To the Elders of SBBC

“To the Elders of SBBC”
Acts 20:17-21

Introduction

  •  In looking at our title it may cause you to know several things…
  • That the message is directed to a certain group. (The elders)
  • That this message is directed to a certain church. (SBBC)
  • Looking at the passage of scripture used as a text verse …
  • Up in verse 1 of this same chapter we see that an “uproar” a serious  argument was finally settled.
  • This particular event takes place at Ephesus where they worshipped the goddess called Dianna.
  • The riot could have been caused due to their hatred towards Paul and his Baptist like preaching.
  • However, Paul was not allowed in the church (By the other apostles) as they knew what would happen.
  • In verses 2, 3 we can see where Paul was getting ready to go to Greece and yet another church was waiting to kill Paul there so then he travels onward to Mac3edonia.
  • Paul was not very well liked because he never stayed very long in one place, started riots or uproars everywhere He went, and he was usually a prisoner which gave people the wrong idea. 
  • Points being that… Paul was called by Jesus Christ to deliver His message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his own Damascus road testimony.
  • Paul was raised the church at Jerusalem.
  • His father was a member of the Sanhedrin in the church at Jerusalem which crucified Jesus Christ.
  • Paul persecuted the church of Jesus Christ.
  • Paul was converted from Judaism to Christianity. 
  • Any time you are on fire for God, doing what He has called you to do, have a bad background, not stable in your ways…people will be less apprehensive in coming to a meeting where you may be speaking.
  • That said… Here at SBBC I can and have told you before that many deaf have come through the doors of SBBC. Some who live here in the Wichita metro area, others from all over the United States, some being laymen, ministers, pastors or missionaries.
  • Not everyone has been back here, not everyone has stayed, not everyone likes your pastor or some of the members here.
  • BUT “Fear not.” God has called each one of to be here in this church, at this time, to do a certain thing.
  • God has also called your pastor, and like Paul, he is not perfect, may come from a bad background, He’s not popular with everyone (neither was Jesus Christ by the way), His preaching may hurt some people’s feelings.
  • Now this message is to encourage you men at SBBC.
  • No matter your background, no matter what others think of you, no matter if you are not popular…do the will of God and follow Jesus Christ, be led of the Spirit of God, and not other deaf.
  • Men, elders of the church…SBBC is in your hands. It is a work established by God, given to you and I to further the gospel of Jesus Christ in the hearts of every deaf person in the Wichita metro area. Our responsibility!

I. SBBC Was Established by God

A) Take heed

  • Note first of all in verse 28, the words “take heed.” It means to pay attention to or take notice of.
  • Paul is talking to the disciples at Ephesus as I am talking to you this morning.
  • In other words… I want your full attention this morning. Ladies don’t bother your husband, men, don’t go to the bathroom or the water fountain for the next 2 hrs! focus on what I have to tell you.
  • Paul could sense that his next destination could cost him his life.
  • I can sense that sometime in the near future I may die or be disabled enough to not be able to take care of the SBBC as God has called me to do.  
  • Acts 20:28a…Take heed therefore unto…(several things)
  • yourselves, meaning to take a self examination. Ed, Tony, Paul, soon to be Vance, and not to forget Brett the young Timothy.
  • Are you ready to take over if God calls you to do it?
  • Are you ready to serve if God wants you to serve.
  • Are you ready to support the members of SBBC here with your time, your skill and your tithes and offerings?
  • What is your private life like? Is it Godly?
  • Are you willing to make sacrifices for God through His church (SBBC)
  • and to all the flock, Examine the flock.
  • Are they hungry?Spiritually hungry or spiritually bankrupt?
  • What kind of food do they need? Not a physical food as in meat, poultry or veggies.
  • But rather a spiritual food. Do they understand what they read? Do they know what the gospel is? Do they know why God sent His Son to earth? Do they understand the Trinity?
  • over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,
  • Do you realize that “God” made you men at SBBC “overseers of SBBC?
  • You may say “I don’t want to be an overseer.” Too bad buddy, if you are a man, God already called you and made you an overseer. Of your family, of your wife, your children and God’s people.
  • When you joined this church, God made you an overseer of this church. You are to protect this church, love this church and support this church.
  • Paul did not tell the elders of the church here “These are my duties only.” 
  • He said “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and all the flock of God”
  • Then Paul tells them their first priority and main focus right now is to what?  
  • “…to feed the church of God,”
  • This does not mean that every man in the church has to be a teacher or preacher or even pastor.
  • It means that in some way shape or form… you (man) are to be ministering, working, giving of yourself, your time, your money feeding the church.
  • Why are men supposed to feed the church?

