1. LOVE IS THE BASIS OF SERVICE. 1 Jn.3:16-18
In this passage we come to the practical side and to the application of what John has already been saying about loving the brethren. The practicalities of love include intelligent, practical service. We are not called to like the brethren, but commanded to love and serve them. Liking is natural, something instinctive and elemental, something that is not the result of effort; you find yourself liking or not liking. It is physical and intelligible.
Loving is something which we must do in terms of God. It goes beyond the superficial and the visible, the carnal and physical attraction, to something bigger and it is much deeper. Love goes out of its way, it overcomes obstacles and excuses, it sees beyond what it does not like and minimises it in order to see the person who is at the back of it.
However, because it is intelligent, it does not push the person into a self-destruct mode serving everybody and loosing ones own self control. It knows its limits. It learns how and when to say no, it labours to the point of exhaustion but knows when to stop before exhaustion take over their life. To get into an exhaustive state will render the person useless and they become bitter and complaining in the Lord’s service.
Vs 16 “By this we know love, because he laid down His life for us.” The doctrines of the atonement, the crucifixion, His finished work on the cross, are perceived not only in a theological way but in a practical way also. Christ laid down his life, in service for others, he did not think of his own rights. He laid aside His own rights for a season in order to do this for us. He was concerned about us. He was interested in our good. This is the standard of love it is the foundation and it’s expression. We are to be motivated by love to serve. It is not to receive some title, for power lust or any other motive. Christian love is self-sacrificing.
“And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Because Christ laid down His life for us Christians are called to the same standard of love for one another.
Vs 17 “But whoever has this worlds goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart to him, how does the love of God abide (dwell) in him?” True love is not limited to supreme sacrifice by giving your body to be burned as a martyr but in daily sacrifice in God’s service. Genuine Christian love expresses itself in sacrificial giving to other Christian’s needs. It is a practical love that finds motivation in helping others. It is manifested in a practical as well as a spiritual way. Church officers especially are servants of the Church. God’s love should be present in them and manifest to others.
“My little children let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth.” We are to put his command into action. We are not to just talk about it , or boast about what we do we are to show it by our deeds. We are to serve others. All Christians are servants. Our Christian nature will cause a desire to serve others and seek to help them.
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT
Church government is an important doctrine taught in Scripture. The church in the New Testament is revealed to be the central purpose of God in this age. It is highly important that we understand how God calls a people out of the world (ecclesia) to meet together and worship and serve Him. After God calls people out of the world for Himself they begin to meet together as His people and worship and serve Him. At first there may seem to be no order but as time goes on they will begin to fall more in line with the Scripture. Leadership will arise and a specific form of government will emerge.
The institutional structure of the church can freeze the flowing stream of the Spirit of God. We must ensure that it is oiled with the life of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of Christ brings order, as well as ardour. We must understand that the church is based upon the Word of God not expertise in business administration or committees or group dynamics, nor is it based upon music or emotions or mystical messages from God. Church bureaucracy must not take the place of spiritual dynamics. The danger of setting aside Biblical principles appears when the church is organised after an alien model. When we depend upon the Word of God it will lead us to worship, nurture, love, order and mission. This is more than sharing scripture texts and having a “wee thought from God.” It is not made up of people opinions or some “sharing group.” The Scriptural pattern will bring order and show love by its deeds and encouragement. Love requires accountability, and accountability means order. God’s Word grounds us in ministry, in the faith and order in the church. The Word commits the order to the ministry of love.
Our understanding of the government of Christ’s church must begin with the Lord himself and his kingdom authority. We are all subject to Him and His Word.
The church is an organism. It is a living union with true believers in Christ. They are members of a living body joined to one together in living union by the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13 ). It has organic life. It is Christ’s body and we are living members in it. Christ is the Head and we get our instructions form Him.
The local church is also an organized church. This is a company of professing believers in any one locality or a group of such local assemblies (1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; Phil. 1:1). There is order in the assembly just as there is order in creation and in family. When Paul teaches that the man is the head of the woman he is not saying he is better than the woman but that it is a question of roles. It is interdependence of man and woman and the same applies to the church members. He also teaches about order in the church. The Lord designed an order in his church for accomplishing the goals of worship, nurture and witness.
3. PASTORS/ELDERS AND BISHOPS
Bishops and elders. The concept of church order relates to those who have authority or delegated authority in the local church and provide leadership for it. The local church in the New Testament included those who were designated as bishops and elders who were responsible as leaders of the local church. Elder’s rule deacons serve. It is the elders who will give an account to God concerning the flock (Heb.13:7, 17). Some see a distinction between pastors-teachers and ruling elders (1 Tim. 5:16 -17).
