are not always written in straight-forward language; after all, it’s the
pleasure of the Lord to hide a matter. Some one once suggested every scripture
contains more than 3 layers. We may not have enough time in this life to prove
that, but we do know for certain the words authored by the Lord are to be
rightly divided, and we are to find “here a little, there a little, line upon
is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search
out a matter.
can see two solid pillars of truth in what has been written for our learning.
With study, we can carefully bridge between the two if the planks we use are
strong, and scriptural. There is a great gap in the continuing story of
original sin. Adam falls silent. In fact, little is said of him after he is
expelled from the garden. The story jumps to the birth of his first two sons,
born sometime after Adam and Eve took up their second residence.
us nothing of Cain and Abel except their order of birth and that they were given
to different professions. Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she
conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 4:2
And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain
was a tiller of the ground.
And then the
story of the offerings: Gen 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that
Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4:4
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 4:5 But unto
Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his
countenance fell. We are quick to point out the obvious in verses four and
five, that is, the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering, but not unto
Cain and his offering. Many will conclude the difference is the result of God’s
election. But that’s not the key lesson to be taken away from this story. We
always need to read God’s word carefully. A strong case can be made that Abel
is elect and Cain was not, we ought not to head to before the foundation of the
world immediately when examining these verses.
Some will argue
God didn’t respect the offering because it was from Cain, whom the scripture
says, he did not respect. We’ve heard it said Cain was lazy and brought only
that which he plucked from the ground. Others say God didn’t respect Cain’s
offering because the ground from which it came was cursed, but there’s more
going on here. In order for these two young men to bring sacrifices to God,
someone had to instruct them. They didn’t just wake up one day and decide this
would be something interesting. We can safely conclude their temperaments were
as different as their choice of livelihood. The timing of offering was not
coincidental. They had been taught.
The Lord himself
might have taught them, but in all likelihood it was our silent Adam. We know
there’s awareness involved because of the timing of the sacrifice. Cain
knew when to bring it to God. Abel knew when to bring it as well.
Someone had trained or instructed these young men on when to bring forth a
sacrifice, and what to bring. Abel brought the firstlings of the flock
and the fat thereof. There had to be an animal death involved: a blood
sacrifice. God had respect unto Abel and unto his offering. His sacrifice was
accepted. If Cain had brought the same type of sacrifice – the firstling of the
flock and the fat thereof, he too would have been accepted. That’s a bold
statement many will take immediate issue with, for elsewhere the scripture calls
Cain – that evil one.
So how do we
know that if Cain had made a blood sacrifice similar to Abel’s he would have
been accepted? God said so. Gen 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art
thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? Gen 4:7 If thou doest
well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the
door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. If
thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? How is it one is accepted? We
have to look to the sample given us. Abel’s offering was accepted, therefore,
he did well (was obedient) and therefore he himself was accepted.
Cain had been
instructed also, to take the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof and
present it to the Lord on a particular day. Abel was obedient. Cain was not.
In fact, we have to conclude Cain was knowingly disobedient. Not only did he
refuse to take a lamb, (it’s no stretch to make the sacrifice a lamb) he
deliberately took fruit from the ground that God had cursed as an affront to the
Lord. He offered him cursed goods in a mocking manner.
Cain is the
first human ever born to earthly parents. He is the first to receive Adam’s
fallen nature and the first ever to inherit total depravity. In this sacrifice
Cain shows off his inherited Adamic sin. Cain is a type of the
unrepentant enemy of God – us – before the new birth. Abel is our type
of life after the new birth. Cain, our old human nature, versus Abel, the
God-loving spirit imparted to us, a picture of our dual nature and struggle.
nature allowed jealousy to enter the picture and he became the first to take a
physical human life: Gen 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it
came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his
brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said
unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my
brother's keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy
brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Cain in further
defiance gives God a blood sacrifice in his brother. Would God have had respect
unto Cain and his offering had he been obedient? The scriptures indicate he
would. But mocking God has a price – and in this case, reaping what one has
sown, literally. Cain’s mocking curse backfires. Gen 4:11 And now [art] thou
cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's
blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not
henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be
in the earth. Cursed from the earth. The very cursed earth where you Cain
obtained his cursed offering. No more will you easily produce yield you could
use to mock God. As a tiller of the ground, even your livelihood shall be
against you. We always say you reap in the same garden you sow.
obedience follows him to this day: By faith Abel offered unto God a more
excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was
righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
flaunting of God was Satan’s second attempt on mankind. Throw the curse back
into the face of God, and slay the righteous servant. 1Jo
3:12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his
brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his
get so excited when we see something that supports our view we run ahead before
laying the planks before the two pillars. Cain’s works – the only ones we have
recorded in scripture, are contrasted with Abel’s. Because his own works
were evil, and his brother's righteous. That sentence alone tells us it’s
not the murder of Abel that labels Cain as evil. It’s the comparison – bringing
forth a sacrifice blatantly abhorrent to the Lord.
better. He had received the same instruction as his brother, for he knew the
timing, and it doesn’t make sense that someone would have taught him the day of
the sacrifice and not the proper accepted sacrifice.
