Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
For the ordination of Mark Buxton, Ken Floyd, and Dan Hedrick
Second Baptist Church, February 27, 2005
Our text has traditionally been viewed as the beginning of the office of Deacons. The early church set aside honest and wise men, full of the Holy Ghost, to minister to widows in the congregation.
These seven men, before they were ordained, already possessed the qualifications necessary to fulfill their roles. Ordination does not convey qualities. It is merely a congregation’s recognition of God’s prior choice.
Ordination simply declares a church already sees in certain men the evidence of God’s selection. We are not giving these three any new power. We are acknowledging certain functions they already perform, and qualifications they already possess.
Once we lay hands on you three men, you will become walking illustrations of our church, extensions of us all. Once we ordain you, you will become almost alter-egos to this fellowship. You are to embody individually what we are to be corporately. Thus, we are reasonable in expecting certain actions of you.
I. PLEASE GOD
We should be assured you live a life pleasing to the Father. Your first responsibility is to God. He is entrusting you with His people. In your hands are being placed God’s precious possessions, the sheep of His pasture.
In Exodus 29 the priests were consecrated, set apart to a special work. Their ordination included a concluding ritual called “filling of the hands.” A piece of the sacred sacrifice was placed in the initiate’s hand, thereby introducing them into the priestly function.
The symbolism was stark. God was entrusting His sacred things into their hands, granting them a sacred trust to oversee.
It is an honor to be trusted by God. It is also a grave responsibility. Betraying a trust from God has ruined many.
Nadab and Ahihu were priests. When they offered strange fire before the Lord they were consumed. Korah, a Levite, rebelled against God’s leaders and was struck down. Samson, a Nazarite, defiled himself, broke his vow, and landed in a Philistine prison.
Uzziah, a King, presumptuously violated the Holy Place in the Temple. He was immediately smitten with leprosy. The disease clave to him till he died. Of Judas Iscariot, chosen as one of the Twelve, Jesus said, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born” (MT 26:24).
If you three don’t please God, our whole church will suffer as a consequence. Do all you can to please Him in every phase of your life.
II. BE AN EXAMPLE
Greater privilege necessarily brings greater responsibility. We expect your standards to be above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.
Like it or not, we who are ordained are on the losing side of a double standard. There’s no way around it. People expect us to walk more circumspectly than they do. This is not right, and should not be, but that’s the way it is.
Paul knew his life would be scrutinized. Hence, he was willing to go the extra mile and give up meat to keep from offending a brother.
You will henceforth be on a pedestal. People will be watching you. Your finances must be handled impeccably. Your forms of entertainment and places of fun must be above reproach. Your words must be carefully chosen.
III. BLESS US
Develop sweetness. Your personality should radiate the Lord. Be kind in every situation. Have friends nearby to whom you can let off steam and unload, but never explode before the people. In their presence, always exemplify Christ’s love and patience for them.
Uplift the people. You are not called to impress us or dazzle us, but rather to warm, cheer, help, and encourage us. Bless us, we pray.
The people are not here for you, but rather vica versa. We are not to build a ministry of success at their expense. Ordained ones must lose themselves in caring for the fellowship.
Moses became so intertwined with the people that he preferred death to seeing their destruction. David sinned by taking a census. As a result, God plagued the nation and many died. As the death angel approached Jerusalem, David went out to meet it, and asked God to punish only him and his family, not all the people.
We are entrusting ourselves into your watch-care. Senior adults, median adults, young marrieds, singles, teenagers, children, babies ( all these are being placed in your hands. Bless us everyone.
IV. BE WISE LEADERS
Since deacons would be dealing with people in homes, up close and personal, they needed the ability to make wise decisions. Wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit, knowing Scripture, experience, and seeking counsel from others.
Everything rises or falls on leadership. God has always led His people through chosen leaders.
When God’s people have been their best, a leader’s name has been inseparably connected with them. Marching out of Egypt – Moses. Conquering Canaan – Joshua. A strong united nation – David and Solomon. Returning from exile – Ezra and Nehemiah. Jerusalem revival – Simon Peter. Harvest of Gentiles – Paul.
We are counting on you three men to lead us well. Be wise leaders.
V. HELP US HAVE A CONTENTED FELLOWSHIP
In our text, what the leaders proposed pleased the people. The disorder was stopped. Complaints ceased.
Deacons are called to help meet the needs of the people. A fellowship of believers is more contented when it knows Deacons are available to help maintain their contentment.
Deacons should do all they can to keep church members satisfied, and to maintain peace among brothers. “How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (PS 133:1). Help us be a family.
VI. HELP US EXPAND THE KINGDOM
With their problem solved, the church was able to return to making the main thing the main thing. They returned to the business of reaching the lost.
The duties assumed by the Deacons released the twelve to spend more time in prayer and the Word. This resulted in growth as more and more responded to the Word.
Two of the seven became famous soulwinners. Stephen defended the faith publicly and forcefully before laying down his life as a martyr before Saul of Tarsus. Augustine said, “The Church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen.”
Philip, another Deacon, became a champion of the Great Commission. He realized all the world needed the Gospel.
Philip pioneered the work in Samaria (AC 8:5), and won the Ethiopian Eunuch. We need men with this kind of vision for winning the lost, men who see the whole world needs Christ and intend to spread His good news to every creature.