Todd teaches through Acts 20, a section easily glossed over as it records many of Paul's activities to the point where one may ask, Who cares? Todd reminds us even here, Paul is doing the very thing he was called to do—making disciples. Everywhere he went, he had men he was discipling with him. Paul wanted to make sure the work of God would continue after him. Christians are always one generation from extinction. Ask yourself, Who are the disciples in your life? What happened in your life this week that was unexplainable and foolish except for the Gospel being true?
Notes From the First Ever Pastor’s Conference
The Relevance of the Word and the Danger of Being Indifferent To It
How Christians Win or Lose
Marriage on Mission
Good morning. How's everybody doing? Hello, Plano and Fort Worth. It's not just the lights that aren't working in Dallas; it's my voice. We will persevere together. I feel fine, but I don't probably sound really pleasant, but that's all right. The Word of God is always sweet to listening ears. Amen?
Let's turn to Acts 20. What I want to do is read to you all that we're going to cover today. This is why I love to teach God's Word, because this is a section of Scripture that appears to be completely irrelevant to your life. When I read it through, you're going to be like, "That's why I don't read my Bible." I say this often. Sometimes you're there with an earnest heart, you're desiring in every way to be encouraged, and you read something like this. Check it out.
"After the uproar had ceased…" We'll tell you what that is in a minute. "…Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia." Who cares about Paul's boring spring break trip?
"And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea…" Now we're going to find out who his fraternal brothers were. "…the son of Pyrrhus…" Too much information on Sopater. "…and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and…" Blah, blah, blah. "But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread…" I don't even know what unleavened bread is or why it matters what he was eating. "…and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days." Too much information.
"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight." And he prolonged this section of Scripture about seven verses too long, you might be thinking. "There were many lamps in the upper room…"
I don't really care about the interior design of the place that you were hanging out. "…where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep…" Just like me when I'm reading this passage. "…and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead."
Now we're getting excited. Something pretty interesting just happened there. This brother took a nap and fell three floors down. "But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, 'Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.' When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left."
Did you just say that a guy fell and was dead and then you went down there and told everybody they were wrong and he wasn't dead and you fell on top of him and then went back upstairs, and you didn't tell us anything more than that? That was the exciting part of the story. A resurrection happened on your spring break trip. It gets worse. Verse 13:
"But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. Sailing from there, we arrived the following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and the day following we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus…"
Are you kidding me? You read this and go, "All right. There's my daily Bible reading. My marriage is falling apart. I'm out of work. I just got this diagnosis from cancer. I am troubled by what's going on politically in the world. I see horrors everywhere, and I'm reading a boring travel log." Well, let me show you how much you just missed when you look at Scripture with that eye, because every word of God is profitable for teaching, to reprove you, to correct you, and to train you, so that the man and woman of God might be adequate, equipped for every good work.
My buddy Jon, who I love, who leads worship here in Dallas, left me his journal, and during the meet and greet I read parts. He didn't know I was going to. It's very interesting. I told him I wanted it because of what he shared during our time of worship. Last week, we talked about how this church at Ephesus… Ephesus is still a city that is there. It's largely a tourist community. Ephesus was the brightest church in all of Asia in the early days. It's one of the seven churches in Revelation. We mentioned this at the very end of our message last week.
Ephesus is where Paul hung out almost longer than anywhere else. Three years. Paul wrote a letter to the people in Ephesus called Ephesians. He wrote a number of letters to their primary pastor Timothy, and it was a thriving community of faith for many years. Then it lost its love. I want everybody to hear some observations that we, as a staff, shared on Tuesday when we were together about things that are true of people who lose their first love.
God tells Ephesus, "I'm going to remove the lampstand from you." This used to be a missionary hub. If you go to Ephesus today, less than 0.02 percent of its residents are believers. The gospel has moved on. It's still available to people there. I shared Christ with somebody in Ephesus when I was there. God is still sending his people there but, by and large, the church is an artifact and is a means for tourists to get off ships and buses to be run through its ruins.