It would be
years before the law of sacrifice would be penned down and man would learn about
blessings in obedience, and being cursed in disobedience. God didn’t give us a
day by day account of the early life of Cain and Abel; we just get a few simple
sentences in Genesis that speak volumes to us about obeying God, true
sacrifice, the consequences of Adam’s sin and depravity, jealousy, strife,
murder, blood speaking, and sin having dominion in our lives.
Cain knew better. And
usually, although we are slow to admit it, so do we.
Bro. Royce Ellis
“Deacons- Their Wages”
Last time we tried to
make a distinction between that terms “qualifications” verses the “qualities”
of a deacon. We came to understand that the scriptures revel to us that it is
the “qualities” spiritual man and not the “qualifications” of a
man that we are to seek out in persons that we are to be placed in the office of
a deacon. And with this thought, hopefully still in our minds let’s continue to
move forward with the consideration of exactly what “wages of a deacon are.”
We notice that one of the first deacon’s in Acts chapter six; and the first one
mentioned is a man named Stephen, whose name means “crown,” he was one of
the seven who served the church at Jerusalem. After he was chosen and ordained
in Acts chapter six, it was evident that the “qualities” that God had
blessed him with made him well “qualified” to fill his office. And it was
these “qualities” that God had given him that brought him to a death by
which he was blessed to be able to give God so much glory. We find him standing
and speaking to a group the Sadducees and Pharisees who found themselves utterly
helpless before the force of his witness and the logic of his reasoning. He was
well grounded being thoroughly acquainted with the Holy Scriptures of the Old
Testament, in which the “council” of Jews who were also well versed, and
this was in and of itself a disconcerting thing for them. Because the more that
he successfully met each one of their arguments against the truth, the more
their anger grew against him. Finally Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin
where he preached one of the most fully recorded sermons in the New Testament.
Finally it was their
madness that brought them to become a murderous mob rushing forth to take his
life. For when his enemies could do nothing with his arguments or his preaching,
they took matters into their own hands. And contrary to both Roman and Jewish
law, they seized Stephen and without awaiting a sentence against him, he was
taken as a blasphemer and stoned to death. This beloved and faithful deacon died
as he had lived, as a witness to the Christ whom he had served. And with his
last breath he shouts with triumph, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts
7:59), and with mercy in his words he said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their
charge” (Acts 7:60).
When we consider what
happened to our Brother Stephen, does it seem to us that it worth while to serve
as a deacon? This is exactly the kind of self examination that is required that
the man of God who is called to be a deacon. He must be mindful that others have
given their lives for their faith in Jesus; there is an endless list of martyrs
whose blood was shed for the cause of Christ and His dear Kingdom.
When we consider the
thought of the wages for a deacon it is always hard to even think about rewards,
and this is because we all must remember that we are debtors to grace. Each one
of us, like the Apostle Paul, seeing ourselves again and again as being “the
chief of sinners,” especially when we consider the price that Christ paid to
redeem us from our many sins. The rewards or “wages” that we receive are
all determined by the grace of God. For us, even death is a profit, for we know
that “to die is gain.” There can be no doubt that the purpose of all the
promises of God serve to strengthen our faith and to urge us onward and upward
to our fullest effort, as well as to encourage us in the midst of our struggles.
For the deacon, hard
work is what is called for, their consecration is challenged, and their
sacrifice is expected; but the rewards or “wages” far outweigh the
effort. What “wages” does the deacon receive? In the world’s riches,
there isn’t enough gold and silver that could ever pay for such faithfulness and
devotion. But in the blessings of God, untold riches of grace are ever with such
a one of these faithful servants of Christ.
witness is found an end in his martyrdom. Philip, another of the seven is
recorded to have served for over twenty years, and yet we understand that he was
martyred at Tralles in Asia Minor. Prochorus was ordained as an elder and became
the bishop (or pastor) at Philippi. And he is also believed to have been
martyred at Antioch. And Parmenas, tradition says, was martyred at Philippi
during the reign of Trajan.
The scriptures tell
us that Nicolas was a proselyte of Antioch, which suggests that the other six
were probably Jews by birth. It is said that he became the founder of the
Nicolaitanes, a heretical sect in the churches of the first century which is
condemned by Jesus in Revelation 2:6 and 15. But bear in mind that this is
tradition, not fact. It is entirely possible that the opinions of this sect did
not come directly from his preaching. But it is possible that all of these seven
men, godly, dedicated, and deeply spiritual deacons, came at last to a martyr’s
death. And the question that is before us is “was their deacon’s office worth
such a high price?”
How much value is
there in the fact that they were enabled by the Holy Ghost to meet their hour
victoriously? Is it fair to say that the man who serves God faithfully as a
deacon may expect, (as I’m sure that these brethren did,) that God will
provide for them an extra degree of victorious grace in the trials that will
come to them and as an extra joy a crown of glory? And is it not this very same
grace which He gives to us today? I believe so!
