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BIBLICAL DEACONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A lesson taught at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, January 10, 2021

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson: “Take Time to be Holy”
       (by William D. Longstaff, 1822-1894; stanzas 1, 2 and 4).


This afternoon I want you to see what God says about deacons. Please turn to Acts 6:1-7 (p. 1156 Scofield).

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:1-7; p. 1156 Scofield).

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My long-time pastor at the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Dr. Timothy Lin, required all deacon candidates to pledge to honor ten requirements:


"Ten 'MUSTS' For A Deacon Candidate In The Church"

(1) Must have the desire to serve the Lord as a deacon and the willingness to honor one another.

(2) Must pursue the requirements set forth in 1 Tim. 3:1-10.

(3) Must study the Bible and pray every day and give tithes cheerfully and regularly.

(4) Must be married and the wife must be willing to assist her husband as a deacon to the best of her ability.

(5) Must be able to teach Sunday school.

(6) Must be willing to serve the Lord in any capacity, especially in visitation.

(7) Must attend all the basic meetings, such as worship services, Sunday school, prayer meetings, officers' meetings and business meetings; and support all Church organizations and projects.

(8) Must participate in training opportunities and the training of others through the Church Training Program or other programs.

(9) Must set a good example before younger Christians. Never argue with them or get angry with them without a training purpose.

(10) Must work with the pastors.

       (Dr. Timothy Lin, The Secret of Church Growth, pp. 45, 46).


Dr. Lin was right. If deacons followed what Dr. Lin said, they would not cause church splits. But it is not so today.

Deacons, in independent churches like ours, are the most likely to cause church splits. Deacons cause 92 percent of church splits in our churches. Deacons cause 93 percent of church splits in Southern Baptist churches. These figures are taken from Church Split by Dr. Roy L. Branson. Dr. W. A. Criswell said this about Dr. Branson’s book, Church Split,

If you miss any other book this year, do not miss Church Split.
It is one that every pastor needs to read.

– Dr. W. A. Criswell,
Long-time pastor of the
First Baptist church of
Dallas, Texas.


Dr. Lee Roberson, chancellor of Tennessee Temple University, said of Dr. Branson’s book,

Pastors and leaders will profit from the reading of this book.

Dr. Branson said, “Most deacons are dangerous because they are trying to do a job for which they have not been qualified” (Branson, p. 51).

How can we avoid splits in the future? Dr. Branson says we must return to first principles. Dr. Branson says that

a. Their program was preaching, praying, teaching and evangelizing.

b. They were governed by their pastors.

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7; p. 1304).

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17; p. 1304).

c. Winning the lost and teaching them was their passion.

d. Simplify everything!

Get rid of everything except preaching, praying, and evangelizing.

1. Get rid of monthly business meetings.

2. Get rid of deacons’ meetings.

3. Etc. (pp. 228, 229, 230 Branson).

4. Get rid of business meetings and all boards and councils.

Dr. Branson said, “The only ‘business meetings’ in the Bible were when the pastors/prophets gathered the people and said in essence, ‘This is what we are going to do,’ and the people responded, ‘Very well, we will do it.’”

Dr. Branson says, “Most deacons are dangerous because they try to do a job for which they are not qualified” (p. 51).

Deacons are not governing boards; they are not given any decision-making authority at all in the Bible. Rulership over the church is given explicitly to the pastor. God says,

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17; p. 1304).

One of the deacons asked, “Just what do you think deacons are supposed to do?”

The pastor opened Acts 6:1-6. Then the pastor said, “Here is the only job specifically given in the Bible.” The deacon said, “The Bible gives a whole lot more authority to the deacons than that!”

Then another deacon said, “I know the Bible gives the deacons a lot more do to than that.”

The pastor said, “That was the last we heard of the subject. Why? Because nothing is in the Bible to be found.”

Since deacons are not to be ordained and are not to tell the pastor what to do or not do, as the founder and pastor emeritus of this church, I will appoint right now three men as deacons for one year. I appoint Mr. Mencia, Mr. Ngann and John Wesley Hymers as deacons for one year, and Dr. Cagan for two years.

We will have one business meeting each January, in which I will appoint or reappoint the deacons for another year, if I see fit to do so.

I will now read the opening passage again. Please turn with me in your Bible to Acts 6:1-7 (p. 1156).

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:1-7).

Please stand and sing our hymn for today,

Take time to be holy, Speak oft with thy Lord;
     Abide in Him always, And feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, Help those who are weak,
     Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, The world rushes on;
     Much time spend in secret With Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, Like Him thou shalt be;
     Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul,
     Each thought and each motive Beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit To fountains of love,
     Thou soon shalt be fitted For service above.
     (“Take Time to be Holy” by William D. Longstaff, 1822-1894;
     stanzas 1, 2 and 4).