Last week Paul was giving his last address personally before he went to Jerusalem and this week we read and discuss his instructions to the church at Ephesus.
Acts 20:28 "So guard yourselves and God's people. Feed and shepherd God's flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.
Notice his first instruction to the leaders at Ephesus: Guard Yourselves. Before we can help and guard others in their faith, we must first guard our own faith.
Paul told Timothy whom he mentored: 1 Tim 6:20 And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts…The Message
Guard the Word of God, Guard the truth, don’t get involved with those who want to water down the truth or want to build their own kingdoms. In the world we live in we must make it a priority to guard our faith since in the last days there are many deceptive voices in the world.
Secondly, Paul told the leaders in verse 28 to: Guard God’s people whom the Holy Spirit had set them over. Leaders have to live by a high standard and pay a price greater than others are willing to pay because they will give an answer on judgment day of how they led Father God’s people (to whom much is given, much is required). Leaders will never please everyone so they must continually make a constant effort to please Father God in all their decisions (the secret is hearing His voice, knowing His Word and complete obedience). We must protect and guard against doctrine and those who have their own interests above the interest of building Father God’s kingdom.
Paul also reminds the leaders that the church was purchased by the blood of Jesus so the church doesn’t belong to man but to Father God. Then he reminds them that the Holy Spirit chose them to be the leaders/elders, not man. America has a problem understanding the word kingdom and kingdom authority because we live in a democracy where everyone should have a say. In the kingdom, Father God sets up and sets down, Father God choses who will be part of the five-fold ministry and who has the authority to help oversee His church. In the Kingdom there is a King (Jesus who is the King of Kings) and He still appoints leaders under His leadership.
29 I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30 Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31 Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.
His concerns were false teachers and never has the church seen as much false teaching as right now. I love mercy and I love grace but it’s not so we can live a cheap lifestyle of ungodliness but rather exhorts us to holy living. Grace leads us to the cross and then invites us to get on the cross.
Then he warned that even people from their own groups would rise up to draw a following for themselves. I need to say this plainly, rebellion which causes a church to split off another church is not Kingdom. So many churches have split because someone didn’t like something going on and then started their own church just to see it split again because it was birthed out of a wrong spirit. If you find leaders you agree with all the time, then you are probably not human. You don’t have to agree with every decision to be in unity and in God’s proper order of authority. The same is true for family relationships and even business relationships.
The Bible warns of those who will cause division in the body of Christ, great will be their punishment. God is not the author of confusion.
32 "And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.
Paul said there isn’t much more I can do to help protect you since I will probably never see you face again so I put you in Father God’s hands and He is able to strengthen you and keep you set apart for his Kingdom. I’ve taught you, I’ve spiritually fed you now it’s time for you to lead the way not giving in to false truths and the doctrines and opinions of man.
Prayer Points: Father God help me to walk in the truths of your Holy Word and never fall into false doctrine which will destroy my soul. I bind any spirit of deception that would try to deceive me into rebelling against your Word or the God given leaders you gave me in my life. Father God used my life completely to help build your Kingdom in Jesus Name!