Address to Young People: Part 1

Acts 20:16-38
Acts 20:16-3816For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. 17And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And 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. 33I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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. 36And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship. (Acts 20:16‑38)
Part 1ACT 20:16-3816For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. 17And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And 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. 33I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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. 36And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship. (Acts 20:16‑38)
“Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. 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. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 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.
I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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.
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all. And they wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”
There is always something remarkably interesting about the last words of anyone who is taking his final farewell of us. We know from the account here that the apostle Paul would never look into the faces of these dear men again so long as he lived. We sense the solemnity of it; his heart is full-he has a burden on his heart. He is hastening on to Jerusalem, and longs for his people after the flesh. He is passing so near to Ephesus that he just can't resist that urge to once again see those dearly beloved men of God with whom he had spent not less than three years of intimate Christian ministry.
The bonds that we forge in Christ are like none other in the world. Men try to imitate these things. They have their religious groups, their fraternities and their unions, but these are poor, shallow imitations of what we Christians have in the bonds of Christ. Only those who have experienced this kind of thing can enter into it, but I know when I speak to my brethren in Christ this afternoon, that you all have tasted this; that lovely bond that grows stronger as the years go by.
It was so here. How the Apostle loved those men, and how those men loved the Apostle Paul. If we trace on down to the end, and see the closing, parting scene, how beautiful it is! Those embraces, those mutual tears, mutual love, mutual sorrow as they say their final farewell. They go as far as they can with him and see him on the ship and, I doubt not, as long as they could see him, they were waving in farewell. Many of us have experienced that waving of farewell to some beloved servant, knowing we will never see his face again here on earth.
Now when these elders from Ephesus are come to him, the first thing Paul calls to their attention is the character of his ministry and service among them (verses 18, 19). That is important. I know that there are those present here who are young, and I can't refrain from keeping them before my mind. We know that among you young people there is a real genuine desire to serve the Lord. I am glad of that. I am sure that the Lord put that desire in your heart. I am glad that you are not waiting until you are old before you decide to do something for Christ. If you can learn at the outset that there is only one becoming attitude that is pleasing to Christ-and you have it so beautifully exemplified in the life of Paul- you have the secret of true service.
“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind.”
O, if we could only emulate that! It is the only way to serve Him. The most outstanding example of it in Scripture, in a servant of Christ, is found in John the Baptist. There was a man greater than whom was none born of woman. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave him that special place. He was the immediate personal forerunner of the Son of God in His advent into this world. Yet see what his estimate was of himself, and of his service in the 3rd of John, vs. 27-30,
“John answered and said, A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
I call your attention again to the 30th verse-"He must increase but I must decrease." O, what a lovely expression! One repeats, I do not know anywhere in the Word of God, words more noble, more admirable in a servant of Christ, than those little words of John spoken here-"He must increase but I must decrease.”
What a calamity, and how sad that the service of Christ has become so profaned in professing Christendom around us, that man actually uses it deliberately as a stepping stone to his own advancement into a position of influence among his fellowmen. That is travesty! A travesty on the service of Christ.
The greatest servant the Lord Jesus Christ had, was the Apostle Paul. None ever excelled him. And he said to these Ephesian elders, "I take you to record this day." This group of men-I do not know how many there were, but they knew him, and he could say to them: "You know what manner of man I was among you." During those three years what did they see? They saw Christ. "Ye know after what manner I have been with you at all seasons." Day in and day out, as he went among them, they saw Christ in him. Does the world see Christ in us?
“With all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations" (vs. 19). That is what they witnessed in that beloved Apostle.
A sister once said, "All brethren are nice; at least at conferences." And there is a measure of truth, as well as a measure of wit in that remark, but, brethren, here is the Apostle Paul, speaking and calling attention to his ministry, and he says,
“Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations.”
(To be Continued)