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Acts 20: Disciples making disciples

Continuing the Acts Series, pastor Adrian preaches on Acts 20 and the importance of diligence and obedience in ministry. The sermon discusses the significance of house churches in Ephesus and their relevance for us today, and the connection between love for Christ and obedience.

Small avatar of sermon author Adrian Pratap

Adrian Pratap


Transcript (Auto-generated)

We are up to Acts chapter 20 and joy did a wonderful job of reading that passage with all those really difficult words in it that's why we gave it to her um so she's used to doing really difficult things um she's got Rachel learning back as kids um so that's proof that you're good at doing difficult things parenting is difficult moms you've got a very very difficult job haven't you 've got teachers in the room you've got difficult jobs kids are hard and what's crazy is that we were all kids once so you're very difficult people all right and we think we grow up we don't really okay you think you grow up and you grow up mature and you and you when you work things out and you're responsible I just feel like our problems just get bigger right okay great talk that looks really good oh man let's go home no no no no Acts chapter 20 if you're in if you're if you've got your Bibles there and you should um let's turn to that um obviously there's there's a lot going on in this passage um Paul is essentially making his way back to Jerusalem at this stage of his third missionary journey and uh he knows uh through through prayer and through just a sense that God's been giving him that he's likely not going to be coming back to Ephesus this church that he's spent much of his time and Ministry with and so he was going out of his way a little bit to stop in at militis which is about 40 K's or so up the road from Ephesus and the reason why he was doing that was because militis had the better Harbor okay um so that's where the the ships Captain put in and that was why um he had sent for these Ephesian Elders to come and and visit him up there also he wanted to avoid a lot of the crowds anyone been to the shops yesterday at North Lakes would know that there's crazy crowds everywhere um not like that for Paul probably a lot more okay um but he was on a clock he wanted to get back to Jerusalem and he wanted to get back hopefully by the day of Pentecost and that wasn't going to happen if he got held up by all of these people that he loved and he would probably not be able to help himself but stay longer than he should okay and so he was like no I'm gonna recognize my weakness I'm gonna stay here and Ascend for the Elders of the Ephesian church and they can come and visit me and I can say goodbye to them and uh there's some things that he obviously had to share with them because he had a deep love and he had a deep care for that church of course we have one of the letters here recorded in scripture called Ephesians but right here is is an expression of Paul's heart as we as we see it expressed to these Elders who also dearly loved him and he traveled like you said in verses 18 through to 20. uh house to house because he had he wasn't just someone who stood up on a Pulpit and and and just preached and didn't know anybody he went house to house he went and preached locally amongst families and that was essentially the church in the early days in the first second century uh the church was made up of house churches much of the ministry that we hear about in the book of Acts happened in people's homes and so this is one of the reasons one of the one of the main reasons we have home groups extended family groups as a part of the ministry of this church because we recognize that most of the spiritual work that's going to happen in your life is not going to happen here on a Sunday morning and there is no chance of us being able to get to really know you really well in a crowd like this but in a family situation in a smaller group setting that's when we can really discover what's happening in our lives and discover how we might be able to assist each other to walk closer with Christ and certainly Paul was a great exponent of that he went from house to house and he preached the gospel and he stayed with people and he ate with them and he prayed with them and we have no idea how many answers to prayer there may have been through that Ministry so you can understand why these Elders were quite willing and you can understand why Paul was able to even ask them to come from Ephesus to meet with him at mellitus that this was not an unreasonable request from either of the parties and so this is the context of our passage today and just something that we need to be aware of with with talking about home churches and we're talking about home groups that's still one of the most viable forms of church in the underground Church in the world today um it's would be incredibly difficult for Christians in some of the persecuted nations of the world today to meet like we do today here it would be an incredible security risk so home churches are still incredibly important and very very viable and so if you're not part of a home group if you're not part of an extended family group I highly commend them to you and we have a number of ways for you to get involved with that to see one of the leaders and we can hook you up with one of those um but that is a key way in which we can minister to one another and like I said earlier Paul knew that he was likely never going to be coming back to Ephesus he knew this was his final farewell to the church and if you knew you were going to be leaving these people that you'd been with for a number of months years and doing incredibly intimate Ministry with you too would want to say goodbye properly right and so that's what he was doing and he'd spit excuse me he spent a lot of time with the church there and so you want to encourage them one last time now we can say a lot about Paul he was passionate he was zealous he he bore the power of the holy spirit in his ministry but he deeply deeply loved the church and I hope you're getting a sense of that as we've been journeying through the the the ax series with the number of missionary Journeys the number of Ministries the number of times Paul was rejected the number of times he just continued going and going