These are evidences of a loss of first love: no desire for God's Word, or when you read something like this you're not going to do the difficult work of mining, of stopping, of reflecting, of making observations, interpreting those observations, and then, most importantly, diligently applying them to your life. You will see today in this text a severe warning for all of us about indifference to the Word of God.
A personal desire to have comfort over being on mission. A tendency to stop taking risks for the gospel. Cynicism and criticism replace excitement. How many folks have said this at least once? "How long is he going to be in the book of Acts?" Yeah. If you don't know, the book of Acts is God's Word. It's in the Bible. It is there for you. We're studying about the early church. Let me show you why during Paul's lifetime the early church was an amazing work of God and why it is always in peril. Let's take a look.
It says in Acts 20:1, "After the uproar had ceased…" There was that major uprising that happened in Ephesus, and as a result of the uprising, Paul knew he was the flash point in Ephesus, and it wasn't about Paul, so he was willing to leave. He was going to move on and go forward to another place and leave the church behind. So if you're about to leave and you're an effective leader, what are you going to do? The work of God should not end with you.
You're going to call your lieutenants. You're going to call the people you've been building into. You're going to call your disciples. Everybody needs to know this. Our success is determined by our successor, not by how things do while we're there. If you are in business, you know the name Jim Collins. Jim Collins is a professor of management and business and leadership at Stanford University. Collins is probably the leading guru and consultant who works with companies to help them be built to last. He wrote a book by that title about 20 years ago.
In that book he describes how great leaders are watch builders and not time tellers. What he means by that is that great leaders are equipping other people how to tell what time it is. They don't make themselves irreplaceable. You are irreplaceable if you're the only person who can look at a clock, observe what is before you, and tell everybody what we need to do because of this moment. We need to build watches that other people can use.
In fact, he uses the illustration of the CEO of Pan Am Airways. How many of you guys have flown Pan Am Airways? You just showed that you're at least 55 or 60 years old if you raised your hand, because it's not around anymore.
The reason it's not around is that the CEO of Pan Am Airways was an incredible CEO in terms of what he was able to do when he led the company, but he said, "I want to be so effective at what I do that when I leave this company goes bankrupt." That's a very short-minded, small-minded leader. He wanted to make himself irreplaceable, and he did, and the company went under. May we never make that mistake.
"These things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses," Paul writes to the pastor at Ephesus, "these teach to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." What did Paul do? He said, "I don't need to be around. I'm the flashpoint. I'm causing a lot of disturbance where the church can't grow and operate the way it needs to, so I'm going to get myself out of here for a season." But before he leaves he's going to send for his disciples.
Question of application. Let's just say you were leaving your community. Let's say you were leaving Dallas, your neighborhood where God has you on mission, your school, your class, and you're the lampstand God had there. God wants you always to be fruitful and multiplying. If I gave you three days to call all of your disciples together to, one more time, remind them of things that are true, do you know who you're going to call? Are there men who are going to be willing to come?
Like, "You're leaving? You've been a very important individual on our mission right here, but you've always been telling us that this day is coming when it's not going to be about you. You're not going to be in that role, and that's why you've been teaching us the playbook. That's why you've been giving us reps. That's why you did it for us, did it with us, and that's why you've watched us do it."
Paul gets them back together and says, "Guys, the church must continue to thrive here. You're God's men." He had men. He had disciples. Do you? If there isn't a group of individuals that you can call right now because you're leaving and say, "I want to give this to you…" Have you guys noticed what I'm trying to do here in getting other people before you on a regular basis? Because it's not about me. We're trying to develop that next generation.
Everybody says (and we call it a great leadership statement) that your success is determined by your successor, but how many of us act like that's true? Especially in this vocation, you get a lot of guys who go, "No, success is determined by the fact that folks tell me how great I am and how they want to hear more of me. I don't want to raise up another young King David that while I kill my thousands, he kills his tens of thousands. I have to make sure if I do let somebody up here they're not as good as I am, because that could potentially hurt my sense of importance and well‑being."
