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January 3, 2022 7:00 pm
Dr. Robert Vincent, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Milford, OH is beginning a seminary chapel series entitled, “A Ministry Worth Pursuing.” The scripture is Acts 20:17-38.
The post 1156. Graced for a Ministry That Gives appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.
Welcome to The Daily Platform sponsored by Bob Jones University today Dr. Robert Vincent associate pastor at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina begins a seminary chapel series entitled a ministry worth pursuing from acts chapter 20.
If you look with me at acts 20 and we won't read the entirety of the passage but will jump toward the end. And if you read with me in verse 32 and 34, 35, Paul is speaking and he says, and now brother and I commend you to God into the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Then verse 34 ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered on the my necessities, and to them that were with me.
I've showed you all things, how that so laboring you want to support the week and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Lenski translates those final words blast it is rather to be giving than to be taking in those words. I want to be the focus for us this morning and sort of as a land we would view the entirety of the passage that proceeds one of the obvious things about this sentence and where it falls is that these are concluding for. Paul concludes a lengthy address the lengthy estimates, in the New Testament with these words. And these are not just concluding words but they are summary word word summarizing not just all that Paul has said in the moment but all that Paul has displayed for these Ephesian elders and for the whole church at Ephesus during the three years that he labored with them and it would be legitimate to say that it summarizes the whole scope of Paul's ministry, following his conversion until the Lord took him home to glory. These are summary words, but they seem also to be memorable words.
Paul in verse 27 stresses that it was his ambition to teach to the church at Ephesus. The whole counsel or purpose of God. And in that expansive teaching. There is this summary statement a statement that seems worthy of extracting out of that hole in it sort of rises like a majestic peak and serves as the backdrop for all of the other teaching illustrating the other teaching that Paul presented to them. It seems that Paul likely did not just use the statement here one time but that it was something that he repeated and purposefully emphasized with them, almost as it were, like a ministry mantra that he set before them verbalize to them and visualized through his ministry that another observation that may surprise us, given that we see these words here in the book of acts is that these are Christ's words, we have these words. Nowhere else in Scripture, we have no page in the Gospels that shows Christ speaking these words in this way, but Paul attributes these words to Christ and it may be that Christ gave them to Paul in some form of later revelation. It may be that Christ set them during his earthly ministry and that Paul has heard them orally, and he has remembered them for their significance or it may be that Paul himself is putting together content of Jesus teaching and a pithy portable summary kind of a statement because this statement does actually summarize Jesus teaching by necessarily all of it, but much of Jesus taught about giving. He taught the importance of giving him the blessing of that to the degree that you give will be given to you the measure you measure out it will be measured out to you in return.
The illustration of the widows might that giving little actually could be giving much she in that moment was much more blessed than those who had more, but gave comparably. Let's Jesus would teach in real life, that giving could touch some very personal levels is for this that a man would lay down his life even for friends giving summarizes so much of the dimensions of Jesus teaching and he told his followers. You cannot serve me and material things you can't be living a life that I call you to give for your living to receive and take then this statement includes the word blast, which was no foreign word in Jesus vocabulary at least 16 different times and Jesus teaching nine times famously the beginning of the sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeats blessed his kingdom citizens can be blessed. That was the burden of Jesus heart that those who follow him to serve in his kingdom would come to have life and that they would have a life that flourishes a life that is a bond in a blast life.
Jesus taught that often and wanted his followers to imbibe of it deeply in these six Greek words there are a lot of truths that we could attempt to unpack and we won't try to unpack all of them but I think we can make a brief observation that these two activities. Giving and receiving. Summarize nearly all of life. It would be legitimate to say that we could look at our lives through the lens of these words and very little would fall outside this involves our relationship to things.
It involves our relationship to God, our relationship to people these words and involve how we deal with others with ourselves, how we give of ourselves or reserve ourselves in ministry to each other.
It it governs how we we work with the things that we own, giving and receiving encompass so much if not all of life.
In this passage would assure us. I think that there's a scriptural way to do both is not sinful to receive other passages of Scripture.
Paul explains how he is learning to receive and to be content, and receiving what God meets out for him. He recounts other passages where he has been greatly blessed by receiving from the hands and the giving of other people. There's a scriptural way to receive. It's not wrong to receive and there is a scriptural way to get and we won't belabor that at this point, but I think this passage would nudge us to that conclusion.
But what this passage does set before us.
I think most vividly is a comparison that when you put the two side-by-side. There's a sense in which it would be right to say it is more blessed to give than to receive. Paul must have meditated on that expression frequently.
He must've thought of it often. It seems to have governed his life. Why is it that one might be more blessed to give than to receive. The passage doesn't say it leaves us to really think on that, but perhaps at the very bottom when we give what we give generously is at those times that as believers we most reflect God. We most reflect the heart of the giving God.
