Sticking with the Pattern of the First Century Church
June 27, 2021
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Acts 20:32) And now, brethren, I commend 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 them which are sanctified.
A. I’m Going to Try and Catch Up on our Theme – Having a Biblical Church
1. We cannot just do as we please – whatever just feels good
B. To have a Biblical Kind of Church, we need a pattern to follow
1. The modern word for pattern is Template
a. A mould to shape our lives and our church in
b. Like a builder uses blue-prints to guide the construction of a home
c. A seamstress uses patterns to cut out a dress
d. WE need a pattern to do the same with OUR lives, and our families, and this church!
2. Many people choose to follow Martin Luther, and John Calvin
3. Some follow Pope Francis and John Paul II
4. Others follow their favourite youtube preacher, or televangelist or psychiatrist
5. SHOULDN’T WE BE FOLLOWING A BETTER PATTERN?
C. Paul seems to imply that the Scriptures we hold in our hands some 2,000 years on is more than enough to fit us for a holy life here (sanctified) and for eternity in heaven!
D. I aim to prove to you this morning that THAT is so true!
E. And over the next few Sundays, I want to teach you about what a Biblical Church ought be like – So we can always be one! Or at least stive to be one!
II. Background (Acts 20:17-27)
A. Paul is heading southwest (MAP) across the Mediterranean Sea to Jerusalem
1. Paul is leaving Macedonia, and is heading to Jerusalem
2. He has been there for the past several months planting churches
3. But is now heading to the very centre and heart of Israel for another attempt at winning his own countrymen with the Gospel
B. The ship he is on docks on a small island just off the coast from a big city called Ephesus in modern day Turkey
C. He gathers together the elders of that vast church
1. It would have been impossible for all the Christians in that city to have gathered to hear Paul – there were tens of thousands of them in that city
2. So he called just for the elders
D. Elders are the leaders of the church
1. Elder means, Mature believes – faithful, consistent, stable, joyful, patient, hard-working Christian men!
2. By the way, it is vitally important for all Christians, and ESPECIALLY Christian MEN to grow up, and become mature believers that take on responsibilities, and can take charge when called upon (REPEAT)
3. All Christian men should be elders – not babies, or snowflakes
4. A pastor is a commissioned, ordained elder, that has proven himself to be faithful, consistent, stable, joyful, patient, hard-working in Gospel work!
E. And Paul tells them that he is letting go of them (20:32)
1. Not abandoning them, but letting go of them
2. Kind of like a father, when his son leaves home to start his own family and job
3. Paul tells them that he is not going to be making decisions for them anymore
4. Not guiding them anymore
5. And not trying to teach them anymore
6. He has to go on in the will of God
F. He says very simply, that he is leaving them in good care!
1. They will be able to stand on their own quite well
2. Not in the hands of a pope, or a church council, or a governor, or a king
3. But in the perfect and sufficient care of GOD and the Bible
4. In simple words, Paul is sayinf, For any church to BE what they were saved to be, and DO what God called them to do, all they need is the Bible and its Author (REPEAT)
G. Paul then reminds him of his life since getting saved – his testimony - “You know me!” (Acts 20:18) And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons
H. What is Paul Doing?
1. He was making sure that those Ephesian Christians noticed a PATTERN in his life, so that they would follow that pattern as a Church
a. Paul wanted those Christians to be just like HIM
1) Not just a few of those Ephesian Christians needed to be like Paul
2) But ALL of them, as one body, attached, together, in unity, doing what Jesus called ALL of us to be doing as Churches
b. 1Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
c. Wow! So, ALL the things Paul was doing and experiencing were a pattern for us to follow so that WE can have the same kind of church they had
d. That’s what I want
1) I do not want a new kind of church – I am tired of the constant updates of life
a) Everyone wants to update everything
b) Online banking with no human helpers
c) Constant phone app updates – and Windows updates
d) “Scholars” have updated our English Bible more than 230 times since 1611
2) Everything is constantly changing / “updating” – but not actually getting any better
e. I want a church just like Jesus made (Matthew 16:15-18)
1) He [Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
2) THAT is what I want to be a part of, and serve in – Jesus’ Church
f. The Christians in Ephesus did not have a “primitive” kind of Christianity
1) As if it was undeveloped and in need of a lot of work and had to iron out a lot of theological wrinkles and problems
2) That is what every catholic theologian was taught in seminary
3) And what many modern evangelical theologians believe
g. But it is the other way around folks!
