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Ignorance On Fire

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:38
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My Youth Group Was Crazy

My youth group was crazy.
Punk rock concerts in the basement of our church. Or on the roof of my parents house. Not kidding. I tried to find a picture of that.
Kids driving kids downtown to do scavenger hunts in the mall or capture the flag at the Elementary School… until the cops kicked us off for trespassing.
I was not a Bible scholar, though I was a weird kid and studied the Bible a lot and went to sleep every night listening to sermons on the radio. Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith.
I was teaching Bible Studies. I really only had one skill and one book.
Someone would say “Let’s study angels!”
I would open Strong’s Concordance. Here’s all the references to angels. Or the index at the back of my NIV Study Bible. Boom.
Throw those on a page. Add three or four fill in the blank questions on those passage. Boom! We got a Bible study.
Best Bible Study ever? No. Nope. But it got us in the Word. It was a seed planted in me to study and teach the Scripture.
How much do you need to know to be the expert?
How much does someone need to know before they should teach, before they should preach, before they should minister or serve? How high is the bar to ride this ride?
At youth group growing up, that bar was dangerously low. Let the kid teach, that’ll be fine!

The Expert

Paul Goes Home and Back Again

Acts 18:18 ESV
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
Paul takes a Nazarite vow, briefly, for reasons we just don’t seem to know. Why does Luke record his haircut? More about that later.
Acts 18:19–21 ESV
And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.
Now Paul is gone from Ephesus. He was there a very short time.
The expert has left the billing. The Billy Graham crusade has moved on.
It turns out that Paul isn’t the only missionary in first century Christianity. We have been following his path because that is Luke mentor and teacher, and that is the history that Luke set out to tell. But God is working through others, and one of those others comes to Ephesus.

Apollos - Ignorance on Fire

Acts 18:24 ESV
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
Native of Alexandria. Egypt.
Apollos was walking like an Egyptian, talking like an Egyptian… because he was!
Second largest city in the Roman Empire, intellectual leader, on the Northern coast of Egypt, right on the Mediterranean Sea.
The famous library of Alexandria, the lost wonder. It was in Alexandria that Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek for the first time, the Septuagint. So Apollos could be from Harvard, from Yale, he may be top notch when it comes to the Scriptures. “Competent” here could also be “Strong, powerful.”
“Eloquent” man here could be “learned man”. This is a smart guy. He knows some things, he knows the Hebrew Scriptures. And what’s more: he knows Jesus.
Acts 18:25 ESV
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Instructed by who? We don’t know.
He taught what he knew.
Fervent. On fire. Enthusiastic. Passionate!
What did he know? Not everything. He knew about Jesus.
Did he have baptism right? Nope. Did he understand the Holy Spirit and the Trinity? Nope.
What is the baptism of John? John preached “repent, for the KIngdom of God is near!” Repentance for sins, baptism that would wash away those sins, more like a temporary ritual cleansing before going into the temple than the baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection.
and, this is crazy, we’ll see next week. It was wrong enough that those he baptized didn’t initially receive the Holy Spirit. Wow! That’s a whole thing! That’s pretty wrong! And that says something powerful about baptism, by the way. We will dive into that more next week.
Apollos didn’t understand these things, he didn’t do them right.
But he had passion… and he had Jesus. And he didn’t need anything else.
Or rather, better to say, he didn’t need anything else to get started and God would make sure He got what else he needed.
In fact, God was already in the process of preparing what he needed.

