x322.......Tested and Proved
Often in the church of our day we will hear the concept that in order for someone to "be a minister" --or to "serve God"--a person must first be "tested and proved"
The question is this: Who is to decide what the test will be?
In most of our churches we have the "test" that a person must attend church faithfully--for years--before they could ever consider to become a "minister". (problem: Acts9--Saul is with the church at Damascus for only a few days before he is released to minister the Gospel-----Jesus released His apostles after training them for only a few weeks or months at most---the Bible teaches adn demonstrates that new covenant ministry is a gift, just like the Gospel--something which happens when someone simply meets Jesus with faith)
What we really have--because of our concept of authority in the church--is the idea that the leadership--the pastors--(whatever we decide to name them)--has the right to test someone--has the right to decide when and how someone will be a "allowed" to serve God. Unfortunately we function under the old testament system of tithing--which works in the opposite direction--encouraging leaders to "hold" people rather than release people (the devil must get a kick out of what we call "pastoral ministry"--as it is the exact opposite of what the Bible tells us!! In John chpater 9 and 10, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd (pastor) directly after He has relased the blind man to apostleship)
We make ourselves into a cult--into a social group that has an "initiation test"--by the rules of man--when we do not operate by the rules of God.
The test of whether someone can be a "minister" is clearly stated in the Bible--
8* ¶ Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9* Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10* And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11* Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12* Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13* For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 timothy 3:8-13)
This, according to the Bible is the "proof" of a deacon (minister--diakonia--meaning servant). Important to note--that there is no requirement that the deacon "not be a novice" (someone who is new in the Lord")--as there is with a bishop.
The truth is that the church of the Bible met in their homes--
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15, KJV).
The House of God--"the pillar and ground of the truth"--were homes--not temples or large buildings operating under the authority of man. The deacons were people who operated churches within their homes. Note that the "proof" of the deacon relates strongly to the home--the stability of their home life. They were being qualified to be home ministers--to operate churches within their homes. The "bishop" was someone who was the "overseer" the person who organized these home churches--he has almost the same requirements as the deacon--except that this person (by the way they can be either men or women) "should not be a novice"--someone new in the Lord.
Something which we totally ignore about pure Biblical ministry is that the "deacons" (Greek diakonos--meaning servant) are in fact the "five-fold" ministers. The gifts which are described as the "gift of Christ" in Ephesians chapter 4 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) are the anointings for the diakonos (the word is translated as "ministry" in Ephesians 4--and as "deacon" in 1Timothy).
Of course in our day and age there is no need for "the pillar and ground of the truth"--we are sure that God wants us to meet in large buildings--which we call both the "house of God" and "the assembly". We are sure that we want a pastor to be ruler of this house--and that we are under his authority--and that we ought to wait years and years to become a "deacon" which is actually not a minister--but a title that says you have attended church faithfully for a long time!
When all we do is extract those few words out of the Bible--and do not read the context of it--we come up with our wrong idea that it is "up to the leadership" ---they decide what they think it means to be "tested and proved".
God has a proof of deacon.
The church of the Bible was interested in qualifying absolutely everyone they could as "deacons" to set up as many "houses of God" as they possibly could. Doesn't this simply make sense as a quick, effecient and effective way to grow God's kingdom? Wouldn't this put much more of our time, effort and money into Christ's purposes--to spread the Gospel, feed the poor, bring healing and deliverance as well as the precious commodity which we sorely lack------RELEASE!
What if we took on the same prerogative?