1) The Christians at Ephesus were a PERFECT PATTERN for all churches throughout all time of what Churches are and what churches do!
2) They were following the pattern set out by Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospels
3) And we 2,000 years later need to follow that same pattern!
2. As a matter of fact, the Bible is filled with “patterns of life” for us to learn from and follow
a. Patterns of life are a big part of Scripture – 75% of the Bible is a story of the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people
b. There are Good patterns to follow – like…
1) Timothy – Paul tell shim to “be though an example of the believer”
2) Young David as he raced out to fight that giant
3) Young Joseph who endured the hatred of his brothers, and always did the right thing no matter the consequences
c. And there are BAD patterns to run away from – like…
1) Like king Saul and his pride
2) And like Jonah and his bad attitudes
3) And like Esau and his bitterness
4) And like Demas and his arrogance
d. Jesus is the original pattern we follow – how He lived, what He did, why He did things – it all was a master pattern for us to follow
e. And Paul followed Jesus
f. And now we follow both of them, and a whole lot more people’s lives in the Scriptures
1) 1Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2) 1Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
3) Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
4) Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
g. I am so glad that God gave me good examples in godly men and women in my life
h. But I have discovered the best examples and patterns of life are in this Book
1) Not in Easons, Or even in Christian bookstores
2) But in the Bible – Yes, The Bible!
i. And without this Book telling me what are good examples to follow and what are BAD examples, I would only follow the examples that I “felt” like following and make bigger messes of my life and home and ministry!
j. The same is true as a Church folks
k. God gave us all the right patterns to follow in this Book, that show us how to be a church – a Bible-based, Bible-believing Church!
3. We just need to follow the pattern!
III. Message – Let’s Stick With the Pattern
A. Follow the Examples of Real People in the pages of the Bible
1. When Princess Diana was alive, did you notice how many women styled their hair like hers? Wore clothes like she did? Even mirrored her mannerisms?
2. Well, the Bible believer copies the lives of good examples in the Bible - patterns
3. Like the Pattern of the Apostle Paul’s Life and Work (Acts 20:18-27)
4. Paul had good manners – his way of living (18)
a. A manner is a lifestyle, a conduct – how he conducted himself
1) What he was like on good days, and on bad days
2) What he did day in and day out – the Gospel was his LIFE
3) How he handled fears, and problems, and frustrations, and successes
b. The Ephesian Christians knew Paul – there was no hidden part of his life that they did not know
5. His presence among them (18) – a very important pattern for us
a. He was not on TV, or Zoom, or just visiting from time to time
b. But he was there night and day with them (24/7) for three solid years (20:31)
c. That was the longest he stayed anywhere by-the-way
d. He was WITH them
1) 1Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
2) 2Timothy 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
e. We need to be with each other (Hebrews 10:25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
6. His Purpose – he had one purpose, and that was serving the Lord Jesus! (19)
a. Serving means doing what someone else wants done, not what you want done
b. Paul did not serve himself like we find these politicians doing all the time
c. He was not really even focusing his efforts on serving people either!
1) Did you notice WHO Paul served? Only Jesus
2) When you serve people for their sakes, you wear out
3) When you serve people and meet needs, for Jesus’ sake – as if you were doing it unto Jesus – you are renewed and encouraged day after day after day!
4) Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men
d. Why have church? Just for YOU? Or for OTHERS? Or for JESUS? We ALL get the benefit of our church, but this is all for JESUS!
