Saturday, April 08, 2023

2023.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 20:17–19

Read Acts 20:17–19

Questions from the Scripture text: For whom did Paul call in Acts 20:17? About what time period does he remind them (Acts 20:18)? To what, during that time period, does he especially call their attention? In what manner had he served the Lord (Acts 20:19)? With many of what two things? How had these things happened? 

What is the first part of a faithful ministry? Acts 20:17–19 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that a faithful ministry is not an impressive man, but a servant of an impressive God. 

This final audience of Paul with the Ephesian elders is so rich that we will have to consider it in several chunks. He makes it plain at the outset that he is presenting himself as an example to them (Acts 20:18). What are some of the exemplary features that he highlights?

Consistency across time. “from the first day that I came to Asia.” We mustn’t think that we can be worldly with others until they warm up to us, and that we will then be able to switch to concern for their souls. This doesn’t work in churches. It doesn’t work in relationships. Especially in family relationships and close friendships. The lack of consistency will gut us of the courage to speak plainly and earnestly. And even if we were finally to speak forthrightly, our having begun in another manner will hollow out its effectiveness upon others.

Consistency of doctrine and character. “I always lived among you.” He spoke about eternal, spiritual, weighty things. Those who do so must live as if those are the things that carry the most weight in their lives, not just upon their lips.

“Serving the Lord.” Even the Lord Himself was among us as One Who serves. Should those by Whom He now leads the church on earth lord it over them? God forbid. cf. Luke 22:25–27.

“All humility.” Not just that we are brought low. The word here emphasizes attitude. Humble-mindedness. How can one speak highly of God while quite obviously thinking highly of himself? The two are incompatible, and yet many who are full of themselves actually think they are promoting God because of their lip-service to doctrine.

Willingness to suffer. “many tears and trials.” What did you expect? Every faithful elder who has shepherded for any significant amount of time has had many occasions to ask himself this question. Suffering is part of the ministry. It was part of Christ’s ministry. It is part of being a Christian. And it is definitely a big part of the Christian ministry. Shall the flocks elders hide this reality from the flock? Will they, for the sake of pride and appearances of personal strength, conceal from Christ’s sheep the picture of Christ’s shepherding that He paints in the sufferings of the under-shepherds? God forbid. Let us be willing to suffer for the joy set before us. And thus let us set Christ before others.

Who are to be examples in the church? What sort of consistency should they display? What sort of attitudes? Who have a similar role in the home? What should a faithful Christian expect to experience in this life?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for coming not to be served but to serve and to give Your life a ransom for many. Grant that we would humble ourselves in Your sight and be willing to be servants of all, for we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

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