Summary: Exposition of Acts 20:17-24. First of a three part series on Paul’s charge to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus. This message is about Paul’s example of how ministry should be done.
Text: Acts 20:17-24, Title: So Call Yourself a Pastor I, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/8/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Bad preachers on God Stuff—youtube.com 30 second intro, pause it
B. Background to passage: Paul is on his way back to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that he has taken up for the famined church there. He knows that he does not have enough time to go all the way up to Ephesus; his heart is there, so he sends for the Ephesian elders to come and meet with him for some final instruction. This is Paul’s only recorded talk strictly to believers. Paul knows that he will probably never see them again, and his message takes the form of a farewell address to a church that is very dear to him. We will deal with elders and church government a little next week, so suffice it for today to simply say that these were the pastors of the church in Ephesus. But don’t think that the divide is so big that laymen weren’t present, and IDs were checked, if that were the case none of these things would apply to anybody but pastors.
C. Main thought: in the text Paul gives us the first of three main instructions about pastoral ministry and church response by saying remember my example, specifically three things.
A. Humbly teaching and serving through trials (v. 19-20)
1. Most of Paul’s ministry was during riots, beatings, imprisonments, accusations, etc. And he says that through it all, he was humbly serving the church and teaching publicly and in their homes. Paul demonstrated his humility by serving alongside them AND his commitment to faithful bible teaching through daily teaching. Paul even notes that he held nothing back that was helpful, even though it might have brought further suffering into his life. Paul’s teaching ministry and example was one that he hoped the elders would follow. Sounds like an ordination sermon. The primary role of a pastor is that of a teacher, teaching the life-giving word of God to a hungry congregation. The apostles boiled it down to two things, including prayer. And the church in Ephesus reaped the rewards of his ministry there.
2. Acts 6:4, 1 Tim 3:2, 4:16,
3. Illustration: tell about losing my ordination sermon, read the blog about Carpe Deim Preacherdude, David Wells comments about the gutting of evangelicalism because our increasing willingness to define ourselves by method instead of by truth and doctrine, speak a word about the 40 year anniversary of John MacArthur at Grace community church and his unwavering commitment to verse by verse exposition, speak about Calvin’s work of commentaries, and picking up where he left off when exiled, preacherdude,
4. Paul didn’t lord his authority over them, he led them by serving with them. He accurately understood his role as a pastor teacher there for three years. Power corrupts, and pastors are not immune, nor are church members. Knowing biblical roles are important. Teaching the word faithfully in addition to whatever else I may be doing is my goal. The life of a believer is in the word! The life of a church is in the Word! The life of unbelievers is in the Word! That’s why I preach through books—it keeps to honest, off your soapboxes, atuned to God’s leading and His heart, and it gives life. You want to know why I have so many books, so many audio CDs—its because of my commitment to preach His Word just as He said it. But as much as a pastor committed to preaching the truth, a church must be committed to hearing it and doing it. The best complement that you can give me is not “great message today” but changed life tomorrow.