7. His Hardships and Troubles (19)
a. The most successful Christian who ever lived, had MANY tears in the ministry – so much sorrow, and times of deep discouragement
b. Temptations to quit, to sin, to go with the culture and world around him
c. His own life was constantly threatened by his own countrymen – the Jews
1) Same will be true with you
2) Your Irish friends will become your worst enemies
3) Those in your own home will work hardest sometimes to hinder you
d. Hardship and the will of God go hand in hand together
e. Serving Jesus was HARD – It still is!
f. But THAT is our pattern – that is what we expect too
g. 2Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
8. His Ministry (Acts 20:20,21,26,27)
a. Showed a life on full throttle – all out – fanatical
1) There was NO holding back
a) Showing, a living example
b) A pattern! Of what a Christ follower looked like and talked like and walked like
c) Aren’t living examples so needed today?
2) Spoke loud and clear everything from the word of God
a) That is profitable/beneficial
b) AND spoke things that were unpleasant and hard to hear (20:26,27)
c) The whole package
1) Took the time to plainly explain things, answering questions
2) He did it PUBLICLY on the streets
3) And privately in homes everywhere, from house to house
4) His ministry was making sure people understood what God said in this Book!
c. And most of all, Preaching that everyone, no matter who they are:
1) Need to repent towards God of their sins
2) And to believe with all their heart on the Lord Jesus Christ
3) All Gospel preaching must have both parts!
d. THAT is the Gospel Ministry
1) Not feeding the hungry – as important as that is
2) NOT running for political office
3) NOT provide shelters to the homeless – as important as that is
4) No! It is…
a) Living a public example of a Christ follower, passionately
b) Teaching every word in this Bible, thoroughly
c) And PREACHING repentance and faith, to everyone who will listen!
9. His Next Steps (22-25)
a. Had didn’t know what was ahead of him
b. Paul just knew that he was CALLED to do God’s will, no matter where it led
1) Paul would have been very happy just teaching and preaching to those Ephesian Christians for the rest of his life
2) But the Holy Spirit owned his life, his schedule, his time – he was bound in his spirit – constrained to do what God said to the end
3) So now he was heading back to Jerusalem
4) It was NOT a nice place
a) It was a war zone!
b) That was where people crucified Jesus, remember?
c) Cut James’ head off
d) Imprisoned many of the Apostles
e) Persecuted all the believers there
c. But that was okay with Paul
1) He was READY to face afflictions and troubles wherever
2) He was unmoved – unafraid – resolved to keep going
3) He was going to finish well in the ministry – and he does!
10. THAT is a lot of Pattern to follow folks, don’t you agree?
B. Major on the Three Purposes of a Church… (20:28-31)
1. Feeding the flock of God (preaching and teaching the words of this Book)
2. Protecting the flock of God (warning and exposing frauds and false doctrines)
3. And ADDING to the flock of God – by evangelism / soul-winning
a. Those are the Main Purposes for Every Church
b. The Three reasons why we have church
4. “Feed the flock of GOD”
a. It is Christ’s command
b. NOT entertain, or make laugh… But tell people the truth
c. And get them DOING what they hear Jesus said do
d. That’s why we gather
1) Yes we gather to worship
2) Yes to fellowship
3) Yes to pray together
4) But church is all about FEEDING God’s people with eternal, absolute truths and commands that strengthen and build people’s lives
e. Paul mentions some other things as well, like…
5. Protect the flock of God (20:29,30)
a. From false teachers
b. From cold hearts
c. From deceptive and demonic doctrines
6. And ADD to the flock of God – by evangelism / soul-winning
a. A flock that does not evangelize will fossilize
b. The whole purpose of having a flock is for them to produce more sheep
c. The same is true for all of us – we were saved to lead someone else to faith in Jesus
7. Isn’t all that what Jesus did?
C. Don’t Look Beyond the Bible for Our Pattern (20:32)
1. All We Need to Live Victorious, Holy Lives, God Already Gave Us
a. We never needed…
b. A Building, or Money, or Approval, or Technology, Or even a lot of people
2. All we have ever needed were two things:
a. The Bible that we are holding in our hands – all 66 books from genesis to Revelation
b. And its Author
1) A Bible in our hands without the Holy Spirit in our hearts produces only Pharisees, hypocrites, who live by rules alone
2) And when people try and only follow the Holy Spirit without the words of the Bible, they become chaos, and full of the wrong spirits
3. In Simple Words, The Bible is Enough
a. It tells us everything we need to know to BE a church – full stop!
b. All Jesus ever quoted and taught was the words of Scripture
c. It was enough back then, and still is enough today
d. Oh if you only believed that!
1) There is so much good science to study
2) And so much good health to learn
3) I love good gospel music and hymns
4) I read books about everything
5) I have hobbies and projects that I enjoy working on all the time
6) But for the needs of the body, soul, and spirit, this Book is all you and I need
e. The reformation was fought over this one issue for over 300 years!
1) That the Bible ALONE is enough – Sola Scriptura
2) No need for new charismatic revelations by new prophets
3) No need for miraculous proofs of God speaking through you
4) Just 66 Books on One Bible!
f. Notice what this Book can do, if you believe it (Act 20:32)
1) “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace…”
a) It will SAVE YOUR SOUL - That is salvation
b) Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God
c) 1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
2) “which is able to build you up” – that means it will make you mature
3) “and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” – That means these words, when followed and believed and obeyed will make you holy
g. THAT IS MORE THAN ENOUGH!
D. But We Need to Pay the Same Price Paul Paid (20:33-35)
1. Religion is usually a big money-pot all over the world
a. Vatican billions – and Televangelists billions
b. It is the same world wide, not just in western society that RELIGION brings wealth to the leaders at the expense of the followers
c. But not in Biblical Christianity!
2. A Biblical Church gives money away – and gives our lives away as well
a. Tithing takes care of paying bills to stay here, and evangelize people here in this area
b. Missions-giving helps send families to the farthest reaches in the world to stay there and evangelize people there
c. We even give our lives when necessary (20:22,23,24)
d. 2Timothy 4:6-8 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
3. Hey! We always GET more than we give away – so, let’s pay whatever the cost for others to have the Gospel
E. And Expect to Experience the Same priceless Blessings! (20:35)
1. We are so blessed as a church now
2. We have been brought together by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, for everyone who believes!
3. And as we endeavour to unify and bond together as one body of believers, we can expect great blessings – not financial, but eternal!
4. Winning a soul to faith in Christ is priceless
5. Seeing wayward rebellious sons and daughters, stubborn husbands and bitter wives, coming back to God is worth more than all the gold in the world!
6. I want that! Do any of you?
7. 2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
A. To have a Biblical Kind of Church, we need a pattern – a proper pattern!
B. What Pattern We Should Be Following?
1. The Examples of Real People in the pages of the Bible
2. Major on learning how to…
a. Feeding the flock of God (preaching and teaching the words of this Book)
b. Protecting the flock of God (warning and exposing frauds and false doctrines)
c. And ADDING to the flock of God – by evangelism / soul-winning
d. That is the Pattern Jesus left for us all to focus our efforts on
3. Don’t look beyond the Bible for our Pattern
a. All Jesus ever quoted was the words of Scripture
b. It was and still is enough
4. Pay the same price they all paid – we get what we pay for
a. It always costs those that want something better for someone else than themselves
b. So start Tithing, and Giving to Missions – ALL OF US CAN DO SOMETHING
c. Sometimes endure persecutions and suffering
d. All for others to have the Gospel
5. Expect to Experience the Same Priceless Blessings Paul did!
C. Are you a member of this church? Do you like what you see?
D. Are you even qualified to be a member of this church?
E. You have got to be born again, and decide to follow THE Pattern of life, found in Jesus!
F. And then you have to ask to become a member