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May 15, 2020

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Bible Gemz 1793 - There's Suffering Ahead but a Decision to Make Now (Acts 20:22-27)

March 15, 2018

 Suffering Ahead

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  “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusaem.

   I don’t know what awaits me,

                                      except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city

                                      that jail and suffering lie ahead.

   But my life is worth nothing to me

  unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus

                                                 the work of telling others the Good News

           about the wonderful grace of God.

   “And now I know that

                                     none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom      

                                                          will ever see me again.

    I declare today that

                                   I have been faithful.

    If anyone suffers eternal death,

                                                    it’s not my fault,

                                                         for I didn’t shrink

                                                                      from declaring all that God wants you to know.

(Acts 20:22-27)

 

 

Now we come to the part of his speech where Paul highlights the fact that suffering is ahead for him in Jerusalem. But of course the inference is that suffering is ahead for the Ephesians as well. People, suffering is ahead for all of us in one degree or another. I will often tell people who have the idea that they are Christians and on the winning side, therefore life will always be rosy, that they are setting themselves up for a fall. Jesus told us in the world we will have tribulation but to cheer up because He has overcome the world. Bad stuff happens to good people. You just have to look at the news to know that. If you think everything is wonderful now that you have become a Christian, just wait a while. If they persecuted the Master, they will persecute His followers too. Bliss and peace and a trouble free life are not promised in this world. That will happen in the Life of the Age to Come.  

 

This is what Paul now tells these Ephesian elders. He tells them firstly that he, Paul, is destined for suffering ahead. But then in our next section, Paul lets the Ephesians elders (and church) know that hard times are coming for them too. Notice the contrast in this case with Paul say you know how I have lived my life among for the two to three years I have been here. But as for me I don't know the details of what I will face in Jerusalem and beyond. EXCEPT the Holy Spirit has warned me suffering lies ahead and that I will face jail and suffering in city after city. Wow what a statement!  Buried in that statement is a shocking truth. It is not just that jail and suffering is coming but that it will happen in city after city where Paul travels. Just stop and think about that. If that were what you were facing in your missionary career ahead, would you have gone? What an incredibly challenging statement!

 

Hearing those words at the beginning of your missionary career would be enough to put anyone off. But not Paul, and not many thousands of others who have followed in his footsteps. Well actually they were following in Jesus’ footsteps just as Paul did. When Tania and I started out we were given the verses from Mark about what we would gain:- houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and property as a result of following Him into mission . . . oh yes, and persecution. Yes the persecution and trouble has happened too.

 

Paul said, “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work. Then he splits the statement into two:

      The work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.

      The work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.    

Notice that the work of telling others the Good News is indeed to tell them the good news about the wonderful grace of God.

 

At that point Paul said, I may not know what is ahead of me but I now know that none of you will ever see you again. He knew this was his last time with the Ephesian elders. Hence the sense of compulsion to summon them and to wait until they got to Miletus. Paul knew he was not going to be coming back to Ephesus. Hard times were ahead.

 

Paul then declares that he has completed his God-given-task where the Ephesians are concerned. He has been faithful to carry out the task of a messenger of the Gospel. Recalling the words from the words from the paragraph before, Paul didn't shrink back from proclaiming the message he needed to convey. Paul declares he has fully preached the Gospel and so if anyone suffers eternal death it is not his fault. Note that is eternal death not just death. Death will come to us all, but eternal death doesn't need to be yours. Eternal death is being separated from God forever. The only way to not be separated from God forever is to accept the offer of His Righteousness while you are in the land of the living. Nothing you can do will make you right with God. Only God can put you in right standing with Him and that is only on the basis of what Christ has done for you.

 

As we saw in the last Gemz, there is no other way. There is no other name under heaven by which you can be saved. Nothing can be clearer than that. To make yourself right with God by doing religious things, beating yourself and punishing the flesh, being trapped in an endless cycle of rebirth and coming back as another life form. Nothing else can make you right with God other than what God Himself gives you as a free gift. It is appointed to man die once and after that comes judgement. (Hebrews 9:27) It is your acceptance of what Christ did for you that allows God to pronounce you right with Him (the Bible term righteousness). It is this acceptance of God’s offer that enables you to escape the second death – eternal separation from God.

 

GOSPEL – God Offering Sinful People Eternal Life.

 

Paul then declares that he has told the Ephesians (and everyone else) what God wants them to know. The rest is up to them. Which of course leads us into the next section – Watch Out and Passing the Baton on.

 

We will deal with those in the next Gemz together. This one has been heavy enough for some of you to handle in one package. Take time to ponder these things as Paul (God) intended you to do. Your eternal destiny is at stake.

 

I am just passing on the message; the good news of God’s wonderful grace.

 

 

If you're going to judge someone, judge yourself. At least that way you can do something about it! Rick Godwin

 

Our character becomes credible as we move from selfish to selfless. Deron Spoo

 

Helplessness is a condition, hopelessness is a decision. Jose Carol

 

In Christ, God effectively says you have no righteousness of your own, here have mine, but on My terms. God

Time to read the fine print methinks. Ian

 

  

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