and going now this story comes straight off the back of the previous one where eudicus remember fell out of the window because Paul was preaching for so long no it wasn't because Paul was preaching for so long it's because utica's tuned out okay um and he was trying to get some air in the window fell asleep and fell out of the window and you think that's a funny joke isn't it except for if you died which he did um and Paul went down pray for the man and raised him back to life and like nothing had happened went upstairs and had supper okay that was the character of Paul and the character of his ministry he he just expected Supernatural things to happen because that's what happens when you are interacting with the gospel on a daily basis is what happens when you not just preach the gospel you truly believe that the the the subject of the Gospel is powerful and knowable and real and right in your life okay and the subject of the Gospel is Jesus and Paul knew that and so he wasn't just telling pretty stories he wasn't just telling um fun stories about what was happening in and amongst the church he wasn't just talking about history with Jesus on the cross and being resurrected back to life he was talking about a very Noble relatable Jesus who he knew personally daily who he would see work in power through his holy spirit daily and there's a certain level of authority that comes with someone who has that kind of relationship right because you expect amazing things to happen around him don't you and so that's what Paul was like and he certainly had an incredible love and heart for the church which is a stark difference to where he began from if we go back remember he was one of the chief persecutors of the church before he had that encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus he was one of the the Jewish Pharisees who didn't really understand what this Jesus character was all about and uh was one of the folks who was instigating persecution against the church so it's come a long way don't you think oh Paul right he's gone from becoming from being the chief persecutor of the church to having an encounter with the living Christ his whole life got transformed in those moments and then we see a multiple missionary Journeys you couldn't stop the man from going out and telling people and living out his love for Jesus and now we come to a point where he's not persecuting the church he so desperately loves the church he wants to say a final farewell because he wants to go back to Jerusalem and his ultimate goal in his ministry has always been to get back to Rome he wants to go to Rome and preach the gospel there okay because he knew that was the center of the earth at the time okay they were the Empire that was the the place to be and if you could if the gospel could just come to Rome the whole world will be saved this is the same man who wanted to preach to everybody remember last week he'd stayed for two years in this place so that he could make sure that everybody knew about the gospel he was trying to be the one man who single-handedly preached the gospel to every person and so this is the heart that's now driving him to go back to Jerusalem and then onwards hopefully to Rome that was his plan okay of course there's a few things have to happen yet that he didn't know about but that's kind of where we're at and he says in verse 24 but I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God do you get his heart from that he said I have I didn't leave anything on the table when I came to you I gave her my everything and I and I uh I didn't hold myself precious you know I worked hard I provided for myself um I I didn't draw on your resources I paid my way and I and I did all these things because everything that I've received from Jesus I've testified to you other places in that in that passage it says it basically says I am faultless I'm Guiltless because I have testified to Jesus to you and so if you fall into sin that is not on my head it's essentially what he says in parts of that scripture okay and so that's that's the heart he's like he can say that with confidence because he did not leave anything in the bag when it came to preaching and ministering to these people he had come to love okay so that's the desperation and the heart that we have here in Nepal but then as he's leaving his this is his final farewell the Ephesian Elders have come to militis from Ephesus it would not have been a simple Journey because 40 K's was a long way even back then and so they would have had to make the journey they arrived and Paul expresses his deep love for them and says goodbye I'm probably not going to be coming back but here is a warning I want to leave you with here's something I just I just this is burning on my heart I need you to be aware of this and we're going to just focus in on this a little bit it's from verse 28 he says pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to care for the Church of God which he obtained with his own blood I know that after my departure Fierce wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock and from among your own selves will arise men speaking in Twisted things to draw away the disciples after them in other words be diligent in your obedience to the gospel and the commands of Jesus and make sure you stick to what the scriptures say and nothing else because there's stuff going to come there's there's trouble coming there's going to be people with interpretations there's going to be people who think they're doing the right thing who are just going to miss the mark a little bit and I need you to be diligent I need you to be observant I need you to be paying attention because when that happens it's really important that you stick to the true gospel don't let these things come in and start to shape the theology that you've got okay and you think well let's I mean of all the things that Paul could have been concerned for for them you know like you know their physical safety they were living in a very persecuted world uh Ephesus was the center of of pagan Worship in that in that region they one of the Ancient Wonders of the of the ancient world was um was the Temple of Diana okay and one of the great economic things of Ephesus as we last last week was a lot of the merchandise that went around the Temple of Diana and it was known as the center of