Forest Park Church
Pay Attention
November 14, 2021

Pay Attention

November 14, 2021

Paying attention is hard. Trust me, I know. As difficult a time as you have each Sunday paying attention all the way through the 25 or so minutes I’m up here, you need to know that I have equally as hard a time paying attention to myself. Its probably unsurprising to you to know that I’ve had a difficult time paying attention my entire life. There are just so many other things that are vying for my attention.

Sometimes, paying attention to something else instead of what’s supposed to have your attention isn’t a big deal, but sometimes it is.

Acts 20:7

 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

First let me point out briefly that the name Eutychus basically means “fortunate” or “lucky.”

  • Some scholars have pointed out that this was a common name for slaves in the First Century.

  • It’s possible, then, that Eutychus is a slave.

  • And this helps explain why the church most likely met in the evening.

  • They met when most could come together, after working all day.

  • So if this is true, it helps explain why Eutychus is so tired, and it also helps explain the need for “many lamps.”

They met in the evening. And yet, even though they had other obligations (work to do, children to care for, and so on), they still managed to be together as a church all night long 

  • for the Lord’s Supper,

  • for a long sermon from Paul,

  • for some extended teaching and fellowship all the way until daybreak the following morning.

This reminds me that the early church met “on the first day of the week,” but on that day they would meet whenever they could meet. Today, we have the luxury of saying, “Hey, let’s meet at 9 and 10:30, but in Troas in the mid 60’s AD, the church met at night, because that is when they could meet.

Either way, the event of Eutychus became a graphic and glorious illustration of Paul’s message.

  • Through the power of Jesus Christ, the dead are raised.

  • And through the grace of Jesus, our failures, our sloth, our inattention, our spiritual sleepiness is forgiven and healed.

  • When we fall, His grace raises us back up again.

The Church must Share:

Years ago, a seminary professor told his class at the beginning of the semester that they would work together on one major project during that semester.

  • They would move systematically through the New Testament to categorize every area of truth and determine how many times each area is addressed.

  • Their goal was to find what one thing is emphasized more than any other in the New Testament.

  • When they completed the project, they were amazed to see that warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience

Acts 20:25 

Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

Charles Simeon once said, “To warn men of their danger is the kindest office of love”.

Consequences of Not Preaching the Whole Bible.

Christians who are not taught the Bible in whole:

  1. Might end up with a practical belief in tradition over the Scripture.

  2. Might end up with a narrow or imbalanced theology the most serious manifestations of an imbalanced theology is a narrow gospel.

  3. Might never grasp the overall message and shape of the Scriptures

The Church must

Acts 20:28

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

This is the first and foremost reason why overseers are required to meet certain qualifications.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

  • You probably noticed, but of all of those qualifications, Only one is ability based.

  • The overseer must be “able to teach”, And that is important, for the flock must be fed.

  • But the majority of the list all deals with the shepherd’s character. He must live a certain way.

Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:16 “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

It’s not just your doctrine, it is also your lifestyle. It matters tremendously how we live.


  • How He Served

  • Humility

  • True Concern

  • Endurance

  • How He Spoke

  • Powerfully

  • Profitably

  • Publicly

  • Personally

  • How He Shared

In short we learned that there are a great number of motives as to why a man may aspire to the office of overseer, But there are only a few genuine ones.

1 Timothy 6:11 “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

And this is why the shepherd must guard himself against:

  • Temptation, both within and without

  • Prideful sin.

  • Worldliness.

  • Laziness.

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller says that he has heard of two dogs that killed 292 sheep in a single night of unbridled slaughter.

One morning at dawn, he found nine of his choicest ewes, all soon to lamb, lying dead after a cougar had attacked the flock in the night.

  • From then on, he slept with a loaded rifle and flashlight near his bed.

  • At the least sound, he would leap from bed and dash out into the night to protect his sheep.

  • That is a picture of the job of godly leaders.

  • Because the flock is precious to God, since He purchased it with the blood of His own Son (20:28), elders must guard it from spiritual wolves that would destroy and wound the flock, especially the lambs.

The Church Must

Acts 20:29 

I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

If false teachers are like savage wolves that do not spare the flock (20:29), then we certainly are not loving God’s people if we fail to warn them about specific false teachers or teaching that may destroy their souls.

  1. Paul calls these Ephesian leaders to be on the alert against the dangers of false teachers.

  2. And, he gives the antidote to false teaching, namely, to stay centered on God and the word of His grace.

Almost all false teachings flow from pride and selfish ambition.

  • Honest and sincere teaching of Scripture leads to Jesus Christ alone having the authority.

  • But false teachers are invariably “addicted to themselves,” and thus study to advance their own glory.

In 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul refers to two heretics in Ephesus, Hymenaeus and Alexander, who had rejected faith and a good conscience and thus had suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith.

We do not know whether or not Hymenaeus and Alexander were amongst the elders that Paul is addressing in our text.

  • But he warns these elders that the danger of heresy does not just come from outside the church.

  • Even from among themselves, men would arise, speaking perverse things, and drawing away the disciples after them.

  • Paul is not just warning the ignorant or untaught.

  • He is warning men that he has personally admonished and taught for three years.

This means that if we think that we are not vulnerable to the danger of false teaching, we are most vulnerable, because we do not understand the deceptiveness of our own hearts!

Being a wolf is a matter of the heart, not of outward appearance.

That’s why Jesus warned about wolves that come in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).

  • It takes a fair amount of discernment for a sheep to recognize that this isn’t another sheep; it’s a wolf!

  • Paul calls them “angels of light,” disguised as “servants of righteousness.” But then he adds, “whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Cor. 11:14-15).

  • Their evil deeds expose them for what they really are, false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are out for personal glory and gain, not for the glory of Christ.

We learn that about 30 years later, the church at Ephesus actually fell into the trap of dead orthodoxy.

Revelation 2:2-4,

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

It is possible to be theologically correct and to be diligent to reprove false teachers and to guard the flock from error, but at the same time to lose our first, heartfelt love for the Lord Jesus!

  • The point of studying theology is not only to be able to set everyone straight with correct doctrine.

  • The point is to encounter the living God who has revealed Himself in His Word, and to have our hearts properly humbled before His majesty.


About four years after this, Paul is under house arrest in Rome, he writes to the church in Ephesus, and he quotes from Isaiah in a passage that has to remind him of what happened back in Troas,

Ephesians 5:14-16

For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Paul takes up this same theme of spiritual alertness for Jesus’ second coming in I Thessalonians 5:6. He wrote, “So then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert…”

It’s echoed by Peter in I Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Wake up, then! Don’t let yourself nod off like poor Eutychus or you may fall prey to the same sort of disaster. Spiritually, we must stay constantly awake, always watchful, ever attentive to the dangers around us.

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