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Summary: Paul was ready for his final goodbye, and in these verses he shows us how to get ready.

Getting Ready for Our Final Goodbye (Part 2)

Acts 20:17-38

Sermon by Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church - Dec. 12, 2007

*Eugene J. Toni is 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. Paul was ready for that final goodbye, and in these verses he shows us how to get ready.

1. First, recognize the unparalleled value of God’s Word.

*In vs. 25-27, Paul reminds us of the priceless value of the Word of God. Listen again to what he said: “Now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

*John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to loose the Lord’s shoes. And I am not worthy to loose Paul’s shoes, much less the Lord’s. But tonight I can also tell you that every time I preach to you I always strive to declare to you the whole counsel of God. I always ask the Lord to show me what to say to you. My prayer is, “Lord: Please tell me what to say to these precious people! Please show me what you want me to say to these people concerning these wonderful words of life. Let me say everything you want me to say and only what you want me to say.”

*My greatest desire when I preach to you is “to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” -- But why is the Word of God so priceless? Why is it so valuable? There are many reasons why, but one of the reasons we see here is God’s purpose. That word “counsel” means “advice” or “will” or “purpose.” God has great purposes for your life, and He reveals them most clearly through His Word.

*I like the way Rick Warren described 5 of God’s great purposes for our lives:

-You were planned for God’s pleasure: That’s worship.

-You were formed for God’s family: That’s fellowship.

-You were created to become like Christ: That’s discipleship.

-You were shaped for serving God: That’s ministry.

-And you were made for a mission: That’s evangelism. (2)

*God’s Word has infinite value, because it tells us about His purpose, and His pardon. Everybody in this world desperately needs a pardon from God for their sins, and the only place they will ever find it is in God’s Word. In these verses Paul gives us the essentials for getting a pardon from God. In vs. 21 it’s “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” In vs. 24 it’s “the good news of the grace of God.” And in vs. 28 it’s because Jesus Christ paid for our pardon “with His own blood.”

*By the way, vs. 28 also establishes the divinity of Jesus Christ, because there Paul told those pastors, “Take heed to yourselves and to 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.”

*By His grace, God the Son became a man and took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. We receive a full pardon from Him when we turn to God in repentance and faith. We also become part of His Kingdom. -- And all of this comes through the Word of God.

*Russian Pastor Vsevolod Lytkin once spoke at a church in Minneapolis. His parents were atheistic university professors, but they raised their son to “think for himself.” During his teen years, Pastor Lytkin struggled with many spiritual questions. When the Communists told him there was no God, he questioned their teaching, and began to search for reading material where he might find the answers.

*The only books on religion available at his local library were atheistic, but they often quoted verses from the Bible to mock or refute them. -- And that was enough to get the job done. Lytkin’s greatest discovery was a set of encyclopedias on atheism. He copied every Bible verse in those encyclopedias by hand. Soon he began to believe, and asked God to forgive his sins. (3)

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