Last week we left Paul in Ephesus, in the midst of a near riot in town, as Demetrius the silversmith got together his companions in trade and pointed out how the preaching of Paul was about to put them out of business. Because these men made little likenesses of their goddess Diana, and Paul was going around telling everyone they weren"t true gods. And so these silversmiths stirred up the city and they were gathered together in the arena crying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Half the people didn"t know what was going on. But it was quite an uproar, until finally the town clerk stood up and appeased the crowd telling Demetrius that there are courts of law, if he has any real case against Paul and all to bring it before the courts and let it be settled in a lawful matter. The Roman government was in danger; they were in danger of being called by the Roman government to answer for that uproar of which they really had no good answer. So he had then dismissed that crowd of people that had gathered in that town square.
And after the uproar ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed to Macedonia ( Acts 20:1 ).
Macedonia, of course, was the northern area of Greece. Greece was divided after the death of Alexander the Great into four divisions. You have Greece, Macedonia, and then the Syria and Egypt. So then Paul, rather then causing any further, he"d been in Ephesus for three years, and his heart now is sort of stirring to go back to Jerusalem. But when he goes back to Jerusalem, he desires to take to the church in Jerusalem an offering from the Gentile churches. For the church in Jerusalem had become very poor. And so Paul was seeking to show the brotherhood of Christianity, and really the support of the . . . really he was trying to show the oneness of the body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, one member suffers, they all suffer. So in Paul"s Corinthian epistle he told them when they gathered together on the first day of the week that each man was to bring an offering as he purposed in his own heart. They should give willingly and not by pressure, for God loved a cheerful giver. So Paul wanted now to go through Macedonia and Greece and collect these offerings that he had asked them to take up for the poor saints in Jerusalem. In order as Paul returned to Jerusalem he could take the offerings for the poor brethren there from the Gentiles.
So he embraced those from Ephesus, and he sailed across again to Macedonia, where, of course, was the church of Philippi and Thessalonica and Berea.
And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece. And he stayed there about three months. And when [he found out that] the Jews were lying wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia ( Acts 20:2-3 ).
Now at that time it was the feast of the Passover and Paul was probably wanting to get back to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. But thousands of Jews would come for the feast of the Passover from all over. And there would be many chartered type ships coming from Greece, from Athens, from . . . to go to Jerusalem, they would be filled with Jews coming for the feast. And Paul, no doubt, got wind of a plot to throw him overboard from one of these ships filled with Jewish pilgrims that were coming back for their holy days. And so rather than getting on a ship and being thrown overboard in the middle of the night, Paul took the wise course and rather than coming by ship back to Syria to go to Jerusalem, he went up then again through Macedonia and he went by land on up again to Macedonia. And evidently, the churches there realized that there were real threats being made upon Paul"s life, and so there were several brethren from the different churches that accompanied Paul, in order, no doubt, to afford him a certain amount of protection.
So there accompanied him to Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe ( Acts 20:4 ),
Now that"s a different Gaius than the one of Corinth.
and Timotheus of Derbe [and that is the Timothy that we know]; and of Asia, there was Tychicus and Trophimus [whom Paul mentions in some of his epistles as his companions]. And these going before waited for them at Troas ( Acts 20:4-5 ).
So these fellows went ahead across to Asia and waited there at Troas for Paul.
And so we ( Acts 20:6 )
The plural personal pronoun again showing that Luke is a companion of Paul once more.
We sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread ( Acts 20:6 ),
And so that was the feast of the Passover was now over because that was the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
and we came to them in Troas in five days; where we abode with them for seven days ( Acts 20:6 ).
Now the trip from Troas to Macedonia when Paul received his vision; saw the man of Macedonia saying come over and help us, and immediately they got a ship and sailed from Troas to Macedonia, that took them only two days. And so here a trip that had only taken Paul two days in the past, took them five days this time, evidently sailing against the wind and probably under adverse circumstances. And it could be some very rough seas and all. And so they came to Troas where they stayed for seven days.
Now upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the next day; and he continued his speech until midnight ( Acts 20:7 ).
Now I"ve been accused of being longwinded, but you haven"t had to put up with anything like that.
