Calvary Road Baptist Church


Acts 20.33-35


We are living in a day and a time the Bible refers to as the “last days.”[1] In what is known as the Olivet Discourse the Lord Jesus mentioned several things to watch for so you would know that He would be returning soon.[2] Among the events He mentioned were wars, rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes. He also said that in the last days these things would occur in many places, not just occasionally here and there. All you need to do is look at the headlines on the Drudge Report to discover that you are living in those days the Savior described 2000 years ago. In Second Timothy 3.1-5, the Apostle Paul described what people would be like during this time in which we live. The first thing he mentioned was “men shall be lovers of their own selves.” While selfishness is something we all wrestle with, it has become an extremely prominent attitude in our society and in my opinion the single most prominent character trait of the majority of so-called Christians alive today.


·         You see it in the workplace: People only work for what they can get from an employer instead of what they can contribute to their employer, while bosses typically show no concern for their employees except what they can get out of them.

·         You see it in the courtrooms: Suing people has become some people’s method of earning a living. (And our country has a tremendous glut of attorneys to help exploit this selfishness, with lawyers with integrity and ethics comprising an ever-shrinking minority.)

·         You see it in families: Parents are so busy trying to maintain an extravagant lifestyle that they have no time to invest in their children.

·         You even see it in churches: People fight over who sits in which pew or who failed to shake hands with who instead of having a genuine concern for getting folks saved, while an ever-increasing number of pastors are seeking to transform their services to accommodate the whims of unsaved people, while making sure they never preach offensive messages that might disturb folks in their sins.


Speaking of selfish folly, are you aware of the absurdities Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria spouted earlier this month? Let me read to you what she actually said on a nationally televised broadcast of their church’s service: “So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy,” she said. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”[3] The Apostle Peter once asked a probing question, striking at the very heart of selfishness and challenging the manner in which we exercise our stewardship:


“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?”[4]


My friends, let me ask you Peter’s question. “Knowing that this old world will someday melt with a fervent heat, what manner of person should you be?” I want to challenge you today to make stewardship and giving to the cause of Christ not just an act that you perform or hope to someday get involved in, but a lifestyle that you live.

Turn in your Bible to Acts 20.33-35 and stand together as we read God’s Word. I will read verses 33 and 35, while you read verse 34 aloud:


33    I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34    Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35    I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.


I want you to take note of three assertions Paul made to the men he spoke these words to on our way to the message from God’s Word:

First, he asserted his refusal to be covetous. Paul refused to allow the selfish attitude of covetousness to enter his heart. He knew that stewardship was primarily heart work, that it requires keeping your heart free of selfish attitudes that hinder you from living a lifestyle of giving. Covetousness is a strong desire for what someone else owns. A person who covets someone else’s possessions would take those possessions from him, given the chance. Some of the lawsuits I mentioned earlier in passing are rooted in nothing other than covetousness. Think about this: When you analyze what covetousness really is, you find it to be the attitude that God is not big enough to bless two people at the same time. What a small view of God a covetous person has. Covetousness also reveals an overvalued opinion of yourself in that it shows that you believe you are more deserving of something than another person is. Once you believe that, it’s just a short hop from covetousness to thievery, stealing. But is anyone really more deserving than anyone else? Of course not. Paul knew that God was no respecter of persons. His blessings are for anyone who will simply obey Him.

Next, Paul asserted his resolution to be a good example:


“Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak. . . .”


What a tremendous demonstration of Christian liberty is shown here by Paul. He knew that God had ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. And he writes in First Corinthians 9, Galatians 6, and First Timothy 5, that the preacher’s material needs should be taken care of by those he ministers to. However, when taking the gospel to those who do not know God’s Word, notice what Paul did. To eliminate the possibility that Gentiles would misunderstand his motives Paul supported himself financially, and others as well, by the labor of his own hands and the sweat of his own brow. Not only was Paul absolutely committed to having the right attitude toward material possessions, and not being overwhelmed by the sin of covetousness, he was also committed to being such a marvelous example of God’s grace and the Christian’s liberty that he would influence others to do likewise. Here is Paul the teacher and the mentor. Most people understand working for their own needs, but fewer realize that one of the motivating factors behind their work should be to make enough money to also support the gospel ministry. This again reveals the need for stewardship so no one focuses on his own needs alone. Anytime you focus solely and completely on your own needs you become introverted and ingrown. Selfishness begins to rule, and others no longer want to be around you. How is that good for anyone? Living to give, on the other hand, means that you work out of a desire to prosper for the purpose of being able to give to the cause of Christ. That puts a different perspective on your job, does it not? You stop working solely for the purpose of making a living and instead work to become God’s channel for bringing blessings to the ministry and to the cause of Christ through your church.

Lastly, Paul reminds us of something the Lord Jesus Christ said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Please notice the wording of this statement. There is nothing wrong with receiving. As a matter of fact, it is a blessing to be able to receive. However, it is more blessed to give. How so? In order to give you have to first be blessed by receiving enough to meet your needs and to have enough left over to then be a blessing to others. It is interesting to note that this statement that Paul attributes to the Lord Jesus is not found in the gospel record. That does not mean our Lord did not say these things, just that the gospels do not record it. Therefore, either He taught His disciples and it is not recorded in the gospel, or these precise words were told by the Savior only to Paul. However, you do find throughout the gospels the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrating this truth from the beginning to the end of His earthly life. He lived a lifestyle of giving. Concerning His purpose in life, Jesus Christ said in Mark 10.45,


“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”


What an example. But the Lord Jesus, in turn, mirrors perfectly God the Father:


“For God so loved the world that He gave. . . .”


The world’s way of doing things is to “look out for number one, hang on to what you’ve got, and don’t let anybody take it from you.” Proverbs 21.26 says it this way:


“He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”


What a stark contrast in lifestyles.

Living to give causes you to shine as a light in a dark world. The world will tell you that you are a fool; that you will be taken advantage of. Mere religion will say that you have gone too far. However, Christ will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I would rather have the commendation of the Savior than all the accolades of the world and religion put together, wouldn’t you? Most of you folks attended our PayCheck Sunday banquet last Sunday night. Some of you brought guests. I appreciate you coming, and also appreciate you bringing guests. At the conclusion of the banquet I asked you to prayerfully consider some things. Beginning today, and perhaps over the next couple of weeks, you will put into action the prayerful conclusions you came to. Thank you for doing what you prayerfully decide to do.




Remember when faith healer Oral Roberts had millions of dollars given to him so that he could build a 777 bed hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that medical experts begged him not to build? Roberts said that he was told to build the hospital by the Lord Jesus Christ, Who he said he saw in a vision standing 900 feet tall. Further, Roberts said, Jesus Christ promised him that his hospital would discover a cure for cancer. Now, years after the hospital was built against the advice and wishes of medical experts who said Tulsa already had too many hospitals, that 777 bed hospital, which never had 150 patients in it at the same time, is an office building. And the late Oral Roberts, the famous faith healer who was looking for a medical cure for cancer (what irony when you think about it), did not so much as mention his vision of a 900 foot Jesus in the autobiography he wrote before his death.[5] Ever wonder where Oral Roberts got the money to build his multi-million dollar hospital? He got the money from people giving to live.

Benny Hinn, the famous Pentecostal faith healer who was born in Israel and who subsequently emigrated to the USA from Canada, tells the story of going into a Catholic hospital in Ontario, Canada.[6] In that hospital in 1976, Hinn says, he and others anointed patients with oil and they received instant healing. He goes on to say in his story of his healings that “Within a few minutes the hospital looked almost like it had been hit by an earthquake. People were under the power of the Holy Spirit up and down the hallways as well as in the rooms.” However, according to G. Richard Fisher, who is associated with Personal Freedom Outreach, in Saint Louis, Missouri, “No such events ever occurred” at that hospital. Fisher’s research discovered that Hinn’s statements could not be verified through medical records or by the testimony of any past or present hospital staffers.

Contrast this with what we find in the Bible. We find in scripture that miracles are supernatural works of God that cannot be denied, even by lost people. In Acts 4.16 we read in reaction to the miracle worked by Peter the comment of Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, and the council:


“Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.”


Why, then, is Benny Hinn’s fraudulent ministry so well endowed with money? Why do people give so much money to a man who once taught that Adam could actually fly, since the dominion God gave to Adam supposedly required that he be able to do anything creatures under his dominion could do? Or why do people give so much money to Pentecostal faith healer Peter Popoff, a man who was caught with an electronic receiver in his ear, that he used to fool people into thinking he was getting information from God, when it was actually coming from his wife?[7]

Why was Robert Schuller, of Crystal Cathedral and television ministry fame, so well financed for so many years, the man who denied the deity of Christ, who denied the Biblical definitions of both sin and eternal judgment? Why were so many so-called Christian folks duped into supporting these so-called ministries? My friends, it’s an interesting phenomenon called giving to live, instead of living to give.

Let me say it again. Most so-called Christians are not really saved. However, they get involved in shenanigans they think are ministries and support them because they are unwittingly committed to a false gospel that works this way: If you give then you will live. It’s works-oriented salvation. Do good things, do good deeds, support a “ministry” and convince yourself that you are a true believer, and when you die you will go to heaven. There’s only one problem: That’s not God’s plan for salvation or for service at all. God’s plan is live to give, not give to live. The Apostle Paul’s life was a perfect example of the difference between what a saved person does and what a lost person does. Before his conversion he was Saul, who would give in order that he might live. After his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, after his conversion, after he was really saved, this same man, now called Paul, lived for Christ so that he might give to Christ.

Perhaps you are here today and you have inadvertently fallen into the trap of giving to live instead of living to give. If you have, then you may very well be vulnerable to the thrust of our church’s PayCheck Sunday emphasis over the month of September, and I don’t want you be vulnerable. Specifically, I don’t want you to think, either consciously or unconsciously, that giving to the cause of Christ in any way enhances or improves on your salvation or causes God to love you more than He already does. There are two kinds of people who respond favorably to a church’s stewardship emphasis, a call to give freewill offerings; the person who is genuinely saved and who seeks to obey God and finance the gospel ministry to see other people come to Christ, and the person who doesn’t have a clear testimony of his salvation and how he was saved, but who seems to think that giving to the church or to a flashy religious performer will somehow help his chances of getting into heaven.

If you fall into the second grouping of individuals this message is for you:




You may not think you are spiritually dead, but you are. Being spiritually dead does not mean that you are inanimate and immobile. Neither does it mean that you cannot think. It simply means that you have no meaningful relationship with God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. At best you have religion. Let me explain why I say this:

I say this because of your constitution. Not the Constitution of the United States, but what constitutes you, what comprises you, what you really are down deep inside. Psalm 51.5 and 3:


51.5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.


51.3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.


In Romans chapter 7 Paul writes about his struggle to do right and obey God. Take note of what he says about himself in verses 17 & 20. In both verses he writes, “sin that dwelleth in me.” No wonder Paul declared that “in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.” Sin was there. What was true of Paul is true of you, as well. What constitutes you is sin. And what is sin? It is moral filth. It is spiritual defilement. It is an essence, a nature, that is contrary to God. It is spiritual anarchy and rebellion at the very core of your being, expressing itself as the desire to do what you want to do, be who you want to be, instead of seeking to love, to please, and to serve the Lord God Almighty.

I say that you are spiritually dead and cannot give, second, because of your consequence. Ephesians 2.1 is where Paul refers to the state and situation of people who are by nature sinners. He describes sinners as people who are “dead in trespasses and sins.” Think about that. Because you are a sinner there are two things about you that are undeniable: First, your sinfulness expresses itself in acts of sin and trespass. That is, you do not do what you should do and you also do what you should not do, both knowingly and willingly and also unknowingly and ignorantly. Second, being a sinful person who commits sins and trespasses, you are spiritually dead. That means heaven is not your future home, but Hell and then the lake of fire. Heaven is reserved only for people who are spiritually alive.

Thirdly, your competency. Here you are, a sinner. You commit sins and trespasses. You don’t do what you should do and you do do what you should not do. All of that is evidence of your future destiny of Hell and then the lake of fire. What, then, can you do to alter your very nature and your destiny? Romans 3.11:


“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”


From this verse we see that you will not seek after God, in part because you don’t know how to seek after God. This speaks to your willingness to alter your nature and destiny. Romans 5.6 speaks to your ability to alter your nature and destiny:


“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”


In this verse we see that every sinner is impotent to alter either his nature or his destiny. So, as to your competency to do anything about the fact that you are dead in trespasses and sins . . . you have none. None. So, you really are dead and therefore cannot give. Not really give. This is because giving, real giving, is an activity that is restricted to those who are alive.




There are five things the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished that enabled Him to live life as a man so that He might give life to you who are spiritually dead:

First, the Incarnation. The Lord Jesus Christ left heaven’s glory to be born of a virgin named Mary. When He did this God, the Second Person of the Trinity, became a man. So much so that Colossians 2.9 says this about Jesus Christ:


“. . . in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”


Second, the Identification. God is holy and is therefore powerfully inclined to punish the defilement of sin. To satisfy God’s justice, while making it possible to spare sinners, Jesus Christ identified with us in a very special way. The Bible says that He became sin for us who knew no sin.[8] What love, my friends, that the Holy One of Israel would become that which He most hates, so that He might save those He most loves.

Third, the Crucifixion. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the whole world, the Bible declares.[9] So, when He was nailed to that cruel Roman cross, where He suffered and bled and died, He did that for a reason. That sacrificial death was predicted by His cousin, John the Baptist, who said,


“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”[10]


You see, He went to the cross for sin. He suffered, for you and for me, the punishment that God determined for sin. It was, as Peter wrote in First Peter 3.18,


“the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”


Fourth, the Resurrection. Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life.[11] It was not possible for death to hold Him.[12] After three days and three nights He rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death, Hell, and the grave. Can this be historically proven? Convincingly. First, there is no doubt that Christ was crucified. Next, early Christians were willing to die for their Savior because they saw Him raised from the dead.[13] Third, the greatest enemy of Christianity became the greatest Christian after seeing Him raised from the dead.[14] Fourth, the greatest skeptic of Christianity became the most prominent church pastor after seeing Him raised from the dead.[15] Finally, the empty tomb, attested to even by the enemies of Christianity.[16]

Finally, the Ascension. There are a number of reasons why the Lord Jesus Christ went back to heaven to sit on His Father’s right hand after He rose from the dead. For one, He ascended as our High Priest to wash our sins away with His Own precious blood.[17] For another, He sits there until His enemies are subdued.[18] And for another, it was the final act of the Savior in preparation for His return to earth to claim His Own. Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ lived that He might give. That He might give Himself a ransom for all, that He might give eternal life and salvation to those who trust Him.




I put it this way because I want no misunderstanding about the salvation which is found only in Jesus Christ. Those who Jesus Christ saves from their sins are people who are saved to serve, who are saved to live for Him, who are saved to give to Him and to His cause. Let no one here think Jesus Christ does not afterward place serious demands upon those He saves freely and for no other reason than to show His love and His grace. Here is what happens in the life of a person who is saved from his sins:

First, there is confusion. The confusion can be about many things, but it always includes great confusion about how to be saved. Understand, no one is saved by doing anything. God does not sell salvation and Jesus Christ does not trade salvation.[19] However, oftentimes people think they can do something to be saved or that they can be saved by someone other than the Savior. No. There is one Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no other. John 14.6:


“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


Second, there is conviction. Conviction is that process whereby the Holy Spirit turns your attention away from any attempts to save yourself and focuses you on the horror of your own sin, your complete and total inability to save yourself from your sins, as well as your desperate need to trust Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ to save you from your sins. When you are convicted by the Holy Spirit, convinced of your sinfulness is another way to put it, you will come to the very end of your spiritual rope. No more delusions. No deception of others or deception of yourself. Just a major dose of hard reality. You need to be saved . . . now!

Finally, there is conversion. Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, ye shall all, likewise, perish.” Not everyone who is convinced of his sinfulness is converted. Only those who are also convinced of Jesus Christ’s power and desire to save sinners, and who actually trust Him. Consider and then come to Jesus by faith . . . today . . . right now.


Romans 6.23 tells us that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. During our emphasis on a PayCheck Sunday gift, please do not try to give to God if you have not been saved. Come to Jesus Christ by faith and be saved, your sins first need to be forgiven.

You must first receive the gift of forgiveness and life before you can ever, in turn, give anything to the Lord.

[1] Genesis 49.1; Isaiah 2.2; Micah 4.1; Acts 2.17; 2 Timothy 3.1; Hebrews 1.2; James 5.3; 2 Peter 3.3

[2] Matthew 24-25

[3] 9/23/2014

[4] 2 Peter 3.11

[8] 2 Corinthians 5.21

[9] Isaiah 53.6

[10] John 1.29

[11] John 11.25

[12] Acts 2.24

[13] 1 Corinthians 15.6

[14] Acts 9.1-18; 22.6-16; 26.12-23

[15] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004), pages 67-69.

[16] Ibid., pages 69-74.

[17] Hebrews 2.17; 3.1; 4.14; 5.10; 6.20; 7.26; 8.1; 9.11, 25

[18] Psalm 110.1; Matthew 22.44; Mark 12.36; Acts 2.35; Hebrews 1.13; 10.13

[19] Ephesians 2.5; Titus 3.5

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