If Only I May Finish

How Do We Live?
Acts 20:17-21 ESV

“Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:

“’You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’”

How we live matters. What we say matters. How we say it matters. For, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as his body, we are his representatives on this earth. So, we are to represent him well. We are to show forth his love and compassion, and we are to speak the truth in love to others, too.

For, if we are His, by faith in him, then God’s Spirit lives in us. We are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. So, it is the life of Christ that is to shine forth from our lives and not our flesh. For, as the body of Christ, we are to be his hands, his feet, and his mouth on this earth.

It is easy to get caught up in the ways of this world and to speak their language and to talk about all the same things they talk about. For, we live among them, and we are still flesh and blood, and we still have the propensity to sin against God. But we must resist being like the world.

Instead, we are to speak the very words of God to the people of the world. We are to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ, that we must turn from our sins (repent), and we must turn our lives over to Jesus Christ, and we must now follow him in obedience to his ways (Eph 4:17-24).

And this must be who we are no matter who we are with or what day of the week it is. We are to represent Jesus with our lives 24/7. His passion must be our passion. What concerns him should concern us. What he would be speaking if he were here should be what we are speaking, too.

Afflictions Await Us
Acts 20:22-24 ESV

“And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, afflictions await us, too, wherever we go. For, if we are his representatives, we will be treated like he was. The world will not receive us as its own, but will hate us and persecute us, and this includes that the worldly flesh-driven “church” will hate us, too.

For, if we are following Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, and our lives are surrendered to him to go where he sends us, and to do what he has called us to do, and to say whatever it is he would have us say, which will be speaking the truth of the gospel, we are not going to be well liked.

For some of us, the persecution will come in the form of verbal attacks, or people trying to trick us, to try to trip us up with our words, or it will be via rejection, abandonment, false accusations, and people ignoring us or not wanting anything to do with us, because we are an offense to them.

For others of us, the persecution will come in more physical forms of physical abuse, beatings, false imprisonments, threats against our lives, and death. It can also be that we might lose our jobs or not be able to buy or sell unless we compromise our faith and practices.

But we should not count our lives on this earth as something to hold on to, especially to the point to where we will turn away from Jesus in order to be accepted by humans. But we should have as our goal to live the life of Jesus on this earth and to finish the work he has assigned for us to do.

Innocent of the Blood
Acts 20:25-28 ESV

“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, 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.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we were not put here on this earth to serve ourselves, but to serve our Lord and other humans in ministering God’s love and grace to all, and in declaring to them the gospel of our salvation, i.e., the whole counsel of God, the fulness of his love and grace.

This is the reason that Jesus died for us, that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. For, he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and that we might glorify him with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15).

We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth in living the life of Jesus and in doing and saying the kinds of things that he did and said. And we are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light so that others may know him, too.

For, our Lord chose that his gospel should go forth through us in order that the people of the world might hear the message of deliverance from slavery to sin, and of the empowerment of the Spirit of God to us to walk in holiness and godliness, living lives which are pleasing to God.

For, the message of the gospel is that we must, by faith in Jesus Christ, die with Christ to sin, be reborn of the Spirit of God, and walk (conduct our lives) now according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God and no longer according to our flesh, for the praise of God’s glory.

Fierce Wolves Have Come
Acts 20:29-32 ESV

“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 every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

Nonetheless, there are many people these days, who call themselves followers of Jesus, who are not committed to his service, who feel as though they do not have to submit to his Lordship, or obey his commands, or leave their lives of sin behind them to go where he sends them.

And many of them are teaching those lies to others who are then believing the lies, and who are following that teaching as though it is the gospel. But it is a false gospel, for it requires no dying with Christ to sin or living to Christ and to his righteousness.

Instead, it glories in the flesh, and it makes provisions for the flesh to still reign in people’s lives. And they call that “grace,” but that is a “cheap grace.” For God’s grace delivers us from our slavery to sin and it empowers us to live godly and holy lives to the praise and glory of God.

God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For, his grace puts our sin to death with Christ so that we can live to Christ and to his righteousness (Tit 2:11-14).

Please understand here that it is not grace if it leaves you still in slavery to sin, because that leads to death, not to life eternal. So, if we live to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we live to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8).

The Great Redeemer

Lyrics by Francis Foster, 1915
Music by Samuel W. Beazley, 1915

How I love the great Redeemer
Who is doing so much for me;
With what joy I tell the story
Of the love that makes men free.
Till my earthly life is ended,
I will send songs above,
Then beside the crystal sea
More and more my soul shall be
Praising Jesus and His love.

He has purchased my redemption,
Rolled my burden of sin away,
And is walking on beside me,
Growing dearer day by day.
That is why I sing His praises,
That is why joy is mine,
That is why forevermore
On the everlasting shore
I shall sing of love divine.

Glory be to Him forever!
Endless praises to Christ the Lamb!
He has filled my life with sunshine,
He has made me what I am.
Oh, that everyone would know Him,
Oh, that all would adore!
Oh, that all would trust the love
Of the mighty Friend above
And be His forevermore.

He is everything to me, to me,
He is everything to me,
And everything shall always be;
I will never cease to raise
A song of gladness in His praise;
Here, and in the world above,
My soul shall sing of saving love;
Life and light and joy is He,
The precious Friend who died for me.

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