Year 2 Day 59
Read - Acts 18v24-28
Message - Scott Woodburn
I preached two of my first ever sermons in Mountpottinger Baptist Church in Belfast. I cannot remember what I preached but I do recall the morning sermon lasted for about 9 minutes and the evening address was a bit longer at 12 minutes. As I look back I realise that I was out of my depth. I hadn't preached too much and I'd certainly never preached twice on a Sunday before. It was too much, too soon and the pastor took me aside afterwards and urged me to study hermeneutics. Needless to say I went home and had to look up what hermeneutics actually was!
I may have been somewhat embarrassed at the time, but I look back and I'm thankful that the pastor didn't try and fill my head with sweetie mice. He told me the truth and hopefully I was better for receiving his advice. As Acts 18 comes to a close we meet an eloquent preacher by the name of Apollos (v24). He is from a Jewish background and he has arrived in Ephesus full of the Gospel and fervent in the Spirit (v25).
He spoke and taught accurately about Christ - this was no false preacher, but his understanding and knowledge were not yet complete. He knew only about the baptism of John (v25b) and so when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the faith in a bit more depth. We're not told here about the gaps in Apollos' knowledge, perhaps he has yet to hear about the Holy Spirit like those Paul meets in Ephesus (Acts 19). Still he is preaching Christ truthfully and faithfully but he doesn't yet grasp the full glory of the Christian faith.
Priscilla and Aquila don't humiliate him nor do they subject him to public scorn. They gently take him aside and share the faith more fully. Indeed when he expresses his wish to travel to Achaia he goes with a letter of recommendation (v27).
Here we see the beauty of the local church working well. A passionate preacher is given an opportunity to sharpen his gifting. Older believers draw alongside him and help and encourage him in his work. The fellowship send him on his way with confidence and other fellowships in far off lands are strengthened by a newly encouraged and informed Apollos (v27b).
The temptation for us all is to take our pew and act like an audience. The preacher and anyone else involved in the worship service are there to entertain. When all goes well we go home with a smile on our face but sometimes the opposite is true. We take umbrage at what has been said or sung and so before getting into our cars we express our displeasure and sow seeds of discouragement.
It is much more difficult to encourage but it is always much more worthwhile. Let me offer a gentle challenge. When was the last time you deliberately went out of your way to encourage? That guy on the sound desk. The lady on the door. The young singer. The Sunday school teacher. When did you last draw near and say "thank you"? Imagine if we tried to encourage one person every single Sunday?
Apollos could easily have been torn down. He certainly wasn't the finished article and it would have been more than possible to slam the door in his face. Older mature Christians instead brought teaching and encouragement to his eager soul and as a result the wider church was blessed. There's nothing revolutionary here but perhaps we don't practice it too much. May that statistic change as we teach and build the church with bountiful grace and encouragement.
Q67 Which is the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.