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Know What You Believe

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Text: Acts 18:24-28


            Dennis asked me to preach an introduction to the series I’m going to begin teaching next week.  He suggested that I explain why you should take this class.  I came up with 4 questions:

  1. Do you know what the Bible teaches about:  God, the Bible, angels, Satan, man, sin, Jesus, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Church, and eschatology (end times)?
  2. Do you know why you believe what you do about these subjects?
  3. Can you articulate it to others?
  4. Can you defend your faith to those that teach false doctrines?

            Why should you take this class?  Well, the Bible tells us to put on the full armor of God, one of which is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  If you are going to wield a sword, it’s a pretty good idea to know how to use it or you will end up cutting yourself or others to pieces! 

            Why should you take this class?  Lk. 24:27;  Titus 1:5, 9

            I want to expose some nuggets of insights from a story in the 18th chapter of Acts.  Let me give you the setting.  In the beginning of the chapter we find Paul leaving Athens and going to Corinth.  There he meets Aquila and his wife Pricilla, who were banished from Rome by Emperor Claudius, since they were Jews.  Years later, after Claudius died, they go back to Rome and they host a “house church” in their home (Rom. 16:3-5).  Paul finds out they have the same trade, so he lives with them a year and a half making tents, while he taught them about Jesus and the Scriptures.  In verse 18 we find Paul leaving Corinth and going to Ephesus, taking Pricilla and Aquila with him.  After preaching in the synagogue, Paul leaves for Antioch, but he leaves Pricilla and Aquila in Ephesus to carry on the teaching of the Gospel.  That’s where our story begins.  Acts 18:24-28

            Let’s see what insights are in this passage.

·        V. 24 – It says that Apollos was eloquent.  That means he was known for being able to speak well in public.  It also says he was mighty in Scriptures – he knew them well; perhaps from his youthful days in the rabbinical schools.

·        Application: What does it take to be mighty in Scriptures?  It takes an understanding of the sense and meaning of them.  Apollos knew how to make use of them and apply them.  He could reason with others out of the Scriptures…and evidently he reasoned strongly, convincingly, with power as he explained its meaning and application.  Acts 6:8-10;  17:1-4

·        V. 25 says he was instructed in the way of the Lord – so he must have had some acquaintance with Jesus being the Christ that was to come.  
Application: Those that are to teach others must first be taught the Word of the Lord…not only to talk about it…but to walk it!  You don’t convince anybody if the walk doesn’t match the talk! 

·        It says he taught accurately the things concerning Jesus. 
Application: Accurately teaching the things concerning Jesus is the dividing line between being a good teacher or a false teacher…whether you are commended or condemned.  Gal. 1:6-8

·        Then it says he was acquainted only with the baptism of John.  He knew the voice crying in the wilderness that said, “prepare the way of the Lord”…but he didn’t know the way of the Lord itself.  He had received the baptism of John the Baptist…but had missed out on the baptism with the Holy Spirit as the disciples were on the day of Pentecost.
Application: What does it take to be well-rounded in the Scriptures?  It means you need to sit under several teachers…but let me caution you to do it with discernment.  Acts 17:10-11  They took the message home and studied them for accuracy.  (“Examined”, anakrino = judicial investigation.)

·        Though Apollos was not gifted with the miracles the Apostles were able to do, he made use of the gifts he had.  Application: People, if you have a gift, you must not bury it!  You are responsible to use it in a way that glorifies the Lord, edifies the body, and brings growth to family of God.

·        V. 26 says what truth he did know, he spoke out boldly in the synagogue.  Application: When God has done a work of grace in you, it gives you a fervent spirit that puts a fire in your heart and it shines in your testimony to others!  There are some who are fervent in spirit, but are weak in the Scriptures.  On the other hand there some who are strong in the Word, but they have no fervency.  Apollos had the balance: he knew the Scriptures and he had a convincing fire in his words.

·        But just like all of us…Apollos wasn’t perfect.  He was lacking in his knowledge...particularly in his knowledge about baptism.  This is where our SUPREME EXAMPLE of the importance of knowing what you believe comes through in Pricilla and Aquila.  They took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.

·        I find a lot of insights in that phrase.
1.  Young ministers that are on fire need the counsel of mature Christians.
2.  When they found him lacking in part of his theology, they didn’t discredit him in front of others; they took him aside privately and corrected him.  2 Tim. 2:15
3.  Pricilla and Aquila were not preachers, but they knew the Word, and when they heard error, for the sake of others, they immediately acted to get it corrected.  Acts 20:27-32
4.  Notice what is NOT mentioned here.  It DOESN’T say Apollos stomped off in a huff for being corrected.  Instead, he showed great humility having received correction from them.

·        There’s a great lesson here for all of us, because chances are pretty good that any one of us could find ourselves in Apollos’ shoes…and we need someone full of the Spirit like Pricilla and Aquila to approach us the right way.

Application: I have an idea Apollos responded positively because Priscilla and Aquila did some careful wordsmithing before they approached him.  (Wordsmithing – learned from Dennis & Steve)  When I think of wordsmithing I think of blacksmithing (raw iron, fire, anvil, hammer). 
Application: Hammer out the words in your heart to insure positive acceptance before it reaches your tongue!  The difference in the result is that you will either win them…or they will get bent out of shape!

·        Did Pricilla & Aquila’s approach prove to be fruitful?  Acts 18:27     When he wanted to preach elsewhere, the brethren still supported him and commended him to other believers.  Notice how this potentially divisive encounter turned 180 degrees: “He helped greatly those who had believed through grace.” 
Application: Because of the sincere heart and careful wordsmithing of Pricilla & Aquila, this young preacher was able to go on in his ministry, helping others to understand the Scriptures accurately, and he did it with the same grace by which he received it!  PRAISE GOD!   I don’t know about you, but that teaches me to carefully choose what I say, and how I say it!

·        Look at the beautiful crowning conclusion of our story: Acts 18:28.      Apollos became an even greater preacher!  He powerfully refuted those who rejected Christ…and he demonstrated (now accurately) by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ!  The way he took to convince them was by the Scriptures!

Why take this class?  Because God needs Pricillas and Aquilas all over this city not only to guide others in the truth…but to prove it…defend it…convince those who are doubting…correct with grace those who are in error…and do it with meekness…and with power!

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