Address to Young People: Part 2

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 2ACT 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)
Is there ever a time or place to lay aside what is becoming to Christ? Are we to be one thing when we are out on the street corners preaching the gospel, a group of young men raising their voices in testimony to the salvation they now enjoy? Are we to be one thing there, and another as soon as the conference is over? When we find ourselves no longer under close surveillance, what kind of lives are we leading?
Paul says, "at all seasons." That does not mean just at conference time. Another thing one has observed, and we speak that we may be helpful, not to be critical, saints will make a great effort and sacrifice to go to a big meeting such as we have here, and I thank God for everyone that is here. They seem to enjoy it, but when they get back to the little meeting, we may see them once a week at the Breaking of Bread. The ministry of Christ at home often isn't worth coming a few blocks for, but at a general meeting it is worth driving many miles. Is that consistent? There is no such thing as "seasons" when it comes to personal faithfulness and godliness.
Verse 20. "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.”
The Apostle was a faithful servant because he kept back nothing from the saints that was profitable. Do you think they always enjoyed hearing all he had to tell them? He says if he had pleased men he should not be the servant of Christ. A faithful servant is going to tell us what we do not like to hear, as well as the things we do like to hear. He kept back nothing from them. "I kept back nothing that was profitable." Is that the kind of servants we want to be? Is that the kind of hearers that we want to be? Do we want those who minister, to tell us all the truth; or do we want them to trim their ministry?
In Timothy we read that a time was coming when those who professed to be saints of God would not endure sound doctrine, but would heap unto themselves teachers, having itching ears (2 Tim. 4:33For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:3)). I believe we are living in that time now. I believe we see it all around us, and that very spirit can creep into our little meetings, until we want the brother who ministers the Word to minister only that which will not cut too deep, and will not plow the conscience. Do you wish him to betray his trust, and shade his ministry because it cuts into your life? It is a solemn thing to quench the Spirit. You sit in the meeting, and there is welling up in your soul resentment because some brother is ministering truth to you that makes you uncomfortable.
Ah, yes, we like to hear about salvation. That is good. And we like to see people saved. That is lovely. Perhaps we like to hear about the Lord's coming-that blessed hope. Yes, we like to hear these things, but when the Apostle Paul was ministering, he did not stop there, but talked about things that pertained to the every-day life and walk of his hearers. We know that, for he has left his record here. We know the character of his ministry. He talked about lying, stealing, about covetousness, drunkenness; about worldliness, fornication and other sins. About those sins that he found had crept in among those professing to be children of God.
He was faithful in proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Do we want to emulate him? Is that the ministry we want to hear? Or have we got to the stage where we have itching ears? Some say all that is necessary is the ministry of Christ. And in a certain sense that is true. But part of the ministry of Christ is the calling of your attention, the attention of the saints, to those things that are contrary to the life and calling of Christ. The Epistles abound in it. There is not one to which we can turn, but we find that the Apostle is calling their attention to gross inconsistencies in their lives and ways. That is part of the ministry of Christ.
We can recall the incident of Ahab's 400 prophets. It reminds one of a worldly saying which might be said thus,
“Surely 400 can't be wrong" (1 Kings 22:6-8, 9, 14, 23, 26-286Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. 7And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him? 8And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 9Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah. (1 Kings 22:6‑9)
14And Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak. (1 Kings 22:14)
23Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee. (1 Kings 22:23)
26And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 27And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. 28And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you. (1 Kings 22:26‑28)
; 2 Chron. 18:4-8, 16, 22, 25-274And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day. 5Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand. 6But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him? 7And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. 8And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla. (2 Chronicles 18:4‑8)
16Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace. (2 Chronicles 18:16)
22Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee. (2 Chronicles 18:22)
25Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 26And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace. 27And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people. (2 Chronicles 18:25‑27)
).
The 400 all prophesied alike. They prophesied what the king wanted to hear. But there was another prophet there- just one man. After the 400 had given their prophecies, Jehosaphat says there must still be another prophet, and Ahab confesses that there is, but that they do not like to hear him. He tells them the truth, and he suffers for it (2 Chron. 18:16, 22, 25, 2616Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace. (2 Chronicles 18:16)
22Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee. (2 Chronicles 18:22)
25Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; 26And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace. (2 Chronicles 18:25‑26)
). Four hundred were wrong, and only one was right, because the one man got his message from above, and the 400 got their message from expediency.
We are living in days when we want to be flattered. We are in the last days. If we are to be faithful, we must hearken to the Word in order to know the mind of Christ. Do we want a sort of 50-50 life, or do we want the whole counsel of God? If we say "so far and no farther", the Spirit may take us at our word, but we may suffer for it the rest of our lives.
“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.”
“None of these things move me." How far is that true of us? Dear young Christian, do you have a grasp of it down in your soul in such a way that you are not going to be moved? Have you sat down and counted the cost? Are you willing to pay the price, and go on for God, and walk the path of separation to Him? There will be rich compensation, if you do, but there is a price to pay. The Lord isn't going to be your debtor. He will more than compensate you. The happiest Christian here today is the one living in the closest communion with Christ; the one who is walking closest to Christ.
The Apostle says he wants to finish his course with joy. Let us examine that expression. "Finish the course." That meant that he was on a set course. He couldn't finish something he wasn't on. Evidently the course that he was on, was one that he felt could stand the test of that "All-seeing Eye." He wants to finish the course with joy. The course that I, as an individual believer, am on at the present time, if I go on in that course where will it land me? You are on a course, when will you finish it? No one knows. There is no age limit to this finishing process. How often we find young Christians taken out of this scene.
I know a young Christian woman who today is lying with death on her forehead.
For her, the course will soon be finished. You know not how soon you, too, may finish your course. If you finish the course that you are on at the present time, is it going to be a joyful finish, or one of sorrow? If you knew that you were going to finish up this month, if that could be revealed to you in some way, would it necessitate a radical change in your course? In your associations? In your pleasures? In your fellowships? In your personal secret life? In your spiritual life? If you knew that this month was the month the course finished for you, would it require a lot of sudden, hasty adjustments in your life?
(To be Continued)