No, sir. It is the job of all of us to not be irreplaceable but to prepare for the eventual replacement that is coming. Who are your disciples? Who are you pouring into? Who are the men and women who are ready? I'm going to tell you who they must be if you're a mom or a dad in a moment, but all of us are called to be fruitful and multiply, which is to reproduce a godly generation that will follow us.
This is how you do it, by the way. It says when he had exhorted them… This is a key word. That word exhort is the word parakaleō. Kaleo is the word which means to call, and para means alongside, so a paraklete is somebody who comes alongside of you to encourage you and help you. It's a word that is translated throughout the Bible as comforter, encourager, helper. It is the number-one adjective or name that is given to the Holy Spirit by Jesus.
Jesus says, "I'm going to leave, but I will ask the Father, and he will send you a parakaleō, a paraklete, somebody who will come alongside of you to encourage you, comfort you, and help you." If you are an individual who knows Jesus and you have been reconciled to God, then his Spirit lives in you. If his Spirit lives in you, then you ought to be doing the things the Spirit himself does. He's called the Spirit of truth, which means you speak truth. He is the helper and the encourager.
If you are not exhorting, encouraging, helping, and comforting other people by your presence, you can be sure whatever you're doing is not the Spirit of God's work. That's what we do. It's what Paul did. The mouth is so powerful. Proverbs 15:4 says, "A soothing tongue is a tree of life…" When people are around you, are you a tree of life to them? Does your tongue water them? Do you speak, as Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 4:29, words that edify, which means to build up?
When you're there, because you speak words of ultimate import, of tremendous truth, it builds and strengthens others. In fact, he says, "Only let such a word be spoken that is good for the edification according to the need of the moment." That's what Paul did. He was getting ready to leave, and he built them up. He reminded them, "This was never about Paul. This is about Jesus Christ, and his Spirit, which indwells in you, will continue his good work in you, which he began."
Proverbs 15:4 says, "A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit." How many of you guys grew up under a mama who crushed you or a daddy who said, "You ain't good enough. What's wrong with you, boy?" Sometimes an encourager will come alongside of you and speak the truth to you in love, but they won't motivate you by guilt, shame, intimidation, and abuse. "You're good for nothing. You embarrass me you have my name."
You're going to find that Paul always, just like the Spirit of God, said, "Hey, I'm long in you." I tell my boys all the time that I am long on them, and they have no idea what that means. They have no understanding of stock market principles, but I say, "What that means is even though right now you're not trading at a very high value, Wall Street looks at the return on the investment right now that I have made in your life, and people are selling."
I said, "I'm long on you. I'm doubling down, because I know where this is headed. I believe in you. I see great things in you. Right now you're not throwing off all the profit God wants you to at this stage in your life because you're not operating the business the way a loving God would exhort you to to its highest levels. You're just not cheating. You're not cooking the books. You're not using the expense account to go to strip clubs, but that's not the standard of sound business. The standard of sound business is that you're throwing off profit and that you're fruitful and useful everywhere you are."
My kids, who by the grace of God have restrained themselves from evil, at times did not humble themselves completely for all the good and been on mission in all the way they've been equipped to be, but I would tell them all the time, "I am long in you. I am investing. I believe in you. I see God's greatness in you." That's what Paul said to the church at Ephesus. Proverbs 12:18 is another favorite verse of mine. It says, "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
We're just about 12 words into this passage that there was nothing for us, and already we have enough to shut it down in prayer. Am I making disciples? Am I about what God says I should be about? Is my presence in somebody else's life like the Spirit of God himself was there? That's what God intends for you. It says that Paul exhorted them and then took his leave, and he left to go to Macedonia. Let me just show you Paul's third missionary journey.
