by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XX

June, 1941

Number 11

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

Acts 20:18-36 is one of those rare passages in the Circumcision scriptures, where the present grace is promised.  The passage should be studied with this in mind: It speaks of a finished ministry, and of a different one.  

The elders of Ephesus were teachers.  Paul was taking his leave of them, and was giving them careful instructions.  They needed this teaching, in view of the ministry that was to be theirs, in the future. 

Paul has been proclaiming the kingdom to those elders, as well as to other gentiles who came under his oral ministry.  Meanwhile, he was also proclaiming the kingdom to Jews, so far as it was possible for him to reach them.  Why should all this time and effort be lost—the time required to proclaim the kingdom to gentiles?  They were to have no part in the kingdom mentioned in the Acts.  The answer is found in the fact that God had told Israel long before, that, because they had made Him jealous with gods that are not God, He would make them jealous with a people who are no people.  Gentiles were no people, as compared with the privileges of Israel.  

This ministry in which Paul was proclaiming the kingdom to gentiles, was a ministry of jealousy.  The apostle mentions it in Romans 11:14.  He was the apostle to the nations, and was glorifying his dispensation.  

While proclaiming the kingdom, Paul had been setting a fine example for those elders, and, indeed, for all teachers, so far as faithfulness is concerned.  In this service, as well as in his later ministry, he was slaving for the Lord with all humility and tears.  This service was carried on in the midst of trials and persecution.  

Some of Paul's epistles had been written before this address was made to the elders at Ephesus.  In those epistles he was not proclaiming the kingdom.  His writings were suited to the ecclesia which is the body of Christ.  The epistles of Paul—not the record of his ministry in the Acts—is full instruction for us.  But, as I have said, even while he was proclaiming the kingdom, he was just as earnest and faithful as he ever was in his written ministry.  

The burden of his kingdom ministry was "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."  Repentance belongs to the kingdom proclamation.  It is absent from Paul's epistles.  Those who preach repentance today, seem to have no conception of the change which came in the ministry of Paul.  

Verse 22 begins, "And NOW."  Now, something had taken place.  In spirit, Paul was bound.  This was indicative of the fact that the remainder of his ministry was to be carried on amid fleshly handicaps.  He was not to be as free to move about from place to place, as he had been.   He was going to Jerusalem, in the face of the certification by the spirit, that bonds and afflictions awaited him.  This did not daunt him.  He knew that he yet had a ministry to fulfill.  He must certify the evangel of the grace of God.  This must be done in bonds and afflictions.  He was anxious to be in this ministry, even if it meant suffering.  

Since some of his epistles had been written before this address was made, had he not already been certifying the evangel of the grace of God?  In a measure, yes; in full measure no.  Ephesians was yet to be written. In that ministry, he would show, not only that we are saved in grace, but he would declare the oncoming eons will be the time in which God will fully display the transcendent riches of His grace, through us, who are now connected with the ministry of Paul, Eph. 2:7.  Transcendent riches of grace!  This was yet to be written by the apostles; it was yet future, at the time he was talking to the elders. This was a glorious prospect.  How he longed to be in this ministry!  No wonder he did not shrink from the appalling prospect of suffering in connection with it. 

It is well to remember that in the ministry of which Paul spoke, flesh has no precedence.  Those who try to carry on this ministry, and, at the same time, have earthly ease and pleasure, are out of place.  This must be a ministry of necessity, poverty suffering, persecution.  Those elders if they engaged in this ministry, would taste some of this.  Paul was preparing them for it.  Yes, and he was preparing us for it.  

The soul is the seat of sensation.  To have made his soul precious, would have been to seek a road of less suffering.  Paul would not do this.  Suffering was bound to come.  Those who engage in this ministry and those for whom the ministry is carried on, have no earthly promise.  Their destiny is heaven.  The ministry is to be conducted in the midst of those who despise the grace of God—those who believe works, in stead of grace, secure blessings.  What is to be expected from such people, but persecution?  

Paul had informed the people of the entire counsel of God.  This is not saying he had preached the entire evangel of grace.  Far from it.  

The counsel belongs to the kingdom evangel.  Afterwards, when he wrote Ephesians, he prayed that the saints might have a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  Why?  Because he was saying something that was contained in no previous revelation.  Remember, when Paul says he had informed them of the entire counsel of God, he did not mean he had taught all that was to be taught.  In stead, he was saying he had finished the Kingdom ministry.  The greater part of his ministry was yet ahead of him—not greater in years, perhaps, but greater in importance.  

The elders were to be future feeders and shepherds of the ecclesia.  The ecclesia at Ephesus was to learn that it Ephesus was to learn that it was not any part of the kingdom.  Instead, it was part of the body of Christ.  Ecclesias gathered under the ministry of Paul in other places were to learn the same truth.  As before said, these elders were to become shepherds of the ecclesias.  Grievous wolves would enter, after Paul was out of the way.  They would not spare the saints.  Have we not seen this?  We have seen men pose as teachers, for no apparent reason, except that they wanted what money could be gotten out of the saints.  That God had prescribed that those who teach shall be remunerated, is clearly understood by all who know something of the sacred scriptures.  But Paul never endorsed the idea of a man entering "the ministry" for the sake of money, like one chooses the law, or medicine, or some other profession.  

Another matter of which Paul warned the elders, was, that some among them would speak perverse things to pull disciples away after them.  Paul said he knew this would come to pass.  

Thus the history of the church is pre-written, as accurately as any historian has ever written it.  Men have imposed on the people, great financial burdens.  Also men have divided the saints and made sects and more sects.   

In view of these matters, the elders were instructed to watch, and to remember Paul's example while he was among them.  His ministry, even when he was proclaiming the kingdom, was with tears.  How anxious he now wanted the elders to be, in view of what lay ahead of them.  

They were not to be light-hearted.  They were to be solicitous.  They were to be prayerful.  They were to be watchful.  

In order that they might be able to carry on the ministry which was being handed to them, Paul committed them to God and the word of His Grace.  God, the Placer!  God the Disposer!  What better commitment could Paul make?  God would be their sufficiency, in the midst of the suffering and privations that lay ahead of them.  And the word of His grace!  This was another way Paul had of asking them to be readers and believers of his future written ministry.  He was to certify the evangel of the grace of God.  They were being committed to the word of His grace.  This would be their sustenance in time of trial.  Believing the truth of His word of grace, they would not faint, but would persevere in their ministry.  

Those who teach today, need God and the word of His grace.  How poor are the words of man, in comparison!  Indeed, how insufficient is that part of God's word that was intended for another day and another people!  What a pity, that so many saints try to appropriate that which is not theirs, and neglect that which belongs to them.  

Let it be understood that, while the elders were said to be shepherding the flocklet of God, this language is used to accord with the Acts, and with the kingdom proclamation.  In truth, the ecclesia is not a flocklet.  This title belongs to Israel.  Also, the metaphor, shepherd, or pastor, is not used frequently in Paul's later writings.  But we get the idea.  The elders were teachers.  As such, they were not only to rely on God and the word of His grace, for their own comfort, but they were to teach concerning Him.  Is He God?  Or is He a poor, weak being, who cannot do what He wills?  Preachers, what kind of God do you proclaim?  Do you recognize Paul's God?  

And as to grace—what is it?  As outlined in Paul's teaching, it is God's unmerited favor.  Yea, it is favor bestowed on one who deserves the direst condemnation.  It is not secured by works.  Man cannot manufacture it.  Also, it is transcendent.  It goes beyond anything else that can be imagined.  Do you preach this kind of Grace?  


In the community of Fortner's Mill, Johnson county, Georgia, a group of saints are undertaking to build a modest house in which to worship.  They are doing this mainly, because their children are interested in the truth, and they want a place for them to worship for years to come, if the Lord tarries.  

The people are very poor.  I have been serving them for years, preaching in the woods, in an old store house and in private homes.  I am wondering if I have any readers who would be happy to help in this undertaking.  If so, please send donations to me, stating they are for the building.  I thank you in advance. 

Brother Eliot Thomson of Washington, D. C., visited Mrs. Screws and me some time ago.  We were delighted to have him.  He is a splendid brother, and a delightful one with whom to converse on the word of God. 

I appreciate the fact that, all along there are those who renew their subscription.  If you have not done so, you will do so pretty soon, I am sure. 

"Will you permit questions?"  A subscriber asks.  I will welcome them.  Please ask if you want to.  I may not be able to answer the questions, but I will try.  But I may be a little slow about it. 

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