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August 5, 2021 7:00 pm
Pastor Trent Hunter concludes the Seminary Chapel series studying Acts 20 with a message titled “A Ministry Worth Pursuing,” from Acts 20:36-38.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The school was founded in 1927 evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform.
Today we conclude a study of acts 20 from seminary chapel today speaker is Trent Hunter, pastor of preaching and teaching at Heritage Bible Church in Greer, South Carolina. We have the distinct privilege this morning to be able to hear from Pastor Trent Hunter and he comes as the conclusion to our acts 20 series so were looking for hard to the word of God being delivered to our hearts to today as many of you know, he's the pastor of preaching and teaching at Heritage Bible church as three children has authored a couple of blocks and is a a faithful teacher of the word of God's were so glad that you taken time to come and minister to us.
While I'm so glad to be here with you. Please take your copy of God's word and open it up to the book of acts chapter 20 the book of acts chapter 24 will be this morning. That's where you have been for a long time. This is been a long sermon hasn't a nice slow soak and a very important moment in the church's history and the story of the book of acts, and you won't forget it and I pray that this morning sermon is a nice Today we come to the conclusion of his farewell visit Paul's with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem. He of course stopped in Miletus and called the Ephesian elders up to him. Maybe you've heard some answers as to why he didn't stop in Ephesus.
Maybe it was danger may be distant have for all time for all the dinners but he had to say goodbye and so he called these elders to himself and they had to say goodbye and so they came over the weeks you've listen to these elders with these elders to Paul's farewell speech. Now all of us together will watch them say goodbye verse 36 and when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all and there was much weeping on the part of all, they embraced Paul and they kissed him, being sorrowful, most of all because of the word he had spoken that they would not see his face again and they accompanied him to the ship. There are some good reasons to be cynical about leadership and special he may be in the political sphere where kind of use to politicians saying what they must say, for our vote in a moment they'd all lack integrity, but we aren't always sure if were getting the real story were not always sure if they intend to do what they say. Of course, the political system will constrain them from being able to do what they promise.
At times, but we have grown and can grow a little cynical with leadership in that sphere and in almost any sphere and it works both ways doesn't. We wonder if our our leaders.
Sometimes, no matter where were at. Don't have some contempt for us. Don't condescend to us will it can go both ways in the church as well. I hesitate to say this but it was as if I was divinely given a treat this morning for an illustration for you.
It came to me in the form of an elf meme when I opened up my computer hi Pastor, says Alf on the phone. This is an anonymous church member.
Just wanted you to know that your sermons are terrible.
Goodbye now was just a little bit crass or the mad but you get the idea. It's not a direct quote. If you been ministry long enough, depending on where you have sat on the Boston in a church if you served people long enough, you'll know what can get served to you and if you haven't serve some things you'll be serve some things and it's not always untrue, and it's almost always useful for humility, but if were not careful in our roles of leadership we can grow cynical ourselves toward toward the sheep but doesn't have to be this way. This little moment that we have here on the page is a beautiful moment and it is filled with affection. These are not fake tears like the cry Moji that has to cry all the time and doesn't mean it is or not. These are not the kind that are on command.
Like an actor or are not the kind of tears that you have went after 90 seconds and you didn't see it coming and how that cat took care of that turtle in that YouTube video is really precious and your moved these.
These are deep tears that come at the end of the speech, but they're not provoked by oratory. These tears are provoked by years in this relationship with the apostle Paul, which will explore and reflect on by way of conclusion to the series and in a bit. Deep affection here a picture of how the apostle cared for the church at Ephesus and how the church at Ephesus, represented here by their elders cared for Paul pastoral leadership, sheep, and their shepherd at at its best is for that reason that this scene is also filled with instruction for us is filled with affection and instruction. How is it instructive for us exactly I don't usually preach in a passage. The short and it was a good exercise to stare at it and ask how is it instructive for us all.
Here the apostle of the sent one. The missionary church planter offers himself as a model for these local church elders. We all were not apostles and neither all of us now or will be sent one missionaries but he offers himself as an example you've examined carefully as speech filled with reminders of his own ministry is life and his teaching, then moving toward exhortation for their care for the flock.
What Paul has done among them. He is called them up to Miletus to say what you see me do do this is instructive for the elders as they had back home and so it instructive for those of us who serve as elders in this room. Some of you friends now for my own church and other churches in town. For those of you who are under elders. I prayer all under the shepherding care of elders how to pray for them, how to point them what to expect of them.
And for those of us who aspire to eldership which may be any number of you and of course there's application or by way of principle to those who would lead in any capacity. We focus today on elders notice that they were sorrowful. Verse 38, most of all because of the word he had spoken that they would not see his face again Paul was doing something right when he was with them face-to-face and what we see here in this final moment. These final goodbyes as we stand at the back of the room and watch this happen. What we watch happen here is the blessed God blessed not always inevitable. But the God blessed fruit of a faithful ministry that Paul is himself commending to these men to imitate what went into it, or material for our meditation on this several verse section is gonna come from the speech which we will you've all walked through over a number of months. After all, verse 36 when he had said these things, he knelt down and they prayed together speech which you know well how Paul reminded them of his ministry and then exhorted them concerning concerning their so let's train our eyes on on for little interactions in the passage watch the Neil watch them weep.
Watch them embrace watch them walk all the ship watching Neil why are they on their knees or to cycles like a devotional meditation there is in a straight line from these observations reflection. This is more of a reflection on what were seeing and how everything Paul has said and is done contributes to what were seeing, why are they on their knees number of ways to answer that.
Why did what did Paul do in the course of his time with them face-to-face, so that they were properly on their knees by way of immediate reflex with him. They knew what to do when the speech was up there kneeling down with Paul in prayer because Paul opened up the Bible with them. That's the first thing we'll see here. There kneeling and in down in Paul in prayer with Paul because Paul opened up the Bible with them.
It's the first thing they do together after his speech because the Bible was the main thing he was doing with them in the course of his ministry is not merely a relational moment were good friends say goodbye to deeply spiritual moment is impression on them wasn't merely social and relational but deeply spiritual. God worked through the band and he did it through his word.
Not just any moment of prayer here, but a particularly reverent moment of prayer. They don't stand there on their knees and knelt down in prayer together because Paul open the Bible with Sims. We rehearsed some of these lines from verse 20 I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you in public from house to house, testifying both the Jews and Greeks is emphasizing something. Verse 25 behold, I I know that none of you none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God will see my face again.
Verse 26 I testify to you this day that I'm innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. You're getting something of Paul's agenda in the summary of his own ministry as he speaks to these men in order to impress on them what they need to be doing when they go home and all of us as we listen what we need to expect from those who lead us that have a Bible in their hands, declaring testifying, proclaiming that's what he was doing the vehicle for bringing salvation proclaimed among Jews and Greeks was the same vehicle for sanctifying and strengthening the church which he did at Ephesus total Bible saturation where they do this, verse 20 I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable in teaching you where public and in private is Bible open in both contexts. Some of us have a more public preaching and teaching ministry Nubian home to those of us without a primary public teaching and preaching ministry were nevertheless elders can have a robust ministry of the word in the home across the coffee table. When they do this, verse 31 for three years.
I did not cease night or day, for three reasons all the time. This was a smart kid, a Bible in his hands is the breakfast Bible came with them meet some of her coffee Bible comes with them when I meet with people wherever I'm at, I got this Bible in my hands. I got smaller ones little less intimidating than less intrusive takes up a little less space on the coffee table at Starbucks is a little small circle things you'll get much room of the Bible goes with instinctively and I get that from Paul to that with each other, to whom only speak the word that he he testified verse 21 to Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ gather the church of those who believe what they say exactly was message was simple repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You know how to put it in a sentence, you got these all over the New Testament gospel in a sentence and they never sound the same way it gets the heart of the matter, and yet it was rich and textured and layered and brought verse 20 I didn't shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and of course he preached the entire the whole counsel of God. He says he gave them get that she gave them a body of apostolic teaching. He built a theological city for them over the years that he was with them. He threw up walls and laid foundation and added an extra room in wired things up and waiting to correct the wiring when things were quite right wall by wall reinforcement by reinforcement. He built the church Christ built the church through his own word ministered by his apostle is another illustration of these is are fresh in my mind was at my column shepherding group is at my community group Sunday night in the backyard of this brother who is hosting was a stack of white tray things and would be very unscientific here. If any of your beekeepers. Forgive me explaining how is beekeeping workers bees hovering all over. I get to close a civil bounce off me.
I try to get a bead of bounce off of me and I got brought into the whole world, bees, and whenever I do this I end up down the YouTube wormhole learning about beekeeping I got always, every church is a beekeeper in it somewhere and then and there is like another one whose learning from him and we got we got a couple beekeepers now.
Is it a beekeeper's house will will please you make this a hexagon shape for their honey and there's a there's a there's a queen in there somewhere working away and apparently if they if the queen is a good clean she's going to make it so hexagon shapes and they're going to make this arc a certain kind of pattern I can't get in more detail than that, but a bad queen a lazy queen will make a bit of a mess. Maybe.
Maybe she's got hexagon still but but if things are spread out in the honeys in a weird place and he went and all this and I thought that's not a terrible illustration for what we see that Paul is doing here. If the queen did her job shall spread these things out in a certain shape across the slat batter lazy queen will make a bit of a mess. Will Paul is a faithful shepherd and at the center of his teaching is the gospel is simple, strong hexagon will shape and with that he builds for a well ordered thoughtful, strong design he leaves with the people keeps them safe. The whole counsel of God, the gospel and all its fullness, the purposes of God. The nature of God. The plan of God.
The promises of God. The gospel in its fullness. These are what compelled these men to kneel when they heard him rehearse his ministry with them and to pray with him and these are what shaped the prayers that they prayed when they knelt together, which are not recorded or us if we want our people to kneel down in prayer with us we must first open up the word of God with them and all of its simplicity and depth. So, brothers, in particular those of you who will pastor churches in elder work hard to give yourself to the words, but let us make an additional comment here as we transition to the next thought this work is not merely a matter of words reading them ordering them writing than speaking them. It is not less, but it is not merely a matter of content and curriculum in scope and sequence of study and delivery brothers. The mere transmission of words cannot explain why this page is wet with tears over Paul over Paul notice now that there weeping. Why may I suggest that this scene is wet with tears, because Paul's Bible was wet with tears. There weeping over Paul because Paul prepped over them.
Acts 2018 and 19. You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day I set foot in Asia serving the Lord with all humility and with tears. Verse 31. He says it again.
Be alert you remember that for three years. I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone of you with tears so you be alert because I cried over you do the same. Paul was no softy, but he cried he cried because he cared for them when they suffered persecution.
He cared for them when they sinned he was concerned for them when they repented and believed he celebrated Todd's work in.
Then there's the story of their repentance even into their conversion in the book of acts. I rejoiced how much Paul must've rejoiced when they turned in their magic books and set them aflame at great cost to themselves in danger were not talking about emotional expressiveness here that can benefit the church if that's your temperament I'm not terribly emotionally expressive, neither are we talking about care and concern in general.
Some of the most dangerous Christian leaders I have known. In particular, we know when their elders because of the kind of cockpit leadership role that we share as elders are the guys who are good with the Bible but really love the sheep because they're not guided very dangerous susceptible to do whatever is demanded of them vulnerable to people pleasing what the church needs a shepherds who love the people within from them because of and through the Bible shepherds whose hearts beat with the heart of the good Shepherd on the page of the Bible who loved his sheep and laid down his life for them and said to Peter, feed my sheep used to find this easier. In my role before this one moved here a few years ago I was in largely a leadership role, less a weekly preaching role and I just found that I had mental bandwidth and time bandwidth for more lingering with people at the moment. The study has its demands and so does the machinery of the ministry have its demands and in the long term.
I must labor to design the ministry in my schedule around the priorities so that there is lingering time. Among the sheep. Now it's planned time. I pray faithful time in the machinery needs it's time but it's a part of the work. It won't be enough for me to be busy preaching and overseeing it requires ordering the ministry in such a way to be available which is a great reason for you to be here right now because as your investing in your work in your ministry now by focusing on Bible and theology.
All of that will get cashed in your like building an engine that will run for years. It will run for years. And the harder you work now free or you will be the more agile you will be the more nimble you will be to lead in a balanced fashion in the local church. So be busy here, you yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day until I set foot in Asia.
He lived among them. Let us live among our people, which requires proximity in which requires time.
If you want our people to weep over us. We must weep over them. Now watch and embrace call they embrace Paul because Paul clung to Christ. That's why they embraced him.
What explains Paul's coming to this dangerous place in his persisting with these people, such that they would embrace him in this way, not mere formally but heartfelt tender loving goodbye hugs he says I do not Count my life of any more value or is precious to myself, if only I may finish my course in the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God the ministry. He had was a ministry he received. It was not his church or his ministry in the first place, but Christ given to him which means he did not minister for their approval or his own name, but for the approval of the one who gave it to him who is Christ and this is what the church needs. This is what you and I need and are shepherds tell Paul began his ministry.
Verse 18. You know how I lived among you.
Verse 19 serving the Lord with all humility. The Lord with humility in tears and trials and through plots no cynicism here humility.
Why serving the Lord will grow cynical about our people if we think were ultimately serving them and will grow cynical about our leaders if we think they are there to serve us.
Ultimately know Christ is a great master. No pastor and no church makes a great master. Only Jesus. This is how Paul began with them. It's how he endured as he did not shrink any did not shrink as we've heard he did not need their approval. Church needs shepherds who don't need their churches may be too emphatic that makes a point who don't need their people's approval. But Jesus is is is how Paul began, it's how he endured in having modeled it. It's what he commanded. Verse 28 pay careful attention to yourselves, and all the flock, which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his blood.
A beautiful Trinitarian frame for ministry. It's God's church.
It was, not accomplished by his smart work and sweat. But Jesus is blood and it is led not by the elders. He appointed it was led by the elders. The Holy Spirit appointed in all of this he's leading these people he's leading these elders to know how to think about, talk about and leave their own church.
That's why this big a apostle was not a big shot if we want our people to embrace us when we leave that has to happen.
We will need to embrace Christ as we leave them one final movement on the page of movement to the ship.
Finally, they accompanied Paul to the ship because Paul commended them to God put perhaps to plainly they did not need Paul anymore.
They did not beg Paul to stay. This is really assuming the best.
I'm sure they were all conflicted, but assuming the best they took Paul at his word when he said, and now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
That's the God and that's the word, to whom Paul entrusted the church if they believed them before. They should believe him now he can trust them to God because they were never his, and they could let him go because he had commended them to God. You might not have a goodbye like this in the context of your ministry might not occasion this some of us may die preaching, not retiring and moving on, but you may have to move on. Either way I hope you have a relationship like this either as a leader or as one who follows the sheep hope God gives us to. And if your pastor if you aspire to Elder friend to give yourself the teaching give yourself to weeping. Give yourself first to Christ and give the people the God father, we thank you for this beautiful passage. We thank you that are Bibles are wet. We thank you that we have this vision of really a beautifully ideal parting and what we can pray for.
We thank you most for the model of ministry that Paul offers us his faithfulness, his busyness with the word at great cost to himself because he clung to Christ and not the approval of man because he had a vision for his church to know Christ and to be strengthened and the word above all father make us to be faithful by your spirit.
We thank you for this beautiful passage in these months. In this passage, and now these final words this beautiful scene prayed multiplied in our churches in Greenville.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen. You been listening to a sermon preached by Trent Hunter, pastor for preaching and teaching at Heritage Bible Church in Greer, South Carolina. You been listening to The Daily Platform.
I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University and I invite you to join us at our beautiful campus in Greenville, South Carolina to see how you can be prepared academically and spiritually to serve the Lord through one of our more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs.
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