Church Extended – Message 7
May 23, 2021
I. Introduction: We continue our survey of Acts, entitled, Church Extended.
A. Today’s message is titled, Legacy. [A legacy is something left behind for others.]
- Theme verse: Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)—…lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. [To leave a worthwhile spiritual legacy for others to follow.]
B. Background: (Acts 20:13-17)
- Paul continued on his 3rd missionary journey.
- Acts 20:13-17 (NLT)—13Paul went by land to Assos [20 miles away, after teaching all night in Troas], where he had arranged for us [Luke and others] to join him, while we traveled by ship. [Perhaps Troas believers walked with him so he continued to teach them or possibly, he wanted to be alone to think and pray.] 14He joined us there, and we sailed together to Mitylene. 15The next day we sailed past the island of Kios. The following day we crossed to the island of Samos, and a day later we arrived at Miletus.
16Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. [in 34 days] 17But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus [30 miles away], asking them to come and meet him. [He wanted to instruct them more, but instead of traveling to the church, he had them come to him while he waited on the ship to unload and reload cargo.]
- Instead of resting, Paul wanted use his limited time to further teach, challenge and encourage these church elders (Greek prĕsbutĕrŏs, emphasis on spiritually maturity).
- He spent three years building this church, and had great love and concern for them.
- These elders had the responsibility of leading the Ephesian church—and all of her members—to grow and deepen in their faith and practice—and to build a legacy to pass on to people in the future to follow.
- Not all of us are church elders in the formal sense, but all of us are leaders, because all of us are influencing others —our families, friends, neighbors, business partners and co-workers, our communities—so all of us are continually building legacies.
- The lifestyle and character will display will be our legacy—for good or bad—and it will influence others!
- Let’s discover from Paul’s advice to these Ephesian elders how we can leave a spiritual legacy that pleases God and influences others toward faith in Jesus Christ!
II. A spiritual legacy is created by a… (Acts 20:18-38)
A. #1 - Consistent life and message. (Acts 20:18-21. C/R: Galatians 1:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6,10-12; 1 Timothy 4:12)
- Acts 20:18-19a (NLT)—18When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19aI have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears.”
- Paul was committed to pursuing God’s plan and purpose, not his own.
- He replaced his personal wants, desires, plans and ambitions, with God’s.
- He was passionate about his calling and even wept when people refused to hear.
- He also suffered fierce opposition: Acts 20:19b (NLT)—“I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews.” [Which included hostility, attack, violence.]
- But despite the threats, Paul said at Acts 20:20 (NLT)—“I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes.” [Important verse.]
- Paul was consumed with love for Christ and the calling of God on his life—he had no other interests, so his life and message were utterly consistent: he was the same person, with the same message, in public and in private. [APP.: Are we?]
- Acts 20:21 (NLT)—“I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.”
- Repentance (Greek, metanoia, “to change one’s mind or purpose,” describes a change of mind—about God and sin—that results in a change of behavior).
- Paul did not have a different message for Jews and Gentiles; he altered his approach, but he didn’t change the essence of his message, to fit his audience.
- He stressed with every audience the need to turn from sin (repentance), turn toward God (obedience and relationship) and practice faith in the person and work of Jesus.
- If you want to build a spiritual legacy, you must know what you believe and live it out.
- Be sure that your behavior matches what you say you believe; people ARE watching.
- We must teach and live the biblical Gospel fully and accurately, not shaping it to conform to the preferences, or social and political positions of our audience.
- APP.: Are you consistent, is your life and message the same, in public and in private?
A spiritual legacy is created by a…
B #2 - Commitment to serve God. (Acts 20:22-27. C/R: Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:28-29; 3:12-14; Colossians 3:23-24)
- Acts 20:22-23 (NLT)—22“And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.”
- Paul was committed (bound) to do whatever God directed him through the Holy Spirit, even when God’s assignment would result in pain and difficulty.
- Do you see Paul’s level of commitment? He didn’t determine his participation by the problems he might incur or even by the expected outcome.
- He had already surrendered himself—his entire life—to God’s use.
- Acts 20:24 (NLT)—“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” [memory verse]
- Paul then informed these men from Ephesus that he had completed his work with them.
- Acts 20:25-27 (NLT)—25“And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. [expressed sadness] 26I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, 27for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.” [He’d finished God’s assignment to them.]
- Paul wanted all to be saved, but he fulfilled his responsibility of preaching a complete Gospel that included redemption for sin, but also judgment for the unrepentant, because he was preaching God’s Gospel, not one that would appeal to people.
- Now, he would move on to take up God’s next assignment.
- If we want to leave a spiritual legacy, we must be committed to serving God, pleasing Him, instead of pleasing ourselves, or trying to please other people.
- APP.: Are you committed to serving God in every area of your life?
A spiritual legacy is created by a…
3. Concern for other’s well-being. (Acts 20:28-38. C/R: Colossians 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 2:14-17; 2 Peter 2:1-3)
- Paul continued to challenge these church leaders (and also us, as spiritual leaders).
- Acts 20:28 (NLT)—“So guard yourselves [maintain your relationship with God] and God’s people [for whom you are responsible, here’s how:]. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—His church [they belong to Him, not pastors], purchased with His own blood— [so infinitely valuable] over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.”
- Teaching and guiding people’s lives requires recognizing doctrinal threats (about beliefs) through familiarity with God’s Word.
- Acts 20:29-30 (NLT)—29“I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.” [personal pride]
- Church leaders have the responsibility of guarding the flock from attacks which come from both outside and inside the church; to do so, they must…
- Acts 20:31 (NLT)—“Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.”
- Paul was vigilant and emotionally invested in the physical, emotional, and spiritual, welfare of these people, but now he had to leave.
- Acts 20:32 (NLT)—“And now I entrust you to God and the message of His grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those He has set apart for Himself.”
- Paul would no longer watch over these people in person, so he gave them over to God’s care, but he encouraged them to seek God through prayer and the Scripture.
- We deepen our faith by increasing our intimacy with God through conversation with Him and an expanding understanding of His revelation of Himself from His Word.
- Paul’s challenge to these church leaders included a warning about materialism.
- Acts 20:33-35 (NLT)—33“I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. 34You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. [Focus on helping others.] 35And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
- We build a legacy for others by demonstrating a generous, giving heart.
- Acts 20:36-38 (NLT)—36When he had finished speaking [perhaps the ship was ready to sail], he knelt and prayed with them. 37They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship. [See the deep affection.]
- Paul invested in these leaders and their church; he left them a legacy to follow so they would build a spiritual legacy for the church.
- APP.: Do you display concern for others through generous acts and gifts.
Memory verse: Acts 20:24(NLT)—“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”