I. "I WANT TO GO ON RECORD THIS DAY, THAT I AM FREE FROM THE BLOOD OF ALL MEN."
A. As a minister of Jesus Christ there is a great responsibility laid upon me to speak the truth of God and to warn you of the penalty of the transgressors.
1. James warns those who would teach the word of God, "Be not many masters, knowing that you will receive the greater condemnation.
2. Paul took very seriously his call to preach the gospel, he saw it as a command from his Lord that he was duty bound to obey.
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
3. What an awesome responsibility that I not misrepresent to people what God has said.
4. There are always pressures to modify some of the things that God has said.
5. Like Satan in the garden when he came to Eve, he asked, "Hath God said?"
a. Do you really believe God said that?
b. Do you really believe that you will die?
c. Is that consistent with a God of love?
6. He comes to us and asks,
a. Do you really believe that God will banish all men to hell who refuse to believe in His Son Jesus Christ?
b. Isn't that inconsistent with a God of love?
c. Don't you believe that; that is pretty narrow?
7. There are many who have changed what God has said to make the message more palatable to man.
B. God said to Ezekiel:
Go, to them of the captivity, unto the children of your people and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they listen or not.
When I say unto the wicked, You shall surely die; and you do not give him warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at you hand.
Yet if you warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, not from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
Again, When a righteous man turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at your hand.
Nevertheless if you warn the righteous [man], that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also you have delivered your soul.
C. Paul was no doubt thinking of this charge that God gave to Ezekiel when he declared to them, "I am pure from the blood of all men."
II. HOW IS IT THAT PAUL COULD MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT TO THEM? BECAUSE HE COULD SAY, "FOR I HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD."
A. Paul was with them for three years teaching them the word of God.
1. He no doubt went through all of the scriptures with them.
2. This is the only way that he could make that declaration. I have declared all the counsel of God.
3. I believe that I am able to say that to this church, that I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God.
a. This is the reason that we adopted that method that we have used of going straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and back to Genesis again, that we could say that we have declared all the counsel of God.
b. Just preaching topical sermons, you would never be able to make that kind of a declaration.
B. Paul is now turning the responsibility over to them. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers."
1. Here the word overseers is the Greek word "episcopas" or "bishop." The same men are called elders in verse 17 which is the Greek word presbyteros. So we see that the words are used interchangeably.
a. There is quite a debate in the churches today as to the correct form of church government.
b. Whether the church is to be ruled by a board of elders, or by the pastor or bishop.
c. When a church is ruled by elders, the pastor is usually in the position of a hireling, rather than a true shepherd.
d. When God set up the government for the nation of Israel, the people all recognized Moses as God's appointed leader.
e. There were the seventy elders under Moses to help to oversee the civil matters of the nation.
f. There were the priests from the tribe of Levi to oversee the spiritual aspects of the nation.
g. Moses was directly responsible to God, and the elders were there to help him in the administrative duties, and the priests were there to help him oversee the spiritual aspects of the nation. They were all co-workers with Moses.
h. This form of government only works, when the pastor has a deep sense of his responsibility to God. Unfortunately, not all pastors realize that Jesus is the true head of the church and He has made them stewards over God's heritage, and one day they will have to answer to Him concerning their stewardship.
i. Peter wrote:
The elders which are among you I exhort, for I am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over [God's] heritage, but being examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away.
2. One day the chief Shepherd is going to appear, and we will all have to give to Him an account of our ministries that He has entrusted to us. To whom much is given, much will be required.
a. One day Jesus gave a parable to illustrate this coming day of reckoning.
For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man who traveled to a far country, [who] called his servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his ability; and immediately took his took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same and made an additional five talents.
Likewise he that received two gained another two.
But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants returned, and reckoned with them. (There is a day of reckoning coming)
b. He gave another parable on the same line of thought.
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season?
Blessed [is] that servant, whom when his Lord returns He will find so doing.
Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delays His coming; and shall begin to abuse his position by beating the menservants and maidens, and begins to party and drink.
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he is not looking for Him, and at an hour when he is not expecting, and will cut him in pieces, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and was not prepared for his Lord's return, neither did the will of His master, shall be beaten with many [stripes].
But he that knew not, yet did commit things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
3. When I read some of these phony letters that many of these so-called evangelists or Christian leaders send out, and I read their pleas for money, and see the many gimmicks that they employ, I can only conclude that there is no fear of God in their hearts.
4. They are the ones that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7
when He said:
Not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name we have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity.
III. THEIR DUTY WAS TO FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD.
A. When the Lord appeared to Peter at the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection, He asked Peter, "Do you love Me?" When Peter answered in the affirmative, Jesus said, "Feed My sheep."
B. In the scripture we referred to earlier when Peter wrote to the elders, he instructed them to feed the flock of God.
C. Note that the command is not to entertain the flock of God, yet so many churches have sought to entertain the congregants.
D. Isaiah writing of the Messiah said:
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry [them] in his bosom, [and] shall gently lead those that are with young.
E. Through Jeremiah God promised concerning the coming day when God said that:
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
F. That is the kind of pastor that I want to be, a pastor after God's heart.
G. Note that he did not say your church, but the church of God.
1. I am an overseer of the church of God, of the flock of God, you belong to Him.
2. I have a responsibility to the chief shepherd to feed you.
3. He is the one that redeemed you with His own blood.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your former empty lives[received] by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish
And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, as the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.