LIFE IN THE SPIRIT: Acts—Week 10 (Posterity)

Acts 20:17-38; 2 Tim. 1:3-14

We are wrapping up our study of the book of Acts, focusing on the Person of the Holy Spirit—a co-equal Member of the Godhead with the Father and the Son—and how He empowered, inspired, led, and molded ordinary men and women into a movement that turned the world upside down, and how He continues to do so today.  As we wrap up our study, our focus will shift a bit this week.  Rather than focusing on the work and giftings of the Holy Spirit, our focus will shift to our responsibility to faithfully steward our relationship with Him and to leverage His gifts to us to pass on our faith to posterity.

As we have seen, it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8).  It is His power that supernaturally imbues each of us with certain gifts to build up the Church and to further our mission of reaching the world with the life-giving message of the gospel.  Anything of eternal value that we accomplish is all because of the grace of God that has been poured out on us.  Nevertheless, it would be misguided of us to embrace a “let go and let God” approach to the Christian life.  The work of the Holy Spirit is a cooperative one—we have a role to play.  Being a good steward of the gift of the Holy Spirit is a theme often repeated by Paul.  In Eph. 5:18, Paul admonishes us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The verb translated “be filled” is passive, meaning it is God who is doing the work, but we have the responsibility to permit ourselves to be filled.  In 1 Thess. 5:19, Paul admonishes the Church to not quench the Spirit.  The verb here implies a more active duty on our parts.  The fire of the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts, and we have the responsibility to guard that fire against the sin and distraction that seek to put it out. And as Paul admonishes Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:6, when we sense that fire has dwindled because we have neglected the gift that has been given to us, we have the responsibility to stoke that fire and restore its intensity once again.

In Acts 20, we see Paul’s ministry taking a turn.  Though he has faced opposition throughout his ministry, his decision to travel to Jerusalem has set him on a trajectory that will lead to his arrest, imprisonment in Rome, and ultimately, his death on the order of the Roman Emperor Nero.  He knows that he will never see these men, whom he loves and whom he has mentored for three years, ever again.  Though the moment is tinged with sadness, Paul expresses no regret.  He is confident in his faithfulness to his calling.  He is confident that he has stewarded well the deposit the Holy Spirit placed within him, and he is confident that he has done everything in his power to pass that grace on to the next generation of church leaders.  Paul’s only concern is whether these men will be faithful to do the same with the next generation.

Paul’s challenge to the church leaders at Ephesus is the same challenge the Holy Spirit makes to us today as we wrap up our study of Acts.  What will we do with the deposit that has been entrusted to us? Will we steward our gifts well, ensuring that gospel message that has been faithfully proclaimed for over 2,000 years will continue be proclaimed, or will we be counted among the men Paul warns us about, and turn our backs on our calling to pursue our own agenda?


  1. Paul warns of wolves coming in among the flock.  What are the characteristics of these “fierce wolves” Paul describes?  Are any of those characteristics evident in the modern church?
  2. What are the actions Paul describes as being necessary to faithfully steward the gift of the Holy Spirit?  How do we accomplish those things in our lives?
  3. Paul describes his ministry to the Ephesian elders as one without regret (vss. 25-26).  Would you say the same of yourself?  What did Paul do that allowed him to feel this way about his ministry to these church leaders?
  4. Has anyone ever poured into your life like Paul did for these men? If so, consider reaching out to them this week to thank them for their ministry to you.