Beth Moore - Compelling - Part 3
What we're hoping is that these are words that land. That's a difference between classroom, and that's what we're trying to do here together is that we're trying, we're studying here together that these truths would land down in the marrow of our bones, and it would change the way we walk. That's what we're trying to do: get the truth of God from the page into the head, transfer down into the heart. It finally makes it to our feet and makes us walk differently. Does that make sense? So, we're going to be in Acts chapter 20, but I want to hear a recap of last night's three points. You have three, so I'm gonna ask you to say them with me, if you would. "We have everything it takes to be the most compelling people on earth," and then number two is this: "In an effort to be culturally compelling, we have forfeited our uniqueness".
That will be one of the biggest reasons for our gathering, to come to that truth, but not to sit there on it and let that be the end of it, but to see the prescriptive for it that says that doesn't have to be the way it stays. That is what our tendency is, especially in a culture that is getting more and more hostile to the gospel, but I'm gonna tell you something. I have never been more convinced in the power of the gospel in my entire life, in my entire life. I wondered if I would, you know, grow older and start thinking, you know, there really are a lot of things going, and people just... There's a lot of ways that it could happen that people's lives are put back together. I'm gonna tell you, that is not what happened to me. I look at this dark world, and I think to myself, "Jesus Christ alone is the answer for this lost world". Jesus Christ alone is the answer to our anger and our hostility and our unforgiveness and our bitterness and our, just, bewilderment at all that is in this world. Jesus Christ is our answer.
Number three is this: "We get to live a life worth dying for". We get to. We get to. Our premise is people around the world are looking for something larger than themselves that's important enough to give themselves to. And for most of us in the world that we live in, we're not being asked to die for our faith. But my goodness, we can get in there, and we can live. We can live fully, given to the Spirit, compelled by the Spirit for something that was very, very much worth Christ himself giving his life for.
So, I'm gonna pick up now back in Acts chapter 20. I'm gonna start reading at verse 17, 17. You'll know that I am overlapping just so that I can get our context back, and I'm going to read all the way through, I think I'll read through 32. 17, "Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church. When they came to him, he said, 'You know from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house. I testified both to Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.'" 22, "And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit".
Everybody say, "Compelled by the Spirit". Oh, tell it to me one more time. "Not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace. And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you this day". Remember that he's talking to the elders from Ephesus. They've come to meet him. "Therefore I declare to you this day that I'm innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God". Some of your translations, and I love this even more: "The whole counsel of God". "Be on guard for yourselves, for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit".
I need someone to hear this with me today. "Has appointed you as overseers to shepherd the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood". The church of God in an era where it's, like, empty the pews, I'm gonna tell you something. What we don't need to do is empty the pews. We might need to change churches. We certainly need our churches to be in repentance and to go before God for a fresh work of his Spirit, to come in humility, and let him refine the church. But let me tell you something about the church. He purchased it with his own blood, with his own blood.
And when someone says, "But we are the church," if what you mean by that is that, yes, all over the world, we are part of the church if we are in Christ, but if you think that the life he has called you to is that you're gonna do your own thing at home, no connection whatsoever to any body of believers, no community whatsoever, and you're gonna call that doing your part in the calling that God has placed on you in your life, you are out of your ever loving mind, because that is not consistent with the New Testament church. It is not consistent. I'm gonna say it one more time. It is not consistent with the New Testament church. So, find one. Find one. Find one. Find a community of believers.
Because let me tell you something. What happens is when sheep are out there, straying from the flock, they are eaten by wolves. The safest place for you is in a good community of faith-filled believers who are earnest and pure of heart. If not, having it, they don't have it all together. They're not gonna have it all together. The people that are devoted to the work of God, through the Word of God, seek it out and find it. And then it says this in verse 29: "I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come among men, not sparing the flock. Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years". Everybody say "for three years". "I never stopped warning each one of you with tears. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified". That is the Word of the Lord. We've made three points together. I want you to add on the fourth now, and it's a really, really important one, and I love it.
Number four is this: "We have a legacy both of bold truth and bold tenderness". Remember our premise, that what I hope to be able to show you is that in this segment of scripture that begins at Acts chapter 20 and verse 13, and goes on really through 21, but we're basically saying 21, verse 6, that in that segment you can see all sorts of things that make the people of God, the gospel people of Jesus Christ, the most compelling people on the planet. And one of them is... do you notice, I mean he's teaching and teaching and teaching, and he's warning and warning, and he's pouring out himself in discipleship, but he's also just crying all the way through it.
It's bold tenderness, and I want to talk about that bold truth before we ever get to that bold tenderness for a moment, because I had the most interesting conversation that I believe God appointed not very long ago, when I got to talk to someone sitting next to me on an airplane that saw my Bible wide open. And so she asked me about my Bible, and we began talking, and I got to find out that she was a strong believer in Christ, and got to learn a little bit about her. And she said something to me that left me so slack-jawed, I had trouble getting over it. She said, "You know, my pastor, for the last ten years, I have never one time seen him take a Bible up to the podium, to the pulpit". And I was like... I thought, okay, okay, I said, "Try me again, try me again". I said, "How is he preaching out of the scriptures"? And she said, "Well, the screens". And she said, "We didn't have our Bibles either". I said, "Come again"? And she said, "Well, we all just, you know, we all just adapted to screens".
And I nearly had a cardiac arrest. And I've got this to say to you, and I want to say it gently. Noooo! No, no, no, nooo! And I want to say this with bold truth here. I love the screens. I use an electronic Bible every single day of my life. I've already used one this morning. I'll use it before the day is over. Perhaps I'll use it all next week. It's part of my life. I look up the scripture on the phone all the time. I get it in every way, but let me tell you something. That is different from this right here. It's different from this right here, and I wonder, how many teachers of scripture do I have in this room? I wanna see your hands up. This carries weight.
Every word of scripture has a phrase. Every phrase of scripture has a verse. Every verse of scripture has a chapter. Every chapter of scripture has a book. Every book of scripture has a testament. And there's an Old Testament and a New Testament. And the Old Testament is not complete without the new, and the new cannot be understood without the old. You've got Genesis to Revelation, and this is the Word of God. Listen carefully to me. That is not old-fashioned. It is fidelity. It is fidelity. We're not pulling a scripture out of nowhere, and no wonder we don't know what to do with it. Totally unplugged from everything around it. I'll never forget one time, my daughter, my younger daughter went the real academic route. She's got three post-graduate degrees in biblical languages. And I mean, this is her love. This is her love.
And so she said to me one time, she said, "Mother, I just cannot tell you how thankful I am that you are canonical Christian". And I said, "Babe, that means the world to me". I said, "What is a canonical Christian"? I said, "Please know I'm deeply moved. It's just that I have no idea what you're talking about". And what she means is this is the canon of scripture that was put through all manner of testing to determine what was legit, the words of God to go down in our Bibles. This is what God has given us, from Genesis to Revelation, and you better believe we're canonical Christians, and we're not gonna be canonical Christians by pulling a verse here and pulling a verse there, where we can't even see what context we're dealing with, the weight of it. I'm not being old-fashioned with you. The Word of God is timeless. Get your Bibles.
So, you're in 20. Now look with me to 19, just one chapter before. I wanna show you, 'cause it's gonna talk to us about Paul being in Ephesus, and I want you to watch what he does. So, I think I'm gonna read 8 through 10. "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, arguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God". So, at this point, he's where? It told us. He's in the what? He's in the synagogue. And he's spoken over a period of how long? So, he's trying to persuade them about the kingdom of God, "But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way", I told you, if you're new to it, that this is what they called the people of Jesus. "Slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples, and conducted discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord".
Now, this is fascinating, because you are watching discipleship at its best. Notice what he does, because this is very important. He goes into the larger atmosphere. He's going right there into the synagogue, and he's preaching and he's preaching and he's persuading. Well, then there are people that just start turning it into a ceaseless debate and start slandering the Way. Well, this is Paul's wisdom to go, "You know what? This is not what we're doing, because you're not even here to learn. You're just here to argue and debate". That's not how we're gonna do this discipleship. "So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna take the ones that really wanna learn". This is power of the fewer that really want to learn the ways of Jesus and study his Word. So, he takes them over to the hall of Tyrannus.
Now, I gotta tell you something. I thought this was so neat to learn. "Tyrannus" means the tyrant. And so what we are supposing, Ephesus was quite the center of all manner of learning, quite a place of philosophers and an enormous ancient library, quite the modern city for its time. And so the thought is it probably is something of a philosophy school, of a higher education, and it probably, the hall of Tyrannus, one of the scholars was saying it's not very likely that someone named his kid Tyrant. But what probably it goes, it may even be an endearment for a teacher, that whatever name, you know, if you've got an elementary school that is named in your area after a particular principal that had been there, probably Tyrannus is who this hall was named for, and it probably is that it was an endearment that this man has worked us so hard. "This guy, we have studied so hard under this guy, we call him the tyrant".
So, it's just so fun. So, probably what is happening is that for the part of the day, maybe the afternoon, for the part of the day that they're not using the hall for its original education purposes secularly, that Paul is then renting it so that he can take aside this group of people and disciple them up in the faith. And he is with them a couple of years. Now let me tell you, there's nothing like that, nothing like that. I wanna say this to you. Our calling is discipleship, and I don't mean mine and the team, I mean all of ours. It's what Jesus said. It was the last thing he told us before he ascended, was "Go out into the world and make disciples". It means raising people, raise people up in the faith.