It is interesting for me to note that it records that they had gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread. So often you will hear the Seventh Day Adventist or others such as Herbert W. Armstrong who believe in Sabbath day worship. You will hear them declare that worshipping on Sunday did not begin until Constantine and he was the one who introduced Sunday worship to the church. Not so. There seems to be indications that the Gentile church worshipped on Sunday, almost from the beginning. Here we find the Gentile church gathering together on Sunday, the first day of the week, to break bread. One of the early church fathers, Tertullian, said that in as much as Jesus rose on the first day of the week, they felt that was the only day really in which the church should break bread. I don"t go along with Tertullian, but it seems that as early as the time of Tertullian, which was before Constantine, that the first day of the week was already a common practice in the gathering of the church.
Now it could be that there was a dispute over which day of the week you should worship the Lord in the early church because in two of Paul"s epistles he makes mention of the fact that it really doesn"t matter which day you worship the Lord. As he was writing to the Romans he said, "One man esteems one day, another man esteems another day. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." In other words, it really doesn"t matter. Some people esteem one day above another, some esteem another day above another, you know. Whatever, you know, pleases you.
When the church in Jerusalem sent to the Gentile believers concerning their relationship to the law, they mentioned nothing about the observance of the Sabbath day. In Exodus when God gave the Sabbath day law, God said it was a special covenant between Him and Israel. Even as was the right of circumcision a special covenant between God and Israel, but not something that was required of the Gentiles. When Paul was writing to the Colossian church, he said, "Don"t let any man judge you in respect to the eating of meat or of Sabbath days, or new moons or holy days, which were all just a shadow of things to come." The real substance is Jesus. Therefore, Paul is saying that the Sabbath day was just a shadow. The Sabbath day was what? It was a day of rest where the people were to rest from there labor. As a shadow of the things to come, the substance being Christ, what is he saying? He is saying what Paul, or what the author of Hebrews said in chapter4, that Jesus is our rest. So the Sabbath day was only a shadow of Jesus who was coming, who has become the rest for His people. And our rest is in Jesus Christ, and in His finished work. So Paul said one man esteems one day above another, another man esteems every day alike. Well that"s me; I esteem every day the Lord"s day. And every day to me is, I live unto the Lord no matter if it be a Saturday, a Sunday, Friday or whatever. I live every day unto the Lord, and so I esteem every day alike. Now my wife doesn"t appreciate that. Because it goes for birthdays and anniversaries too. She says I do that on hers, but I really want special perks on mine. But uh, that"s not so. We went to her favorite place to eat on my birthday.
So they gathered on the first day of the week to break bread. That is to have communion. And communion, it seems, was a very common practice in the early church. That reminder of the broken body of Jesus Christ and of His blood which was shed for our sins. And it was a very common practice in the early church. They did it, it would seem, once a week at least. They did not only though in church, but from house to house. It was a beautiful thing. Christians gathered together, "Let"s break bread together, you know." It was just a beautiful thing. Now they also had on a weekly basis what they called the "love feasts" in which they also took communion at the end. The love feast is what we would call today a potluck dinner. Where the church would gather together one day a week for these love feasts and everybody would bring something to add to the common table and they would all eat together and then would conclude it with the communion. This love feast was especially significant for the slaves because it was probably the only good meal they had all week long. But in the church there was neither bond nor free, you know, they were all one in Christ. And so, they had weekly these love feasts and that beautiful fellowship.
Now there is a real value, I think, in eating together. There"s just a closeness of communion. I love potlucks. And I love the eating together. You notice how when we go on tour to Israel together, how much closer we seem to get to one another. And I think it"s because we eat together all the time. And there is something that just creates a closeness, a bond, eating together.
And so the early church here gathered in Troas, on the first day of the week Paul preached until midnight.
And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in the window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep ( Acts 20:8-9 ):
Now it could be that he had carbon monoxide poisoning. If he was sitting there in the window and there were all of these lights there which, of course, were candles burning; and you know the carbon monoxide going from the burnt candles and probably going out the window and sitting there in the window with all that smoke curling out, it could be that he just got deprived of the oxygen level. And he fell into a sleep,
sunk down with sleep, and he fell down from the third loft ( Acts 20:9 ),
Probably, now the windows there, of course, weren"t glass windows, they were just openings, open windows; sitting there in the window he fell out the window into the patio below, three stories.
and he was taken up dead. And so Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him ( Acts 20:9-10 ).
