Tod Kennedy, September 12, 1999
Applications or “So what?” from Acts 6
- The division of ministry was God’s idea. He designed the body of Christ and assigned spiritual gifts so that all believers have a ministry and all the body of Christ receives ministry.
- Service becomes more beneficial when those serving have a good reputation, when they walk by the Holy Spirit, and when they have and use wisdom.
- Study of the Word of God, teaching the Word of God, and prayer are the foundations for the day to day life of the church.
- The church has a responsibility to care for its members; one group of people whom the church ought to help is believing widows who have no family support and who do have a good reputation. Paul also writes about this in 1 Timothy 5.3-16.
- Religious people hate grace; they persecute grace-oriented believers.
- Stephen shows us that if we live by the Christian life basics—grace orientation (Acts 6:8), ministry and spiritual gifts (Acts 6:8), knowledge of the Word (Acts 6:10-11), spirituality or living by the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:10), and occupation with Christ (Acts 6:15)— we will not only have an effective ministry, but also a Christ-like mental attitude even though we are slandered and beaten up.
- The church at Jerusalem grew and with growth came added opportunities and responsibilities. The present opportunity was for the non-apostles to serve believing widows. The disciples chose seven men to take charge of the widows’ need. This table service would accomplish two purposes: allow the apostles to concentrate on their specialized ministry of prayer, study, and teaching the Word and insure that the widows were cared for. (Acts 6.1-4).
- The congregation of believers thought that it was a good idea to care for the widows so they chose seven men. The apostles agreed with their choice and demonstrated their agreement by laying hands (ordaining) on them (Acts 6.5-6).
- The Word of God spread. The apostles were able to concentrate on prayer, study, and teaching. It is likely that other believers, along with the apostles, were also spreading the Word of God. The Word in context is the gospel about Jesus Christ. Even Jewish priests were among those believing in Christ (Acts 6.7).
- Stephen received supernatural sign gifts; he ministered through the gifts, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and with grace-orientation. This combination proved so effective that a sect called the Synagogue of Freedman worked up false charges and false witnesses against him. Officials brought Stephen before the religious council, the Sanhedrin. Stephen, of course, because of his faith in Christ and his grace orientation, was completely at ease before the council (Acts 6.8-15).
Doctrine Summaries, Definitions, and Descriptions
- Ministry refers to what the believer does to serve God and the body of Christ. God has a production plan for each believer (Ephesians 2.10); spiritual gifts provide the specialized ability for our ministry (1 Peter 4.10-11); we participate in the blessings of ministry when we serve with divine love (1 Corinthians 13.1-7) and walk by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5.16, 22-23). The preparation for service comes through the equipping ministry of the pastor-teacher (Eph 4.12-16).
- Spiritual gifts are the abilities that God gives to us so that we may serve him and the church. Permanent spiritual gifts are the gifts that we in the church age now possess. Each gift has a different emphasis. The pastor-teacher is the man gifted with the ability to authoritatively care for and lead his congregation and to authoritatively communicate the Word of God to his congregation for their spiritual growth and ministry (Acts 20.17-28; Ephesians 4.11-12; Hebrews 13.17). The gift of teacher is the ability to communicate the Word of God to believers so that they may understand its content and grow spiritually (Romans 12.7). The evangelist is the person gifted with the ability to communicate the gospel of Christ to the unbeliever so that the unbeliever will understand and believe in Jesus Christ and then become a participant in a local church (Ephesians 4.11-12). God wants all believers to witness, but evangelists seem to lead more people faith in Christ. The leadership gift is the ability to lead, direct, and motivate people, areas of thought, and activity for the orderly, efficient, and harmonious attainment of objectives (Romans 12.8). The gift of administration is the ability to steer, to guide, and to manage people and things so that a given job is accomplished (1 Corinthians 12.28). One with the gift of service has the ability to effectively carry out a task, do a job, engage in an activity for another person or group as a part of the body of Christ. The person with the gift of service serves under authority, with loyalty to that authority, and with an objective or objectives to accomplish (Romans 12.7). The gift of help is the ability to help, to assist, and to aid those within the church. Helping is often spontaneous, independent, varied, and short term (1 Corinthians 12.28). Showing mercy is the ability to express sympathy, kindness, and help to the person experiencing earthly, human need (Romans 12.8). A believer with the gift of encouragement is able to express the content of the Word of God to another believer so that the Holy Spirit can bring about biblical mental attitudes and actions in that believer (Romans 12.8). If you have the gift of giving, you have the ability to share with other believers from your material resources over and above the normal giving of believers (Rom 12.8).
- Many spiritual gifts may participate in the widow ministry: service, administration, leadership, helping, showing mercy, encouragement, and giving.
- Divine good is a way to describe the good works that God produces through believers (John 15.4-5; Ephesians 2.10; 1 Corinthians 12.4-7). It is the right thing done in the right way under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, while human good is the right thing done in wrong way under the direction of our sinful nature or the wrong thing done in the wrong way under the direction our sinful nature. In order to produce divine good we must be spiritual believers— believers living by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5.16, 22-23), we must be in fellowship with God (John 15.4-5), and we must live in the sphere of divine love (1 Corinthians 13.1-7). The good that we produce during our lives will be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ; only divine good will pass the test and be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3.10-15).
- Deacons are servants of the church. The seven men in Acts 6 were not official church deacons, but they did demonstrate the service of deacons. A deacon in the church is a man who functions as a servant of God, the pastor-teacher, and the church. He is the person who, under authority of the pastor-teacher, willingly serves the church body by actively carrying out needed tasks for the benefit of the church (Philippians 1.1; 1 Timothy 3.10-13).
- Helping other believers: God has given us the privilege, the opportunity, and the responsibility to help other believers; guidelines come with this responsibility. We are to help widows (Acts 6.1-4) and other believers (Galatians 6.10); families of widows are to help their widows (1 Timothy 5.4,8); the church is to help certain widows (1 Timothy 5.3-7, 9-11); parents are to support their children and children are to honor and support their parents (1 Timothy 5.8).
- Be aware that there are dangers to avoid when we want to help other believers. The phrase “interest without interference” reminds us to be careful. Believers are to take a genuine interest in the welfare of other believers. We do have a responsibility to other believers; we are to support them, encourage them, come to their aid, and pray for them (Acts 6.1-4; Galatians 6.1-2,10; 1 Thessalonians 4.18; 5.11,14; Hebrews 3.13; 10.25). It is not our responsibility to interfere in their personal lives by attempting to run their lives, by judging them, by trying to make them accountable to us, or by being critical of them (Job 42.7-9; Proverbs 11.9-13; John 21.21-22; Romans 14.1-13; 1 Corinthians 4.5; Galatians 6.3-5; Colossians 3.23; 1 Timothy 5.13).