And you may say to me today, "Now, Beth, I'm just not a teacher". It doesn't matter. We're all involved in some level and be thinking about, what is it, what is your involvement in discipling people to come to know Christ? Sometimes it's gonna be more formal for some than others. You might think in terms of, well, but there are people that, I mean, like, do this for a living; I'm not talking about all that. Paul is a tentmaker. He's also got a job. But he's very involved in seeing people raised up in the faith. Because when we get to heaven, and we'll be there before we know it, when we get to heaven, all that will matter is that we helped build up people in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ to make a difference and take out a bold love and a bold truth throughout the globe, engaged in discipleship. It is a command of Christ for all of us.
Now, look at 20:20. I love when a verse has an address that's easy to remember. So, I just love that it's Acts 20:20. "You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or teaching you publicly and from house to house". Some of the translations say "anything that is helpful". Anything else? Beneficial. Helpful or beneficial. I wanna really settle on that for a moment, because we already know, this is what I'm telling you. I mean, you can see the thing in Acts 20. It is operating. The church is fully functioning. As young as it is, it's fully functioning. Because what he's doing here... look how he's gone to the big group, now he's gone to the smaller group. He's pouring into them. He's teaching them the whole counsel.
In other words, he is making sure that he's not just teaching the parts that he likes, that confirm what his preferences are. He's teaching the hard part. He's teaching the wonderful part. He's teaching the fun part. He's teaching the troublesome part. He's teaching the whole counsel of God. He said, "I did not hold back from telling you what would be helpful to you". What would be helpful to you. I can't remember how long ago it was, maybe 18 months ago, a group of about half a dozen of us women servant leaders, were invited onto a program that had a huge, huge viewership, I mean, huge. I'm talking, like, hundreds of thousands of people. And they said, "We're going to set this program aside, this whole evening, just for women. Everybody up there will be women," had never been done before, "and you're gonna be speaking to women".
And so we were on a panel, and I'll never forget what Matt said to us, who was producing it. It was just minutes before we went up. I mean, just minutes. And we'd jotted down different things that we thought we wanted to talk about and tried to be as ready as we knew how to be. And he came over to us where we were, and he said, "I just want to tell you one thing. I don't want you to get out there and talk about what you want to talk about". We were like... and he said, "I want you to go out there and do what would help them".
It was a game changer. I mean, we had all manner of great stories. We could tell how we took a path that led us to where we were in ministry or in our communities, whatever. All of a sudden, it was, no, what is gonna help that woman on the other side of that screen? I've thought about it every time I have spoken since. I've tried to live by that for a long time, because I wanna tell you, this is one of the big deals to me. One of the things I live by in my teaching ministry, and this has been almost throughout... I want to say throughout, throughout, but I never feel like I've done anything always. Anybody get that with me?
I've dropped the ball 1.000 times in 1.000 ways, but one of the things that has always driven me, since my earliest years of teaching, is not only to say what, but try to explain to the best of my ability how. How can I say how? Have I given them, do they know? Would they know? Has it been beneficial enough where they know where to plant their foot next? That just drives me. I've gotta tell you something. When I was in my early to mid-20s, honestly, y'all, I've been serving in my church since I was 12 and got out of VBS, and I started helping with VBS, and then I would start helping with four-year-olds in Sunday School or whatever. You understand what I'm saying? So, you know, this has been my whole life. And then I surrendered to ministry at 18.
And so I was in a church that just had strong, strong women's ministry. I have been so blessed just to have that kind of equipping, but it was very, very different in that day. Our mentors were just entirely different than this. They didn't do this all over the platform, and they certainly would not have worn jeans, never would have worn jeans. And so a couple of them that were the real, I mean, they were just the mighty women of our church and the servants of our church. They were able to kind of see some of us who were younger, that they thought, "Hmm, I think maybe they may be communicators. They may have... so we're gonna take them in," 'cause that's what every one of them were. They were communicators, or they were vocalists, but they thought, you know, "We're gonna, these, we'll take them in, and we're gonna train them and we're gonna mentor them".
They taught us how to dress best for our figures, that we went through the apple... the pear shape; we went through all of this so that we could learn how to best, and you know what they were doing? Because you might just go, like, "Well, that was of no benefit whatsoever". Not true, not true. That era of time, that was very, very much in keeping with how we did ministry in women's ministry in those days. Helpful, helpful. Now, I'm gonna tell you what I feel the strongest about are the things that have been transformative to me. Like, I can tell you, this would be something that I would want to bring a benefit to somebody, if you've got a long-term situation that you've been praying about for 25 years... can I see anybody's hand in the room? How in the world do you keep that up?
Well, I can tell you how to take scripture and to turn it into prayer so that when you're praying it, you are not taking the burden on yourself of trying to think up what fresh thing you can pray about your old situation that doesn't seem to ever change. Instead, you're putting the Word of God into your prayers and it is, like, riling you up in the Holy Ghost while you're praying. Anybody know what I'm talking about? That I can tell you about. I can tell you how a woman who has been in bondage all of her life can be completely renewed of mind and set free and demolish strongholds that have kept her in bondage for years because that is part of my story. Yes, it's part of the whole counsel, but it is also part of my story.