Today Ricardo is guest blogging. His blog is below. The picture for this blog shows Ricardo and I at the beach in California at the end of a tough business trip.
Ricardo is a good friend and co-worker. Ricardo is very wise, knows his Bible extremely well, and he and his wife, Elizabeth, deeply love our Lord Jesus Christ.
Enjoy his blog post below, picking up where I left off in Acts chapter 20.
Question: Are you Vigilant?
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Even though I don’t know what Paul is referring to specifically, I think it is fair to infer that the warning is against people within the church that will have a corrupt view of scripture with an intention of leading people astray (whether they are conscious about it or not).
It is easy and very common to want to impose our worldviews on God in order to define Him rather than letting scripture Speak to us to teach us who God is and consequently who we are.
We may pick and choose aspects of God’s character to avoid compromising our own convictions and loyalties. Like accepting that God is Love but rejecting that God is Just and Fearsome. Or maybe the social or cultural trend is to embrace the relative and avoid the absolute so that everything we do is OK and we can avoid dealing with our favorite sin.
Whether we distort or speak twisted things out of a personal agenda or a lack of love and knowledge Paul calls us out to be vigilant, in other words, very careful and watchful of what is being preached, taught or learned.
31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
Paul took a long commitment on watching after his flock, not one week or a month but 3 years, was constant and persevered day and night, included not only the closest ones to Him but Everyone and last but not least, did it with a genuine and loving heart expressed in the form of tears. He starts by saying Be alert! But how? Here are a couple of scripture references I find appropriate.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-21
17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.
32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
God is the elder’s and the flock’s shepherd hence Paul commending the elders to God. David wrote it nicely on
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Paul is also commending us to the word of his grace which is able to build us up. So like John Piper says, the word of grace isn’t passive, but active and is called the word of GRACE because even though we are not giving it much to work with (a sinful and rebellious being), it is still able to build us up into sanctified people.
His word is a lamp to our feet! What a gracious God! In other words, we may become people whose hearts are changed to love the holy God and hate the sin in our lives, not through our works, but out of His infinite grace and mercy.
A steep price has been paid for our ransom. Through faith in Christ we are promised to enter the Kingdom of God, the inheritance Paul speaks of – this is the Word of His Grace, and we are among those who are sanctified. Note that throughout the narrative of Acts we see that the usage of the word of God as the Old Testament and the word of God as the Gospel of Jesus is interchangeable (Acts 14:3). In the meantime, we are free and empowered to be vigilant. Paul is saying good bye to the Ephesian elders with a warning and even though elders are being addressed and they have a special responsibility or maybe more of a privilege for the elders who look after the flock, I couldn’t expect them to protect me and my wife from every external influence that touches our lives on a daily basis. I think I can heed the warning as well, mainly because it is my responsibility.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
So a vigilance that filters everything through the word is in absolute need of a love for the Cross and not just a love for knowledge or mere theological curiosity. This seems to be essential and the warning Paul gives to the Ephesian elders although it is applicable for anyone to heed Paul’s words.