing the congregation, and let’s pray:
Lord Jesus, these are the men that You have given our assembly to serve as Your shepherd’s/deacons. We praise You for them. Lord, grant to them strength of body, soul, intellect, will, and affection for You and Your people. Give them insight into Your word. May it be a light unto their path and a constant passion in their heart. May they study Your word and become workmen, who do not need to be ashamed and men of the Word. May they become men of dependent prayer – men of prayer. May they be sensitive to their own sin, practice confessing it, and put it to death. Enable them, Lord, to fulfill their duties under the watchful eye of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May their lives adorn the Gospel in their homes with their wives and children, in their church with Your blood bought children, and on their jobs with the lost. May, from this day forward, these men willfully carry out their elder responsibilities with soberness, care, joy, and love so that our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified, honored, and pleased with their service. In Christ, I pray this. Amen.
These are the men that God has given us, and I try to present that this morning today in a manner that is serious and that is important for us to do. Not only now, but as other men come up. We do have two other men: Bruce Wyder and Brian Neves and his wife Michelle. They are going to be our deacon candidates that are coming up, so we are thankful that the Lord is raising up other people too, who are going to be part of our ministry.
Now, I have some questions for you. As the congregation, the members of Calvary Community Church, are you committed to obey these men and to submit to them? Remember, they are keeping watch over your souls as one who will give an account. Will you let them do this with joy and not with groaning? For that would be of no advantage to you. Are you willing to encourage and identify God’s grace in their life, especially the grace of humility? Remembering that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Are you willing to pray for them that God would open to them the door for the word of God – to declare the mystery of Christ that they may make it clear as they ought to speak whatever ministry they’re doing? Are you willing to pray for them – that they will finish their course in the ministry that they have received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God? If so, answer we do.
Congregation answers: we do.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, because we believe that the Holy Spirit has gifted you these men to this ministry, made you the gift to this church, and trust that we have not acted in haste but in prayerful dependence on Christ. Therefore, it is my joy, as the elder of this church, to have laid hands on both the elders and deacons and called upon God himself to seal to you their ministry and their life to the glory of God. All of God’s people said: Amen. Let’s pray:
Lord, thank You for the kindness that You have shown us in not only establishing a church many years ago. Even Lord when this church was built a hundred and forty-six years ago, I don’t believe this building has been without a Gospel witness. I thank You, Lord, that it’s still continuing until this day. I pray that it will continue in this place. That the word of God would be honored, and Christ would be exalted. The glory and motive of the church would always bring glory to God, and that You would always give us men and their wives that would be qualified deacons and elders to carry out the work. We will praise You for all that You have, and we’ll do in our midst presently and in the future. I pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.