By the way, after Acts 20 we're shutting down the missionary journeys. Paul is going to make his way to Jerusalem. His life is going to be threatened. He appeals to Caesar, so now he's going to make his way to Rome. I think Paul thought, "I'll let Rome pay for my trip all the way to Italy, and then I hope to go from Italy to Spain, because I want to preach the gospel where it has never been heard. I don't want to build on another man's foundation."
That was Paul's life. That's why he went all of these places where he had gone up through Asia and revisited all of the churches. You'll see them. Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, Antioch and Pisidia, Colossae. All of those places that Paul had already been he went back through, because he was always exhorting and building up the church. He wasn't just an evangelist. There is no such thing in the Bible as a guy who's just an evangelist, and there's no such thing as guys who are just disciplers.
People who are like Jesus seek and save the lost and call men to be with them. It's not appropriate to just be this guy who blows into town, does big crusades, leaves, and never imparts his life to them as well as the gospel. That is an unbiblical practice, just like it's an unbiblical practice to say, "I just love to teach God's Word. I'm not great with lost people." Well, you'd better be, because it's not about you. When you stop telling other people about the kindness of God you've lost your first love.
He goes to these places. I'm going to show you one more time. He crossed in this story from Asia over to Macedonia. We know, because while he was there for several months… What happened is he went from Ephesus dead north up to Troas. He was trying to meet up with Titus, because Titus had been down there. He left Titus in Corinth in order for the church to prosper. We know he wanted to see that church excel, and he was anxious to hear a report from them. He didn't, so he sailed across, hoping to catch Titus.
He met Titus there, and we know he was comforted because he heard the Corinthians were still doing well. What it doesn't really record there is that Paul also went a little bit farther northwest, and just to tell you Paul's zeal… Do you know that Paul shared Christ in what was, until 1994, modern-day Yugoslavia? Paul took the gospel up to the northwest, which is Albania, Montenegro, Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary.
In the three months he went over there… When he found Titus he didn't have to run right away down to Corinth because he wanted to see his friends there, so he just took the gospel where it had never been. We know that, because in a little bit we're going to find that he makes his way down to Greece, which is where Corinth is, and while he was there on his little seaside vacation for about three months he wrote the book of Romans.
Here's another little point of application for you. What do you do on your seaside vacation? Kick your feet up? Catch up on Facebook? Paul wrote a letter to the church in Rome that he knew about, which became probably the greatest work of God in your New Testament, talking about the justification by faith that all of us must know. His love for the Jewish people… He explains there what's happening.
If you want to, go read Romans 15:17-29, because there Paul is describing exactly what he has been going through at this moment and what his hope is. He tells you that he has collected money from all of these different churches to take it back to Jerusalem where Judaism and the oppression of the messianic believers is at its zenith. They are being shut out of business and schools and are being impoverished by both Rome and their fellow Israeli brethren.
He said, "You have become spiritually rich through their heritage. Let's take your wealth to them and minister to them as your brothers in Christ." So there was a large financial gift that Paul was carrying back to Jerusalem. That's one of the reasons…not all the reason but one of the reasons…why these next verses are there. It says he spent three months up in Macedonia, and then he heard about a plot that was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria.
They probably heard about the large gift he had, or even more, they knew the large impact he was making. I think the Jews even more than trying to get rid of the money were trying to get rid of Paul. So he said, "I wanted to make it back to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem, but I'm not going to be a fool. I'll take advantage of the fact that I can't go and God has told me that there are going to be people who want to wipe me out, and I'm going to go see more of the churches."
He took with him Sopater of Berea. Berea was a church from the second missionary journey. He took with him Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica (guys he met on the second missionary journey), Gaius of Derbe (first missionary journey), Timothy of Lystra (second missionary journey), Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia (second missionary journey). There are seven guys Paul has traveling with him.
Disciples aren't just people you meet with once a week. This is the best definition of discipleship. Some of you guys go, "I don't have time to disciple." First of all, I'd question your prioritization, but secondly, let me not have you add another meeting to your schedule; let me add another man or woman to your meetings. I just don't go anywhere alone unless it's to watch my kids do something, and then I'll go sit on the visitors' sideline, because I don't want to talk to anybody, just so I can sit there and be a dad for a minute.
All I do is grab people and say, "Go with me as I speak" or "Go with me as I have this meeting" or "Come with me right now." You don't need to add another meeting. The way you impart the life of Christ is to live your life with them, and they follow along with you. These seven guys had seen Paul live. In fact, he wrote 2 Corinthians during the three months he was in Macedonia. Let me just read to you what Paul writes about what was going on in his life, and I'm going to show you why these men were set up to lead the church. This is 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."
Paul says, "Death works in me so life may work in you." Paul didn't just tell people to live sacrificially for the gospel. He lived for the gospel sacrificially, and other people saw him do it. So when he called them to pour out their life as a drink offering, they didn't see that as some hifalutin idea by some guy who wanted them to be minions or pawns while he sat in the king's castle. Jesus took up a towel and washed his disciples' feet, and he said, "I'm doing this as an example for you. I'm never going to ask you to do something I myself am not doing." That's what great leaders always do. These guys saw Paul pour out his life.
Let me just insert this right here. Paul says, "Death is at work in me." It's amazing how many folks, as they live their life, don't really have anything in their life that is sacrificial that the world can see that is a source of exhortation, that God brings along an alien, somebody who doesn't live like everybody else because they're living like Christ, because they're decreasing so Christ might increase and dying to their own love of comfort, dying to their own love of praise, dying to their own love of all that the world would tell you to pursue, and as a result of that, the gospel is being put forward.
Here's my question of application for you. As I read this and thought about all that's here for us, I thought, "I want to ask myself and my friends on Sunday, 'What happened in your life this week that was unexplainable and foolish except for the gospel being true?'" What did you die to in your life this week? What did you not do because of your love for God? Not so that God would love you. Don't make that mistake.
What did you do because you love God, where you said, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself up for me"? Where did you say, "I'm not going to eat at Starbucks five times this month so I can support a kid in El Salvador"? Where did you say, "I'm not going to watch this episode of TV so I can meet with others and exhort them, so if I ever have to tap out I have some guys and gals I can call and say, 'Meet with me. Let's go back over this stuff'"?
Let me even bring in another way. If you didn't die to anything this week, what did you do to inconvenience yourself for the gospel? I talk to folks sometimes, and they go, "I can't share my faith." "Why?" "Because it's just awkward for me. It's inconvenient for my spirit to have people look at me and go, 'What are you talking about?' I'm not very good at it yet."
Well, you're not good at it yet because you're probably not doing it very much. If there is nothing in your life that you can point to in the last seven days that you did that was done because of your faith in Christ and your certainty of the gospel, if there wasn't even an inconvenience, you may not know the goodness of God, and you certainly weren't on mission.
It's why churches grow cold and ineffective, because they think all God wants them to do is show up for an hour a week. I'm going to show you that's not the case. It's why I even fought our team when they wanted to call what we're going to do in mid-November the "night of worship," because when we gather in here… I ripped the word worship off the wall as this being a worship center. This isn't a worship center. This is a worship center.
It's why we end every service with "Go have a great week of worship." We gather to remind ourselves of the greatness of God. We gather to encourage each other, and then we go. Less of ourselves and more of Jesus. This is the way he ends this section in 2 Corinthians. See if this sounds familiar.
"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal…" I don't live for those. "…but the things which are not seen are eternal." I live for those.
Question…Have people seen you living for things they can't see, and are they demanding from you an explanation? "Why do you do that? Why do you love? Why do you forgive? Why are you gracious? Why do you take your immense wealth…?" Which the Bible says is an evidence of your need. In other words, when you have a lot of money you are a needy person, because God has given you more than you need.
Therefore, you have to find someone who is rich in poverty so that in their richness of need and in your poverty of getting busy you can get busy and they can have their needs met, so that in all things God would be glorified. When folks ask, "How come the more you make you don't just pursue more comfort?" you say, "Because I follow a King who, though he was rich, for my sake became poor, that through his poverty I might become rich. So when God allows me to make money, I invest in the kingdom and I invest in others."
Is that happening? Have you even done that to any level of inconvenience at all? I'm not talking about skimming the top. I'm talking about dying. I'm going to read you this thing I wrote. I actually mention this in that book Come and See, because it's one of my favorite parables. I've pulled it out because it fits right here.
This last week, I was with about 100 people who were the original members of Watermark, and we went up to DC together. One of the things we did while we were up there is we went to the Bible museum. I have a friend who was building it, and he let us in before it opened so we could talk about this book that has changed the world and this book that I've seen these people live in submission to.
God by his grace has decided to use us in Dallas the way he used folks in Corinth. He has used us in Plano and Fort Worth the way he used folks in Athens and Berea. But I said, "Guys, if we don't stay about the things we've been about from the beginning…" You're going to see that's what the great church always does. "…then we're going to stop throwing off all the light and all the fun we've had." Listen to this
"On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occurred there was once a crude live-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.
Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so they wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of the work that they saw being a great glory to man and salvation to others. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little life-saving station grew.
Now some of the members of the life-saving station became unhappy. In time, however, because the building was so crude and so poorly equipped, they felt that a more comfortable, suitable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the now enlarged building, so that the life-saving station actually became a popular gathering place for its members.
They took great care in decorating it beautifully and furnishing it exquisitely, for they found new uses for it in the context of a sort of club. But fewer members were now interested in going to sea on their life-saving missions, so they hired life-saving crews to do this work on their behalf and in their stead. Now don't misunderstand. The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club's decorations and symbols.
There was a liturgical lifeboat (which at this point was only symbolic more than functional) in the room where the club's initiations were held. For example, the changes didn't mean that the original purpose was going to be totally lost. They were going to remember why they were there. About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold and wet and half-drowned people.
They were dirty people. They were sick people, some of them with black skin, some with yellow skin. The beautiful new club, as you might imagine, was thrown into chaos, so that the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where these recent victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before they came inside the main clubhouse. At the very next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.
Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities for being so unpleasant, as well as for being a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted life-saving was their primary purpose, pointing out that, indeed, they were still called a life-saving station, but these few were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in these waters they could build their own life-saving station down the coast. So they did.
Now as years passed, the new station down the coast came to experience the very same changes that had occurred in the older, initial station. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station had to be founded to restore the original purpose. History continues to repeat itself, so if you visit that seacoast today you will find a great number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, yet most of the people drown."
That's how your light goes out, people. For the first eight years we had no place to gather, and folks thought, "You're not legitimate." Now we have a place to gather in three different locations, and some people come here on Sundays because they want to be a part of a life-saving station, but they are not committed to saving lives. That's the beginning of the end of the church. There's nothing wrong with having a nice life-saving station as long as you're saving lives and using it to get to work.
It's amazing. We don't even want the inconvenience of parking and walking to gather together to lift up God's Word. Not just to come because I have to come, but I want to be here to encourage the brethren. I want them to see me. I'm on mission with them. "Hey, how did you do this week? How can I pray for you?" Then we're supposed to meet together not just once but be people who break bread together, which means multiple times a day we sit to eat.
We are bread fellows. That's what a companion is. Panis is the word for bread. You go to a Mexican restaurant and say, "Mas pan mantequilla." That's the only Spanish I know, so while I'm down there in Cabo I can get something to eat before they bring the food. "More bread and butter, please." A companion is somebody who is with bread, somebody who's not just there in a large room once a week but somebody you're eating with.
If you eat once a week, are you a malnourished person? You bet you are. That's why the church doesn't just gather on Sundays. That's why you gather in small communities throughout the week and encourage each other day after day as long as it's called "today." Some of you guys, your life is not what it should be because you don't have bread fellows. You're not in community or your community meets once every other week. No, your community ought to be rubbing up against each other all the time.
I see the guys in my community four or five times a week. We break bread together, and we encourage each other and pray for each other, as should you. It's all right here, we're whipping through Acts. It says in verse 7, "On the first day of the week, we were gathered together to break bread." There we are. The church gathers. It doesn't forsake its assembling together, and it's not so small-minded that they think its assembly is at 11:00 on Sundays. They are breaking bread.
I think there's a reason Jesus instituted a remembrance of him around bread and wine, because bread and wine were in every meal. If you're still so small-minded you think you have to go to a church that at least once a month does Communion corporately, I would tell you if you're only reminding yourself of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ once a month you're not paying attention to the Scripture.
I think every time you're with other believers and you break bread you're to go, "Hey, this is a reminder of Jesus' sacrificial love for us. This cup we're about to lift that's poured out is a sign of his new covenant. Let's just together, as brothers and sisters, ask if we are at peace with each other the way God wants us to be, the God who died that we might have peace with him. Are we dying to ourselves and reconciling that we might have peace with one another?"
Do you want to see your marriage change? Take Communion together every time you eat. Every time you get together with your Community Group, make it a solemn moment. That's what they did. They gathered and broke bread. Now watch this. Here's the best part of the message: "Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, so he took advantage of it and prolonged his message till midnight."
I like Paul. Do you think I could do that? I know I could. I was teaching somewhere, and somebody texted my son, "Your dad has been talking for three hours and hasn't taken a drink of water." I found that out later. I said, "What was that idiot doing texting when I was teaching?"
So they're up there, and he's getting after it. "There were many lamps in the upper room…" Lamps suck oxygen. They burn. That's what they do, so it makes it more conducive and difficult to stay awake, but I don't think that's the whole issue here.
What you have going on here is a young man… Let me just tell you where we are. We are 30 years from the foundation of the church. That means there are second-generation believers who are present, young men who, as it says in Judges 2:10, did not know the God of their fathers and had not yet heard the work which he had done for Israel, but Mom and Dad wanted them along because they wanted them to hear a man like Paul communicate and teach.
We have a guy, and his name, we know, is Eutychus. Tyche is the word for chance. Eu is the word for good. This brother's name is "Lucky." Good chance. This kid is lucky because he has individuals around him who love God and are desperate for him to know him. But watch this. This is what is true. The very first commentary of the entire Bible I ever bought, because it was so cheap, was Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible, a Puritan pastor.
This is basically his observation on this text: "Some think that Eutychus falling off that third story and dying was Satan's effort to disturb the assembly, but others think that God designed this and put it in the Scripture as a warning to all people to take heed of sleeping when they are hearing the Word of God preached, and certainly we should make this use of it. We must look upon indifference, callousness, or boredom over the Word of God as an evil thing, as a foreboding sign of our low esteem of the Word of God and a great hindrance to our profiting by it."
My kids sit over here with all of the other high school kids, and they watch certain high school kids. All they do is doodle. They get on Facebook. They're Eutychuses. They had the good fortune of having people say, "Come over here," but they need to listen and understand… Eutychus was as far as he could be from the Word of God and still in the presence of it. He was on a precipice between light and darkness, and he was indifferent and bored by it, and he fell.
I don't even know who you are. You might be here this week. They say somebody sits over there and all they do is play with each other's earlobes. Not kidding. A member of my staff told me. They were sitting up there like Eutychus in the balcony, and during the message someone was clipping their toenails. I'm not saying you can't listen to the Word of God preached and cut your toenails. I'm just saying it's a little strange. We'll throw you off the balcony if we see you doing that again, for your own sake.
Watch this. This is second-generation Christianity, and they become indifferent. "I'll be as close as I must be but as far as I can." You don't want to live on the edge between the world and the church or you will fall. This is a good lesson. Christians are always one generation away from extinction, and that's why we have to go after them, but we don't want to be individuals… We can't make them. There are no spiritual grandchildren. You know that, right?