magic in the area and so if you needed a Talisman or for an ointment or something like that you went to Ephesus to get that stuff of all the things that Paul could have been concerned about for that church the main thing that he wanted to talk to them about was false teaching or incorrect teaching now have a think about that for a second he was basically saying there are going to be counterfeits coming in and he didn't say that they're going to be people who are going to say I am a kind of counterfeit I am a false teacher and I'm going to teach you the wrong thing no he didn't say that he said basically hold to the truth hold fast to what you know to be the truth of scripture because here's the thing false teachers don't think they're false teachers usually do they most of them don't think they're false teachers most of them I would hope believe that they're trying to do the right thing they have an interpretation or an understanding of scripture and they're they're they need to educate some people about this okay and Paul was saying beware the slow fade beware the slow photos there's a great song about that like the Casting Crowns right beware the slow fade see you need to be aware of what scripture says what are Jesus's commands not what does someone say are Jesus's commands no what did Jesus actually say this is why we have them recorded in scripture okay it's one thing to listen to preachers it's one thing to listen to good teachers but how do you know they're preaching the word how do you know that they're good teachers if you don't check it don't trust me this is your eternity right if it rings true that's great but go check it this is why you have the words right here I'm not some great brain and by the way great brains never got you to heaven it's only the Holy Spirit who gets you to heaven right so this is what Paul was saying he had preached amongst the Ephesian church for a number of months years he knew the gospel had been preached and knew he had preached the truth to them he said hold fast to the truth they had the Old Testament scriptures they knew who Jesus was supposed to be who the Messiah was supposed to be they Jesus's birth death and Resurrection was was recent for them they'd seen the ramifications of Jesus and his ministry happen just only a few years ago and so Paul was calling to the Ephesians elders and saying remember I mean you're solid now you know the truth now but don't forget don't stop being in the word of God don't stop knowing who he is and what he has done because yes there's lots of things contending for your attention there's lots of things that are coming into your lives that you have to honestly navigate like are you going to worship the emperor are you going to worship at the Temple of Diana what are you going to do with the food that's offered to Idols there's lots of questions right but all of those answers are in here and I've preached the gospel to you he said not just the birth Life Death resurrection of Jesus but the entire scripture because the Salvation story doesn't make any sense without the context of the Old Testament without the Covenant without the knowledge of how much God loves you without the knowledge of God said love him and then love people right you might be an introvert and you think people are really hard but you're still called to love them okay and we're going to do it differently because we're made differently but we're called to love people even hard people did you know there are people in the world who are unlovely right maybe you've come across them on the drive here this morning to church okay maybe they were in your car maybe you're one of them we all were the script just tells us that while we were sinners Christ loved us right while we were sinners mums dads parents do you love your kids of course you do they're beautiful except for when they're not still love them though don't you right it's a choice and it's not always an emotional feeling of love for your kids is it sometimes you have to choose to not kill them I mean you have to choose to love them right you have to choose to continue to serve them have to choose to continue to pack their lunches and do the things right and it's called diligence it's it's this idea that we've got to work that requires constant effort right anyone who's been married for any length of time knows that the honeymoon phase feelings are beautiful and lovely but it doesn't last nor should it okay you've got to work at your marriage and you're sitting there going but but didn't Jesus say this whole going to heaven thing was going to be easy no he said the door's open I've opened the door all right I've paid the price for you to have access to the king of the universe and that's Grace but sanctification says that you need to work at your life with Jesus that's why we have the Scriptures it tells us that this is the right way to live right you don't belong to you anymore you don't belong to this world anymore you belong to something far greater than that you belong to the king of the universe and there is a standard of living that he expects now your obedience to this is not going to affect your inheritance you're still a child of God but know who you belong to know whom you belong to what is the family you belong to talked about at the very beginning of this jokingly that we're all kids and we never really grow up in the context of the Kingdom we're always kids right because you'll never know enough and the older I get the more I realize the less I know right but when you're a teenager you know everything don't you you know everything and your parents are dumb and they're uncool they're just dragging you down right but there's coming a day there is coming a day when your parents are going to start to know stuff again and you're gonna be like wow you got smart in a few years didn't you Mum and Dad it's a bit like that when it comes to God you know we know who he is we received the gospel we know who Jesus is and what he has done for us we know how he expects us to live but when we first come to Christ we lap it up we're so hungry we we we just we're just starving for more scripture we're starving for more of what Jesus has to say for us and we want to do that but over time we turn into teenagers don't we we think we've got this we know the Bible I've read it through a couple of times I