The Birth of Christianity - Pinehurst, NC

The Birth of Christianity - Pinehurst, NC

A LONG WAY TO ROME Acts 20 A LONG WAY TO ROME What would you say to someone you are never going to see again? A LONG WAY TO ROME What would you say to someone you are never going to see again? For many of us, would that bring a

memory of an emotionally powerful moment in our life? Or, would it be tender words of affection and admiration? Or, it may be words of confession and forgiveness? A LONG WAY TO ROME Many of us have been there with family, friends, and church members

In this context, Pauls departure in Acts 20 is powerful on the one hand, and perhaps a bit shocking on the other Lets look a bit deeper A LONG WAY TO ROME Context of Acts 20 Luke, the author of Acts, is describing Pauls journey back to Jerusalem with the offering for the impoverished Christians

The first half emphasizes Pauls farewell address to the church in the port city of Troas He speaks all evening The meeting is held on the 3rd floor of a building A LONG WAY TO ROME Context of Acts 20

A young man named Eutychus is having trouble staying awake, so he sits by a window At midnight, he falls asleep while Paul is preaching and falls out of the window to his death Paul is used by God to perform a miracle to bring this man back to life Lukes focus is not on the miracle, but on

Pauls message A LONG WAY TO ROME Context of Acts 20 The miracle underscores that Pauls message was from God But Luke does not tell us what was Pauls message We may find an explanation of the substance of Pauls message in what he said to the

Ephesian leaders in the last half of Acts 20 And, this may surprise you A LONG WAY TO ROME Context of Acts 20 Paul wants to arrive in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost Therefore he boards a ship that bypasses Ephesus and docks at Miletus, about 30 miles from Ephesus

He sends for the leaders of the Ephesian church to meet him before the ship sails A LONG WAY TO ROME Context of Acts 20 When they arrive, Paul recounts his conduct while in their midst Paul focuses on the nature of his ministry

He describes how his ministry of three years was characterized A LONG WAY TO ROME Let look deeper at these characteristics of Pauls ministry We will find that the characteristics of his ministry are like a funnel, which result in a summary statement that the describes the nature of Pauls ministry

His whole ministry to the Ephesians can be described by It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) A LONG WAY TO ROME Where did Paul learn that the essence of his ministry, the description of how he was to live his life, was fundamentally a life of generosity? He learned it from what Jesus taught

Like Jesus, Christians are to build their lives around the principle of generosity And we get our surprise in Pauls last word to the people he loves that he will never see again: A LONG WAY TO ROME Where did Paul learn that the essence of his ministry, the description of how he was to live his life, was fundamentally a life of generosity?

He learned it from what Jesus taught Like Jesus, Christians are to build their lives around the principle of generosity And we get our surprise in Pauls last word to the people he loves that he will never see again: Be a generous person A LONG WAY TO ROME

Lets look at descriptions of how Pauls ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receive Acts 20:17-21 are a look back Paul lives with and among the people They had the time and opportunity to observe his true heart and motives

They observed that he served with humility putting the interests of others above his the same mindset that led Jesus to the Cross for sinners A LONG WAY TO ROME Lets look at descriptions of how Pauls ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receive He served with tears revealing the depth of his love and compassion for the Ephesians he cared you cannot truly love and be stingy

Trials did not stop him from serving if he had to suffer so people could hear the truth he suffered, he paid the price so people could receive the Good News A LONG WAY TO ROME Lets look at descriptions of how Pauls ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receive He did it publicly on stages, privately in small groups

He shared with Jew and with despised Gentile everyone received the truth from Paul A LONG WAY TO ROME Lets look at descriptions of how Pauls ministry demonstrated that it is more blessed to give than to receive Verses 22-24 are a look forward to the future Paul is determined to go back to Jerusalem

despite the warnings from the Holy Spirit that prison persecution awaits him in Jerusalem Self preservation is not a driving principle of Pauls life he must give others the gospel A LONG WAY TO ROME Notice also that the next verses, 25 31, present a contrast between the false shepherds and Paul the true shepherd The trials that are coming are because of

leaders who are not generous The false teachers pervert the gospel and take advantage of the people because they are fundamentally self-centered They are takers, not givers A LONG WAY TO ROME Paul further notes in v. 31 an admonition to the Ephesian pastors

Note the principle when you get on a commercial airline, there is always the instruction on how to use the oxygen mask Adults are to put it on themselves first and then put the mask on accompanying children The reason is the person who does not first put on the mask themselves is that they will not be able to help little children who cannot help themselves A LONG WAY TO ROME

Paul tells the Ephesian pastors that they must first attend to their own relationship with Jesus Christ then they will be able to care for the people of God This is where discernment is found between truth and error This is where love is born for the people that Jesus loved so much to die for People who spend time with Jesus will have

hearts of generosity A LONG WAY TO ROME Paul closes his message reminding the Ephesians that he never sought any personal gain from his ministry He went so far as to provide his own income to support himself and his co-workers The guiding principle for his work among them was the words of Jesus, It is more

blessed to give than to receive. A LONG WAY TO ROME A note on the saying This is the only saying of Jesus found in the Bible outside of the four gospels Various scholars point to John 21:25: Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

It is in the form of a beatitude, which means it contains the word blessed A LONG WAY TO ROME A note on the saying The Bible is a book of beatitudes Some form of the word bless occurs over 600 times in the Bible, and there are well over 100 beatitudes, verses that begin with the word blessed

The Book of Psalms begins with a beatitude, and the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, opens with a beatitude A LONG WAY TO ROME A note on the saying The greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, begins with eight beatitudes There are seven beatitudes in the last book of the Bible and two in the last chapter

Blessed basically means happy God wants you to be happy or blessed A LONG WAY TO ROME A note on the saying Of all the beatitudes, this is the supreme beatitude This beatitude speaks to the core of the Bible

If you were asked to name the central verse of the Bible, most of us would name John 3:16 But, the truth of that verse rests on the truth of this verse The reason for John 3:16 is because it is more blessed to give than to receive, as Jesus did A LONG WAY TO ROME

You can be happy if you become a generous person You cannot be happy if you are not a generous person You and I can name people who are generous and who are happy However, can you name any selfish, tightwad who is a happy person?

A LONG WAY TO ROME A final thought on Acts 20 Why did Paul give such importance to these words of Jesus? Perhaps there are at least two reasons: Legacy

Reward A LONG WAY TO ROME 1. Legacy Paul learned from Jesus that giving enables us to leave a legacy to those we leave behind Paul had given his all to his friends in Ephesus

He withheld nothing He preached, taught, prayed, visited, cried, laughed, and even earned his own keep to not be a burden A LONG WAY TO ROME 1. Legacy His generosity blessed him with the joy of knowing that even though he would never see them again, he was leaving a legacy that would continue to have an impact on the church in spite of his absence

In Paul, we see that it is more blessed to give than to receive when we give to others, we leave a mark on them, a legacy that goes on when we are gone A LONG WAY TO ROME 1. Legacy Illustration of Leland Stanford A LONG WAY TO ROME 1. Legacy Takers never catch on to this truth

They make the mistake they can expand the enrichment of their lives by getting more and more and doing less and less But the generous have learned that giving expands the impact of their lives Pauls generosity to the Ephesians was passed on to the next generation of believers and it has continued to us today

A LONG WAY TO ROME 2. Reward First, lets be clear a generous life will not earn your salvation it is not by works But the Bible speaks of heavenly rewards reflecting our stewardship of the life in this world that God has given us A LONG WAY TO ROME 2. Reward We are told in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:

As for the rich in this present agethey are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. A LONG WAY TO ROME 2. Reward In this world, we may experience being generous and not being rewarded

We love people but are rejected We stand for morality but are ridiculed We serve people and are ill-treated, or not thanked We share the gospel our witness is rejected A LONG WAY TO ROME 2. Reward

But, do not be discouraged God sees what the world ignores or belittles One day God will reward every demonstration of love you made, and every effort you made in faith and hope When that happens, your spirit will be filled with joy and you may whisper It is more

blessed to give than to receive. A LONG WAY TO ROME 2. Reward And, Jesus has told us our treasure in heaven is secure and will last (Matthew 6:19-20) God rewards the generous A LONG WAY TO ROME As we close Acts 20, let us consider the

illustration of Dr. Jasper Williams, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia A LONG WAY TO ROME What will we do with the dash? Will we leave a legacy? Will we be rewarded when we get to heaven?

Will we become a person of generosity like Paul, like Jesus, like many who have passed on? A LONG WAY TO ROME This what Jesus meant when He taught that it is more blessed to give than receive A LONG WAY TO ROME Will you be a person of generosity?

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