6 1 Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις πληθυνόντων τῶν μαθητῶν ἐγένετο γογγυσμὸς τῶν Ἑλληνιστῶν πρὸς τοὺς Ἑβραίους, ὅτι παρεθεωροῦντο ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ τῇ καθημερινῇ αἱ χῆραι αὐτῶν. 2 προσκαλεσάμενοι δὲ οἱ δώδεκα τὸ πλῆθος τῶν μαθητῶν εἶπαν• οὐκ ἀρεστόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς καταλείψαντας τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ διακονεῖν τραπέζαις. 3 ἐπισκέψασθε δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἄνδρας ἐξ ὑμῶν μαρτυρουμένους ἑπτά, πλήρεις πνεύματος καὶ σοφίας, οὓς καταστήσομεν ἐπὶ τῆς χρείας ταύτης, 4 ἡμεῖς δὲ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ διακονίᾳ τοῦ λόγου προσκαρτερήσομεν. 5 καὶ ἤρεσεν ὁ λόγος ἐνώπιον παντὸς τοῦ πλήθους καὶ ἐξελέξαντο Στέφανον, ἄνδρα πλήρης πίστεως καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου, καὶ Φίλιππον καὶ Πρόχορον καὶ Νικάνορα καὶ Τίμωνα καὶ Παρμενᾶν καὶ Νικόλαον προσήλυτον Ἀντιοχέα, 6 οὓς ἔστησαν ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀποστόλων, καὶ προσευξάμενοι ἐπέθηκαν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας. 7 Καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ηὔξανεν καὶ ἐπληθύνετο ὁ ἀριθμὸς τῶν μαθητῶν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ σφόδρα, πολύς τε ὄχλος τῶν ἱερέων ὑπήκουον τῇ πίστει.
The healthy church grows through internal problems Acts 6.1-7 We've had hypocrisy/deceit, and external persecution - now we are also told about internal murmuring/dissension. 1. The problem: stuff isn't getting done as it should be (6.1) Reassuring to see that this kind of problem goes back to the earliest church! Combination of different 'types' of people feeling they're being treated differently, along with a genuine administrative overload. 2. The solution: new structures that enable the priority of Word and prayer, yet still meet practical needs (6.2-6) A healthy church approaches problems in a healthy way (it still has problems!) Growth brings new tension and pressure points; healthy churches find ways to implement structures that enable rather than hinder. Structures that preserve and protect word and prayer as primary. Examples of this along the way at TCC. v3 - it should be possible to tell when someone is 'full of the Spirit' - not simply an internal feeling. cf Ephesians 5.18-21 'Devote' - to give irrevocably to God. Strategic priorities. cf Jesus in Mark 1. The idea of 'keeping the main thing the main thing'. Some things are more foundational than others - lose prayer and Word, you lose everything. cf Jesus' insistence in going from place to place preaching, 'for that is why I have come'. Analogy of losing parts of the body - we need them all, but some are simply more 'primary' than others (eg the heart). 3. The Word of God continued to increase (6.7) Despite the internal and external storms, the church has weathered them by the grace of God and is continuing to grow. Luke's language is significant; the 'word of God' continued to increase. Church planting is quite rightly considered the planting of the word of God, so that it multiplies and bears fruit. Obedient to the faith; i.e., they did what the faith says! Which is to turn and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and live a new life under His rule.
1 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. 2 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 tables. 3 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. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:1-7 ESV v1 complaint. Murmuring/dissension. Key principle: all Christians called to minister. Every member ministry. But those called to Word and prayer must not let anything remove them from that. If I do nothing else, I will preach and teach the word, and pray. The word cannot spread when the ministry of the word is neglected. Need of the hour nationally! Again, everything wasn't rose-tinted. Along with persecution and dishonesty, stuff wasn't getting done! The apostles felt a frustration; they can't do everything that needs to be done. 'As the community grows and becomes more complex, it restructures to meet fresh needs, especially by choosing qualified people closest to a problem to help resolve it.' (Bock, p255) Like us as TCC has developed; reviewing and adapting structures. The trellis and the vine principle. They don't paper over the issue of the widows, but confront it in a healthy way. A healthy church has plenty of problems and issues, but it engages them in a healthy way. Obedient to the faith; i.e., they did what the faith says! Which is to turn and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and live a new life under His rule. v3 - it should be possible to tell when someone is 'full of the Spirit' - not simply an internal feeling. cf Ephesians 5.18-21 'Devote' - to give irrevocably to God. Strategic priorities. The idea of 'keeping the main thing the main thing'. Some things are more foundational than others - lose prayer and Word, you lose everything. cf Jesus' insistence in going from place to place preaching, 'for that is why I have come'. Analogy of losing parts of the body - we need them all, but some are simply more 'primary' than others. How did they know that these seven were full of the Holy Spirit? God's glory: FCF: getting dragged off-topic, off-centre. Grumbling? by nature: prone to wander. Distractable. Prone to address the seemingly urgent and ignore the important. by choice: we choose to grumble since we distort the world through our self-centred lens. Jesus' person: Never dragged off-mission. Never grumbled. Forgives our grumbling. Jesus' work: He achieved absolutely everything He set out to do. Resolutely completed His work. He gives His Spirit to make us sufficient for every interruption and problem we face. specific repentance: stop grumbling! Remember Word and prayer are central and foundational. specific faith: The Word of God increases when it is honoured.