The Story Behind the Story ( part II)
Text: Acts 20
Proposition: The story behind the story is always about the cause of all things, the purpose of all things and the end of all things, the glory of Jesus Christ.
Introduction: Last week we looked at the story behind the story as Paul spoke one last time with the Elders of Ephesus. We recognized that what the elders or leaders of Ephesus were being called to do was to follow Paul in his demonstration of being a leader. But the story behind the story is that Paul followed Jesus and Jesus in turn followed the lead of the Father. So we recognized three points about what it means to be a leader, for the Elders and all people who lead, for Paul and for Jesus.
1. Leaders you are seen…
2. Leaders serve, proclaim and testify…
3. Leaders are not moved by Fear but Joy…
Look now at verses 26 to 36 as Paul speaks about the purpose of leadership.
4. Leaders are accountable… the metaphor that fits best here is that of the watchman or sentry. This is who Paul alludes to when he says, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men..”. The sentry had to keep alert, not get distracted nor leave his post because others lives depended on it, otherwise their blood would be on his hands. Just as the sentry was equipped with weapons, vantage point and a way of sounding the alarm so too is the church. In our case the whole counsel of the word of God equips us. It becomes our vantage point, our weapons of warfare and our means for sounding the alarm. Verse 28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” You’ve got to ‘take heed to yourself…’, it begins with watching over your own heart. The Holy Spirit has called elders and has drawn each of us to this call of being accountable members of Christ’s body the church. We have been purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. You could even say that Jesus was held accountable by the Father for our sin. When Jesus presented Himself as our sin offering the swap was made. His righteousness was put upon us and our sin was put upon Him and He took that sin to death on the cross. Christ accountable to the Father, Paul and the church accountable to Christ, the elders accountable for the church the church accountable for the gospel of righteousness. Leaders in Christ are accountable because there is a cost, there is a possibility of loss, there is a great gain.
5. Leaders, recognize the threats and barriers… Paul warns the church that they will be attacked on two fronts, from outside the church as they went against the culture of their day and from inside as personal issues and splits of leadership seduced some of their own. For three years Paul saw the threat building and with tears he warned the church. Christian leaders will recognize that the Second law of Thermodynanics is at work in the church, it creates something called entropy. Simply put all things are in a state of decay, of losing usable energy. A house rots, a car rusts, organizations and even nations suffer from entropy. The principle is that things don’t get better and better, they wear down and eventually fall apart. There is only one exception to this, it’s the church which adheres to the truth of being the body of Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s statement of the overruling of entropy. We will constantly run into resistance and issues of division as churches because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eternity, the kingdom of God, redemption and the resulting salvation all speak against the law of entropy which you know by a more common name, the law of sin and death. As a leader you will see the conflict and the potential schisms between people in any church. The issues of which songs to sing, how to care for the children, how to manage facility, what clothes to wear and how long a service should be will always seek to tear a church apart and what is at work is the law of sin and death. You know this law, it is articulated in the book of James 1:14, 15, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” It is this law that tears apart governments, nations, and if possible churches. What is the antidote to entropy, consider verse 32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Be built up, be invested in the word of grace, know the inheritance that is a certainty for every person who has experienced the reversal of death in Jesus Christ because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
6. Leaders, know the blessing of being poured out… look at how Paul concludes this, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Why is that a true statement? I mean it must be true, Jesus declared it as a kingdom principle in the same matter of fact way that you would declare the truth about the law of gravity. The answer is that you are blessed whenever you invite the eternality of Christ into the mortality of man. It is a blessing that comes from acting on the truth when the deception of sin, Satan and the system of mankind would seek to neutralize and even paralyze your effect in the lives of others. That it is more blessed to give than it is to receive proceeds from the essence of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Always the motivation to give comes not from need but love. Leaders are therefore called to love in such a way that giving is the natural expression of it. Redemption, forgiveness, even the very kingdom of God is built around this principle because it glorifies God. It invites Him into the equation and the results are directly linked to Him. When you are willing to be poured out it will be because it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Your blessing is that through this you reveal, you magnify, you glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, given to you.