So, again, a real miracle as God restored life to Eutychus.
It"s interesting Paul fell on him embracing him. There"s an interesting story in the Old Testament of the prophet Elisha and the Shunammite woman whose son died. And Elisha actually did a pulmonary resuscitation kind of a thing. He breathed into him and all, and doing it three times, the young boy revived. Now that doesn"t take away from the fact that there was a definite miracle of God. And God brought life, because you can, you know, if you take a person who"s been dead as long as that kid had been dead, there"s no way any resuscitation is gonna bring him back. But the fact that he did that is interesting to me, in as much as we have discovered today, you know, this resuscitation and cardiac arrest and things of that nature. I"m not suggesting that that"s what Elisha did to the young man, because this young man had been dead for hours. And God brought him back to life.
Here was Paul falling on him, embracing him, much as Elisha did to the Shunammite woman"s son.
So when he was therefore come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, he continued to talk until the break of day ( Acts 20:11 ),
So a slight distraction, and yet, Paul went on talking to them "til daybreak.
And they brought the young man alive, and they were not a little comforted ( Acts 20:12 ).
Now I am certain that the Lord has allowed at times the miracles of bringing back a person to life. We know that this happened in the ministry of Jesus. We know that it happened with the ministry of Peter when he went and brought back to life through prayer Dorcas. But I am also certain that the miracle of restoring life was never for the person but for the people around who were grieving because they were gone. Here it says, "And they were much comforted." It didn"t say that Eutychus was. But the people that were there were comforted by the fact that he was brought back to life. And that miracle that God works in bringing a person back to life is really never for that person"s benefit. But for the benefit of those that would be sorrowing. And I say that because if ever the Lord should see fit to take me and I am there reveling in His presence, and suddenly I feel my spirit returning to my body, and when my eyes flicker, and when I open them up and I see you with hands laid upon me praying, "Oh God, restore life to him," the first thing I"m gonna do is bust you in the mouth. We may pray that the Lord restore a person"s life for our benefit, but it surely doesn"t benefit them. "For to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord." And so for the sake of the people, God performed this miracle on Eutychus.
"And they were not a little comforted." I mean, they were really comforted. Actually in the Orient, at death they start shrieking. And the women have a particularly shrill shriek at the time of death. And so when Eutychus fell out the window and they rushed down there and saw that he was dead, these Oriental women probably started their shrieking. And that"s why Paul went down and said, "Oh hush, hush, hush, he"s alright, his life is still in him," and as God restored life to Eutychus.
And so we went before to ship, and we sailed to Assos, and there we intended to take in Paul: because he had decided to go by foot ( Acts 20:13 ).
Now from Troas to Assos is twenty miles by land and thirty miles by sea. You have to go around the cape there. And Paul wanted to walk. You know, I think that walking is one of the greatest ways to meditate. I think it"s a tremendous way to sort of collect your thoughts. When you have a decision to make, it"s amazing how that in walking you can sort of sift things out. And I think Paul just had a lot of things to sift out in his mind. And so he said, "You guys just go ahead and go in the boat and I"ll meet you over at Assos, I"ll just walk." And so he walked that twenty miles as they went around by ship and met him then at Assos.
And he met us at Assos ( Acts 20:14 ),
Luke evidently went in the ship,
we took him in, and we came to Mitylene. And we sailed from there, and came the next day over against Chios; and in the next day we arrived at Samos, and we tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus ( Acts 20:14-15 ).
Which is about thirty miles from Ephesus. And from there they sent messengers up to Ephesus to tell the elders at the church of Ephesus to come down and meet Paul at Miletus because he was in a hurry. He didn"t want to go all the way up to Ephesus and back because he desired to get to Jerusalem in time to participate in the feast of Pentecost.