1.  Because God’s order has established men to be leaders.

2.  Because the women are the weaker vessel (tool).

3.  Because they should be hungry and are dumb sheep that need to be fed the “right food.” (the right doctrines)  

  • Why is feeding important? “…which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
  • Number one reason is because God values the church. He places a high value on His son that was willing to die for all mankind.
  • God purchased the church with “His own blood.”
  • They are a “peculiar people,” and “the sons of God”
  • So we can ultimately say that… The church was established by God.
  • For worship, for fellowship, and for a relationship.

II. A Warning Concerning Wolves

A) When the cat is away, mice will play

  • The old saying “When the cat’s away the mice will play” is a metaphor which Christ used in many of His teaching and preaching meetings.
  • The saying does not refer to cats and mice in general but rather the truth of what happens when a cat is not visible for awhile. They feel it’s safe to come out of hiding and search for food.
  • God made animals to sense when they are safe, in danger, and are threatened.
  • When a pastor leaves a church, whether on vacation, sickness, or has a different calling of God in His life, or is voted out…that leaves the door wide open for Satan to ruin the house of God. Set fire to God’s people. Devour them very easily.
  • Paul knew this. HOW? He grew up in the synagogue of Jerusalem He had seen it happen many times. And he also admitted to knowing it in…
  • Acts 20:29…For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
  • See that? “For I know this” meaning “I have heard of it happening, I have been an eyewitness to the fact, so don’t stand there with your mouth open.”
  • Paul warns these Ephesians here at Ephesus that when he leaves people will come in and try to ruin the church.
  • That’s what a grievous wolf does. His only focus is to get what he wants and will go to any length to get it. They think only of themselves.
  • “…not sparing the flock.” To “spare” something is to keep it, to save it. So when Paul told them that the wolf doesn’t care about the rest of the flock they were to understand that a wolf will (which is false church members, false teachers, and false preachers. They are false people and you cannot trust them.
  • They do not care for the church or endear the church as it’s pastor does. If a wolf enters he will not care about people’s feelings or bad habits, or certain behaviors.
  • Here is another scary thought in verse 30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
  • In verse 30, Paul warns that many times it is someone “of your own selveswill be a wolf. A wolf is always a wolf. It cannot change. It is considered to be a “carnivore” which means… an animal that feeds on flesh. Not a vegetarian.
  • Note the two main things that Paul warns the church about them…
  • “…speaking perverse things,” this is the sin of what? “Iniquity” they twist the truth to fit their agenda or accomplish their goal.
  •  They say things that are not true to get you to think that they “know it all.” These people are also “wannabes.” They want to be noticed, they want to be friends with others, they want to be person thy others look up to for advice. Typically they have few friends.
  • “… to draw away disciples after them.” Here is the second thing that these wolves love to do… take people away from their church.
  • Again, Paul gives the church two points of advise in verse 31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
  •  “WATCH” So, what is it we are to watch? Watch your sheep, watch for wolves, watch for members who do not act according to what God’s law teaches, watch yourselves to make sure that you don’t become a victim of Satan’s plan to destroy the work of God.
  • “REMEMBER” What are you supposed to remember? All that you have been taught by God and His Son through your pastor.
  • ELDERS of the church at SBBC… This message is for you!

