Summary: Exposition of Acts 20:25-28 about the first two of four charges to the Ephesian elders about how to pastor
Text: Acts 20:25-31, Title: So You Call Yourself a Pastor 2, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/15/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: the greatest pastor ever, and maybe the church job descriptions
B. Background to passage: the setting is Miletus where Paul has decided to stay, not going to Ephesus because there is not enough time on his way to Jerusalem to carry the offering to the church there. This is Paul’s only recorded speech strictly to believers. He has called the elders of the Ephesian church (explain the elder, shepherd, overseer terminology) for a farewell address. Also make the case for a plurality of elders as the NT model. So after Paul gives his exhortation for them to remember the way that he lived among them, he turns to the charge that he will give them. Lord willing we will look at them all.
C. Main thought: in this text we will see the four charges that shepherds are given in relation to the flock
A. Proclaim the whole counsel of God (v. 26-27)
1. Note the link in verse 27 “for” which makes this one thought instead of two. IMPORTANT to note the details of the text! The background of this verse is blood-guilt, and reminiscent of Ezekiel’s watchman charge. Paul says that no man’s blood will be required of him BECAUSE he did not shrink back, retreat, back down, tickle ears, change the message, present options, or offer suggestions, but he proclaimed or announced the entirety of the counsel or will of God with authority. He saw it as a job, a calling, a commission, and one to which he would be held to account one day.
2. Ezek 33:7-9, 2 Tim 3:16, Matt 4:4, 5:18
3. Illustration: “A shepherd’s task is not to tell people only what they want to hear, but to edify and strengthen them with the deep truths of solid spiritual food that produces discernment, conviction, consistency, power, and effective testimony to the greatness of the saving work of Christ.” –JM, I know that I have told the illustration about MacArthur and Dr Fienberg and his preaching in seminary and being told that he missed the whole point of the passage, tell about Michael the other day talking about dealing with difficult texts in 1 Samuel, preachers around here fear man more than God because they shrink back from uncomfortable subjects like money, gambling, divorce, tobacco, gossip, unregenerate church membership, church discipline, church polity or church government, homosexuality, politics, predestination, gifts of the Spirit, etc. “I find it impossible to avoid offending guilty men, for there is no way of avoiding it but by our silence or their patience; and silent we cannot be because of God’s command, and patient they cannot be because of their guilt.” –Luther, Listen to Adrian Rogers: “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, then falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail do declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It’s better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.”
4. Blood-guilt applies to all of us who are ambassadors of Christ to lost and dying world. You all are called of God to share and warn unbelievers of their peril in not treasuring Christ above all things. According to statistics, maybe 95% of evangelical Christians will die having never led another person to follow Jesus. Blood will be required of you if your neighbors die lost without you warning them, if your family dies having never professed Christ because it was awkward for you to discuss Christ, if your co-workers whom you have worked beside for years pass into eternity without having been warned by you. But the guilt is doubly heaped upon pastor-elders who do not give the life-giving gospel to those who look to them to do so. As a shepherd I am charged with having to preach the full will of God, the full word of God to you. I am not to pick and choose the parts I like and dislike, or only preach the parts that you want to hear. And we all have our soapboxes, but we are called to preach it all. This is why I preach through books. This is why I deal with every paragraph, every sentence, and every word in every verse, and every tense of every verb, and connective. It is all important to proclaim—the begat passages, the dividing of the land passages, the Levitical law prescriptions, all of it. I am not charged with giving you my clever thoughts, nor pithy quotes, nor jokes, nor anecdotes, but I am to say all that God said, no more and no less, without fear of repercussions from the congregation, but with great fear of The Chief Shepherd and pleasing Him. And that is one reason why you can count on what you hear being from Him. Not to preach the whole counsel of God subverts Christ’s authority as head of the church.