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Paul's Farewell to the Ephesian Elders

(Acts 20:17-28, 36-38)

Lesson 13 -- fourth quarter 2005
November 27, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Have you ever kept back necessary truth from your class?

Do you see your assignment as helping feed God's flock?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

Church leaders serve the Lord.

Church leaders have the responsibility to keep back nothing that is profitable to the church (Acts 20:20). This means they must know the Word and heart of God as well as the heart and needs of those they lead. That summarizes so well the "agenda" of a godly leader. Blessed is the flock that is so led and so fed!

Church leaders teach to the profit of the church.

Church leaders must remember that their authority and responsibility in the church come from God alone. He has called them to serve Him by serving the church as He would. The flock must remember that bishops, ministers, and deacons are over them in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Sure, we contributed to the process of selecting them, so they serve us, but ultimately, their primary responsibility is to God.

The watchman who faithfully sounds the warning is free before God.

Church leaders who serve the Lord by declaring His Word in its fulness, making it practical with all clarity (Acts 20:27), may stand freely before God. They are free from the blood of those in their flock who stray from the Way (Acts 20:26).

Church leaders oversee and feed God's flock.

Church leaders have the charge to tend to God's own flock, the very one for which His Son died. That should move their hearts as they lead and feed the flock. They should spare no effort to ensure that those in their charge are well cared for!

Questions and Responses

This lesson is spoken to church leaders; what's in it for me?

Knowing their responsibilities before God should deepen our appreciation for them as well as sharpen the focus and intensity of our praying for them. This knowledge ought also to affect how we think of them and how we relate to them.

"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13).

"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Hebrews 13:7).

"For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

"Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Galatians 6:6).

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).

How can I be a faithful supporter of my church leaders?

How do you react when a minister falls short? I find criticism and harshness come too easily. I know we don't find it all that difficult to talk to others about ministerial shortcomings. We all know we should reject such responses. Instead, try praying. Try compassion and mercy. Try encouragement, even before he falls short.

"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2). As stewards of God's flock, God expects them to faithfully care for it as He does. That places an incredible responsibility on them. We have a great responsibility as well -- helping the church leaders be faithful. Here are two ways to help:

Pray! This requires enough involvement in their lives to know how to pray according to their particular needs. Pray for them in their personal and family lives. Pray for them in their church and community lives. But pray specifically and pray according to knowledge. Care enough to pray enough.

Encourage! If you are observant, you will soon learn when a minister needs encouragement and in what areas. Don't avoid him. Let him know what about his message or his life or his decisions have been a blessing and challenge to you. Ask him more about what he said (he likely still has something he wishes he could have said or would have remembered to say). Write him a note. Build him up.

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