Building Up the Saints
How to be successful in this important building project

By Jon W. Quinn
 By "saints" I am referring to brothers and sisters in Christ, children of God and members of the body. Though it is a part of the preacher's mission to build these people up spiritually, it is not only the preachers' place. While not every Christian has the responsibility to get into the pulpit and preach, every Christian does have the responsibility to teach and encourage one another by word and deed; by teaching, by offering a kind word, by being of assistance in times of trouble and by being a good listener as well (cf. Romans 12:9-16; Galatians 6:1,2; Ephesians 4:31,32; 5:15-21).

The apostle Paul took his God-given responsibilities to his brethren very seriously. Luke records Paul's journey toward Jerusalem where his third missionary journey would conclude with his arrest and imprisonment. On his way there, he stopped at Miletus and brethren from Ephesus came to see him. Paul had spent quite a bit of time at Ephesus preaching and teaching the word. These brethren had grown close, and now he was visiting them briefly for the final time.

In Paul's reminiscing about his work at Ephesus, we find a very clear picture of what every servant of the Lord Jesus Christ should be. Our text is found in Acts 20:13-27.

He Was Humble
"...serving the Lord with all humility..." (Acts 20:19). Humility is not a characteristic to be avoided or something of which to be ashamed. It is often misunderstood. Humility of the sort to which Paul is referring has to do with putting the Lord's will first. It is saying "yes" to Him no matter what the cost. So often in pride men refuse to listen to the words of Jesus telling us how to live.

True humility accepts the Lordship of Jesus in everything. It echoes the words of Jesus to His Father; "Not My will, but Thy will be done."

He Was Compassionate
"...serving the Lord with all humility and tears..."; "...remembering that day and night for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears," (Acts 20:19;31). Paul uses the word "tears" twice in this discourse. Both instances had to do with teaching the word of God. How frustrating it is to try to do ones best for others only to incur their wrath. First, Paul mentions his tears in association with "trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews" (Acts 20:19). Then, he also speaks of tears in association with his warnings about the false teachers that would destroy part of the good work he had done there by "drawing away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30,31).

Paul felt compassion for those who treated him as an enemy. Though they opposed him, he was disturbed because of the lost condition of their souls. It is a compassionate man who can feel such for his enemies. It is one who has succeeded at looking at others the way Jesus did.

It is also important to note that Paul's tears were shed for those who would be led astray. Some disciples of Jesus would become ex-disciples.

He Sought to Profit Them
" I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:20,21). Paul's aim was to help others go to heaven. His teaching consisted of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. He taught both in private homes and in public assemblies. He taught whoever would listen; both Jews and Greeks. The message was the same; "of repentance toward God" which means he called on his listeners to change their attitudes toward God; and "faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" which means he urged them to put their confidence in Jesus by obeying His gospel.

He Was Submissive to God
"And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.... in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:22-24). Paul said that he was "bound in spirit" as he was on his way to Jerusalem. The reason for this compulsion was his dedication to "finishing my course" and "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus."

The point of this is that Paul had strong personal convictions. Even knowing by inspiration that he would be arrested and jailed, he would not be deterred from doing what God required.

The Lord's work was central to Paul's life. He would allow nothing to stand in the way. He subjected other ambitions he may have had to this one. It became first. Let us to likewise.

He Was Devoted
"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself..." (Acts 20:24). Paul knew the potential costs of being a servant of Christ. Proclaiming the gospel at that time and place could get one killed. So a choice had to be made; stop preaching or risk losing his life. Paul made the right choice!

Paul had weighed the two and decided that God's grace and the privilege of serving Him was so great and precious that the risks to his life did not account for much. Many things in the lives of some today are apparently too important to place at risk by putting the kingdom first, so they don't. They seek a level of commitment(?) that will not likely cost them much. Convenience plays the major role in their determination of what little they do in the kingdom. Love of God, not convenience, is supposed to determine that.

He Was Thorough

"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God." (Acts 20:27). There were many forces put into action by Satan in the attempt to slow Paul down. These took the forms of persecutions of all sorts; false brethren; a thorn in the flesh as well as carnal appeals to Paul's pride and so forth. Thankfully, Satan's devices failed in Paul's case.

It must, then, be very important to declare the whole of God's purpose. Paul would not be deterred from his task. Let us live and teach the full gospel!
From The Bradley Banner 12/1//2013
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
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