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A Life Of No Account To Self

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Acts 20:17–35 NASB95PARA
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 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. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:17–21 NASB95PARA
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Acts of Jesus Christ in building His church
Man could look at this , this strategy and events of the building of the church and say that it doesn’t look great.
When you think about the majesty of God and His soverignty, you may conclude that it shouldn’t work out this way. That there shouldn’t be so many difficulties.
Why did God not complete the spread of the gospel with the stroke of His hand or with one soverign word?
Well, let us not only think of the soverign power of God but also the infinite wisdom.
The infinite wisdom of God has decreed that the spread of His gospel shall be done by His children.
Now we see under the soverignty of God, and the infinite wisdom of God, the difficulties that become His children in this world.
Let us here not fail to realize the mass amount of energy our enemy has and his strategic placement.
Matthew 7:15 NASB95PARA
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Jesus says,
Matthew 10:16 NASB95PARA
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
It would appear that no shepherd in his right mind, who is trying to preserve his sheep would send them out amongst wolves. Yet, that is what the good shepherd does with us.
I believe that this is to demonstrate His greatness of God and assurance of His Word by the work of His Spirit.
Zechariah 4:6 NASB95PARA
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.
God is sovereign, God is infinite in wisdom, and the work of the Spirit of God overcomes all power and all might even that of His greatest adversary. All the might of man and all the powers of Satan cannot withstand the moving of the Spirit of God, and that Spirit is what He has by His grace bestowed upon His sheep. This is the salvation of life, the salvation which has come by the resurrected life of Christ our Lord.
We have seen this great truth by the grace of God, as we witness the spread of the church of Christ. Man cannot snuff out the Spirit of God. Satan cannot stop the Spirit of God and we have fully availibe, fully abiding within us that great Spirit of God. Oh sheep, though we are sheep, let us understand that we are Spirit dependant sheep and though being sheep we are weak, being spirit dependant we are strong in Him.
Paul has decided to bypass Ephesus
He is planning to make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost (which he will make successfully)
In vs17 he is at Miletus
Paul at Miletus sends for the elders of Ephesus about 30-35 miles away
In verse 18 those elders from Ephesus have arrived at Paul, and Paul says:
Acts 20:18 NASB95PARA
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,
You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how (what manner/type of person) I was with you the whole (period) of time.
What Paul is about to convey here to the elders in this part of Acts is something that should give every pastor hesitancy or perhaps even lead them to say that I don’t want to or I cannot bear what it is to be a pastor of any part of the church which belongs to Christ. I can easily read this and say, I really prefer not to carry the pastors burden, I would much prefer someone else to do it.
We have to deal revrently with these passages of scripture. Rembembering always that this is the inspired word of God.
My goal here is not to do what most commentaries do.
Most commentaries at this point try to get into the mind of, and lift up Paul.
I have been greatly trying at great legnths, over this past month or so to emphasize that the Word of God is the Word of God. That is and ought to always be the interpretive focus.
Now, I am by no means minimizing any respect for the Apostle Paul. I will minimize in no way any respect for any of the hero’s of the faith, simply because the Word of God points us to them. But we must remember in all of these it is God using man for His purpose. And the purpose of scripture is to exalt the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Here we have the Holy Spirit leading Luke to write these things not to simply give us historical or emotional data, but in fact to be a part of the completion of the purpose of scripture. This is belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture.
So then, this is God’s word, not Lukes word.
This is descriptive not of Pauls ministry, but of God’s work or opperation through Paul and his ministry given by God,
Thus, we don’t exalt Paul, but how the Holy Spirit has used Paul.
You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how (what manner/type of person) I was with you the whole (period) of time. (I was) serving the Lord with all humility (of mind)
Paul was brilliant, he was a well learned and educated man fluent in several languages. If any man had a cause to act high minded, to boast of knowledge, it was Paul.
In other words “humility of mind” this was not a false humility. Pauls thinking was to not display his own great theological mind, but to exult Christ.
and with (many) tears
serving the Lord is a situation of realizing that it is God who is working in you for His good pleasure. I don’t think that this is saying that Paul is over emotional or that he was a emotional preacher. The humility is recognizing that it is God working in you to will and do His good pleasure.
Whitfield was a brilliant orator. Not all Pastors are. I don’t know if there has ever been another like Whitefield. People would come from miles just to hear him speak. People would line up to tell him the brilliance of his speaking and his messages. Early in his ministry Whitfield wrote in his memrior that he developed an answer and awareness for such complements. Someone would come up and say how wonderful he spoke and he would respond:
“Yes the Devil told me that the minute that I stepped down from the pulpit.”
