“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.” (Act 20:32)
Let me set the scene for you. There was a gathering of some of Paul’s dearest friends on the docks of the Ephesian harbor, shortly before was to board the vessel that would take him to Jerusalem – and ultimately to a Roman prison. This would be the last time Paul would ever see these dear friends, and he knew it.
They feared it, and sought earnestly to persuade him to change his mind; to cancel his traveling plans and stay on with them. But, as we saw yesterday, their tender appeals held no power over the greater influence of the Word of the Lord placed upon his heart by the Holy Spirit.
But, surely he could effectively serve the Lord by staying there with them, for Ephesus was an epicenter city – having great influence near and far. Paul could live out his days in peace and prosperity, carried by the love and support of so many to whom he meant so much. Surely his ministry there would thrive!
Yet, Paul was unpersuaded. He leaves them, but he does not leave them empty-handed.
“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.”
Paul is not pontificating here; he is testifying. There is a difference. One means saying things that are right because they have been studied and learned from books. The other means saying things that are true because they have been lived and proven on the road of life.
Paul knew from firsthand experience the power of God’s grace, and he also knew it would be the only means whereby the leaders and the church in Ephesus would prevail.
Without the empowering presence of God enabling them to be who God created them to be, and to do what God had called them to do – they surely would fall victim to the “grievous wolves” who were poised to enter among them to ravage the flock.
And there were a few even among Paul’s dearest friends who, like Judas at the Last Supper, were waiting for him to leave so that they in his absence could “arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them’ (Act 20:29-30).
Therefore, knowing these things, Paul gave them the one thing they needed most – a blessing of the Grace of God.
He tells them of its power “to build them up, and to give them an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” And those who took his words to heart found everything he said to be true.
Those who did not heed his apostolic words did indeed fall away. They fell from grace to such degree that the Lord Jesus personally chided them years later in John’s apocalyptic message — “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (Revelation 2:4,5).
What about you and me? Will we stay the course empowered by the grace of God? Will we be all that God wants us to be, and do all that He has purposed for us to do?
Will we let the Word of His grace build us up, and give us our inheritance among all those who have been set apart for God?
Yes! By the grace of God!