The scriptures reveal that the results of the
election and ordination of the seven had an almost immediate result. It is
written that “The word of God increased.” I believe that it safe to say
that the “word of God increased” both “quantitatively” and “qualitatively;”
“quantitatively” in that there was a greater number of witnesses added to
the church, and “qualitatively” as in the effectiveness of the pastor’s
ministry, and all of this in keeping with the will of God concerning how that we
too are to do things in the church today.
who have a desire to make their pastor a more able preacher, preaching with
power and the demonstration of the spirit, have an opportunity to; by and
through the grace and guidance of the Holy Ghost, to realize that as the result.
According to the New Testament pattern, nothing more can be done which would
have the result of the multiple blessings of Christ, than to have good and
faithful deacons working at the task assigned to them by the church.
“The number of the
disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). And as we as God’s
elect people in the Kingdom adhere to the old paths remaining true to that
pattern; we will also reap the same great and wondrous harvest. I’m not saying
that great multitudes of people are going to crowd into our church houses, but
we ought not to be surprised at what the Lord of the harvest will bring to us in
keeping with His wondrous mercy.
When these at the
church at Jerusalem took up the responsibility of the office according to the
scriptures the result was an ingathering of souls. And so great was the result
that the words of these first seven faithful deacons that “a great company of
priests were obedient to the faith” were added to the church. And can there
be any doubt that the influence of godly, faithful, consecrated and dedicated
men will reach into both high and low places being forth a good witness to those
within the church as well as to those outside.
A man who is willing
to serve faithfully as a deacon also has as his reward the fellowship with the
saints of God. He has his part with these very same first seven men who in like
manner were elected and served in the first church. What a blessing to have the
knowledge that he is a part of an unbroken line of deacon’s going all of the way
back to that first church of Jesus Christ, and to His Apostles!
As a source
of support to the pastor they have a close relationship with him that is unlike
any other relationship that is found in the world. Not only does he have the
fellowship of a family tie but the fellowship of a divinely ordained service as
a reward that is without measure! But how could there be any better wages than
And we read
that men who “have used the office of deacon well purchase to themselves a
good degree” (1 Tim. 3:13). In fact, no human “degree” that has ever
been given by mortal man could be more deserved than one accorded to the man who
has devoted his life to the service of God, Christ Jesus and His people.
The word “degree”
in this passage in First Timothy means a “threshold” or a “step.”
It is used to picture a grade of dignity and wholesome influence in the church.
Not an advance in rank, as is in worldly religions, but a position in the esteem
of his fellow servants in God’s house.
Before a man is
elected as a deacon in the church he is like many others in the church. But as
they faithfully serve, they almost visibly increase in spiritual stature. And if
they humbly exercise their office faithfully they will develop in their
spiritual effectiveness in the eyes of the church. This growth is caused when
having put their hand to the plow and not looking backward, they are always
moving forward step by step towards the “degree” that is spoken of for
the deacon who faithfully serves.
that comes to the faithful deacon is a great “boldness” in the faith,
which the word that is most often used to describe the ministry of our Lord
Jesus Christ. This had to do with His bearing before those who were against Him.
Nothing intimidated our Lord’s word. And the testimony of His apostles was that
they too, like their Master, spoke the word of God with boldness, just like
Jesus did, which came to them as a result of their fellowship with Him. And the
New Testament scriptures say that deacons are to have “great boldness in the
faith” (1 Tim. 3:13). This means that they are to have a confident public
expression of the faith, such as would belong to a seasoned deacon who has
gained a good standing and in consequence and has no temptation to be “doubletongued.”
How many churches are handicapped by timid men? These men who are
elected into the office of deacon are to not be timid, but they step out and
take the lead and go forth into the labor of the Kingdom of God, pulling
together all of the resources within and without the church. When something like
the lawn needs to be cut, they gather together the laborers to meet the task.
When the roof is leaking, they don’t need to go into conference; they act and
get the job taken care of. They are quick to listen to the opinions of others,
and most willing to follow the plan which someone else has suggested and which
others approved. Standing for, and under girding the efforts of their pastor
with encouragement and the wisdom that God has richly blessed him with. This “quality”
is not lightly bestowed by our Lord. It’s given to His faithful servants, the
tired and experienced deacon, the man who has been willing to accept the full
responsibility of his office for the delight that is found in faithfully serving
His Lord Jesus Christ, for the love of His kingdom and His brethren.
I say that the
wages of the deacon are immeasurable, because they are the blessings of God
which flow and are innumerable. Beloved there can be no greater privilege then
to be chosen of the church under the wisdom of God to be an Old Primitive
Next time we will try
to take up the thought that means so much to me and to elders who serve as
pastors in old Baptist Churches and that is that “quality” of a deacon
who sets the ministry free.