I don’t think Paul had a false humility. I believe many aspiring preachers and preachers have been ruined by compliments. Most of which aren’t even true complements.
You know how this works…how many times are desperetly trying to follow what I am saying, but yet if I as how was the message you would say, oh good...
I’m just trying to say, that we must note here that it is suprmeley important that anyone teaching the Word of God to recognize that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the brilliance of mind, or greatness of oratory delivery.
But friends, we all have those certain preachers or preaching style that we lean towards, that something in the man that we must guard against.
The Spirit says, “with all humility” meaning, nothing of self - not wit, not creativity, not style.
Paul states that he is the chief of sinners, bearing the scar of putting Christians to death, of wripping apart Christian families. Paul is going to go to glory and see those whom he put into jail, or Sptephen whom he stoned to death. And now to be preaching, teaching, and leading those Christians by the Spirits power…oh brothers and sisters, it is when we realize our dreadful state and God’s using of us that we cannot refrain from tears. It is then that the passion and compassion for our brothers and sister arise, as we treasure being used no for our ability but only because of the grace of Christ.
I don’t think it was Pauls frustration with the sheep that leads him to tears, or his wearyiness of trial…no, in all humility and tears and trials. The humility must lead our thought pattern. We know that Paul didn’t count the trials as anything next to what lay ahead of Him, and the humility demands that we recognize not Pauls greatness, but the great work of God. In the same way, however I would contend that tears are shed for the wellbeing of the saints. For the protection, the doctrinal literacy, the understanding granted only by the spirit. Yes tears of sincere concern and humble service are a regular for the godly pastor.
You look out in the Christian community and you see countless people moved to emotional tears because of a song with no doctrinal standing or emotional enthusiasim for doing good, yet, with almost no consideration of the wonders of God, the infinite work of Christ.
Worship proclaimed with almost no consideration of the wonders of God, the infinite work of Christ.
Oh the dangers that lerk the nieve sheep. And so I emphasize to the tears and understand the trials/testings:
trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
With every generation, there is a current, a popular sea of thought in which if the man of God, the preacher of God goes against it, not to argue against it, but to remain faithful to the word of God, then oh dear will you face trial after trial.
It is easy to preach in such away to appease tickling ears. How often have I had people say, what you said is true, but you can’t say that in a regular church. Or how often have I talked to others in the ministry bogged down with political correctness or committee and business restraints that would make yielding the sword of the Word freely beyond their willingness or ability. How great is the danger to the Pastor who tunes or edits the message to keep the people.
I have no desire to loose people esspessially not because of what I say. However on the other hand I have no desire to keep people and loose the message.
Paul humble, moved to tears, persevering in trial, did not adjust his message to keep people. Paul preached the Word.
All sermons must be doctrinal. Not thrilling or encouraging to man, but doctrinal and true to God. We must preach a consistency in doctrine which only comes by a thourough study of the Word. We must not preach the entertainment or self help of man, but the word of God, by which is fed the work of the Spirit.
One preacher has said:
“If you really preach truth, you split the church”
I believe many preachers are petrified of that. Which means of course they are petrified of 1 Cor. 11:19
1 Corinthians 11:19 NASB95PARA
19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
Many a pastor would prefer to live in ignorance of the approved, just to keep the congregational numbers up.
Why? Because today the great approval of the church is found in numbers and feel good moments of good publicity.
Paul’s ministry, the work of the Holy Spirit through Paul, the growth of the true church was found to be approved by truth, displayed with humility, tears, and testings.
Friends please hear me. No Pastor wants to see a split. But it is there. They come by the preaching of true doctrine but also because Satan is an energetic enemy.
2 Timothy 3:12 NASB95PARA
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
The word for persecuted is the same word for testing or trials in .
I believe here that we are seeing the Holy Spirit convey that Paul who was faithful to the leading of Christ, faithful in the midst of tears and true compassion, was also in the testing faithful to doctrine…true doctrine and that always causes difficulty.
came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
Can you imagine the passion with which the Jews would despise what Paul preached? The division between them would indeed be no other than doctrine and oh what passionate division that can be. Most would just assume let doctrine go for the cause of unity, but their is not true unity where doctrine ceases. Thank God, that Paul was faithful to doctrine rather than idolizing false peace, self comfort or popularity.
These trial coming upon Paul by the Jews actually indicated not that Paul was causing division but that the Jews were blind. That they did not understand Jesus as the Messiah, that they did not even understand what was being done when they made sacrifices, that they were paying tribute to the incarnation and sacrificial death of Christ.
