The Church and Her Message
A Sermon on Acts 6:1-7
Seven Chosen to Serve
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. 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. 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. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 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. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
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. (ESV)
The early church was led by the apostles of Christ. They were normal men, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes, yet they became students of Jesus Christ and God’s Word. We see in this that Christianity was a religion of teaching from the earliest days. It was not, as many erroneously claim, an anti-intellectual and anti-doctrinal movement. But the early church committed itself to the study of the apostles teaching and of Scripture. This concern with doctrine and teaching was not simply academic, but it was done out of hearts and minds that had been transformed by the Gospel and the power of God. And they were beholden with the glory of God as their Savior and Redeemer. This serves as a reminder to many who see doctrine as cold and abstract, and utterly disconnected from the real world. But as Lloyd-Jones demonstrates, we see the apostles committed to the teaching of God, but also boldly proclaiming the Gospel, and caring for the poor and sick. How they thought about God and his power influenced them to act in the world. The church of modern times should take this example to heart. And they should be encouraged to learn what the Bible teaches, and to follow that teaching.