Address to Young People: Part 4

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 4ACT 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)
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock." "Grievous wolves." Be on your guard, they are still going about, and they are still spoiling the flock. Grievous wolves are not really converted people at all. They have that profession; they have rallied under the banner of 'Christ, but they are strangers to the grace of God. There never was a day, I believe, in the history of the Church of God when that kind of thing was so rampant as, at the present time. And none of us are exempt. Let us not say,
“O, I am gathered to the Lord's Name, and there is no danger of my being taken in by these things.”
Everyone is in danger from these kind of men. I have heard of one just this week who has fallen. He was breaking bread with us a year ago, but he has been taken in, deceived and led astray. I suppose if someone had talked to him several years ago, he wouldn't have thought it possible. He is one of the flock who has been spoiled. These things are increasing in number, in intensity and cleverness. We cannot afford to tamper with this kind of thing for a moment.
The Lord told us something about these things in the 13th of Matthew, verses 24-30, in the parable of the tares and the wheat. There is no question in my mind but what the increasing multiplicity of these things-these corruptions of Christianity-is the binding into bundles for judgment at the end of this age. There was a time when we could name the groups of those who had thrown over all orthodoxy. We couldn't do that now. We are living in days when these things are permeating the whole of professing, Christendom. Don't tamper with anything that doesn't bear the imprint of the truth of God. Don't look into it. Don't give it five minutes of your time. If you have a doubt about anything that is put into your hand, or that you have heard, go to an older brother or sister and tell them, but don't tamper with these things. They are poison to your soul.
And if you are here this afternoon and unsaved, and have heard repeated pleas, and have consistently rejected the gospel, don't blame God if He allows you to receive and commit yourself to another gospel, which is not the true gospel. Don't trifle with the truth of God!
“Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (verse 30).
The Apostle is not telling them what might happen. He is telling them what would happen, and there is quite a difference. "Of your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." That is division, schism. These men with ambition, regardless of what character of ambition it is, arising and teaching that which will attract to themselves, and draw away disciples after themselves. It says they "draw away." If you are going to draw someone away, you have to have a point from which to draw them. There has to be a gathering point, and I believe that gathering point is Matt. 18:2020For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20). Christ in the midst of the two or three gathered to His Name.
But here come these men. Now these are not wolves. They are sheep-willful sheep. It doesn't say they speak wicked things, but perverse things. Truth taken out of its proper connection. You can take truth to pry saints out of the path of obedience, if you pervert it. They teach things that tend to draw weak saints from the simplicity that is in Christ. And the result is, that they gather a following. Now when Paul got to that point in his address, that was a climax, and he immediately says:
“Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (verse 31).
There was a terrible burden on the Apostle's heart. He felt what a serious thing division was in the Church of God. He wept about it, and says, "O, brethren, I know it is coming, but, I beseech you to watch." Someone says, "It is coming, but we don't need to be told that now: it has come. What a witness Christendom is to the truth of those words! But instead of discouraging us, and causing us to doubt our Bibles, it should make us believe them.
Suppose we had all gone on together in that lovely outward unity that was found on the day of Pentecost? That would be lovely, wouldn't it? But if we had, our Bible wouldn't be true. "Also of your own-selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (verse 30.) And it has happened, and it has been happening all down through the ages of the Church's history.
Now a question arises, that if that is true, is it necessary that I personally be guilty of schism? Is there no avenue to escape being in a divided Church? Yes, there is a path, and there is a way, and it is marked out right here in 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.”
“God and His Word!" The only two things to which the Apostle could commend them that he knew couldn't change. If he had commended them to the elders, that wouldn't do. If he had commended them to the Church, that certainly wouldn't do. But he commended them to God. Has God changed His thoughts about His Church? Has God ever altered the constitution of the Church? Is it any the less precious to His heart than it ever was? Then if not, He must have a path in which our feet can walk, that acknowledges all the truth that pertains to the Church of God. "I commend you to God and to the Word." O, brethren, we have the Word, and the Word of God hasn't changed. It is the very same Word the Apostle Paul gave to the Ephesian elders. It is as fresh, as precious, as operative as it ever was. It searches to the "dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts, and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)).
It is that precious Word that will guide us midst the confusion that is upon us. We cannot escape the fact that division has come, and that this process of drawing away disciples is going to continue, but we can cling to the Word of God. There is a path, and God wants us, to find it, and to walk in it. God would have been mocking us if He had warned us that all this was going to come, and had not given us a path to walk in.
“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.”
Sanctified means set apart. Every believer here this afternoon has been set apart for God. And with Him we can find a path for our feet. With God and His Word. God never separates Himself from His Word. It is by the Word that He guides, that He leads, that He preserves. If we place ourselves under His guidance and His preserving power, the time will come when we, too, can finish our course with joy. Let us pray.
(Concluded)