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Getting Ready for Our Final Goodbye (Part 2)
The Book of Acts - Part 73
Acts 20:17-31
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - February 8, 2015
BACKGROUND:
*Acts 20 was a pivotal time in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.
In these verses Paul reflected on the past, and tried to prepare the church leaders of Ephesus for life without him.
Our main focus tonight is vs. 21-31, but to put it in context, let's start reading at vs. 17.
MESSAGE:
*Eugene J. Toni was a Vietnam veteran.
In 1991, Eugene made a visit to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Standing under a full moon, he flipped through the directory of names on the wall.
Mr. Toni was mostly looking for friends, but he turned to the T's in a long-shot search for an uncle he never met.
Instead, Mr. Toni was shocked to see his own name.
Eugene and his wife, Nancy, walked down to panel 17 and counted down to line 121.
Eugene later said, "I showed her my name and then we both looked at each other like we couldn't believe it."
(1)
*It was a wake-up call for them both.
And this passage of Scripture should be a wake-up call for us.
In vs. 25, Paul told the church leaders of Ephesus that they would never see him again in this world.
But Paul was ready for that final goodbye.
In tonight's Scripture, he helps us know how to get ready, and it all goes back to the Word of God.
1. First: We must receive our ministry for God's Word.
*Paul received His ministry to the fullest, and he testified about this truth in vs. 22-24.
There Paul said:
22. . .
"See, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23.
except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24.
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
*The Lord Jesus gave that ministry to Paul, and he received it to the fullest.
How did Paul do that?
[1] First: He counted the cost.
*To the best of Paul's ability, he counted the cost of serving Jesus Christ.
And Paul didn't know all the details about the trouble coming his way.
But the Holy Spirit let Paul know that there would be a high price to pay.
*Again in vs. 22-24, Paul said:
22. . .
"See, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23.
except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24.
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself. .
."
*In a most inspiring way, Paul counted the cost of following Jesus.
And the Lord wants us to do the same thing.
In Luke 14:27-33, Jesus clearly said:
27. . .
"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it
29.
lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him,
30.
saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
31.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32.
Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
33.
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
[2] How did Paul receive His ministry from the Lord Jesus?
He counted the cost.
And he ran the race.
*In vs. 24, Paul said, "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
*About 10 years later, Paul was about to die, and he was able to testify that he had finished the race.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
*Where would we be right now if Paul hadn't counted the cost and finished the race?
Which great books of the New Testament would be missing today?
Would the gospel have spread throughout Europe, over to the United States, and to us? Thank God that the gospel did get spread!
And it did in large part because Paul counted the cost and ran the race.
*Now God has given each one of us a unique ministry for His Word, specific places to testify about "the gospel of the grace of God," and specific people to testify to about "the gospel of the grace of God."
*Because of who you are, and where you live, the people you know and the gifts you have, you may be the only person in the world who can touch a person in your circle of influence.
Tell them about the cross, and what it means to you!
*One of the most inspirational people I met at seminary was a young lady from Russia.
Her named was "Irene," and it's a miracle that she was ever born.
Irene's grandfather was a Baptist preacher when that Communist monster Joseph Stalin ruled Russia.
*The grandfather and his wife had 12 children and one prized possession: A Bible.
Irene's grandfather used to hide it under the bed to protect his family, but the KGB found out about it and forced the family to move.
*It was in the dead of winter.
They had to travel by horseback and on foot to a place near Siberia.
They had no winter clothes.
Six of the twelve children died on the way.
Irene's father was only 3 years old, and they thought that he was dead too.
But when they laid him on a pile of bodies, he cried out and was rescued.
*Irene knows that she is only alive by the grace of God.
And when the Soviet Union fell back in the early 1990's, Irene and her sister decided that they would do everything they could to serve the Lord.
They came here to learn how to become church planters back home in Russia.
*Irene knows that she is only alive by the grace of God.
But so are we!
God had a vital ministry for Paul, God has a vital ministry for Irene, and God has vital ministries for us.
He wants us to testify about "the gospel of the grace of God" where we live, work and play.
2. That's how we can we get ready for our final goodbye.
We must receive our ministry for God's Word.
We also must recognize the value of God's Word.
*Starting in vs. 25, Paul reminds us of the priceless value of God's Word.
There the Apostle said, "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more."
*John MacArthur put this moment in perspective when he said, "Now ask yourself, what effect might this statement have on the words that followed?
These are the last words they will ever hear from the great Apostle.
Surely this adds considerable weight and solemnity to the words that followed."
(2)
*Paul's listeners must have redoubled their attention, as he said:
26.
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27.
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
*With every fiber of his being, the Apostle Paul strived to declare "the whole counsel of God."
Every preacher, every teacher and every witness should do the same.
Every sermon, every lesson, every testimony should strive to declare "the whole counsel of God," so that they all have the foundation of "Thus saith the Lord."
*The Apostle Paul surely recognized the unique value of God's Word, and so should we!
But why is the Word of God so priceless?
Why is it so valuable?
There are many reasons why.
[1] And one reason is God's purpose for our lives.
*In vs. 27, Paul touched on God's purpose for our lives when he talked about the "whole counsel of God."
That word "counsel" means "advice" or "will" or "purpose."
This reminds us that God has great purposes for our lives, and He reveals them through His Word.
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