Protecting the Church
November 21st, 2018 | Acts 20:17-38
Many churches worry about their safety today. They form committees and develop action plans. Some install alarm systems and cameras in an effort to protect themselves. But the greatest dangers facing the church do not come from bullets or fires but from words.
Paul’s primary concern for the church of Ephesus had to do with its doctrine. This is especially noteworthy since Paul knew that he would soon face physical danger (vv. 22–24). False teachers would come in from the outside while others would arise from their own number (vv. 29–30). This dual threat of false teaching prompted the Apostle to urge the church’s leaders: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (v. 28).
Paul had modeled the kind of shepherding he had in mind through his own teaching and ministry. “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you. . . . I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (vv. 20–21). Paul’s pastoral strategy was both gospel-centered and personally involved.
Paul’s deep concern about the danger of false doctrine can feel absent from the church today, which is often mostly interested in numerical growth. Some may argue that Paul’s determination to declare the gospel to both Jews and Greeks is proof that he was interested in numerical growth as well. But a desire for increased attendance does not automatically mean that we are interested in the gospel. We may be tempted to reduce our message to the lowest common denominator in order to attract a following.
APPLY THE WORD
The best way to protect the church is to protect its doctrine. What does your church believe? If you’ve never read your church’s doctrinal statement, ask for a copy. Pray today that your church’s leaders and members will all be vigilant in both understanding and promoting God’s truth and sound doctrine.
PRAYER | SYRIA
While the war is still ongoing, pray with the church in Syria, that they will continue reaching out to the lost and downtrodden. And pray for healing for this nation, which has
suffered so much.
Today in the Word’s Devotion is a production of Moody Global Ministries
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