The Gospel is not going away. There will be periods of history and places in the world where is it angrily resisted (as in Paul’s world), and places where it will be mocked and ignored (as in ours). Our calling is not to lose our nerve, or our heart. The Gospel will outlive our culture and our own lives. The only worth of our lives, ultimately, is in whether we have loved it, believed it and passed it on.
Paul is compelled by the Gospel. There is no resting up after Ephesus, but after more work in Macedonia and Greed (and more attempts on his life, v.3), he’s working his way east with his heart set on Jerusalem (vv.1-6). Poor old Eutychus is one of the many surely who couldn’t keep up with Paul’s zeal to expound the Scriptures, and a sermon turns unexpectedly into a miraculous resuscitation exercise (vv.7-12).
Next, Luke records one of Paul’s great sermons, here to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. His words are searching, and instructive. Here are his key lines of thought, as he explores true Gospel ministry for all times:
There is one message for all (vv.18-21). Paul does not speak different words to different people. All need to hear the same truth about Jesus. Repentance and faith are never popular demands, but God has given us no other mandate. Stick to this.
Authentic ministry is cross-shaped (vv.22-24). What do you value in life, and what would you give your life for? Paul knows that life’s worth (his own as well as ours) is measured in giving it up for Jesus Christ. His life’s direction is Christwards, and he knows that living for Him means suffering for Him. Do we have the same perspective, and passion?
Ministry is never free from responsibilities, or dangers (vv.25-31). The wolves are coming for the sheep, is Paul’s warning (v.29-31). Do you recognise them? With their glinting smiles, they want your allegiance, money, unquestioning obedience and anything else you might be unwise enough to surrender to them. Don’t. They slaughter the sheep and oppose Christ (v.29). Jesus shed His blood for His church; don’t allow any of His sheep to be torn apart by false teachers.
God really can be trusted (vv.32-38). He really can. Paul leaves this tearful scene committing them to the trustworthy God (v.32). They can trust Him for the church, and Paul can entrust to Him his own life, though he knows he is facing hardship and probably worse. Trust Him, and lay yourself out in sacrifice, is what Paul is modelling, and urging upon us all. Jesus really is worth it. Refuse to compromise.
A Prayer to Pray
No, Lord, I don’t want to compromise. Please give me such a vision of Jesus and His mighty sacrifice for me that I will ransack my heart, searching for whatever it is You are asking for, and bringing it gladly to Your throne. May love be the fuel for the sacrifice – and may I be the offering. Amen.