So from Miletus they sent to Ephesus, called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, You know, that from the first day that I came to Asia, what manner of life I have lived among you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, with many tears, and trials, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews ( Acts 20:17-19 ):
Paul said, "You know that how from the very first day when I came into Asia, the way I lived among you. For I have been serving the Lord with all humility of mind." Paul always saw himself as the servant of the Lord. And I think that that is an important mental attitude for everyone who is in the ministry to maintain. I am a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, everything that I do, I must do to the glory of God. I should not be doing anything for the glory of man. For whatever I do, word or deed, do all to the glory of God. Not seeking to be a man pleaser, but seeking to please the Lord, knowing that of the Lord I am going to receive my rewards. And so Paul said, "You know that my attitude the whole while I"ve been with you is one of a servant of the Lord, serving Him in all humility of mind."
The man who has received a true vision of the Lord is a man who has humility of mind. That man who is proud has not had a true encounter with God. No man can have a true encounter with God and still maintain a prideful position. In seeing God, in really seeing God, I see myself. And I realize how nothing I am. Isaiah said, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up, sitting on the throne. And His glory filled the temple. Then said I, woe is me" ( Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah 6:5 ). Hey, that"s always what a man says when he really sees God, "Woe is me!" Peter, when he saw the Lord, said, "Depart from me, Lord! I"m an unclean man" ( Luke 5:8 ). Daniel, as he talked about his vision and all, he said "Then my beauty was turned into corruption" ( Daniel 10:8 ). Seeing God is an important thing. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 5:3 ). But that poverty of spirit always comes to the man who has had a true encounter with a living eternal God. You cannot stand in the consciousness of the true and the living God and still maintain that prideful state. And so, "I"ve been serving you," Paul said, "with all humility of mind, and with many tears. And in real trials, tribulations, because the Jews were always lying in wait to ambush me."
And how I"ve kept back nothing that was profitable unto you ( Acts 20:20 ),
Paul gave himself for the people because he was serving the Lord. You see, as a minister of Jesus Christ, He requires that I be the servant of the body. Jesus said that if any of you would be chief, then let him become the servant of all. He"s talking about the ministry, talking to His disciples. So my serving the Lord involves my serving you. And Paul talks about his service to the men and the people there in Ephesus.
How I held back nothing that could [benefit you or be of] profit to you, but I have showed you, and taught you publicly, and from house to house ( Acts 20:20 ),
So both in the public gatherings there in the . . . where was it we studied it . . . that place in Ephesus where Paul was teaching . . . come on, someone help me . . . Tyrannus, yes, very good. You get an A. The school of Tyrannus publicly, but then also from house to house. Now notice Paul said, "I was showing you and teaching you." Sometimes the best lessons are object lessons. If our lives don"t show it, the teaching becomes meaningless. As a minister, I have to not just proclaim, I must live by it. Showing you, demonstrating by my life, the lifestyle that I lived among you, as well as teaching you. And so that faithful minister.
Testifying both to the Jews, also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ ( Acts 20:21 ).
So Paul was teaching their repentance, the necessity of repentance toward God and faith towards Jesus.
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that are going to befall me there: except that the Holy Spirit is witnessing in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions are waiting for me ( Acts 20:22-23 ).
"I really don"t know what"s going to happen to me when I get to Jerusalem. All I know is that I am to be bound and I am to be imprisoned. The spirit is warning me this everywhere I go."
But none of these things disturb me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy ( Acts 20:24 ),
"My chief desire is to finish my course with joy. It doesn"t bother me that I have to be imprisoned. It doesn"t move me that I"m going to be bound. My chief desire is to just to finish my course." So Paul"s great drive to finish that course that God had set before him. He finally wrote to Timothy and he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course." That was his last epistle just before being beheaded by Nero. "I fought a good fight, I finished the course. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, our righteousness judge, shall give. Not only to me, but to all those who do love His appearing" ( 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ).
It"s just a shame that Paul didn"t know the power of positive thinking, and positive confession. He could have escaped an awful lot of things. But, poor fellow, he was beheaded suffering for Jesus" sake. Because he didn"t know that it was God"s will that no one should suffer. That it"s a lack of faith or commitment that anybody would suffer. Poor Paul. I trust you know that my tongue is in my cheek.