III. I Commend You

A) To God

  • Look now into Acts 20:32a…And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace,
  • When Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus…“I commend you” He is saying that I am going to tell God about the good things you have done so that He will be satisfied and bless you. Paul doesn’t have to say that because God already knows.
  • It is a pat on the back to the elders of the church.
  • Last week I was gone the first of several to come and some men took over and from what I hear, did a very good Job.
  • It made me feel proud of our church members who are willing to step up to the plate and hit a home run.
  • It’s good to see God using them in His service.

B) The Word of His Grace

  • Acts 20:32a…And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace,
  • “ The word of His grace” the scriptures. Which has recorded all the grace that our LORD has given to mankind down through the ages.
  • First, Paul wanted to praise the brethren for their work at Ephesus…to God personally.
  • Secondly, Paul wanted to commend (praise) them in the word of His grace. I believe that Paul wanted them to be recognize from that time on in the Bible as to their work there at Ephesus.
  • In other words your work will not go unnoticed.

C) What does God’s word do for you?

  • Acts 20:32b…which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” 
  • The Bible (word of God) builds up God’s children.
  • What does “build you up” mean? To help you grow spiritually. 
  • Look at I Timothy 3:15…But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
  • First thing to note… HOW WE ARE TO BEHAVE AS A MEMBER.
  • We must know that we are THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD.
  • We must also know that the church IS THE PILLAR, GROUND OF TRUTH.
  • The word pillar represents something that holds up something else. We (the church) are to hold up Jesus Christ as the “Head” of our church. Hold up one another as ministers of the truth. And hold up God’s Word as our authority.
  • God’s Word gives us life, wisdom, hope, history, freedom, etc.
  • No other book compares.

D) What does your hands do?

  • Paul advises the church at Ephesus what his hands have done, and what the hands of the church has done in Acts 20:33… I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 34) Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
  • Paul tells the elders what his hands have done and asks the elders to do likewise…” coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.”
  • Then Paul talks of the hands (members) of the church and how they “…ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.”
  • Paul was basically saying that he never desired to seek riches and wealth from the world nor did he depend on them for his needs.
  • God took care of Paul’s necessities through the church at Ephesus.  

IV. I Have Showed You

A) Good principles taught

  • Acts 20:35… I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • There are 3 things listed in this verse that Paul shewed (showed) the elders of the church there at Ephesus…
  • “…how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak” in other words, as you work in the ministry (laboring) you should not look down on but rather support the spiritually weak. A lot of Christians look down on others who don’t know as much as they do. Paul says no, that is not the way Christ taught us.
  • “…to remember the words of the Lord Jesus” meaning to remember the words that Jesus said. Contemplate on them daily. I believe that we are to not only remember but also to “do” what Jesus said to do, and not do what Jesus told us not to do.
  • “…how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Meaning, that we are to pay particular notice to the words of Jesus saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” You want to be blessed (happy)? Give to others more than you receive of others. Jesus and Paul were not talking about money only, but also your time, yourself, your talent, your heart, your sympathy. 
  • The truth of the matter is this… these three things are not popular with the world. Look at what the difference is of what the world teaches …

                      God says                                                         The world teaches                          

“Support the weak”                               Don’t give others free information, let
                                                                  them go to school and learn

“more blessed to give”                           Give only what you think is necessary
                                                                  without hurting yourself.

  • The world knows nothing about sacrificing yourself for a worthy cause. 
  • I am thankful to God that He offered His Son Jesus Christ to pay for my sins, even though I am not worthy, He felt that I was worthy.
  • Elders… “feed the flock(spiritually).
  • Paul was saying to the church at Ephesus that it was not just the apostles (or pastors) duty to feed the flock, but also the elders (more mature) of the church’s responsibility to feed as well.

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