think I know what it says so I think I've mailed this whole Christian living thing um church is boring I'm going to go do my own thing and it'll be all good but after a little while something happens and you're on your knees in prayer because all of a sudden you realize you never had this your world is falling apart okay perhaps you need healing maybe you've got your own kids are doing dumb things there's lots of circumstances in your life and you realize how out of control you really are and you go I can't do anything about this I need something bigger than me I need God and so we come back with a tell between our legs and say God please forgive me um you were right I didn't really know um what do I do with this stop being teenagers diligence is what Paul was talking to the Ephesian Elders about he said I've told you I have taught you you have experienced the Holy Spirit you have experienced Fellowship in this truest sense okay you've experienced a Christian life even in the context of a highly persecuted Church in Ephesus you know what that's like but be diligent don't take your foot off the pedal because stuff is coming there is stuff coming that's going to try and convince you that's going to try and tweak this or make you think that or isn't this a great new thought or that's old and Dusty why are you even thinking like that or how about did God really say right to God really well you'll be swayed by those things if you're not founded on the firm Rock that's what Paul was getting at that's what Paul was getting at this coming from the man who desperately desperately loved that church of all the things he could have spoken to them about in his last little encounter with them his main thing was hold fast to the where he didn't say ah give you know your kids a cuddle for me and kisses and all this stuff maybe he did I don't know but he majored on this whole faster the word it's the most loving thing I can say to you how fast to this maybe you read this a year or two ago or maybe you read it when you first became a Christian and you thought hey I've read that it's good um lots of great teaching um but I need to read stuff for work I need to go and live my life and I'll think about God often that's not good enough Paul was saying we've got to hold fast to this whole fast means not just read it once and put it down and behave like a teenager like you know everything because the walls are coming and church is not just talking about Fierce wolves in the church he's talking about Fierce wolves everywhere I mean have you seen that world that we live in right there are so many things that are being questioned and counted things that are actually really obvious answers that I think are pretty obvious answers people are questioning but these are the fierce wolves it's not subtle anymore it used to be subtle right sex before marriage all that sort of stuff was like oh should we shouldn't we and then we allowed that and then there's this slippery slope and now we are here today I'm not going to cherry pick sins but the the point is if we're not holding fast if we're not constantly putting effort into our relationship with Jesus is it really a relationship husbands and wives if you're not putting effort into your relationship together you don't have one if you're not putting effort into your relationship with your kids you probably don't have one or certainly not a healthy one if we don't put effort into your friend relationships with the people around you they're probably not going to remain your friends they're going to be acquaintances ever had that experience where you'll be great friends with people and then you moved away right nothing happened between you you just geographically apart and you couldn't spend the time that you used to anymore together and that relationship changes doesn't it right and we say things like I'll call you I'll email I'll write no one writes anymore right but how often do you email how often do you call how often do you get on and and see how things are going and that relationship changes it's not as intimate anymore they're still a good friend maybe or maybe that even falls off the radar have you done that with Jesus if you want to know what Jesus is saying to you in your life do you recognize his voice only recognize his voice if you spend time listening to it boom right this is his voice and that's why Paul was saying to the Ephesian Elders remember his voice be diligent work at it you have to work at it I know there's so many other things going on you've got kids you've got school you've got work all sorts of stuff going on people are trying to kill you but work at remembering Jesus's voice because if you do that everything else is simple it doesn't mean that life is going to be easy but you'll know what to do because you know what Jesus is saying right Hebrews 6 verse 10 to 11 says for God is Not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward his name in that you have ministered to the Saints and do Minister and we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full Assurance of Hope until the end this theme of diligence isn't just from Paul it's all the way through the New Testament because every one of those Christians realize you've got to work at it you've received the free gift of Grace awesome now that you have experienced the love of Christ don't you want to know him and if you want to know him you've got to work at that it's hard you've and you're gonna have to work at it especially when you don't want to it's easy to do it when you want to but not so much when you don't right can anybody relate to that every single person in the room hopefully I mean we all love Jesus there is no question right if you're a Christian you love Jesus but sometimes it's hard to spend time in his word and that's the reality of our lives and our fallen creatures right and so we've got to work at it if you're having to work at that relationship that's a good thing it means you're alive and you're seeking after a relationship that's going to feed life into you right God in his wisdom gave us his word written down and then he invented the printing press to make sure that all of us could have it right because we're so good at forgetting so if you haven't got one of these um we can get these into your hands to make sure that you're spending time in God's word not just