Paul’s Example in the Gospel

And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

–Acts 20:25-32

  • We are to preach all things pertaining to the way of salvation (Luke 7:30)–God’s righteousness, man’s sin, the coming judgment and need for men everywhere to repent, and salvation by faith in Christ’s atoning work–for all are important.  Notice, Paul did not neglect any portion of the gospel, did not skim over or neglect any truth for the sake of keeping peace with men:  for every aspect is designed by God, necessary and proper, as befitting and confirming the whole; and it is by preaching what God has authored that  provokes understanding in the hearts of men.  Notice, it is those who are not ashamed of the gospel who contend for it.   

  • We have all received a particular warning [to take heed to continue in gospel truths].  If it were possible, the very elect would be deceived [Matthew 24:21]; and this implies that the coming deception during the great tribulation is so great, as to be imminent, if we are not wholly dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit to guide and reveal [and this, solely by faith in Christ’s atoning work].  Man cannot preserve himself; yet, the Holy Spirit is able to keep us free from harm, if we will but follow and obey. 

  • The warning is great [for which cause, over a period of three years, Paul ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears].

  • The warning is real.  Where we find false Christs, false prophets, and false signs, we are certain to find false gospels:  for this is the purpose of all these things–to destroy men’s souls [and the flock of God]–by turning men away from true faith in Christ (John 10:10).    

  • The warning concerns an ever-present danger [for which cause we are always to watch].  

  • The danger is both without and within:  for false prophets will attempt to creep in unawares [without being noticed, rebuked, and removed]; and some among us will give in to vain ambitions, desiring a following, for which cause they will begin to teach corrupted versions of the gospel.  Notice, those who corrupt the gospel are never content to believe these perversions in isolation, but are always intent upon enticing others away from the faith:  even as they are deceived by the evil one. 

  • The deception is falsely cloaked in an appearance of righteousness, even as Christ warns of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).  

  • We are called to encourage, comfort, and strengthen one another in all the truths of the gospel, even as our lives are confirmed by its miraculous working (Colossians 1:25-29).  

  • We are commended to continue in the doctrines of Christ, as the following verses also bear witness.  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed,” (John 8:31-32).  “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Romans 16:17-18). 

  • There is great danger in denying the gospel, but also, in refusing to contend for it [for our mouths echo our hearts, according to Luke 6:45]:  “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels,” (Luke 9:26).  

Appendage

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

–Jeremiah 23:29-30

This stealing is not overt, but hidden, carefully crafted by “good words and fair speeches,” which is why so many are deceived (Romans 16:18).

While we do not need agreement on all aspects of scripture to continue together as an assembly, there can be no disagreement concerning the message of the gospel itself:  for it is the seed from which all fruit springs.

Why is the whole counsel of God important? 

Because the word of God confirms itself, and the meaning of individual verses cannot be misapplied when considering how the whole of scripture bears witness of every aspect of gospel truth.

For example, there is a coming judgment:  all questions concerning it [and any objection by those who oppose the gospel] are answered by the biblical record.

The word of God is a complete record, wholly fit and able to address any concern–and we should not fall short of declaring what it openly reveals–or go beyond what it authors.  

7 thoughts on “Paul’s Example in the Gospel

  1. Hi Mark,

    I have reflected on this passage in Acts to the congregation. Paul also uses a similar warning (free of your blood) in acts 18 when he talks to the pharisees. The actual teaching that Paul is applying to himself is Ezekiel 33.

    [Eze 33:1-6 KJV] 1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.

    The warning is to the preacher to preach the whole council of God. When they don’t, God will hold them responsible for those who listened to them but were never warned of the coming judgement. Today most preachers are like the false prophets in Jeremiah 23 – “Peace, peace – where there is no peace”…God goes onto to say,

    [Jer 23:22 KJV] 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

    God says that he has not sent these prophets in Jeremiah (Jer 23:21) and then look at Jer 23:29-30

    [Jer 23:22, 29-30 KJV] 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. … 29 [Is] not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer [that] breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

    When we hold back the whole council of God we are “stealing the words of God” – the worse kind of thief! When Paul told Felix the gospel of Christ do you think he held back from telling him the whole council of God? I will let you decide.

    [Act 24:25 KJV] 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

  2. Colin, great comments: I will add an appendage to this post on that basis.

    Concerning those that “steal my words every one from his neighbor” (Jeremiah 23:30): there are those who enter into and arise from within our assemblies who “by good words and fair speeches” steal the words of God. While we do not need agreement on all aspects of scripture to continue together as an assembly, there can be no disagreement concerning the message of the gospel itself–for it is the seed from which all fruit springs.

    Why is the whole counsel of God important?

    Because the word of God confirms itself, and the meaning of individual verses cannot be misapplied when considering how the whole of scripture bears witness of every aspect of gospel truth.

    For example, there is a coming judgement. All questions concerning it [and any objection by those who oppose the gospel] are answered in the biblical record.

    The word of God is complete, even as we are complete in Him.

  3. Great post and great additions. I am reminded of the parable of the seeds. Particularly how the plants can be choked out by the cares of this world. I think that can even extend to caring too much for people where it can blind us to putting people over Christ. That is a false love. A true love wants to see them walk uprightly in Christ. A false love excuses people in their sins. To say God is Love is true, but not preach the judgment is perilous to the one preaching and the one being preached to.

  4. Hearing the word of God is the water (The Spirit)….doing His word is the fruit…cut off the water – you have no fruit. Naaman, heard the words of the Prophet. He was asked to do something so simple – but at first he refused! But doing the simple command of God delivered by the prophet gave him back his vitality. Notice also in the account of Naaman (2kings5) he didn’t want to do it because it wasn’t something great…he was lifted up in his pride! Doing the simple commands of God brings blessing – it is the simple commands that keep the fences in place and the wild boars at bay. The simple commands always involve us have our flesh beaten a little to keep us from being prideful…In the account also notice how the people that are not named are the ones that instigate is healing and nudge him to God…they are not named and they are servants! They nudge him to God but they don’t stop – it is like the carries of the paralyzed who wouldn’t give in until the sick was placed in front of Christ – don’t give in…carry the unbelievers if you have to but keep carrying them until they are placed before Christ and he says – “Your faith has healed them”.

  5. That was an interesting post, Colin: thanks for sharing it; I can hear your heart in it, crying out that God is to be trusted, as He is FAITHFUL. Amen! Thank you for the encouragement!

    Al, what’s really cool is when we begin to see and understand those common threads and themes, and so much the more every day as we increase in His love, and are rewarded with His joy, which is always associated with walking in truth.

    Thanks for you encouragements also, brother: they REALLY help!

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