Summary: Exposition of the last part of Paul’s charge to the Ephesian elders
Text: Acts 20:32-38, Title: So You Call Yourself a Pastor 4, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/22/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Karl Marx, died in 1883 with these last words… “Go on, get out - last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, d.1170 “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.” The very last words of Buddha to his disciples were, “Strive without ceasing.” How different these are to the last words of Jesus who said, “It is finished”
B. Background to passage: After Paul tells these Ephesian elders exactly what to do as pastors, there is this moving scene where he gives them his final words and prays for them, and leaves. It is just a great picture of his hopes as their mentor in the Lord and of the relationship between them.
C. Main thought: In the text we will look at three aspects of this scene.
A. Commendation to sources of strength (v. 32)
1. Paul closes his talk with them with two reminders, the first of which is a commending them to the two sources of strength that will aid them in being faithful to the charges that he has given them. This word commend means to set before or entrust. This was Paul’s practice among his churches; especially in the letters we see his constant intercession for those under his care. But note the two things that he entrusts them to—God and his Word (or message) of grace. He commends them to God and His gospel. The two sources of strength for all believers. He wants them to know that they are not alone! God will never leave them nor fail them. And the word of his grace, the gospel, is the power of salvation to all those who believe. Then he reminds them of the provisions of God and his word of grace—edification (strength and growth) and an inheritance that fades not away! Note the corporate nature of this inheritance. Also note the face that the saint are spoken of as already being sanctified (perfect passive participle).
2. 1 Pet 1:4, Rom 1:16, Gen 28:15; Deut 31:6, 31:8; Josh 1:5; 1 Sam 12:22; 1 Chron 28:20; Ps 37:25, 28; Isa 41:10, 17
3. Illustration: “We have no sufficient strength of our own… All our sufficiency is of God… We should stir up ourselves to resist temptations in a reliance upon God’s all-sufficiency and the omnipotence of his might.” (Matthew Henry) EVERY POSSIBLE PREDICAMENT For every possible predicament of man, there is a corresponding grace of God. In other words: For every particular human need there is a particular supernatural resource. For every definite problem there is a definite answer. For every hurt there is a cure. For every weakness, there is a strength. For every confusion, there is guidance. SOURCE: John C. Maxwell “where God guides, He provides,” ST. PATRICK I arise today Through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s hosts to save me From snares of the devil, From temptations of vices, From everyone who desires me ill, Afar and near, Alone or in a multitude.
4. It is good and helpful to constantly be reminding those you are praying for that you are lifting them up before the throne of the Almighty God. This was constant in Paul’s letters, and a good practice for us. It is always encouraging to me to have someone come and say, “I’ve been praying for you.” Also remember that it is good that we entrust and commend people to the actual source of strength—God and his Word. We have been discussing in SS that God is the crutch that never fails. He is the absolute reality, the greatest reservoir of unlimited resources for every situation and need. And He has given us the Word as our only offensive weapon. Use the word when you speak to others. And remember that the same strength that helped these pastors to shepherd the church in Ephesus to faithfulness, is available for you. God and His gospel is an unlimited reservoir of strength through the power of the Spirit in the life of every believer. Whatever you are going through right now, you have access to the power of God for your life. We serve an awesome God who is mighty to save and mighty to deliver and mighty to sustain and guide and provide and uphold and demonstrate his faithful covenant love and power in you! Let you mind meditate on God’s ability to strengthen, build you up, and grow you. Remember these are linked to “the word.” Let your mind dwell upon the ever-increasing joy that will accompany the myriads of people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation in the presence of Christ—for He is the inheritance!