Summary: Five things to remind a congregation, as you preach your last sermon to them before you move to a different ministry.
Acts 20:17-38 AS I LEAVE YOU, REMEMBER THIS...
What should I talk about today – my last sermon here at Beautiful Savior as your pastor. If I ever preach to you again, it will be as a guest, or in another church where you will be visiting. So this is it. What should I talk about, on my last day? What I want to share with you this morning is what the Apostle Paul shared with a group of Christians on his last day, from Acts 20. There are three things I want you to remember, about me. And there are two things I want you to remember, about Beautiful Savior – five things total to remember. I hope that by the time I’m done, you’ll have these five points set in your mind, and not forget them for a long long time.
Acts 20 is Paul’s farewell sermon to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. He had spent some time with them in the past, starting a Christian church in that pagan city. And he had spent a great deal of time away from them, traveling. But now, for a moment in his travels, he was able to stop, and meet with them one last time, and share with them five important points that he wanted them to remember.
Point number one is this– remember why God sent me into your life. Paul talks here about how he served them with humility, how he was tested, and then he sums up his purpose very nicely in verse 21: “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” This is why God had brought Paul into the lives of those people in Ephesus – so that they would hear about their sins and repent, and so that they would hear about the Lord Jesus Christ, and put their faith in him.
Remember, this why God has sent me into your life. The number one, primary reason why God has caused our paths to cross over the last few years is so that you would hear two things from me – law and gospel. My purpose for being here was first of all to share with you some bad news – that you are born sinful, that you keep committing sins in your life every day, that you deserve the eternal wrath of God, and that you ought to turn to your God and ask him to forgive you. My other purpose for being here was to share with you the good news – that Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, has died on a cross as a sacrifice for your sins, that he has risen from the dead, and that God offers you the forgiveness of sins and eternal life freely, because of him. This message is why God cause me to live here, in LaPorte County, for a little while. This is why God has caused you and me to somehow cross paths – so that I would have a chance to share with you the bad news of the law, but especially the good news of the gospel. God wanted you to hear these things, and he wanted to work on your heart with his Holy Spirit, either to bring you to faith in his Son, or to strengthen your faith in his Son. I have simply been his tool. This is point number one – remember why God has sent me into your life.
Point number two is to remember why I am moving. Paul talked to the Ephesians about why he was “moving” in verse 22: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.” It wasn’t Paul’s choice to go to Jerusalem. It was God the Holy Spirit’s choice. Paul knew that God was directing his steps, moving Paul here, telling Paul to go over there. Paul was simply listening to God’s divine call.
Remember why I am moving from LaPorte to Lake Mills, WI. You may be tempted to torture yourself, imagining all kinds of wrong reasons for why I’m moving, such as “He doesn’t like us anymore” or “He just wants to be closer to his family” or “What did we do wrong?” Etc. Churches always seem to torture themselves with thoughts like those when their pastor moves away. The reason I’m moving is found right there in verse 22: “compelled by the Spirit.” This is from God, the Holy Spirit, and not from me. He is the one who sent the divine call my way, who made me wrestle with it for a month, and during that process, He is the one who made it very clear to me that now is the time for me to hand off this ministry to someone else, and to move to Lake Mills, Wisconsin. I’m not in charge of my own life, where I live, whom I serve. God is in charge, and it’s his divine call, not mine. That is the second point I want you to remember this morning. Point number one – remember why God sent me into your life. Point number two – remember that it is God who is moving me away.