Read: Acts 20
Last words carry great meaning. We often talk about the last recorded words of Jesus in the Great Commission, to go and make disciples; it’s what gives us purpose as a church! In Acts 20:17-38, we see Paul’s last words to a group of believers that should bring great encouragement to us as we seek to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
We know that Paul believes that this will be the last time he sees these people face to face in verse 25. His last address to the Ephesian elders hold many Biblical principles that are very applicable to us today (along with my commentary on a few of them!):
1. Paul served humbly and boldly in the midst of tears and trials, . (19-20) The hard things that were to come did not affect the humility that he had toward God or others, nor the boldness he had in declaring the gospel. How often do you and I crumble under stress or suffering? By God’s grace, we can respond to difficulties in life in a way that pleases God!
2. Paul taught and applied the gospel as his central message. (20-21, 27) Paul was a really intelligent guy, but there was a reason that he kept coming back to the gospel: the gospel is what both saves and sanctifies! Without the work of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, we have no hope! (1 Cor. 15:17-19)
3. Paul is submissive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in his life and ministry, even in the face of suffering. (22-23) What’s interesting to me is that Paul knows that his future is going to bring pain, and yet the ruling desire of his heart is to give his life for the sake of the gospel.
4. Paul gave everything for the sake of the gospel. (24) Verse 24 is one of those verses that is worth plastering on anything you look at throughout the day and committing it to memory!
5. Paul cautions the Ephesian elders to guard against those who would come in and lead people astray theologically. (29-31) We know from Revelation 2 that the church in Ephesus would not always be as healthy as it was when Paul left. It is not an accident that people began attacking the church through attacking what the church believed. As church leaders, we need your help in prayer and commitment to the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures so that we might be found faithful in what we teach and how what we teach transforms the lives of people.
6. Paul pointed them to God and his grace. (32) More than his own gifting or power, Paul understood that it was God’s grace and God’s Word that would build up and bring life-change to the people of God. This is no different for us today!
Is there one of the points from Paul’s life that you want to make more true of your own? How do you think you might go about a plan to seek God’s help in changing that part of your life?
By: Graham Withers
It's all so riveting, Graham...
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)
That’s good Korbet!
I pray every day that the Holy Spirit will keep the church and myself from deception, which, with social media, is more prevalent today than ever.
Great message today, Graham.
True and a great prayer!
#5 makes me grateful for the leaders that we are surrounded with at CPC. No one is perfect, so this is not meant to put anyone on a pedestal other than God and the saving work of his Son and the Holy Spirit within us, but there are plenty of people, those within CPC leadership and those who are outside of that, who know the Bible, care about doing things based on what the Bible says, and will not bend their convictions to please those who just want to hear nice things. I’m thankful that we as a church talk about the uncomfortable things, that we learn what the Bible says, and not what tickles our ears (2 Timothy 4:3). Grateful for the example Paul set in that regard, and that we can learn from it even still today. Praying that we as a church can stay away from false doctrine and hold fast to what is true, God’s word.
Yes I’m thankful for that too!
I want Acts 20:24 to be what my life is centered upon. I want to do exactly that which is God's will in my life and to faithfully pursue the ministry opportunities He has given me. I want to be someone that knows the cost (v. 22-23), but does not count the cost (v. 24). Jesus has given me far too much and is way too glorious for anything less than that.
Awesome motivation man!