I love this. I love commitment. Give me some men who are stouthearted men who will fight for the right they adore. Start me with ten who are stouthearted men and I"ll soon give you ten thousand more. I love Paul; he was a stouthearted man. I mean, he was committed to a cause, a cause of Jesus Christ. And hey, nothing was going to detour him or deter him from finishing that course with joy.
So, "Well, it"s probably the last time I"ll see you, but it doesn"t bother me. I know I"m going to be thrown in jail. Beyond that I don"t know. But I"m not worried by this. For I do not count my life dear unto myself. What I really desire is just to finish my course with joy,"
and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus ( Acts 20:24 ),
What is the ministry, Paul, you have received of the Lord Jesus?
to testify of the gospel of the grace of God ( Acts 20:24 ).
Testimony of the gospel of the grace of God. What is the gospel of the grace of God? God loves you, no matter how badly you failed. No matter how deeply you have sunk into sin, God loves you. But God hates sin because He loves you. And God knows what a destructive force sin is. And because God loves you so much, He doesn"t like to see you being destroyed. And so He hates that which is destroying you. God loves the sinner. God hates the sin. Because He loves the sinner. And He sees what sin is doing. The blighting, damning influences of sin on a person"s life. And so God hates the sin, because He loves the sinner. And so God has made provision to free a person from that power of sin, by sending Jesus Christ, His son, who took our sins and died in our place. That by our believing in Him we can be forgiven from whatever sins we may have ever committed. And through faith in Him can receive power over that bondage to corruption. And one day, as we are translated by the spirit into His presence, we will be freed from even the presence of sin. So that is the gospel of the grace of God. Not because I deserve it, not because I merit it, but just because God loves me.
It was necessary that Paul should testify of the gospel of the grace of God, because nature, though it reveals God to man, does not reveal the grace of God to man. There is no gospel of grace in nature. Nature testifies to the God of law; to the God of power; to the God of wisdom; to the God who loves beauty; to the God of orderliness. But there"s no testimony in nature to the gospel of the grace of God, and that is why God has called men to bear testimony of the gospel of the grace of God. And this testimony began with Jesus Christ. For the law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ. And so Paul testifying the gospel of grace.
And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more ( Acts 20:25 ).
Now this is what Paul felt. He"s talking out of his heart. There are indications from some of the secular historians or early church historians that Paul did get to see those in Ephesus once again. The book of Acts leaves Paul sort of imprisoned in Rome awaiting his trial before Nero. But according to church history, the early church historians, Paul"s first appearance before Nero ended in an acquittal by Nero. And that Paul was released for a time, and just what happened during that period we don"t know for sure. There are stories that he came back to the church of Ephesus for a time. And also stories that he went to Spain with the Gospel.
Secular history gives us something quite interesting. You remember Jesus told His disciples that, you know, that, "They"re going to bring you before the judges and before magistrates and before the kings. And don"t take any forethought what you"re going to say in the hour that you"re there the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say. And it will give you an opportunity to witness." Now Paul took this literally. Every time he was brought before a judge, a magistrate, or a king, Paul took the opportunity to witness. And the higher up the guy was, the heavier Paul laid on the witness. Because Paul, I think, always felt, "Man, if I can convert this guy, wow," you know. And so when he finally got before King Agrippa, I mean, he was really pushing, pushing hard. "Agrippa, do you believe the scriptures? I know you believe the scriptures," you know. And he said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, back off, Paul. Wait a minute," you know. "Are you trying to convert me?" Paul said, "Oh, how I wish I could." Because I"m sure that Paul, and we"ll get to that in a few chapters now, Paul"s defenses were fabulous. I mean, Paul really was pressing. Because he, no doubt, thought, "Wow, if Agrippa would just accept Jesus Christ, what an influence this could have." Well, imagine when he got to Nero. I imagine that Paul really pressed the claims of Jesus Christ on Nero like nothing we have ever heard. I"m certain that Paul thought, "Wow, if I could just win Nero to Jesus Christ."