Deacons. In contrast with elders and bishops, other were designated deacons. The title deacon seems to have as many different connotations as there are churches. In some churches the deacons are the official board, the legally recognized management body. Other churches appoint deacons the almost everyone who is a regular attender. Still other churches bestow the title as a badge of honour, like, “reverend,” but a title for laymen. Some churches tend to recognize a single pastor as the elder and other official who assist him in spiritual matters as deacons. This does not seem, however, to based upon Biblical practice. The ministry of a deacon is different from church to church that when a person says he is a deacon, you usually have to ask several questions to find out what, if any thing, he actually does.
Scripture itself is vague about the specifics of what deacons are and do. We do read what qualifies a man to be a deacon but little about how they should minister in the local church. That fact itself teaches us as much about God’s view of the church leadership: the issue is character, not specific action.
5. THE WORD DEACON
The New Testament uses three primary words for deacons: diakonos, which means “servant; diakonia, which means “service”; and diakoneo, which means “to serve.” It originally meant serving people with food or waiting on tables, but it broadened beyond that and came to mean any kind of service.
The word deacon suggests all kinds of service, just as the English service does. There is a wide variety of meanings, but in general they refer to any service that supplies the need of another person.
The word is translated “administration” in 1 Corinthians 12:5 and 2 Corinthians 9:12 , and “relief” in Acts 11:29. The primary usage has to do with ministry and service.
In the early church deacons were designated to the church and they concerned themselves with charity for the needy and ministering in physical things, although they could have spiritual gifts (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 3:18 -13).
Like elders they were set aside for office by the apostles (Acts 6:6; 13:3; 2 Tim. 1:6) or may have been appointed by the elders (1 Tim. 4:14 ) in the early church. As in the case of elders and bishops, distinction must be made between the office of deacon and the ministry that a deacon might perform. Philip is an illustration of one who held office of a deacon, but who by spiritual gift was an evangelist (Acts 6:5; 21:8). Deacons are to do whatever elders assign them or whatever spiritual ministry that is necessary.
6. WAYS THEY WOULD SERVE
A good illustration is the wedding of Cana, “His (Christ’s) mother said to the servants (diakonia), Whatever He says to you, do it….And when the head waiter tasted the water which had been wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants [diakonoi] who had drawn the water knew) , the headwaiter called the bridegroom” (John 2:5,9.)
Luke 4:39 , tells us that after Christ healed Peters mother – in – law, she “immediately arose and began to wait (diakoneo) on them.” She probably served them a meal. See also John 12:2; Luke 10:40 and Luke 17:8.
7. GENERAL SERVICE
The word for deacons is both in a general sense and a specific sense. In John 12:26 Christ says, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the father will honour him.” The meaning of this word is general and could refer to a number of forms of service.
Biblically, the word diakonos is not limited to describing believers. It can refer to the police man or soldier being a minister, but not necessarily a Christian Romans 13:3-4.”
In Luke 22:27 The word is used twice, the first time it refers to serving a meal. The second speaks of general service.
8. SPIRITUAL SERVICE
Here we have the believers role as a servant. Paul kept busy in serving the saints and the Lord. (Romans 15:25; Acts 20:19). Even tough he was an apostle he was a servant. He had a servants heart. He ministered to people and for the Lord.
The word diakonia speaks of serve to the saints, (Lk. 10:40 ; Acts 11:29 ; 12:25 ; 1 Cor. 16:15 ; 2 Cor. 8:4; 19-20; 9:1). The ministry of providing resources for meeting basic physical needs is a form of spiritual service.
In the context of spiritually serving, any act of obedience done by a Christian should qualify as service to Christ. Believers in any form of ministry could be called a servant, or deacon of Christ.
First Corinthians 12:5 tells us that, “there are varieties of ministries [diakonia], and the same Lord.” All Christians are involved in some form of service. We are all ministers in general sense. See also 2 Corinthians 4:1; 9:1 and revelation 2:19.
9. THE OFFICE OF DEACON 1 Tim. 3:8-13
It is difficult to pin down any clear reference in the New Testament to an office of deacon. In most cases the word is to do with general service. It is called a gift along with other gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-7. There are two kinds of gifts mentioned in this passage; speaking gifts and serving gifts. Offices are not necessarily related to gifts. A person my have a gift of teaching but not have the to be a pastor–teacher to exercise his gift.
Spiritual service is required of every believer. We see the word diakonia used in Ephesians 4:11-12, “the work of service” (diakonia) it is not the work of the deacons, but rather the work of all the saints in being servers. Paul was talking about Christians in general being equipped for spiritual service, not about the office of deacon.
The passage in 1Timothy 3 refers to the office of deacon. “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain.”
“Likewise” refers back to verse 1 “If any man aspires to the office of overseer.” This indicates that deacons occupy a recognised office just as elders do.
In the church there is a plurality of godly men-elders who oversee the Lord’s work in the church. They are assisted in this by deacons. These are the only two offices in the church. The Biblical emphasis is not on the organisation but on the leader ship’s spiritual purity and spiritual depth.