Mentoring the Mentors

Acts 18:1–2 ESV
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them,
Aquila and Priscilla. Emperor Claudius kicked all the Jews out of Rome, and this coincides with other historians talking about unrest in Rome because of a Jew named “Christus.” It is quite possible this was just another Jewish rebellion, of which there are several… but it is possible that “Christus” is a misunderstanding of “Christ” and the word of Jesus has already reached Rome and is already causing trouble there.
Either way, the Emperor gets fed up and says “Everybody OUT!” and these two flee. They connect with Paul, he lives with them:
Acts 18:3 ESV
and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
And then, when Paul leaves, they decide to go with him. More than 18 months later...
Acts 18:18 ESV
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
For more than a year and a half these two have been coworkers with Paul, he lived with them, roommates! They are soaking in the teaching, somewhere along the way they become believers.
If you’re with Paul you are getting discipled in the Way, in the Way of Jesus, in the teaching of Jesus. So a couple years ago they knew nothing, but now…
And Paul leaves them there:
Acts 18:21 ESV
But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.
When he takes leave of “them” the “them” is both the folks of Ephesus and Priscilla and Aquila.
They are in Ephesus and they hear this new kid in town, this Apollos, and he is preaching passionately, he is preaching powerfully, fervent in Spirit, he knows Jesus.
But they hear him, and they must hear that he is passionately and fervently wrong about some things.
Acts 18:26 ESV
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
They took him aside. In private, that’s important. Best way to correct your preacher, by the way. ;-) Also, bring snacks and beverages when correcting your preacher, pretty sure they did that too.
They explain to him. And they do it in such a way that, as fervent as he is, as passionate as he is, he hears it. He learns from them. He soaks it in.
And this prepares Apollos for the next phase of his ministry:
Acts 18:27–28 ESV
And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
He greatly helped those who had believed. He is empowered, he is equipped, his ministry is multiplied.
No he is able to “powerfully refute” the Jews. I don’t think he could do that before...
Before he spoke “boldly in the synagogue.”
Now he “powerfully refutes the Jews in public.”
The first speaks to his courage and passion.
The second speaks to his effect.
I don’t think he could do that before...
but he learned from Priscilla and Aquila, who learned from Paul and Paul could do that.

The Expert

How much do you need to know to be the expert?
How much did Apollos need to know before he could start ministry?
Jesus.
When did God give Apollos the training he needed for his next phase of ministry? When he needed it.
When did God prepare the way for Apollos to get the education he needed? Long before Apollos was even on the scene, God was mentoring those who would mentor him.
What about the “damage” Apollos was doing through his ignorance? God has a plan for that too. We are always and always will be flawed ministers, broken vessels of clay, unworthy to be used for the glorious purpose to which He has called us, but He uses us anyway and gets ever more glory!

God Doesn’t Call the Equipped, He Equips the Called

How much did Priscilla and Aquila need to know before they could mentor someone else?
Just a tiny bit more than them.
Wayne’s quote: how much do you need to know to be the “expert” to someone else? Just a tiny bit more than they do.
They could have used that advantage to publicly embarrass Apollos. Call him out. Shame him. Instead they approached him, they took him aside, they “explained.” “Expounded”.
Be like Apollos. Passionate, boldly sharing what you already know. Have you heard of Jesus? Good! That’s all you need to get started! Go!
Be like Priscilla and Aquila. They took advantage of their time with Paul and learned well. They saw the need with Apollos and were bold, they didn’t wait for him to ask, I bet that was hard… but they saw the need, and they met it. They taught him what they had learned.
They encouraged and equipped Apollos.
This isn’t all about preaching and teaching. That was Apollos’ gift. It isn’t all about mentoring someone else, correcting their theology. That’s dangerous ground, that was Priscilla and Aquila’s gift, perhaps. They do it well.
What is God calling you to do? What has He gifted you to do?
And so very often, God calls us to do things that we feel unprepared, unequipped to do. That’s why He’s always having to say things like “Fear not, I am with you.”
Wayne Moore used this example once years ago and it stuck with me. They work with ultra-sound equipment and go in to teach doctors and surgeons new ways, new methods, new procedures. Wayne is not a doctor or a surgeon. But he can go in and teach as the “expert” because he knows just “this little bit more” about “this little thing” and he is there to teach “that little thing.”
Katie Tennant is teaching a bible study to our youth kids, and I am loving it. By their request, they asked to learn about the Bible and Science. Is it the Bible vs. Science or can one put those ideas together.
Is Katie an expert in those things. Nope. Was she nervous about teaching those things at first? Yes, of course she was.
But we are using a series put out by BioLogos, we watch the video, they have some suggested questions, she puts thoughts and questions together and she leads us through it.
How much more does she need to know about the subject to be the “expert” to someone else? Just a little more than they do.
If He is calling you to speak boldly, serve boldly, love boldly, be an Apollos. Be bold, go out, do… and trust that He is already training you along the way, preparing the next stage of mentor-ship, education, discipleship… You go and be faithful with what He has already given you.
You Are Called.
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