Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This is a journey. A beautiful stirring, invigorating journey. The discovery of "the gospel" as the central hub around which all else spins, restores the fire around the community. To listen to a CD or podcast, and then move on to other material is to reduce this magnificent mandate to a passing phase or a seasonal emphasis. This is certainly not true. If we lose the gospel, we have nothing left but pleasant platitudes or murky morals that have to compete on the open market where philosophies are bartered for. Jesus is the difference. His incarnation caused a revolution. His incarceration caused a crowd driven scattering , his execution caused a demonic celebration, BUT his resurrection trumpeted a new kingdom that would advance forcefully... this is not a quiet affair.

These are notes from a talk I gave firstly to our leaders @thegallery, then taught it on a Sunday at the Gathering, then opened it up to the pastors who gather monthly at Exploration. The note-form will help any who wish to use it as teaching material in their situation. The challenge is always what to put in and what to leave out... I would love to hear from you as we continue to explore the gospel centrality of our leadership:



Acts 20:17 – 38.

  1. Context for the conversation:
    1. True apostles are at an intro level – “the sent ones”-always on the move,
    2. Can only be an apostle by divine appointment,
    3. The text is weighed by the importance of the moment. It is loaded with Paul showing:

i. Deep apostolic emotion,

ii. Profound contextual urgency,

iii. Certain death threatening finality – so every word counts,

iv. Clear kingdom direction,

v. Fatherly affection,

vi. True gospel centeredness,

    1. Some of the implications of being this God-called apostle:

i. How I lived among you,

ii. I served the Lord with great humility and tears,

iii. I was severely tested,

iv. I have not hesitated to proclaim the full gospel,

v. I have declared to Jews and Greeks,

vi. I am compelled by the Spirit,

vii. The Holy Spirit warns me… prison & hardships,

viii. I have preached the kingdom,

ix. I consider my life worth nothing to me,

x. I may finish the race

xi. Complete the task of testifying… gospel of grace,

xii. I am innocent of the blood of all men,

    1. Paul is gathering the elders from a church he had planted. This seems to mean:

i. As with the Corinthian church, he sees himself as a father to this community – that is the tone with which he addresses them,

ii. He had an ongoing role in that church even though it was by now significant church in its own right,

iii. He is seeking to protect them from the immediate and future challenges by enabling them to see the dangers ahead,

iv. He uses military metaphors to further magnify the responsibilities that await them: “watch out – be on your guard”

1. Fully ready, on perpetual standby,

2. All armor / weapons clean and ready,

3. Reminds them of the mandate to protect,

v. He seems to handing full authority over to them – setting them free to completely fulfill the ‘base church” responsibility they now have to carry,

    1. These are weighted last words. He will never see them again so every word counts and is very essential,
    2. He is not trying to cover all bases. He is simply addressing the necessary ingredients for impacting this ministry for the next chapter,
  1. The Gospel hub:
    1. All to often this text spins around leadership principles. They become cold and a checklist of performance that is so counter the New Testament. In doing so, it misses the point. The chief ingredient here is ‘the gospel’!
    2. The Spirit of God inspired Paul to use that aspect of the gospel that reads: “ …he bought with his blood” Vs 28. To fully comprehend Paul’s approach is to understand it all hinges around this text [not elders, or apostles, or even the sheep in an ecclesiological sense…]

i. A love act of enormous depth, ‘leaving nothing on the table’ - is it possible that every ounce of Jesus blood was shed in order to complete every necessary act related to the blood shed?

1. Forgiveness,

2. Cleansing,

3. Healing,

4. Deliverance,

5. Protection,

ii. A legal and forensic act whereby we were fully justified by this penal substitutionary atonement therefore God’s wrath has been fully satisfied and turned to favor,

iii. An economic act whereby we have been bought with a price, therefore we are not our own but his and he can now do with us as he pleases,

iv. A fatherly act, whereby he will do whatever it takes to get us back into the family where we belong,

    1. Lest we forget, these precious sheep are his sheep,

i. He bought them,

ii. He paid the full price for them,

iii. He has loaned them to us to lead, nurture, care for, mature them… but they are ultimately his…

iv. We will give an account for their wellbeing.

    1. All the gospel ingredients he includes in his convo: [easy to be Reformed in my theology]

i. Repentance,

ii. Have faith, ‘sola fide’,

iii. In our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘solus Christus’,

iv. Gospel of God’s grace, ‘sola gratia’,

v. Whole will of God, ‘sola scriptura’,

vi. He bought with his blood, ‘soli Deo Gloria’ – to God alone be the glory!

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