"Worry is the warning light that God is really not first in my life.” (Rick Warren).
This was Paul’s last farewell to the Ephesian elders. As far as Ephesus was concerned he had done all he could to evangelize and warn the city (vv. 25-27). I wonder how many of us could make such a statement about the area we live in. It is so easy to become complacent about the lost all around us and become calloused to the spiritual condition of thousands who live in our Jerusalem.
Paul then shifted to warning these elders that they could expect danger from two sources. False teachers (wolves) would come to them from outside the church and place a greater importance on the teachings and traditions of men than on the Word of God (v.29). However the most dangerous attack would come from divisions within the church (v.30). These same two sources still exist today. We find cults on every hand who stand ready to snatch every person they can. On the other hand, it is easy to fall prey to the desire for numerical growth in our churches to the point that Scriptural standards and principles are simply set aside.
Just as the rabbinic tradition and laws became a substitute for Scripture, the same thing has happened in the Church today. In many Churches the traditions of men have assumed greater importance than the Word of God. For instance, under the fiction of “apostolic succession,” the Roman Catholic Church through its additions and traditions makes it so that what is called Christianity bears little or no resemblance to the Christianity of apostolic times. The same is true of the Greek and Coptic churches. Even in evangelical and fundamental circles we can develop our own system of burdens which we expect people to bear as the price for Church membership. Paul’s teaching was not just cold and factual, but he had a very caring heart and truly loved the people (v. 31). We can see from his example that leadership in the Church should not be a matter of position or power. Instead it is a matter of deep compassion and concern for the people, coupled with godly living and a knowledge of the Word of God.
If you could give two warnings to a group of new Christians what would you say? Why? I need to keep in mind that the devil accomplishes his purpose from both within and without the Church. I just need to stay close to the Lord and not depend on people, who will disappoint me.
And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.
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Acts 17:1-9Paul & Silas – Trust God’s Strategy for Ministry
Acts 17:10-15Obstacles that Hinder the Work of the Lord
Acts 17:16-34Religion ... Ridicule ... Results
Acts 18:1-4Paul Adapts to His Audience
Acts 18:5-11Opposition Enhances Ministry Results
Acts 18:12-17Paul’s Roman Citizenship On Trial
Acts 18:18-23God Works His Will in His Servants
Acts 18:24-28Tactfulness–Words That Work Mightily
Acts 19:1-7The Holy Spirit is a Person
Acts 19:8-16Miracles Performed by Paul for Authentication
Acts 19:17-22Beware of Cult Practices
Acts 19:21-41Results of Religious Greed
Acts 20:1-6Discipleship Despite Difficulties
Acts 20:7-12When, Where, How & How Long to Worship
Acts 20:13-21Paul–An Example of Faithfulness
Acts 20:22-24Paul’s Determination To Go To Jerusalem
Acts 20:25-31Paul’s Warning to the Ephesian Elders
Acts 20:32-38Paul Shares About Giving
Acts 21:1-9Paul Warned By the Christians
Acts 21:10-16Paul’s Determination & Warning from Agabus
Acts 21:17-26Compromise Recommended but Refuted
Acts 21:27-36Disaster is the End Result of Compromise
Acts 21:37-40Boldness At the Barracks
Acts 22:1-5Paul Defense of His Heritage and Ministry
Acts 22:6-16Paul’s Salvation Testimony
Acts 22:17-21The Jewish Crowd’s Prejudice Against Gentiles
Acts 22:22-30Paul–A Roman Citizen
Acts 23:1-5Respect is Always Appropriate
Acts 23:6-11Comfort In Times of Trial
Acts 23:12-22A Plot to Kill Paul
Acts 23:23-35God’s Timing is Very Evident to Paul