Acts 20:22-24 The Message
22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
As Paul took his leave of the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, the Apostle felt an urgent compulsion from the Holy Spirit to go back to the city of Jerusalem.
He declared to all present he had no idea what would happen to him when he got there, but he had a clear sense hard times and imprisonment awaited him.
Then he made this incredibly valuable and impossibly staggering statement:
“I do not account my life of any value.”
“I do not account my life of any value.”
What an incredibly shocking statement summarizing Paul’s own deep, abiding passion for the urgent way he personally views the sum total of his valued life.
“If my life isn’t of any value, it’s not precious to me, I got one thing I’m focused on, and that’s the ministry I have received from the Lord Jesus, testifying to the gospel of his grace.”
This was not first century mindset of masochism—some strange utter hatred of personal joy, happiness, self control, peace, or spiritual health, or physical life.
So what, then, did Paul mean by declaring his life completely valueless?
that solely for the sake of His Savior Jesus and the Kingdom of God, he did not regard his own life as so precious a possession as to be held on to at all costs!
What value we assign to our lives is summarized by people often nonchalantly saying, “Well, as long as I have got breath, and health, that’s all that matters!”
“I am happy I am still breathing, my heart is still beating and I am standing!”
Value all of these things and so much more!
Be happy you are still breathing, your heart is beating and you are standing!
But that is not all that is to be valued, all that matters in the Kingdom of God!
Be Comforted but also recall our invaluable bodies are steadily passing away. (Isaiah 40:1-9)
We are crumbling even as we live and breathe.
We may have our health today, but a day will come when we do not.
Unless we are able to say with Paul, “To live is Christ,” we cannot legitimately affirm with him, “and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
The only way that death can be a valued gain is if Christ is urgently everything.
And if Savior Christ is valued as urgently everything, as Paul says He is, then we can declare with him, My life is not ultimate. I don’t need to protect it as the most precious thing I have. I want to spend it for the most precious person I’ll ever know.
What mattered most to Paul was that he finished his life trusting Christ and carried out to the best of his abilities the ministry Christ had given him.
He felt a compelling, overwhelming resolve to complete the task of testifying to “the gospel of the grace of God” everywhere he could reach by foot or by boat.
There’s a task!
There’s a purpose, significance, an agenda, a calling!
There is a Christian lifestyle which matters to the Kingdom of God!
There is a Christian lifestyle worthy of being valued!
And this is the task entrusted to all of us—the Great Commission to (Matthew 28:16-20) to let everyone we meet know the good news of God’s amazing grace.
Matthew 28:16-20 English Standard Version
The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in [a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“If Only I May Finish My Course …”
Acts 20:22-24 Amplified Bible
22 And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly [and emphatically] affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me. 24 But I do not consider my life as something of value or dear to me, so that I may [with joy] finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify faithfully of the good news of God’s [precious, undeserved] grace [which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life].
From time to time, I will silently pray about each of these verses in Acts 20:22-24 and as I do quietly pray through them I will find myself constantly driven, then more urgently praying for the spread of the gospel through all our lives.
It then feels like every chapter and verse I can recall and prayer that flows from every verse and every chapter has got to help me to faithfully share the gospel.
That’s exactly what Paul is expressing here.
Think about it.
Paul knows he’s on this earth specifically for the spread of the gospel.
He urgently desires, and he says later, “I want to depart and be with Christ, but it’s better that I’m here.
Philippians 1:21-24 Amplified Bible
To Live Is Christ
21 For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity]. 22 If, however, it is to be life here and I am to go on living, this will mean useful and productive service for me; so I do not know which to choose [if I am given that choice]. 23 But I am hard-pressed between the two. I have the desire to leave [this world] and be with Christ, for that is far, far better; 24 yet to remain in my body is more necessary and essential for your sake.
In God’s wisdom. He’s left me here for the spread of the gospel. This is what I want to do. I want to testify of his grace.”
Acts 20:24 Reminds Us of the Bible’s Teaching
Let’s look at our lives in a similar way.
I’m not saying this is the only thing we do in the world.
This is obviously not what the Bible is teaching, but the Bible is teaching that this is primary.
We are here on this earth for the spread of the gospel of the grace of God.
We are here exclusively to help other people know how good, and great, and gracious, and glorious and invaluable God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are to all.
This is the opportunity God has given us every day and the place where he has put us in the world to make this good news to others.
A billion years from now what’s going to matter most is whether or not we have made this good news known to as many others as is possible in ones lifetime.
Acts 20:24 Leads Us to Have a Right Perspective
God, we ought to be urgently praying:
“Please give us a right perspective on our lives here.”
“God, Help us not to miss this glorious purpose you’ve entrusted to us.”
“We want to be a part of testifying to the gospel of your grace, telling other people about your love in Christ.”
“Lord, we don’t want to get to the end of our lives and look back and not have done this, not have given our whole lives to this, not having spent our lives doing this.”
In all the places I find myself, and I think about my life, my schedule this week.
I think about each person who’s praying this and their lives, their schedule, the different workplaces where they are, the different places where they live, the different people around them who probably don’t know Christ as their Savior.
“Lord, help us all. Help us all, we pray, to be faithful to testify to the gospel of your grace. And, Lord, help us not to neglect this most important ministry.”
This Reminds Us of Our Duty to Proclaim the Gospel
Obviously, we know we are not Paul in the same way that he was an apostle in the New Testament.
But we do know that, like the Apostle Paul, we have been urgently sent out by Christ with an urgent message, a gospel of God’s abundant and eternal life so to proclaim.
“Dear God, Help us urgently, we pray, to do it faithfully.”
“May I say in my own hearts my life I don’t count of any value.”
“Precious unto myself.”
“If only by your grace, I may finish this race and complete this ministry that I have been given from you, this opportunity that you have given to me, to urgently testify to, and witness exclusively unto, the gospel of your exceedingly amazing grace.”
“God, help me to be faithful to run that race today and to do this work today.”
“For the exclusive glory of your name and for the exclusive and urgent spread of your gospel, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.“
Living Out and Into A Lifestyle of Urgency
In these most contemporary of “lets hurry up and wait” how are you and I, like Paul, to live a life of urgency so that you and I might keep going until the end?
You and I must run our race with all our might, with the finish line in view.
Do not look for any opportunity to bow out or slow down before the final lap is over and urgently run with all our strength and running right through the tape, gripped by Christ’s love, energized by God’s Spirit, and guided by God’s Word.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly God, Author of my life, Perfecter of my faith, be with me as I run the race of becoming more like your son Jesus. I pray God that you remove my selfishness so I follow what’s best for You, not what’s best for me. When I am tired, please give me strength to finish the race with joy. Let my actions, my witness and my testimony show the meaning of the gospel, reveal the invaluable message of Christ my Savior.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.