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.
B. Evangelizing with the true gospel & it’s needed response (v. 21)
1. The word in v. 21 means to exhort repeatedly and earnestly for people to listen to a warning. Paul says that he continually preached the gospel to everyone indiscriminately. Remember he is reminding them of his example so that they would follow. And we are also given an accurate summary of the gospel that he preached—repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—and the response that it demanded.
2. 1 Cor 9:16, 20-22,
3. Illustration: “evangelism is more caught than taught,” –Reid, tell about the talk that I had about repentance with Penny Chestnut the books that we give to visitors, and she protested, “but repentance is important!”
4. Pastors are supposed to model evangelism to their congregations if they expect to see them do it. Therefore as church members we are supposed to evangelize all those around us. And we are to do it without respect to race, class, or sexual orientation. Sounds like a government regulation, huh? It is because Jesus is the president, CEO, head hauncho, chief in charge, head of the body, husband of the bride, and ruler of the kingdom. Also it is absolutely crucial that we get the gospel right! We are not careful enough with the greatest truth in the entirety of our faith! Many people in Tifton, at ABAC, at your work, in our families think that the gospel means: living right, getting religion, walking an aisle, saying a prayer, getting baptized, going to church, doing good things. Constantly left out of gospel presentations is the cost of your whole life, repentance and willingness to turn from sin, new nature, killing of sin, sorrow over sin, hatred of sin, and love of Jesus Christ as the treasure of your world so that it looks like you hate your family and you become willing to give up goods and kindred and this mortal life also. Many people have never heard that gospel. You may say that is harsh, but we are only giving you the teaching that Jesus gave, so that you may get on the straight and difficult path that few will be on. And if you are not giving them that gospel, you are only air-conditioning the train ride to hell!