10. WOMEN DECONESSES
The church must not capitulate to the pressure of the world with its feminist movements and removing the differentiation between the sexes and rendering the genders neutral. For instance we have women boxers, women wrestlers, and some theologians refer to God as “he /she/ it.”
Paul speaks of fellow workers of Euodia and Syntyche as his fellow –workers in the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3), along with Pricilla and Aquilla ( Rom. 16:3).
In Romans 16:1-2 the term diakonos is joined with the concept of ministering to physical needs. It refers to one who serves the people not the elders. The one here refers to a specific deacon. It may be in the sense of office. Paul goes on to describe her as a “helper” to many, including the apostle himself. She may have had charge of the needs of the legal defence of widows and orphans. Paul is asking the church to recognise her and support her activities. How do we define an office if not a function that requires public support for its proper exercise. Paul called her a diakonos.
1 Tim. 3:11 “Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.” This verse occurs in a passage that gives the requirements of church officers: first bishops (vs 1-7), and then deacons (8-10, 12-13). Verse 11 is located in the middle of the passage that describes deacons.
11. A SERVANT HEART JOHN. 12:24-26
a) SERVING THROUGH DIEING.
Vs 24. “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Vs 24). The Lord gives instruction how to save your life. Life insurance pays off when you die. The principle of death and denial is a truth that only comes by death. No death no fruit. Throw it into the ground and it is buried there.
A man or women who gives themselves to their family, and seeks to serve them, and provides for them denies themselves. The family thrives and the children become an honour to their parents and multiply their joy. However, if the parent is selfish him or herself the children will suffer and will be affected badly.
This is also true in spiritual things. When we say no to ourselves we become capable of saying yes to God and so receive His richest blessing. That is what Paul meant when he said, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20 ). And “…the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:4). In identifying himself with Christ in death made possible for him to live for Christ and by Christian values and not for the world and its values. It is only by death and denial that life comes. We see it in Christ’s own death. You must loose your life in order to get the finances.
b) LIVING IN THE REALITY OF THE FULLNESS OF BLESSING
Vs 25. “He that loves his own life, shall loose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it for life eternal.” Love and hate are two of the strongest words in life. Love is stronger than death. “Many waters cannot quench love.” Hate it – loose it; love it – keep it. The first word for word “life” is psuche, who refers to the life of the mind. It is the ego, it means the human personality, which thinks, plans for the future, and charts its course. Jesus is saying that must die you now must follow his will and plan for your life. You actively submit all things to Christ.” The other word for “life” is zoe which, joined to the adjective “eternal,” means the divine life.
Every Christian has this divine life now, but he has it in fullness when his entire personality withal its likes and desires is surrendered to Christ. It is here the Christian will experience the fullness of blessing when he consciously and deliberately walks in God’s way.
You cannot enjoy the fullness of blessing until you accept the full Lordship of Lord Jesus Christ in your life. You should not disregard the permanency of marriage and seek an easy way out, ignore his instructions to continually meet together with other believers and live in your own private world. You cannot walk over the moral instructions he gives you in scripture and say He is Lord of all your life. If someone does not fully accept His lordship they will never be truly happy. Their Christian life will be substandard. They have not died to their own desires in order that they may live for Christ. They have not been crucified with Him. They have not obeyed Him.
What about you? It is not a pleasant thing to be crucified, but it will bring forth life. It means you will be willing to do anything Christ asks you to do. To go anywhere He directs you to go will bring joy and contentment.
c) A SERVANT HEART OF OBEDIENCE
Vs 26. “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” We would all like to say we are serving Christ. We would all like to say we arte following Him but are we and how closely?
Self- denial. He has told us if we are we should follow in self-denial and take up your cross and follow after Him. This may not mean a total change In what you are doing with your life now but it will mean a total change in your willingness to do what Christ call s you to do. It may mean to obey Him in giving of your substance, going to another country to be involved in mission, to surrender your leisure time right here where you live and worship. It means to surrender that hobby you spend too much time and money on, that. sin, that pastime. God knows what you need you to do. Will you do it today?
Service. “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). Feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick. Do we look after the welfare of other in the assembly or argue over positions? Do we care for and minister to each other or expect someone else do it? Are you involved in serving in the Church and the community? Do we leave it to the minority while we enjoy our material self-fulfilled life? Do not say you are dead to Christ or have denied self if you are not serving others.
Holiness. Christ lived a separated life even when He was in the midst of unredeemed people serving them. He kept His integrity they could find no fault in Him. He kept clean from sin. We must do the same as He did. Live in this dirty old world and stay clean and fresh in Christ.
Faithfulness. Are you faithful to His teaching? Are you known as a person who keeps you word? Can you be depended upon and be trusted? Are you looking for quick fix experiences in the spirit or by emotional sublimation or will you follow day by day and live a crucified life day by day? True service consists in faithfulness. It is to believe in that His Word is inspired and different from any other books.