Do you and I often feel we need something to build us up? This is more particularly in the sense of – greater strength of mind. This world, especially its’ godlessness and emphasis on fleshly pursuits, increasing threatens to burden down those seeking to be ‘worthy’ before God. Paul told the Thessalonians, “we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you …” [2nd letter 1 v.11,12]
Our thoughts were prompted to flow along these lines as we read Acts ch. 20, which provides a firsthand account by Luke of Paul’s final testimony before “the elders of the ecclesia” from Ephesus. (v.17-20) Paul tells them he was so committed that he “did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable … teaching you … testifying … of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” [v.20,21]
It could be that our sense of “repentance” needs to be stronger! Some seem to use the word “grace” so freely that they ‘smother’ their feelings of guilt and sinfulness about what they often think – and even do! Paul sets us the ultimate example of total commitment. Luke records him as telling these elders, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” [v.24]
How wonderful it is that, as Paul told these Ephesians in his letter to them, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” [2 v.8] Our heartfelt appreciation of this must cause us, as Paul told the Philippians in his letter to them, to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling …” [2 v.12] Do we work out our own salvation this way?
Back in our Acts chapter we see that Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders reaches its climax when he says, “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.” [v.32] How passing all present wonder this is!
Let us genuinely feed – with a meditative heart – on this “word” every day so that we are really built up – for we sense it will not be long before our faith is turned to sight. D.Caudery