reading it spending time in God's word is very different to just reading it okay he's a glimpse into Adrian's mind um prepare yourselves um when I'm preparing for a sermon like this like there is no way I'm going to remember the entirety of that scripture I have a hard time remembering what I'm gonna have for breakfast tomorrow so there's no way but there'll usually be one or two words or a verse that will stick out to me okay and so that's that's what sticks in my head and so I'll be thinking about that and gone I mean that's cool God but what does that mean okay maybe there's even bigger truths in that passage but I'll miss that because there's one thing that's stuck in my head and I'll chew over that and slowly digest that and from there unbeknownst to me but God in his wisdom will form a message out of that who knows what you're missing out on because you're just simply not chewing over God's word you're not going to get the entirety of it it's God's word and his wisdom it's infinite but he might have a a morsel for you today it's your daily bread that we pray about right and that's what you got to chew over and that's what's going to feed your soul and that's when that's what's going to allow you to recognize God's voice in your life and when you recognize God's voice what do you do with it will you obey don't you because if you're not going to do what he says well what's the point and uh Jesus said in John 14 15 if you love me keep my Commandments sounds like blackmail doesn't it right it sounds like emotional blackmail like husbands saying to you don't do this by the way if you love me you make me a sandwich right terrible idea but Jesus can say it because it's true if you love him keep his Commandments his Commandments are designed to show you how to live how to relate to God and how to love people right the first two Commandments which sums up everything else that he talks about in the in the in the moral code okay but if if we do that then you can't go wrong but what are his Commandments and that's why we've got to go through his word and let that passage of scripture stick in your mind so that you can digest what he's saying put one more thing on that if you love him keep his Commandments straight away otherwise you're being disobedient if you're waiting for the right day you're being disobedient if you're being waiting for the right moment you're being disobedient let me put this to you another way if you're if you've become a Christian God saved you and you're waiting for the right moment to get baptized you're being disobedient clear delayed obedience is just disobedience parents kids set the table five minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes are they waiting for the right moment or are they just being disobedient I mean you can say what you like I'm just putting this away 20 minutes 30 minutes mums you can relate to this right two hours later are they waiting for the right moment or are they being disobedient they were being disobedient two minutes after you said what they should do if you love me keep my Commandments you say you love Jesus all right thanks Catherine isn't she doing a great job because I don't have a clicky clicky and Catherine's being amazing she can be my permanent clicky clicky now so Paul in his final farewell to the Ephesians ask them to be diligently diligently obedient diligently obedient like I said to you earlier he could have asked them to do any number of things but no he said I want you to be diligently obedient and you know in Revelation 2 Jesus writes a letter to the church in Ephesus did you know that who wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus that was delivered by John and there was one Commendation in that letter and he says well done for holding fast to the truth it was written about 35 years or so later after this this encounter that Paul had with the Ephesian elders and they get a report card from Jesus himself he says well done for holding don't you want to get that well done for holding fast to the truth don't you want that to be the Commendation from Jesus it's not about not about pleasing Paul or Adrian or anybody else beside you it's about being right with God all right you don't have to be right with God to get to heaven because that was all Jesus but now that you know Jesus yeah that you received his grace now that you've received his mercy and now that you have the opportunity to live for him don't you want to do it his way that's what living as a Christ follower is all about and it's hard it's hard and you've got to work at it and you've got to be Earnest and you've got to be diligent and you have to make tough choices doing things that nobody else is doing or doing or not doing what everybody else is doing sometimes okay because you know what the scripture says that's why you're here at church on a Sunday morning when everybody else is out having a sleeping or feeding their mums or whatever else right and we do this because this is in Scripture it tells us to not forsake the Gathering of Believers and so we meet on a regular Sabbath cycle that's why we do it every week obedience and it's hard I can assure you your senior pastor does not want to be here every Sunday because I'm human but I do it because I love you and I love Jesus and that should be enough and we've got to work at it right and that's why these gatherings are so important because we encourage one another okay sometimes with cake I'm not above bribery okay but often with encouragement often with Fellowship often with you coming to me and me coming to you and saying hey I was reading the Bible and I got this for you from God so let's be diligently obedient church if we're going to do any of the things that we believe that God is calling us to do we're going to have to do it through diligent obedience amen Heavenly Father we thank you so much for the opportunity just to to know you we thank you Lord for our mums without whom we wouldn't even be here but father we pray through that experience of Parenthood of of even being children logo we know that we are really good at being disobedient and so father I pray that we will once again decide to follow you decide to do things your way desired to come to you and to learn what your voice sounds like once again so that we might be obedient followers of Jesus in Christ now we pray. Amen.