You see beloved, the same is true with you today. If you are to be faithful to God, faithful to doctrine, then you have to point out the total depravity of man. And that is not a very popular or unifying message. In our flesh we would much prefer to defend our own ability than the truth of God’s word. Total depravity is not a very popular subject to say the least.
Whether you are for it or not, Phylosiphy theology and Arminanism has infiltrated the modern portion of major Christianity. I am not saying it such doctrine holders are brothers and sisters in Christ or not. But oh let us take care of good doctrine. Esspessially the doctrines of Soverignty, grace and thus total depravity.
This text is not speaking of the great decisions that Paul has made. It is speaking of what the soverign, all powerful, decree speaking God has done in Paul by the work of the Holy Spirit. What we see in Paul in his not shrinking back, is not evidence of the strong man that Paul was, but the wonderful work of the God within Paul and thus through Paul.
how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house.
There is a consistancy. Whether public or private the doctrine was not changeded. Who Paul is in private is who he is in public and the message spoken in private is the same that is spoken in public. No matter the situation Paul would not by the Spirits power shrink back from preaching and teaching the entirety of scripture, because all of scripture, being breathed out by God is profitable. What Paul proclaims in consistent.
solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
To many a modern preacher has been taught that there responsibility is to preach what you ought to do. How you should marry, work, handle your money, raise your children and so on. How many preachers will spend their entire ministry trying to convince people of how to do these things.
Yet for Paul, thats not what or how he taught. For all his time in Ephesus, his focus was on changing ones mind toward God and putting your trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because that is the testimony of the Word of God.
If your mind is not right towards God, If you are not trusting in Christ, but you are only living to look or do good, then not only is it not profetable to live a certain way, but it is impossible. And many a Christian, rather than renewing their mind and trusting and resting in Christ are burdened with to do’s and discouraged with I can’ts.
But the testimony of the Word of God is:
Change your mind toward God, and trust in the Lord Jesus and see what He does, not by power, nor by might but by His Spirit which is within you.
Rather than growth in pride, you will be moved in sincere humility, compassion and gratitude even being brought to tears, and endurance rather than frustration, hope rather than hopelessness, joy rather than despair in various test and trials.
These things are not rooted in me getting you to do the right thing, but rather in your mind being changed toward God, and your trust resting in Christ Jesus.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not preaching against doing the right thing.
I am preaching that love works.
What I mean is, if you really come to grips with who God is, what He has done for you, and what He is doing and able to do within you and through you...
If you come to grips with that : who God is and what He has done/ is doing...
Then thats all that I need to teach you, everything else will fall into place.
God loves you. He deals with you child of God only by mercy and grace. For you child of God there is now no condemnation. You do not want nor will you get His justice.
Change your mind about God and trust in Christ.
Now realize this: If I preach that and keep preaching it, then you will either except it or you wont.
If you accept it, believe it, trust it, then it will make a great difference in how you live and what you live for.
It will change how you live, how you parent, manage finance, think, work....
But if I teach that how you service or what you do is based upon a obligation, a keeping of the law, then I have minimized the effect of love.
What I am saying is that love is a stronger motive to serve the Lord than obligation or law.
1 John 4:19 NASB95PARA
19 We love, because He first loved us.
It is not bravery that perseveres the Christian in chains
It is not obligation that sees you through trial rejoicing
It is a mind set right on God by good doctrine, a life trusting in Christ, a love founded in the love of God that is the root, the drive for all of the Christians life and service.
And the fruit of this is not pride or showmanship.
It is not the establishing and building of a personal ministry
It is not the hording of comforts and fear of lacking or bondage to numbers or income.
It is a life of sincere humility, tears of compassion and joy, and endurance through many test and trials.
It is a life of consistancy and consistancy of message in private and public
It is a life of a mind truned rightly towards God, a faith in Christ Jesus. A life of love, a life of observing what God has done.
In His Soverignty, by his infinite wisdom, He has decided to redeem the depraved and use His children to proclaim Him in season and out, that we can witness Him and His goodnes in being witnesses of Him.
Repentance (toward God)
Faith (in the Lord Jesus Christ)
Innocent of the blood of all men
I did not shrink back from declaring the whole prupose of God.
For all the flock (of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers)
Shepherd the church of God (purchased with His own blood)
Savage wolves will come in among you (not sparing the flock)
Men will arise from among your own selves (speaking perverse things to draw disciples away after them)
Admonish with tears
Able to build up and give inheritance among all who are sanctified.
Covet no mans money or clothes
Work hard in the ministry of God
Help the weak
Remember the word of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”
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