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More People, More Problems (Acts 6:1-7)

June 11, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon unfolds with an issue among the early believers. Pastor Carter proposes the solution to the diversity issue that the Gospel creates is the Gospel. The focus of this sermon is on how the Apostles identified and acknowledged the issue, established the Churchs priorities, and selected seven select men.

Identifying and Acknowledging the Problem

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Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (Acts 6:1).

Pastor Carter identifies three elements of this issue that are helpful to note. First, the nature of this issue was people. Secondly, the source of the issue was the diversity within the church. Lastly, the solution to this issue is the same Gospel that made these disciples followers of Christ (more people) and brought them together along with their different backgrounds and perspectives (diversity). In other words, the Lord was delighted to increase the believers of Christ, uniting them together as one Body despite their differences, so that these believers would become less like themselves and more like Christ (John 3:30; Ephesians 2:15; 1 Peter 1:10).

Establishing the Churchs Priorities

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tablesBut we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:2, 4).”

The Apostles knew Christ intimately. They saw Him give great attention to preaching and prayer, so much so that He sent them out to preach and taught them to pray (Matthew 6, 10). They were not going to let the Church get off the mark by neglecting the two inseparable gifts that Christ has given, namely, preaching the Gospel and praying for the hearers. Christ built His Church upon them. He preached from the moment He was inaugurated at His baptism until His Resurrection. He also prayed many times before crowds, before His disciples, and even for His disciples. They would soon follow His example. Hence, the Apostles planned to keep preaching and prayer at the forefront of the Church’s vision, despite any issues that arose in the process.

Selecting Seven, Select Men

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty (Acts 6:3; ESV).

The Apostles set three criteria for selecting seven men to meet the needs of the widows: 1) these men must be found among those believers, 2) must have faithful testimonies, and 3) be full of the Holy Spirit. First, these seven men must be chosen from the context of that community. This was essential considering they would be familiar with the needs of their fellow believers (cf. Judas’ Replacement, Acts 1:21-22).  Then, these men must have a good reputation within and outside of the community of faith, blameless – not meaning perfect or sinless – instead free from accusation (1 Timothy 3; Titus 2). Above all, these men must be full of the Holy Spirit, which meant they had to be bold for Christ, His love must inform their deeds and words, and their life must be self-controlled (tactful). Leading the church in serving the widows was as important as the priorities of the Church; therefore, the Apostles pick the best men to care for the temporal and everyday needs of the Church.

Are you beginning to look more like Christ?

The Church is more than just soul winning, evangelism, and preaching. It is not only winning souls to Christ, but also caring for the souls won (cf. Paul, Acts 14:21-28, 15:36; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8).  The blessing of more people creates the issue of serving more people. Diversity is both a blessing and a challenge, because we all have preferences, but they are not all driven by Biblical data.

In addition, Satan desires to disqualify men for leadership in the Church (1 Peter 1:13-25). Above all, do not allow the Church to give more importance to anything other than preaching the Gospel and praying that God would use it according to His will. The Church is the only entity in the world given the charge to be the salt and light for Christ (Matthew 5:13-16).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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