Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

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  PAUL’S FAREWELL MESSAGE TO THE ELDERS AT EPHESUS  


Text: ACTS 20:17-87

 

INTRODUCTION:


  1. Albert Barnes says this about the apostle Paul’s discourse here in Acts 20: It “is one of the most tender, affectionate, and eloquent which is anywhere to be found. It is strikingly descriptive of the apostle’s manner of life while with them; evinces his deep concern for their welfare; is full of tender and kind admonition; expresses the firm purpose of his soul to live to the glory of God, and his expectation to be persecuted still; and is a most affectionate and solemn farewell. No man can read it without being convinced that it came from a heart full of love and kindness; and that it evinces a great and noble purpose to be entirely employed in one great aim and object -- the promotion of the glory of God, in the face of danger and of death.”
  2. Paul looked backward (20:18-21), and he looked forward (20:22-24).
  3. Paul looked behind with humble gratitude, and he looked ahead with Christian courage, knowing that “bonds and afflictions” were waiting for him (20:22-24).
  4. There is a lot of Bible doctrine in this discourse. I have organized my message around these three points:

  1. PAUL WENT HOUSE TO HOUSE (20:20)
  2. PAUL PREACHED REPENTANCE (20:21)
  3. PAUL PREACHED THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD (20:27)

 

I. PAUL WENT HOUSE TO HOUSE (20:20)

  1. This has been called “20/20 vision.”
  2. This is the second reference to “house to house” in the book of Acts. Acts 2:46, 47 says, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
  3. Though Paul often preached in public, and though his time was much occupied in tent-making for his own support (20:34), nevertheless he still visited from house to house.
  4. This church started and this church grew by house to house soulwinning and house to house canvasing and visitation.
  5. I was taught that a church that doesn’t evangelize will eventually start to fossilize, and I have found this to be true.
  6. This is my farewell message, and it is my charge to Pastor Lubin (from now on he is not “Carl” but “Pastor Lubin”), and my charge to Bible Baptist Church.
  7. My charge: keep on knocking on doors. Do not be discouraged by the JWs. We heard some excellent preaching last week from Hebrews 12:3 – “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
  8. Consider our Saviour, who endured such hostility from sinners. Do not become weary and faint and discouraged in your souls.
  9. Do not be discouraged by the few people who respond to the Gospel. Let’s believe what Jesus said. He said in John 4:35, “Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
  10. If the fields were “white already to harvest” 2,000 years ago, they are certainly ready to harvest today!
  11. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37). There’s nothing wrong with the harvest. We just need more laborers – “the labourers are few.”
  12. Look for opportunities to share the Gospel. A barber was in church one Sunday, and he preacher said, “Whenever I meet an unsaved person, I always ask them the same question: If you were to die today where would you go?”
  13. The barber liked the preacher’s challenge to win souls, and he could hardly wait to get started.
  14. The next day at work he was sharpening his razor, when his first customer sat down in his barber chair. Not realizing that he was holding up his razor, the barber asked the man, “If you were to die today where would you go?”
  15. The man ran out of that barber shop faster than a streak of lightning.

 

II. PAUL PREACHED REPENTANCE (20:21)

  1. Repentance is missing from most preaching today. J. Edwin Orr said, “Repentance is a missing note in much modern evangelism. The appeal is not for repentance, but for enlistment. Birth defects are not only medical, but also spiritual. Many ills of the Christian life are due to handicapped beginnings. Too many people are preaching a warped or truncated gospel, and spiritual birth defects are the inevitable result.”
  2. Churches are filled with worldly members who have never repented of their sin. The apostle Paul said, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  3. Repentance is a change of mind which leads to a change of direction. In a sermon on this text, W.A. Criswell gave several illustrations of repentance. Here is a fellow — “I was a pacifist; I did not believe in arms for the defense of my country, but when Pearl Harbor was attacked I changed my mind. I am not a pacifist any longer, I believe in defending our country.” That is repentance. “I used to be a pacifist, but I am not a pacifist any more. I have changed my mind. I have turned around.”
  4. Criswell went on: “All right, take another one. Here is a fellow who said, ‘I used to believe in legalizing liquor. I used to believe in selling it on every corner.’ One day this man helped pry a man out of the snow and ice in a ditch outside a bar on the edge of town. The man had been drinking, had gotten drunk, and the bartender pushed him out into the cold winter night. Staggering, the drunk had fallen into a ditch and had frozen to death. The next morning, they found him, and this man helped pry him out of the snow. He said, ‘When we pried him up, I looked at him frozen with mud all over his face and body, and I have changed my mind, I am against alcohol now, I have turned around.’ That is repentance.”
  5. Criswell went on, “I am thinking of another man, who said: ‘I used to be a gambler.’ And he said, ‘One day I saw a ragged boy, underfed and undernourished, going to school with a little bitty lunch basket in his hand, and not enough in that basket for him to eat.’ He said, ‘The night before, I had gambled with that boy’s father and I had won everything that the father had.’ And he says, ‘When I saw that boy, ragged and hungry, going to school with that little bitty lunch basket in his hand, empty,’ he said, ‘I said I will never gamble again; never again.’ That is repentance, ‘I have changed my mind; I have turned around, I am going to do something else.’ That is repentance.
  6. My charge to Pastor Lubin – preach like the apostle Paul, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

 

III. PAUL PREACHED THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD (20:27).

  1. In verse 20, Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you.” Pastor Lubin, you are young. You have a quiet and peaceful demeanor. Preaching hard may not come as easy for you as it does for me.
  2. Remember, Paul said to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth” (I Timothy 4:12).
  3. There have been times when I preached so hard that I thought I would die right there in the pulpit. Standing by the door after the service, members would shake my hand and tell me how much they liked the message. I thought to myself, “Thank God they liked it because I thought I was going to die.”
  4. Pastor, keep at it! Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).
  5. Paul preached that it is the Word of God that builds up believers and builds up churches (20:32).
  6. Paul said in Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” “The counsel of God” refers to the will or purpose of God (20:27). Albert Barnes gives several reasons why preachers do not preach all the counsel of God:

Truth may be disguised or kept back:

  1. By avoiding the subject altogether from timidity, or from an apprehension of giving offence if it is openly proclaimed; or,
  2. By giving it too little prominence, so that it shall be lost in the multitude of other truths; or,
  3. By presenting it amidst a web of metaphysical speculations, and entangling it with other subjects; or,
  4. By making use of other terms than the Bible does, for the purpose of involving it in a mist, so that it cannot be understood.

People may resort to this course:

  1. Because the truth itself is unpalatable;
  2. Because they may apprehend the loss of reputation or support;
  3. Because they may not love the truth themselves, and choose to conceal its prominent and offensive points;
  4. Because they may be afraid of the rich, the great, and the frivolous, and apprehend that they shall excite their indignation; and,
  5. People often preach a philosophical explanation of a doctrine instead of the doctrine itself.
  1. Paul emphasized the blood of Christ (20:28). Preach the old rigged cross!
  2. Paul warned of “grievous wolves” entering in (20:29-31). W. Graham Scroggie said these were “fierce foes and false friends, the latter being worse than the former.”
  3. My charge to both pastor and congregation is found in verse 28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock.”
  4. Be careful. Verse 30 says, “Therefore watch…”
  5. Our church covenant (a standard Baptist church covenant) says: “We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred pre-eminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.”
  6. But unfortunately, not every member has kept this covenant.
  7. My charge to this congregation is found in verse 35 – “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
  8. Apparently, they were familiar with this saying, though it is not recorded in the Gospels. Paul said, “Remember.” Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
  9. Therefore, let us be faithful with our tithes and our offerings.
  10. Our church has a strong missions emphasis. Let’s keep at it.

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. The Christians in Ephesus knew that they would never see Paul again in this world (20:25, 38).
  2. I have an advantage Paul did not have. My wife and I can get on an airplane and be here in a few hours.
  3. I will leave you with the famous words of General Douglas MacArthur. During WWII, under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt, General MacArthur had to leave the Philippines for Australia. But he told the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.”
  4. When Paul finished his discourse, he knelt down, “and prayed with them all” (20:36).
  5. Let us do the same!


Pastor James Barker    [ Send Email ]