It says, "As many as received him, he gave them the right to become children of God, but these are men not born of the flesh…" Just because you're my boy doesn't mean you love Jesus. "…nor of the will of man…" Just because you want to be evil. "…or of blood." It's not a down line from Abraham. It's people of faith. It's done by the will of God.
If you are smart, when you hear somebody talk about the kindness of God, you lean in and go, "If there is a God and he is kind toward me, I want to know him, and I want to know more of his Word and not be somebody who just dances between darkness and light on a precipice," because you will fall.
Here's the grace of God. It says that when Eutychus fell, Paul went down. That's what great men always do. They dive down. "But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, 'Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.'" Paul was long on Eutychus. This is something supernatural here, but I think there's a message for us.
Parents, does your Eutychus see a holy life over them, praying that God would revive them in his grace? Because Paul didn't do this; the grace of God did it. But there was a holy life over Eutychus that was interceding for his soul to Jesus. If you don't pray for your kids the will of God… God says you pray for the souls of your kids.
Secondly, I don't care how much you pray. If you hover over them with a life that itself is indifferent to God's Word, that's going to be a major hindrance to their revival. One of the reasons we have so many kids who are indifferent to the gospel is that they see you as a churchgoer or they see you as not. They see you as somebody who gathers with the assembly and then there is no great week of worship. There is no humility before the Word of God.
You drag them to church, but the church doesn't change them, because they don't see the power of God changing you. Socrates essentially said, "Could I climb up to the highest place in Athens, I would lift up my voice and proclaim, 'Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom you must someday relinquish it?'"
Listen. We are one generation away from extinction. The only way we're going to allow and have other people who live wholehearted, devoted lives for Jesus is if they see us doing it now, not us telling them what to do. May we never be a church that says, "Don't do as I say; do as I do, boy." May we be a church that says, "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ."
Paul wrote this again and again to his buddies. In 2 Timothy 3 he says, "Now you follow my teaching and my conduct." How can Timothy follow his conduct unless Paul was with Timothy? In Philippians he says, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me." Parents of Eutychus, what do they hear and see in you? Do they see a deep devotion for Jesus? Then why would they care?
Eutychus, I don't care whose family you're a part of. If you're not going to personally make a decision to follow Christ, if you're going to be near the Word of God as you must be but as far as you can be, you are on a dangerous precipice, but I believe in you. I'm long on you, and I am trying to live a holy, devoted life over you. I am praying that you embrace Jesus in more radical ways than I ever have, but I pray that you look at me like Paul to the end, pouring out my life as a drink offering, and we get at it together, because we're going to give this thing to you.
You think it's hard to build a church from nothing, from eight people to three campuses and thousands of locations? Let me tell you what's even harder: inheriting it and seeing your desperation for God. Folks, we have work to do with this amazing life-saving station so Eutychus can know we didn't build it to be comfortable but we are built to last. Aren't you glad we're in Acts?
Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you that it's true and powerful and there to teach us and reprove us and correct us. We want to be adequate, prepared for every good work. Help us to not lose our first love. We love you. We love Eutychus. I thank you for the kids who are lucky, who are being taught the Word of God, not so we can meet in here but because we want them to embrace you. But, Lord, you have to be the one who sparks life in them. So would you bring them to life? Would we be holy lives over them? Would we be humble?
Could we say to them, "You have heard my teaching and have seen our conduct; imitate our lives, that the peace of God might be with you"? Lord, help us to go down to Eutychuses and seek them, speak words that are encouraging to them, not just the ones who are in high school and college but the next generation of believers who are 50 and 60 years old who we want to see come to faith. Let us suffer, live lives of inconvenience for the sake of the gospel. In Jesus' name, amen.
If you don't know the goodness of God, would you come? If you do, would you go and worship? Have a great week of worship.