Chapter Twenty — Part Seven: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 10/09/2022Foundation Scripture:
1. Count My Life.
a. Acts 20:24 NKJV — But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself,
b. Dear (Greek timios) — precious; most precious; more precious; as of great price; especially dear; valuable; costly; honored; held in honor; esteemed; beloved.
c. Life is sweet and it is naturally precious to us.
d. Only a person who has already died to the world, can say that they do not count their own life dear or precious.
e. His life was not as precious to him as the lives of others—those for whom he gave, and was giving, his life—those he endeavored to save.
f. Paul had holy contempt for his own life and holy concern for the lives of others.
g. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).
h. Paul had already counted the cost and made the decision to give his very life for the sake of the Gospel.
i. Jesus told us that if we lose (let go of; relinquish; lay down) our earthly, physical life, we will find (obtain) true life, eternal life (Matt. 10:38-39; Luke 9:23-24).
j. John 12:24-25 ERV — It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. 25 Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.
k. We, who follow Christ, are required to hate our own lives—not being reckless or suicidal—which would be a sin—but in purposeful holy submission to the will of God,
l. Being resolved, by faith, to die for Christ, rather than to deny Him and lose His favor and our eternal life.
m. When you have laid your life down for Christ, you also lose all fear of what men can do to you (Ps. 56:4; 118:6; Heb. 13:6).
n. When you have died (figuratively) already, you have no fear of death.
o. Fear has no more power over you!
2. Finish the Course.
a. Acts 20:24c NKJV — …so that I may finish my race with joy,
b. Paul’s chief joy was to please God by fulfilling his heavenly assignment—with Jesus as his practical and motivational example.
c. Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV — Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
d. Jesus faced and endured the agony of the cross because of the JOY set before Him—which was not only His own resurrection, but our resurrection into His eternal life.
e. We were, and are, Jesus’ joy!
f. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 KJV — For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.
g. Paul, too, did not sacrifice his life for nothing, but for the joy of seeing others receive Jesus, receive eternal life, and walk in the Truth.
h. 3 John 4 KJV — I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
i. The source of Paul’s joy was in obeying God, preaching the Gospel, seeing people saved, healed, and delivered and on their way to heaven, and seeing much fruit from his ministry before it was time for him to go Home.
j. The joy of the Lord truly is our strength (Neh. 8:10)!
3. Complete the Mission.
a. This was not the end of Paul’s race—he lived for another ten-plus years—but he was committed to finish well.
b. It is not enough just to finish—we must finish well—satisfied that we left nothing undone.
c. As Paul later declared: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
d. It is God Almighty Who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!
e. Jude 24-25 KJV — Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
f. Acts 20:24d NKJV — …and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,
g. Paul was not called by man, neither did his ministry, anointing, or authority come from an organization.
h. But it was Christ Jesus Who enabled him, counted him faithful, and put him in the ministry (1 Tim. 1:12).
i. Acts 20:24e NKJV — …to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
j. The message that Paul was given to preach was:
k. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
l. And he was a good steward—preaching faithfully this message of grace.
m. 1 Peter 4:10 KJV — As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.