We most display that we have been graced that we have received much, and out of that abundance. We then dispense and share with others well and what Paul sets before us here in this passage. It is an amazing display of someone who has internalize this truth and learn the flesh it out, not just in all of life but especially in a ministry context and that's what makes it I think such a potent passage for us as we consider together a ministry worth pursuing in Paul's life. What form did this truth, end up taking what did his selfless giving look like one of the verses in the in the passage. If you look at verse 24 gives us a little him.
None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself. Paul understood that to give in a way that's pleasing to God, would mean a life of self-denial and this is true not only in this passage we find Paul actually speaking to this and many other places throughout his letter in second Corinthians that he wrote while he was here ministering to those of the church at Ephesus.
He was able to say to them I will most gladly spend and be spent for you though, the more abundantly. I love you, the less I do love what he would later write to Timothy that he is ready to pour himself out as a drink offering, and what he wrote in the first letter to the church at Corinth that he had learned what it meant to die daily. Paul understood a life of self-denial in ministry, particularly as it relates to his capacity to give himself generously in ministry to others so specifically what did Paul's forms of giving look like will look at verses 34 and 35 verses that we read he says yay you yourselves know that these hands have ministered under my necessities, and to them that were with me in the verse 35 second lineup showed you all things, how that so laboring cake conveying hard work we hear is Paul ministering with his hands.
He did that we know in some cases, the minister for his own physical necessities and then here he is on the ministry side and he's also laboring heart. You would not look at Paul and see laziness at all.
Etched into his character whether he was tending to physical matters whether he was tending to spiritual matters.
Paul is working hard. He's exerting himself physically in ministry, knowing that while he was here laboring as intensively as he did. It's at this time that Paul is also full of the cares of other churches. While he said Ephesus ministering in this way he's writing Romans. He's writing first Corinthians. He's writing second Corinthians is longest letters, also have this same recipe of ministry service. So first thing we note about Paul is that ministry for him was self-denying physical exertion not just about material matters. But even in spiritual ministry and when you look at Paul when you see him working hard.
It doesn't appear to be drudgery to him it's voluntary, it is tedious.
It's inconvenient, it's long and sacrificial. In verse 34 we have another little clue that's open to us about the nature of Paul's Paul's generosity in ministry and there's just this little window that with these hands have ministered under my necessities and on to them who are with now. It may be that Paul with his hands perform spiritual ministry with some of these people for it may be that with his hands as he was tent making in procuring fines or revenue to support the ministry that those funds that then came in. Paul use those and part on other people. That seems to be what's actually going on so it's just hard work.
There's a sharing of financial resources acquired through hard work and then there is a sharing of his time.
Look at verse 31 Paul says therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years. I cease not to warn everyone night and day with tears three years. That's a long time. Think along year in seminary. Paul is giving three years of his life, and it's not just three years.
It's three years everyday. Night and day. Paul is giving of himself by giving his time to these people and it's not just time it's a motion you see the words with which verse 31 ends its unceasing night and day with tears.
This is the first mention of tears. If you look back up at verse 19 serving the Lord with all humility of mind and with many tears who would've thought that Paul was the weeping prophet of the New Testament in verse 19 it seems that Wendy's ministering publicly.
He's doing so with tears in verse 31 you see him ministering in these warning every one as if that's individual ministry and it's with tears Paul ministers with tears. He's giving himself emotionally and if you look at it. Verse 36 it's the only time prayer is mentioned in the passage in a taxi. At the end of Paul's address when he's done, he prays together with these men weeping, kissing each other hearts full of sorrow at the party and though this is the only mention of prayer in this passage we know that Paul prayed continually in ministry. He prayed continually for those to whom he ministered and he prayed with those for whom he ministered. He prayed the kind of prayers for the church at Ephesus that we find in his letter, he prayed that they would be strengthened with might by God's Spirit in their inner me that Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith that they would be able to comprehend what is incomprehensible, humanly love of Christ and there was in addition to all of this.
There was what we know Paul, for the most and that was his verbal ministry. In verse 20 he kept back nothing that was profitable.
He was testifying. Verse 21, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 24. He was testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. Verse 25.
He's been preaching the kingdom of God. Verse 27 he's not recoil from declaring to them all the counsel of God.
Paul is verbalizing ministry to these people, and in doing so he speaking to them things that are important to God. Paul amazingly gives of himself at times when it's even to his own injury elect up in verse 19. Again, he says, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, many tears and then these two things, and temptations, which befell me by the lying and weight of the Jews. There were spiritual pressures that Paul was willing to endure spiritual struggles that he was willing to endure because he so generously ministered.
There were physical threats that he was willing to endure because he so generously ministered and if you look down at verse 23 he wasn't finished his generous ministry toward the church seem to suggest that much more affliction was still awaiting Paul but yet he continued to give generously in ministry.
Verse 35 gives us. I think a beautiful picture. Maybe a word that Paul would have used to describe the whole character of his ministry and it's the word support. It is picturesque and it has the idea of laying a hold on one in order to hold them up and think of Paul in his mind all that he's doing all the hard work all the giving of himself and it's propping and holding supporting and edifying. That's the driving consideration that determines the form and the length and the emotion necessary for ministry in terms of motivation, no doubt Paul was thinking of these people not as projects but he was thinking of them in terms that he shares with us in Thessalonians that they are his hope and joy and crown of exultation at the appearing were in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.
To whom does Paul give we could very quickly.
I think move through this list. Verse 34 tells us that he served himself, but he didn't do so selfishly, he served himself so that others would be free to serve others, so that he would not be a drain on others resources. We know in the passage. He also served the elders will know how large this company was, but he served them. He served them while he was with them. Many serve them so affectionately so tenderly that when he calls them to meet with. He's not an Ephesus they come, some 25 to maybe 30 miles to meet for this final encounter to hear a final word from Paul. He served the people.
Verse 20 tells us that he did so house to house. Verse 21 tells us that it was Jew and Gentile. Verse 34. Paul tells us that he served those who were with him.
There were co-laborers in Paul's ministry went out to them as they served together in verse 35 tells us that they served the week and when you put all of that together what's apparent is the apostle Paul treats everybody like his neighbor. It doesn't matter where they're coming from. It doesn't matter whether God it doesn't matter who else is passed them by. Paul wants to know. Has God providentially put them in my path and has he prepared me to meet their needs.
Paul treats all of these, like his neighbor. In verse 19 gives us.
I think what a sort of an umbrella over all of that Paul is not just serving people. Paul is serving the Lord. The two great commandments. The greatest command. Paul loves his God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength and it's what enables him and fuels in his ministry to those before him and what needs did Paul seek to address in his ministry. And I think the words that are used in verse 34. Yet, this word necessities verse 35.
Yet this word week in both of those words in our new Testaments can be used for both physical and spiritual need.
And it may well be that Paul spent a good bit of his time ministering to physical needs. We know he healed a demon possessed girl and not as a spiritual deliverance with physical ramifications and he may have performed many such miracles there at Ephesus, but what seems to be Paul's primary concern is spiritually minded ministry ministry to the enemy not divorced from physical needs, but wedded to and maybe even supreme over Paul is attempting to meet the spiritual needs, and he's attempting to meet the spiritual needs of people who are called week. People who are weak in faith people without strength. People who need building up. Paul is seeing these needs and serving them through his ministry. Some of these people may have been skeptical of Paul's message until they watched him serve them call is serving the week and this is characteristic of Paul.
In fact Paul calls us to have this to be characteristic of us in Galatians, he tells us to learn to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. You learn to work in labor with your hands so that you can have, to give to him. He needs in Romans 15 one. Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves in first Thessalonians 5 in verse 14, Paul says, we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the week.
Be patient with everyone. Paul is modeling this kind of ministry. Nine. Conclusion I think there are three observations there probably many more. But there are three observations I would like to make and one of them is this that this counsel that Paul is giving. I believe is is given as a very specific antidote to anyone who might be tempted to become a false teacher a look at verses 29 and 30, Paul says, for I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Listen to how the New Testament characterizes the motives of false teachers. They are hirelings whose God is their belly who spread views for shameful gain who suppose that godliness is a way of making profit and they love the wages of unrighteousness. Those men are not living by.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.
They forgotten those words remembering these words. This counsel is an antidote to slipping into wrong motivations that might lead us that to become false teachers with false messages that lead people away in a second observation would be this call in second Corinthians calls himself a minister of the new covenant ministers of the new covenant have the privilege of imitating the mediator of the new covenant for mom. I just stop and consider this statement is more blessed to give than to receive, and imagine Jesus speaking this work.
Imagine him saying it often imagine him reminding his disciples of it, those disciples who observed him daily. They remember that he said I did not come to be served to serve that equality with God was not something he was going to grasp. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Ultimately we know he lay down his life, greater law has no man than this, this statement we could hang right over the life and ministry of Christ. And it's no wonder it seems to capture his spirit. He's a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief's buddies blessed and he loves to give and he does so endlessly until the Lord takes him back to heaven. It is a ministry mantra for Jesus himself and it explains his joy, the joy that he was then able to give to his disciples the final observation would just be one that I alluded to earlier that when we I think Foley and Bible.
Paul's counsel here, it does give us a glimpse into the character of God himself. God presents himself to us as a giver. When we come to him for wisdom he loves to give lavishly. He gave us his son. Even today he is given as his spirit to energize assassin quickens us, convicts us as a gift from God. At the request of his in his head same God who today gives us all things richly to enjoy and he is the giver of every good and perfect gift. And when we learn to serve in ministry in a way that displays the heart of God. God is please because he sees in us things that remind him of his son. Same kind of disposition displayed by his son in whom he was well pleased. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thank you for listening to The Daily Platform. Please come visit our beautiful campus in Greenville, South Carolina, and see how God is working in the lives of our students. For more information about Bob Jones University, visit www.bgyou.edu or call eight