Now Paul continues to teach and exhort the pastors:
So I want to make this clear: I am innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God. Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified—Acts 20:26-32
Paul’s ministry and mission have been faithfully fulfilled. In verses 26 and 27, Paul repeated words that Ezekiel spoke:
“At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will certainly die,’ and you do not warn him – you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live – that wicked person will die for his iniquity.
How many pastors hold true to this? How many pastors will share Yehoveh’s message to you without compromise? Ezekiel was told the he was appointed as a watchman—a guard and protector. A watchman sits on the wall and watches for enemies that are coming. Once he sees the danger, he warns the people. Exekiel was told that when he sees a danger, he was to announce it. He was to warn anyone trapped in sin, “You will certainly die!”
That seems pretty simple and straightforward. Now if he doesn’t warn them, they will indeed die. But then the Lord continued:
“They will die, but I will hold you accountable for his death.”
How rough is that? If Ezekiel doesn’t warn the people, or if he tries to make the message sound nicer in some way; “easier on their ears;” give them a message that won’t scare them and make the worry; a message that doesn’t prepare them for the coming danger . . . the watchman will be responsible for their deaths.
“But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life.”
So evidently there is a sense of self-interest in providing the message. If you warn them, and they ignore you, they will still die . . . but the messenger won’t be held responsible. However, if the message is given and they heed that warning:
“When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I set an obstacle before him, he will die. If you have not warned him, he will die for his sin. The righteous deeds he performed will not be considered, but I will hold you accountable for his death. However, if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he will certainly live because he was warned, and you will have saved your own life” —Ezekiel 3:16-21
Then the Lord went back to Ezekiel and made it even clearer:
“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people, and say to them, ‘Suppose I bring a sword against the land, and the people of the land take one man from their borders and make him their watchman. He sees the sword coming against the land, blows the trumpet, and warns the people, but there is one who hears the sound of the trumpet yet does not heed the warning. Then the sword comes and sweeps him away. He will be responsible for his own death. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, so he is responsible for himself. If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved his life.
“But suppose the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people. Then the sword comes and takes one of their lives. He is swept away for his iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for that person’s death.’
“As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’ and you do not warn the wicked about his behavior, the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior, and he refuses to change, he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life —Ezekiel 33:1-9
These words in Ezekiel are telling us to warn sinners of the coming judgment of God and tell them they need to repent so they can be spared from God’s wrath. This is part of the “whole purpose of God” that Paul didn’t hold back. Paul talked about sin and of judgment, and of salvation for those who repent and place their trust in Jesus as God’s only provision for salvation.
We know that Paul’s resolve to fulfill his mission was rewarded because, at the end of his life, he was able to say:
For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing —II Timothy 4:6-8
So have you heard the warnings? Or, has the importance of this message been watered down so much you were not offended? I’m serious. The message of salvation does offend many. I hear those complaints all the time. So many “believers” complain that I am not proclaiming the “Good News,” of Jesus Christ. My response is that yes I am. I am warning non-believers there is a coming judgment and their salvation is only available through the shed blood of Jesus. They must surrender their lives to his Lordship.
I then warn believers that once they have declared that Jesus was their Lord . . . they now need to honor that declaration by living in obedience to his leadership.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts