Summary: Paul talks about the ministry.
a. What makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world? Years ago that very question was discussed at a Christian leadership conference. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became man. But someone objected, saying that other religions teach similar doctrines. What about the resurrection? No, it was argued, other faiths believe that the dead rise again. The discussion grew heated.
b. C. S. Lewis, the noted Christian author, came in late, sat down, and asked, “What’s the commotion about?” When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, “: Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
c. You see, guys, the very heart of the gospel is the supreme truth that God accepts us with no conditions whatever - when we put our trust in the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Although we are helplessly sinful, God in His grace forgives us completely. It’s by His infinite grace that we are saved, not by going to church, or doing good deeds.
d. The Greek words for joy and grace are closely related. I like to think it is because of God’s grace that we have joy as believers. We have seen Paul rejoicing in his trials throughout the Book of Acts – Why? It is simple – the grace that God showed to Paul.
e. We are going to look at the topic of grace today, and a few other things, but I want to take a minute to recap what went on in the first part of Acts chapter 20, that we looked at last week.
a. Last week, we saw Paul as he was visiting the church at Troas. It was a short stay in Troas, only seven days. Paul is concluding his third and final missionary journey.
b. Paul and his companions were on their way to Jerusalem, to bring the gifts from the churches in Greece and Asia to the church at Jerusalem. Paul gives his farewell address to the church at Troas, and then walked 20 miles south to Assos, to catch a boat bound for Miletus.
c. We learned a couple of things last week. First we saw when young Eutychus fell out of the third story window, falling asleep listening to Paul teach. So, now you know what happens to you when you fall asleep during the message. Second, as we see from verse 11, we saw that Paul taught all night, until daybreak, and we learned the value of long sermons.
d. But, seriously, it is here in Miletus where Paul makes another farewell address to the leaders of the church at Ephesus, and personally, for e this is one of my favorite passages of scripture.
e. This week, we will finish out Acts chapter 20, as we see Paul giving kind of a re-cap of his ministry to the gentiles to the elders of the church at Ephesus.
f. So, turn with me if you would to Acts chapter 20, and we will pick up reading at verse 17. **If you need a Bible**
i. 17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore 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. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ "