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.’”
Paul was under extreme persecution, being charged with crimes he did not commit, being falsely accused of things he did not do. He was hated, hounded, and opposed just like Jesus was. Some people who were against him were fighting against him continuously. And now he was headed to Jerusalem fully knowing that imprisonment and afflictions would likely be what he was going to be faced with there.
Often when he was in such situations, he felt led to give a defense of himself and of his ministry, largely because he carried the true gospel to the world, and so when he was accused of wrongdoing, the gospel was also being brought into disrepute. So, in defending himself and his own honor, he was also defending the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For, if the messenger could be discredited, so the message could be also.
Now all of us who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives are called to ministry, and we are all called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of the world. We don’t all have the same spiritual gifts and we don’t all have the same assignments from God, or the same body (of Christ) functions, but we are all called to serve the Lord, to share the gospel, and to minister to one another, too.
[1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:21; Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom. 10:14-15; Jn. 4:31-38; Jn. 13:13-17; Jn. 14:12; 1 Jn. 2:6; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13]
And we, as servants of the Lord, should also be people who serve the Lord with all humility. And if we are truly following the Lord Jesus with our lives, we will face multiple trials and tribulations which will test our faith, and sometimes which will bring us to tears. We, as well, should be those who are being opposed because we are taking the truth of the gospel to the people of the world, and the world and the worldly professers of faith in Jesus Christ will thus oppose us and persecute us and they will plot evil against us.
We, as well, should be those who do not shrink back from declaring the whole truth of the gospel, that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life for us. We should not shy away from calling people to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ and even from warning them against continued sin.
Acts 20:22-27 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. 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.”
When we are following Jesus Christ with our lives and we are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ (the whole counsel of God) with the people of the world (and with the worldly church) we should expect to be persecuted. If no one is opposing us, and if no one is fighting against us or accusing us falsely of teaching “works-based salvation,” or of being judgmental or hyper-religious, etc., then perhaps we are not teaching the full gospel message.
At least here in America it seems the majority of those teaching “the gospel” today are not teaching the whole gospel message but a diluted and half-truth gospel intended to tickle itching ears and to coddle the flesh rather than to put it to death. And people are flocking to this “cheap grace gospel” because it makes no requirements of its followers other than some human-based faith that is not of God because it does not submit to Christ as Lord.
What they are telling them is that they can “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, have their sins forgiven (past, present, and future) and be guaranteed heaven when they die but that they don’t have to do any works, that no works are required of them at all – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ as Lord. So they are free to continue living in rebellion against the Lord in habitual and deliberate sin only now without conscience.
Yet check out the following verses which teach us that there are works required of us, they just aren’t our own fleshly works but the works God prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10), and that obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant) is required for salvation and for eternal life with God (1 John 2:3-6), and that we are commanded of God to live lives which are pleasing to God (Colossians 1:9-11).
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:8; 1 Co 10:1-22; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 5:9; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6; Gal 6:8; Eph 2:10; Eph 5:10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 1 Thes 2:4; 1 Thes 4:1; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim 2:4,21; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:8; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 5:9; Heb 11:6; Heb 13:6; Jas 1:21-25; Jas 2:17; 1 Pet 1:1-2; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10,22-24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6]
Now if this is what we are teaching, we are going to be opposed. Yet, we should not consider our lives of more value or as more precious to us than the lives of those who are dying in their sins because they are believing lies instead of the truth. This is not about us and our reputations. This is about us getting out the truth and exposing the lies so that many people will hear the truth and so they will repent and obey the Lord and have life in Him. We are not to be those who shrink back from sharing the whole counsel of God.
Thou Art Worthy
Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy,
Thou art worthy, O Lord.
To receive glory, glory and honor,
Glory and honor and power.
For Thou hast created, hast all things created,
Thou hast created all things.
And for Thy pleasure they are created;
Thou art worthy, O Lord.
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