Now, as you follow secular history, you will find that Nero wasn"t such a bad guy in his early reign of the Roman Empire. He did some good things. But there came a time in Nero"s life where he had almost a total personality change. Where he became a beast. In fact, that"s what they called him in those days, "the beast." It was as though he had a total change of personality, like a man who was almost demon possessed. And if you will study the secular history, you will find that this dramatic change came in Nero just about the time that Paul witnessed to him. I believe what happened is that Paul did lay on such a heavy witness to Nero, that it was a now-or-never situation for Nero"s salvation. And in turning his back upon the Gospel, I believe he became possessed by an evil spirit. And that is why he became such a beast.
He released Paul on the first trial, but soon called Paul back from Ephesus and beheaded him, as he turned into that beast. So Paul is saying, "I don"t think I"m going to see you again." It seems that maybe he did get to see them again.
Wherefore I call you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God ( Acts 20:26-27 ).
Paul felt it very important that he be up front with people as far as the Gospel is concerned. To declare the truth, the whole counsel of God to man so that he would not be accountable for them. "I"m free from the blood of all men because I haven"t shunned to tell you everything, the whole counsel of God."
Now take heed therefore unto yourselves, and unto the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that you feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood ( Acts 20:28 ).
And this is the charge and the responsibility that God has placed upon the ministers: to feed the flock of God. But it is so difficult to find pastors today who will really feed the flock of God. We get letters by the hundreds. The other night when I was in Indianapolis, scores of people afterwards said to me, "Would you please start a work here in Indianapolis? We"ve been praying for five years that God would establish a Calvary Chapel here in Indianapolis. We want a place where we can just go and be fed the Word of God." People are hungry to be fed the Word of God. And so Paul said to these overseers of the church of Ephesus, "Feed the flock of God." Peter in writing his epistle said, "Feed the flock of God which is among you." Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My sheep." I don"t know why pastors don"t realize that this is the most important function of a pastor is to feed the flock of God. We have those who are seeking to entertain the flock of God. And then God help us, unfortunately we have those who are seeking to fleece the flock of God. But how few are really feeding the flock of God.
Also of your own selves.
For I know this ( Acts 20:29 ),
The reason why to feed them is in that they might become strong. Because wolves are going to come in.
after I depart grievous wolves are going to enter in among you, not sparing the flock ( Acts 20:29 ).
Paul stocked them that would come in. Weird concept and ideas. Men who would try to draw groups after themselves. There"s always that. God establishes a work, and then there are always those who try and come in. Even out of your own midst, there will come those who will try to break off a group, to bring them as after themselves. Sad and tragic. Paul when he was writing to the Ephesians said that God has placed in the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry. That"s what we"re here for. That you might be fed the Word of God, that you might be perfected for the work of the ministry. The building up of the body of Christ. Until we all come into the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God. Into that complete person. Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the image of Christ. That you be no more as babes who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and slight cunning of men who lie in wait to deceive. The greatest burden on the heart of Paul, the greatest grief and sorrow were those men who would come in to prey upon the flock of God. To draw men after themselves. And so Paul said to these Ephesians, "I know that after I depart there are going to be grievous wolves that are going to enter in, not sparing the flock."
Also out of your own midst shall men arise, who will be speaking perverse things [not really teaching the word of God, teaching the concepts of man], who try to draw disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one of you night and day with tears ( Acts 20:30-31 ).
It doesn"t make any difference. There are always those foolish little sheep that will go traipsing after any bell. And though Paul warned them three years night and day with tears that, "Hey, get sound in the Word, get founded in the Word." Yet I know that, you know, they"re going to, you know, that they"re going to rip some of you off.
And 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 them that are set apart by God ( Acts 20:32 ).
I commend you to God and the Word of His grace. Oh, it"s that which is able to build you up and bring us into that glorious inheritance.
I have coveted no man"s silver, or gold, or apparel ( Acts 20:33 ).
Oh, God, give us more Pauls.
Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me ( Acts 20:34 ).
