Very few people know the heart of a pastor (teaching elder). This is not because he mostly hides his heart … it is because like your heart is fully known by God, so is his. Few people will know the heart of a pastor teacher. His concern for the saints of God is mostly private. Sometime he might say “I love you” but largely his feelings are reserved for the closet when he pour out his heart for God’s people. There are times—perhaps seldom though—when a pastor teacher is “caught” revealing his love, feeling and concern for the flock under his care. At our men’s prayer meeting this morning, we were discussing the chapter called “pain” in the book we are reading together. The sentiment ran deep because the chapter was so provocative … almost an exposition on its own of the Second Beatitude (Matthew 5:4 – sermon for this Sunday). One brother had said that his previous pastor (in another state) visited their home as soon as the wife’s father had died back in South Africa. All the pastor did was to cry with them. In doing so, he exposed his heart to his flock. Not forgetting:
Ac 20:31 Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears
—which exposes Paul’s heart … we read on:
Ac 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 36 When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
1) Confidence of God appointed elders.
Ac 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
The language in this verse is extremely rich.
(1) Deposit. The word “commit” means “deposit. The purpose of the deposit is for protection and safe keeping. In the Unites States of America, when you invest money in certain ways, the money is insured by the Government. This means that should your investment company crash or the commodity your money has been invested in crashes, the Government guarantees your money. You shall never lose that investment. Your money is protected. Your money is kept safe. This is the idea that Paul presents when he says he “commits” the elders to God and to the word of grace. He is saying he deposits their souls in the bank of heaven where God is the Sovereign Government. He guarantees the protection of their souls because He shall, according to His promise keep their souls safe and secure. This is an awesome truth as it applies not only to the elders. Yes he was speaking to them … but this truth applies to all believers. This is a Biblical teaching and is expressed in both Calvinism and (which is) the Reformed Faith. The term used is “the perseverance of the saints”. All believers shall find their way to heaven. Their souls cannot be lost!
Jn 1:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
This truth is carried further by the words … to God and to the word of his grace. We understand that God is the Authority of Heaven, yet the phrase “to the word of his grace” could mean two things.
(i) The Doctrine of Salvation … or …
(ii) His gracious Word of Promise. To me, whether it is the promise of salvation enshrined in the Doctrine of Salvation or whether it is the promise of His Word, both guarantee the soul’s deposit in the Bank of Heaven. It points to the eternal security of our souls. How precious is this?
(2) Edification. Which can build you up. “Build” means to “promote growth in Christian wisdom” so that the soul is moved forward more and more so that when death arrives or Jesus returns, it will be ready for Him. Who does the building, the edification? God through the doctrine of salvation and the two agencies He uses is His Word (containing His promises) and His Holy Spirit. In our case He uses the teaching elders as they use the Word of God and His Spirit to edify and mature us to be ready for His collection of our souls.
2) Confidence of a saved soul. Look at our verse again:
Ac 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
There is more comfort for those elders … and for you and me! Observe two further things here.
(1) Inheritance. Knowing your soul’s future is deposited in the Bank of Heaven is wonderful but what is the outworking of it for you personally? At conversion God adopted you into His Eternal Family. Your rights through adoption carries the same legal right as the Lord Jesus, God’s Son. This means that the inheritance of heaven is yours too.
(2) Sanctified. Generally the word means “to be freed from the impunity of wickedness and been brought near to God through faith”. As you are aware there are two concepts here.
(i) The saved soul has been set apart for God. This soul is owned by God and belongs to God. Again this is a legal concept that cannot be undone.
(ii) The soul has been, is being and will be made holy. At salvation the soul is cleansed of all past, present and future sin and guilt through confession of sin and the Savior’s Blood being applied to this sin and guilt. Then through continual confession of sin and repentant living, the soul is again and again pardoned (cleansed) of sin and guilt. Once the soul reaches its final destination, glory, it shall be perfectly and totally holy, without sin and guilt.
O my friends, is this not almost too much to grapple with? Your soul has been deposited in the Bank of Heaven with the “interest” (said cautiously and respectfully) not only being “protection and kept safe” but has the full rights of a child of God … that is, your share in the inheritance of Heaven where you shall be perfectly Christ-like … all to the glory of God!
Lord God, this is overwhelming to our souls. The joy of such eternal security is so much that it is hard to apprehend such a delightful future with our Glorious King Jesus. May You be glorified as we loved, worship and adore You. Amen.