Guarding the Flock.

July 24, 2022 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Acts - The Gospel in Motion

Topic: The Church, Christian Living Scripture: Acts 20:28–32

Paul is addressing all the elders of the Ephesian church and it is really his farewell address to them before he leaves them. Paul gives them and us a biblical job description for what church leaders should do. He explains very clearly that the main job of church leaders is to shepherd God’s flock.

Our last sermon from Acts 20:28 we saw three concerns that the elders must have for the church and for their care of the church. In this passage, we are going to look at another concern that the elders of the church need to have and that is to GUARD THE FLOCK – Acts 20:28-32.

  1. Concern for Wolves Outside the Flock. (v.29)
  2. Concern for Wolves in the Flock. (v.30-31)
  3. Concern for Hope and Inheritance. (v.32)

In v.28 Paul uses the image of a “flock” to describe the local church. Here in v.29 he uses another image of a “wolf”. A wolf is a predator that will eat and destroy a flock of sheep. These intruders that Paul is warning us of, are like a pack of wolves’ intent on devouring the sheep. Wolves are strong and cunning hunters. They are persistent and seem to have boundless energy. They attack from every angle. They are violent and merciless if allowed to creep into the flock.  

Elders and members, all of us need to be discerning and always on the lookout for those who would come from without as well as those who would come from within and lead people in the church astray.  

Satan is a dirty fighter, and He tries to come into every church and disrupt God’s work in any way that he can.  He sits around scheming and strategizing ways he could use to cause God’s people to fall into some sort of sin or division.

Paul warns that even from among the congregation at Ephesus, false teachers would arise and try to get a following and pull people away from the local church by preaching false doctrines. Churches without discerning shepherds are easy pickings for hungry wolves. Sheep need discerning shepherds that love them enough to protect the flock by standing their ground for gospel truth. Paul says to the Ephesians at the end of verse 31, “remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” Pauls life is a case study of pastoral vigilance. Paul’s example is what all elders can learn from, but it’s also an example of what church members can expect from their elders.

Acts 20:32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

In this verse Paul is committing this group of elders to the Lord and to His word, for studying and preaching. Notice the phrase - “the word of His grace,” Paul is referring first to the gospel, but also to the whole of the written Word of God. Elders should be able to handle the word of God and defend the biblical gospel. Christians need to be lead by elders who know and love the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elders must understand, personally live by, and constantly teach God’s word of grace. Why? Because it is this biblical understanding of the gospel and the correct teaching of it that (as v.32 says)is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

Discussion Questions

  1. How can we know which doctrines are worth fighting about and which ones we can be tolerant of different views?
  2. Someone says, “They will know that we are Christians by our love, not by our doctrinal correctness.” Your response?
  3. A man once told me that if I claimed to be right on a doctrinal matter, I was being proud and judgmental of those who did not agree, and thus was in sin. How would you answer him?
  4. Many err by thinking that God’s grace means permission to be sloppy about our sin. What does His grace mean and why does it not lead to sloppy living (see Romans 6Titus 2:11-15).

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