"Hey, fellows, you"ve seen the calluses; I"ve worked with my own hands. I"ve took care of myself and those that were with me. I, you know, I earned my living. I didn"t covet your silver or gold or apparel. I wasn"t here to rip you off or to fleece you. I was here to minister and to feed you." Now he was telling them that because those false prophets are always seeking to fleece the sheep. Always some new gimmick to take a second offering or a third offering. Always the emphasis upon your giving to God rather than what God has given to you. Watch that one who is constantly emphasizing what you ought to be giving to God. The New Testament emphasizes what God has given to you.
I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, who said, It"s more blessed to give than to receive ( Acts 20:35 ).
We just completed a conference with the worldwide distributors of Maranatha music. They"ve come in from all over the world: Africa, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Europe, distributors of Maranatha music. We had a farewell luncheon with them Friday in which these distributors got up and just sort of expressed themselves concerning the conference that they just had. And they said, "You know, been to a lot of conferences but never one like this. It seems that all the conferences we go to their always trying to get something from us, but when we came here, you"ve been ministering to us. It"s like you"re giving and trying to give to us rather than taking from us." And I said, "You have just stumbled on to the philosophy of Calvary Chapel. We exist to minister to people, not to be ministered to by people. That"s our basic philosophy. We"re here to give, not to receive. And that is why there is never an emphasis upon your giving. The emphasis is always upon what God has given to us. And we are here to give to you in the name of Jesus Christ."
And it is so blessed to be able to go onto the radio all over the United States, not to be ministered to by the people, "Now, friends, please send in your offerings this week. Because if we don"t hear from you this week, we"re so far behind in our bills and all, we"ve got to hear from you this week." Never, never, never. We are just there to minister God"s Word to the people all over the country; to give. And thus, we send out the literature, we give away thousands upon thousands of tapes every year. Get the word out. We give away music albums. Get the music out, get the word out. People write and say, "Can we duplicate your tapes?" and we say, "Yes!"
I read in Christianity Today, someone wrote a letter into Christianity Today and they told how that they had problems their church was wanting to sing choruses. And so how they found out that they couldn"t copy choruses on a little chorus sheet without infringing on the copyrights of those choruses. And so they wanted to print up these chorus sheets for their church and they sent to all of the publishers asking for permission and they all demanded a royalty. Just for these little, you know, mimeograph chorus sheets for the church. He said there was only one publisher who told us just go ahead, use it freely. He said it was Maranatha Music. And I said, "Praise God." "To give," Paul said, you know, "Our Lord told us it"s more blessed to give than to receive."
Now, if we take that philosophy, God takes care of us. God takes care of the church. He more than supplies for our needs. But we never have to emphasize that side. God takes care of that side. Jesus said if you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these other things will be added to you. But these poor unfortunate pastors who are striving to attain find themselves trapped. Because if you strive to attain, then you have to strive to maintain what you have attained. And you get in that position of constant pressure, constant striving. "Now what new gimmick can we include in our letter this week, you know to get the people to send more bucks to us, you know." You get in that trap and it seems there"s no way out. If we would only learn, Jesus has established the principle, "It"s more blessed to give than to receive." And if we give freely, even as we have received freely, God will take care of our needs. As He has proved, I believe that He has chosen to use Calvary Chapel more or less as a example of what God can and will do if we just follow His principles. And all over people look to us and say, "Well, Calvary Chapel is different." Sure it is, a whole different philosophy. We are here to minister rather than to be ministered to. We"re here to give rather than to receive. And God takes care of the needs. More than takes care of the needs. He so blesses that we"re able to sponsor "The Word for Today" all over the world. He is so good. Ah, when will people learn?
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all ( Acts 20:36 ).
I can picture on the beach Paul the apostle; the ship is waiting off shore. There"s a little dinghy there. And here are the elders of the church of Ephesus and Paul sitting on the beach there with them and he"s talking and saying, "Hey, now feed the flock of God. Just take care of them. Because wolves are going to come in, and you know I"ve warned you with tears." I"m sure that Paul was crying now. And he said, "Watch over them. It"s more blessed to give than to receive." And then I can see the circle of men kneeling as they join hands in prayer, not knowing what the future holds.
And they all of them began to weep, and they fell on Paul"s neck, and they kissed him. Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they would probably not see his face again. And they accompanied him unto the ship ( Acts 20:37-38 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Acts 20". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany