What would you talk about if you knew the conversation with a loved one would be your last on this side of eternity? Discussions such as these are not about frivolous things. These conversations are about the important things, the core values of life, and the foundations on which one’s life is built.
I recall the last conversation I had with my mother before she succumbed to a terminal illness. Suspecting it would be my last one, I wrote the conversation down when we were finished talking. My mother was a masterful story teller and could always make the family laugh with all her tales. But the conversation that day was not the time for storytelling.
One of my spiritual mentors was Wendell Winkler. I went to the home of this spiritual friend on Saturday, October 22, 2005, to see him for the last time. Everyone knew the time was very close and in fact he died in the early morning hours of that very night. He called me to his side and we talked. We both knew it would be our last visit. The topics were about spiritual matters. We discussed the future of the church and the need to stay true to the word among other things. He then called my wife to his side and privately they discussed various issues as well.
Final words. We actually have a very good example of a last visit found in Acts 20. The Ephesian congregation was one near and dear to the heart of Paul. The latter part of the chapter records a visit between Paul and the Ephesian eldership. In a touching scene, the chapter closes with these men weeping and hugging Paul, sorrowing most of all because they would see him no more.
Final words. So what was the topic of conversation that day? The conversation was about spiritual matters.
Twice in the context (vv 20, 27), Paul notes the importance of taking the whole counsel of GOD. We are reminded in Psalm 119:160 that the sum or entirety of the Bible is truth. We can’t pick and choose the Scriptures. Leroy Brownlow once said we should preach what we practice, that is, the whole counsel of GOD.
Paul says he kept back nothing. Because of this, he could say he was innocent of the blood of all men. He had declared the whole truth to them.
A second observation can be made as Paul addressed this eldership. Leadership must be brought to Calvary! The church was purchased with the blood of the Savior. It is unfortunate that some will say the church is not necessary in the scheme of salvation. This institution was established through the shed blood of Jesus that day on Calvary. Elders will become dead to self (power, ego, etc.) and alive to GOD when they are brought to the cross!
The future of the church was also discussed. Paul urged these leaders to first consider themselves and then the church as a whole, because men speaking perverse things would come. Amazingly, he noted that some of this perversion would even come from within the leadership. He called these men wolves and urged the leaders to remain in the word of GOD’S grace.
Paul’s topics were the whole counsel of GOD, Calvary, and an appeal to remain in the word. I’d say this is a great example of final words. And then Paul’s final act with the Ephesian eldership was to pray with them.
I can think of no better way to part company when it comes time to do so with my family and my friends. Final words. What will yours be?