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The Undaunted Servant (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 18, 2024 6:00 am

The Undaunted Servant (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 18, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Timothy, he says, let the elders, that same word, Piscopas, who rule well, be counted worthy of the double honor. Then he says, especially those who labor in the word and teaching. This is doctrine from scripture. Some Christians resent pastors tending to flock with authority. I guess they just want them to be doormats or pin cushions. I don't know.

But we should embrace this. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Acts.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. And now here's Pastor Rick with a brand new study called The Undaunted Servant in Acts chapter 20. The word of God beginning in verse 17 through verse 24. From Aelitus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church, 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, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews, how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you and taught you publicly, and from house to house testifying to Jews and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and see, now I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me, 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.

I'm going to take my time introducing this section. We have The Undaunted Servant in verses 17 through 27, at least the way I am going to present it. Next session in Acts, we will have The Undaunted Shepherd, verses 28 through 38, and all of this, of course, centered on the life of Paul. In this man, Paul, it was always God first, the church, the lost, and then himself, in that order. That was his attitude, that was his approach to ministry, and that's what the Holy Spirit wanted us to gain from considering his life, and everything we know about Paul is because God decided to publish it and preserve it, and here we have it for our edification.

Paul would write to the church in Ephesus for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ, and we're in that. And this man, who is The Undaunted Servant, certainly of this chapter, in the face of constant opposition, attacked by believers, attacked by unbelievers also, and all this suffering because he wanted to bring Christ to the lost, he wanted to strengthen those who had already received Christ, but for some of them, they were too much the ingrate to appreciate what God had put on their front doorstep. Maybe you, as a believer, have a loved one that has turned on you, that doesn't want to hear the message of the scripture, or wants the message of God's word, his salvation, just none of his correction. Everybody wants to be loved, but does everybody want to be corrected by the love of God? Well, if you have a family member trying to seduce you away from being firm in the faith, I would encourage you, don't give up and don't give in.

Very simple solution. Love them, but be blameless before the Lord. You can't be blameless before all people, but you can strive to be blameless before the Lord.

Don't give up, don't give in. That's what Joshua was exhibiting for us when he said, as for me and my house, you do what you got to do, but I'm going to do what I have to do. And lessons from Paul's handling of those mutineers whom he loves so much in Corinth are for us, and I'm going to be contrasting the church at Ephesus during this time in her history versus the church at Corinth during this time in their history, because the lessons abound.

They're very beneficial to us. Paul always stood his ground against nuisance churchgoers that we find in Ephesus and hostile believers. He stood his ground on them too, but he always did it with love. I'm still developing that.

I'm working, I know what is right, but here's part of his foundation. The fear of man brings a snare. You start worrying about what are people going to think? Well, what does God think?

If you got that one right, then the others fall in place or they go away or whatever, or they chase you from city to city. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in Yahweh shall be safe. This is how the believers did it. Again, we have no right to think that Paul was the only one doing this of the apostles. The other apostles were doing their work too, but this is the one God singled out to preserve for us. And by this time, the troubles in Corinth that erupted against Paul had settled down because of his three letters to them, at least three, maybe four. And his visit that didn't go well, that petty drama caused again by the mutineers there in Corinth. So contrasting Ephesus in this section with Corinth, again, the contrast is stark. Corinth with their petty, sickening, self-important, carnal Christians, not all of them, enough of them to cause a big problem. Then there's Ephesus and her Christ-like, loving and loyal Christians that he is sending for, at least he's sending for the leadership there in Miletus, he's saying, come to me. The church was so solid, he didn't want to go there physically because he's on a time, you know, constraint to get to Jerusalem. And so if he goes to Ephesus, he knows he's not going to make it because he's going to just bond with everybody and this is not going to happen. So he is wise in doing this. But as I speak these words, for those who need it most, and I don't know who that is, you might, God knows, but is it in one ear and out the other? That's unfortunate. In other words, some don't want to hear it.

That's why it goes in one ear and out the other. Because when it is well received, it's held onto, it is embraced. Jeremiah wrote, is not my word like fire, says Yahweh, and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces? There are those that don't want to come under the accountability of the scripture. And they shop for a church that would just talk about salvation and the Savior. But don't go verse by verse where we can't escape the whole counsel of God, which is critical. We're going to come to that in this section. Two carnal, two self-centered to receive correction.

That element, one ear and out the other. They would not badmouth Samson like they did Paul, especially to his face. What does that say? This is true to this day. There are people that badmouth pastors, and they wouldn't do it if that pastor was Samson.

And they'd fear he'd show up with a jawbone of a donkey. What does that say about the cowardice amongst us? I hope I'm not guilty of such behavior.

I'm sure I'm guilty of enough things. I don't want to sound like I'm just above these things, not at all. But you cannot say, well, I'm not worthy to serve you, Lord, therefore I'm not going to preach the truth.

You can't do that. We continue to strive, and hopefully we will be blameless. Jesus said, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. But these people that were attacking Paul, did they not know or did they not care that the Holy Spirit was the architect of Paul's ministry? While they were saying, yeah, you like Paul, but I like Apollos, or I like Peter, or Paul, you know, he's this and he's that.

He's not really an apostle. Did they understand? Did they look at his life?

This goes on today. You have somebody that'll come along and say, well, you know, pastor's this, or this Christian is that. And you look at their life, you say, well, they're not doing anything. I'm going to side with the one that's serving. I'm just going to side with the one, well, you know, I think it's Proverbs 18, 17, which talks about, you know, the one that blabs out their problem first is usually the one believed until the other one comes along and straightens it out, which Paul did. He writes this to those Corinthians. Again, he already had written this. He recently had written this second Corinthian letter. He says, I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

Here's the contrast. He didn't have to say that to the Ephesians. They loved him and they showed it. And again, there were those. I don't want to lose sight of the fact that there were those in Corinth that did love Paul and were not the problem.

But an element large enough, they caused issues. But thank God, because as Paul writes, this allowed these things to come to the surface and God has captured it for us in the Corinthian letter. I'm not looking forward to teaching through Corinthians again. Too close to home.

Too many things. Oh, boy, I lived through that one. Oh, I know that one. But it has to be when we get there and we will all be edified, made better Christians for doing it, I'm sure. Anyway, some of those Christians in Ephesus could not tell the difference between an anointed man of God, an anointed God-sent pastor, and a pickle.

They couldn't tell the difference. You put a pickle in the wisdom. Which one's the pastor? Oh, how many chances do I get?

Of course, that's satire. But here he's saying, I love you. You don't love me.

And why is that? What have I done to you? You wouldn't be Christians if God had not sent me to you to suffer the things I suffered. The fear, the terror, God having to come beside me and saying, I've got many people here, Paul.

Don't worry about it. He sends them Aquila and Priscilla and they come to his aid at the risk of their own necks. Wasted on some of them. Not wasted on these Ephesians. And one might protest, this is harsh.

Not at all. This is how we grow. We don't sweep this under the rug.

We pull it out into the light. And just because some Christians are given gifts does not mean they will be loving. There are Christians that have great gifts and they have no love. Paul tried telling this to the Corinthians. In the first chapter, he says, you excelled in every gift. By the time he gets to chapter 13, he says, though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass and a clanging cymbal. Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains. Pause there. Some Christians would like to remove a mountain and put it on somebody else's head.

And that's what he's talking about here. I can remove mountains, but have not love. He says, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. This is pretty powerful. You know, we concentrate on the following verses of Corinthians. Love never fails. Love is kind.

It's not puffed up. It's not prayed around. We concentrate on that. But that introduction is astounding.

It is fantastic. And we cannot bypass it. We cannot overstep that. The church at Ephesus, that darling church, that sweetheart church of early Christianity, she's going to lose that love.

The next generation will come along, and they will not maintain it. And thus Jesus says to John, write them a letter. Take this down.

You have left your first love, and you'd better fix it. He wasn't harsh or mean, but he was very serious about it. He said, this is a deal breaker between me and my church.

If you do not love me, and that love does not show up loving others, it is a deal breaker. Lessons from the Bible for us. And, you know, we are quick to point to Berea, and say, see, those Jewish believers, or they became believers, they searched the scriptures daily to see if the things that Paul was saying was from the scripture. Well, let's be quick to point to Ephesus at this stage in her history, and say, these believers, they were mature, they were willing to learn, they had a teachable spirit, they loved Christ, and this was Christ-like Christianity.

The actions of the Holy Spirit flowing through the lives of the believers in this church. These are the people Paul is going to be talking about from this 17th verse to the end of this chapter. It is one of the best chapters in the Bible. I love this 20th chapter. Those are always the hard ones to preach on. You're just difficult to squeeze out what you're feeling based on what you have in front of you. Anyway, verse 17, From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

I used a third of the time on that introduction, but I was enjoying it. I don't know if you could tell, because it's God's word, it's true, and the lessons abound, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying the lessons. So long as our heart is hopefully going to try to execute them, and not others. Well, Miletus, sizable seaport, about 30 miles from Ephesus, so this is going to take time. Now, if he took a ship to Ephesus, it would have to go up the channel, and it would take a lot more time, and then he'd be delayed with all the believers. So 30 miles away, he's going to have to wait for them to get there. Word gets to them, and then they've got to travel.

And so it's a little time, a couple of days he's going to be doing this. He calls for the elders of the church. These are the Ephesian pastors. It's made clear in verse 28, we'll get to that in a little bit, but the Greek word here in verse 17 for elders, presbyteros, where we get our Presbyterian word from, it means the matured. Now, you can be a veteran Christian and still immature, just because you've been going to church a long time, or claim Christ a long time, doesn't mean you've matured.

You can be quite juvenile still, or you can mature. Well, these were matured enough to be put into positions of leadership. Now, when we get to verse 28, the Greek word that, well, Paul will say that these elders are overseers. It's a different word in the Greek. We get that word episkopos, from where we get our word episcopalian.

And that means the guardians. They're overseeing the church. They're looking out for the church. This is the same person, the same office. The pastor is to be matured, except when he's telling silly jokes, he's allowed a little margin.

He's to be matured and the guardian. The Presbyterians and the episcopalian denominations, they have named themselves based on the form of their government. And this is not rude or anything.

This is how it is. They wouldn't deny it. They're not ashamed of it. The Presbyterians say, well, we are run by a committee of elders. And the episcopalian say, well, we're run by the pastors.

And so that's the difference. Hopefully here you have, as Paul presents it, these qualities are supposed to be joined into a person called the pastor. I'll point that out from the scripture in a moment also. So Paul uses elders and overseers interchangeably for the same office, guardians, matured guardians of the flock. The elders, that draws attention to their spiritual maturity.

The overseer indicates the nature of the work that these elders are engaged in. And you combine these two offices and you have pastor to be matured in nature. Now, our English word pastor comes from the Latin for shepherd. Pastor means shepherd.

It started way before, but in the New Testament church, Jesus brings it to the front when he says to Peter, feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. That's the language for a pastor. That's the metaphor for a pastoral ministry of a flock, which Paul will bring out the next session when we talk about the undaunted shepherd. Here's the undaunted servant because he's going to talk about how he serves the Lord. In Acts 20, verse 28, if you have your Bibles open, you look down there with me, he says, therefore take heed to yourselves and to the flock. See that pastoral language? Among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, that's that word episcopus, to shepherd, it's to feed, it's the word for shepherd, that's correct, the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.

So in that 28th verse, he's joined it all together. So where it says, from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the pastors, though he calls them elders and we'll bring that out a little bit more because it expands a little bit more. Christians should know this, how our faith is structured. What is the antithesis?

What's the opposite? If you don't know its structure, then you don't know its structure and that's not a virtue. There are others within the church who oversee affairs of the church and who are not pastors, but they are mature and they look out for the interests of the assembly in their assigned roles, for board members for example. When Paul writes to Timothy, he says, let the elders, that same word, episcopos, who rule well be counted worthy of double honor. Then he says, especially those who labor in the word and teaching. This is doctrine from scripture. Some Christians resent pastors tending to flock with authority. I guess they just want them to be doormats, pin cushions, I don't know.

But we should embrace this. Pastors don't come around telling you what kind of car to buy, who to marry, they don't try to run your lives. That is a type of Christianity called shepherding where that does take place, that's abuse of power. What Paul is saying is when it comes to the assembly, somebody's got to be in charge. And when he says in charge, he means it because this is what he says to Titus. He says, speak these things, exhort, rebuke with all authority. They don't like it, that's on them.

You make sure you do it. Then he says, let no one despise you. What a shame that he's got to say that.

Why would he have to say that? Because there are people in the churches that are despising pastors for upholding the authority given to them by God. I like these things not because I am a pastor, because I'm a Christian. I knew these things before I became a pastor, I enjoyed them then.

I know the value of command structure. I know what happens when there is no leadership. Jesus said the prophets and Christ brings in on it. I will smite the shepherd and the flock will be scattered.

That ain't good. Satan knows who to target. He knows where his weapons of mass destruction are to be spent. They talk about how important the church is. Look how much energy Satan puts into destroying a church.

Anyway, if he could just put you to sleep, not me putting you to sleep, if Satan can cause you to fall asleep as a Christian at your post, if he can corrupt it anyway, he'll take it. The bottom line, Paul is addressing the pastors, pastors which likely includes a few other leaders also who were what you would say like trustees in the church, valuable people in the church. Verse 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. Well, he's probably still a little singed at what he had to go through at Corinth. So he's saying to the Ephesians, where he spent three years establishing this church, and he's saying, You know, I've been transparent with you.

This living in a glass house in front of them, his witness that is, well, if you're transparent in that glass house witness, it may turn into a hothouse environment, but you're fit for it. He said a similar thing to another noble church at Thessalonica. He said, For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance. See, the gap between Paul's preaching and Paul's life was a very narrow gap. They were together. He was a man who practiced what he preached, and he goes on to say to them, As you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

Isn't that not powerful? You know what kind of people we were when we were there, and it was for you. He talks in detail about it in that first chapter, how he worked not wanting to burden them. It was not wasted on the Thessalonian church. They received this. They said, Amen. The Ephesians, when he's done with them, they're going to weep on his neck and cry and kiss him. They're so touched by how much he loved them. What about Corinth?

What was their problem? What about today, when the same practices take place, and you see someone do something goofy in the church, the pastors rule over it, and then the people turn on them for standing firm. And they go him and her, not all Christians, not even near, but enough. Then they go him and her about they can't find a good church. Christians kill churches in this country and nobody else. There are other countries where you can go to parts in Sudan where you could have Muslims trying to kill the church, or you can go to Communist China, and you have the government trying to kill the church. But in America, it's mainly Christians. And that should not be.

And that's why we're looking at these things. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross-Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com, or simply search for Cross-Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the Book of Acts, right here on Cross-Reference Radio. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 09:56:29 / 2024-01-18 10:06:20 / 10

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