Scripture tells us almost nothing about the selection, work, and office of the deacon.
In the early church, deacons were church officers—third to bishops and elders—and they had to be obeyed and respected “as Jesus Christ.” (Tabb, B. J. (2016). Deacon.) Mounce (Pastoral Epistles) points out that at one point the deacon was over the church serving the bishop (Pastoral Epistles, 210) instead of serving the church. Today, a deacon is everything from a trustee to ordained ministers who are a step down from priests.
Are Christians throughout time, before the return of Christ, to anoint the sick with oil to bring about healing? After all, it is a practice common to Christendom even when Christians don’t believe there is a promise of healing tied to the practice. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Charismatics, and various forms of the most Fundamentalist Christians (yes, even some Plymouth Brethren) all do it with various degrees of expectation (or not). The early Disciples did it (Mark 6:13) and James 5:14, the text in question, seems to command it.
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
Notice that it’s not a finished thought. The sentence carries the topic down to verse 20. Because of that, I’m going to take this piece-meal, asking questions, and often looking at the context.
Pleased to Meet You, Do You Know The Name of Satan?
Either Satan gets blamed for almost everything or ignored as if he doesn’t exist. Known by many names—the Devil (Matt 5:1), Belial (2 Cor 6:15), Beelzebul (Matt 10:25)—that basically describe his character.
So when we see names like The Evil One (Matt 13:19), the Prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), the god of this present age (2 Cor 4:4), the Father of Lies (John 8), the great accuser, Satan (Job 1:6): they tell us what he’s like.
Honestly, typing this makes me a bit nervous. That will either have some folk laughing at me or confused that I would carry on with this foolish endeavor. But, I spent some time studying him in Scripture and I wanted to share my notes.
I have no intention of examining Satan’s activities throughout history, or how he may have been behind this or that event. Indeed, I don’t have many notes on the intertestamental development of the doctrine of Satan and I frankly don’t think it’s helpful in understanding him.
My nervousness lies in hoping to properly represent the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). I don’t want to follow in the foolish error of men who go on to do what not even an archangel dares to do (Jude 9,10) so I approach with the reliance on God’s word.
This is one of my longer posts, so I’ve divided it into the following sections. If you would rather not read the full post, each section ends with a short summary.
What is faith? I’ve seen answers that range from another religion (for example “one of many faiths”) down through some sort of fairy-tale opinion that stands opposed to science.
In the Bible, we’ll see all sorts of usage on “faith” and “belief”—sometimes even referring to when someone adheres to the doctrines that make up Christianity. One of the best usages of faith is the one that is tied to the concept of justification.
Faith is just an archaic word for trust. What I love about seeing faith, or trust, tied to justification in texts like Romans 4 (see more of the Romans study), that it explains the nature of the concept even while using, basically, case-law. No more fuzzy lessons grounded in someone’s personal trust issues, but rather taking the structure of Hebrews 11:1 where it says “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” and garnishing it with doctrinal meat.
Should I raise my hands when I pray (or sing) in the local church? Which music should we use in our local church worship? Should my kids be allowed to dance during a good praise song at the assembly? Shall I be allowed to say “amen” after any song I feel particularly touched by during worship service? Can we change the complete structure of the meeting of the local church? Should we say the Nicene Creed at the gathering of the local church?
In all of these questions we’re really just asking, “What am I allowed to do?” I’ve said it in another post but before answering the questions you have to actually figure out why we come together at all. After you identify that purpose for gathering you then figure out your freedoms within that gathering. In other words, first you ask “why do we assemble?” then you ask, “What should I be doing when we’re assembled?”
Why we assemble is the main question to answer but I think Scripture would have us ask several probing questions that help tie down both the purpose of the church while examining any of our actions.