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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 18: Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem.

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Part:  A  B  C  D

As the travelers sailed southward from Assos, they passed the city of Ephesus, so long the scene of the apostle's labors. He had greatly desired to visit the church there; for he had important instruction and counsel to impart to them. But upon consideration he relinquished this purpose. Any delay might render it impossible for him to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. On arriving at Miletus, however, he learned that the ship would be detained for a short time, and he immediately sent a message to the elders of the Ephesian church to come to him. The distance was but thirty miles, and the apostle hoped to secure at least a few hours' intercourse with these men upon whom the prosperity of the church must largely depend.

When they had come, in answer to his call, he thus addressed them: "Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews; and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and [p. 199] from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul had ever exalted the divine law. He had presented before the people their great sin in transgressing its precepts, and their duty to repent of such transgression. He had showed them that there was in law no power to save them from the penalty of disobedience. While they should repent of their sins, and humble themselves before God, whose holy law they had broken, and whose just wrath they had thus incurred, they must exercise faith in the blood of Christ as their only ground of pardon. The Son of God died as their sacrifice, and ascended to Heaven to stand as their advocate before the Father. By repentance and faith they might be freed from the condemnation of sin, and through the grace of Christ be enabled henceforth to render obedience to the law of God.

The apostle continued: "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there, save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." Paul had not designed to bear this testimony; but while he was speaking, the Spirit of inspiration came upon him, confirming his former fears that this would be his last meeting with his Ephesian [p. 200] brethren. He therefore left with them his counsel and admonition as his will and testament to be carried out by them when they should see him 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." No fear of giving offense, no desire for friendship or applause, could lead him to withhold the words which God had given him for their instruction, warning, or correction. The minister of Christ is not to present to the people those truths that are most pleasing, while he withholds others which might cause them pain. He should watch with deep solicitude the development of character. If he sees that any of his flock are cherishing sin, he must as a faithful shepherd give them instruction from God's word applicable to their case. Should he permit them in their self-confidence to go on in sin unwarned, he would be held responsible for their blood. The pastor who fulfills his high commission must instruct his people in every point of the Christian faith, all that they ought to be or to do, in order to stand perfect in the day of God.

The apostle admonishes his brethren: "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." Could ministers of the gospel constantly bear in mind that they are dealing with the purchase of the blood of Christ, they would have a deeper sense of the solemn importance of their work. They are to take heed unto themselves and to the flock. Their own example must illustrate and [p. 201] enforce their instructions. Those who teach others the way of life should be careful to give no occasion for the truth to be evil spoken of. As representatives of Christ, they are to maintain the honor of his name. By their devotion, their purity of life, their godly conversation, they should prove themselves worthy of their calling. By a right example they may exert an influence which words alone could not have, to encourage faith and holiness, fervent love, devotion, and integrity among those for whom they labor. God requires of all his servants fearlessness in preaching the word, fidelity in exemplifying its precepts, however it may be despised, reviled, opposed, or persecuted. Every faithful teacher of the truth will at the close of his labors be able to say with Paul, "I am pure from the blood of all men."

Part:  A  B  C  D

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