Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Horse Before The Cart

24Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25He 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. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27And 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, 28for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. -Acts 18:24-28

An encouragement to those of us who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (I'm speaking of more than even vocational preachers); know the word, but know the Living Word ...who is Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith; the One by whom, and for whom, we even preach the truth of the gospel.

Scripture amazes me. I'm speaking of jot and tittle! (Matt. 5:18) How much can be gleaned from every single word of "truth" in Scripture! And while I believe that "every word" of which God originally inspired was, indeed, "inspired" by Him .....this, in no way, lessens our responsibility, no less the sensibility, as receivers of the word, to see it, to study it, and certainly to proclaim it in its full context. (2 Tim. 2:14-19)

1. Apollos was a man to be mimicked!
A few things we can learn, even from this brief introduction to this preacher of the word.
a. He was "eloquent". Apollos was gifted to express himself; more importantly, to express the Scriptures. Stumbling over his tongue, skewing his words, or being unclear were, apparently, not an issue.
b. He was "competent in the Scriptures". He knew God's word. Another reference to 2 Tim. 2:15.
c. He was "fervent in spirit". It has been said.... "those who stand for nothing will fall for anything." Apollos was bold, and direct.
d. He "spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus." He was, technically, "spot-on".

These are wonderful traits for a proclaimer of God's word! Not an absolute requirement ....but boy it helps! But "the word" must speak for itself, more than we speak it. The Holy Spirit must be present to give utterance. 

2. Apollos was "teachable".

Though he was fervent in spirit, eloquent, and competent in the Scriptures.... he wasn't too prideful to learn more. This is the mark of a Christ-follower. One who, though not leaning to every whim, can be lead by wise counsel. (Proverbs 27:17)

3. Apollos was "taught". 
Let's not miss the impact, the wisdom, and the stature, of the "teachers" in this story.
a. Priscilla and Aquila's hearts went out to Apollos. They saw his fervency! The heard his passion! They understood His heart to proclaim the truth of Jesus ....the Living Word.
b. They knew more than the baptism of John. They knew the Word, the Logos, the incarnate 2nd person of the Triune God! Their passion was more than academic. It was more than social. Friend, it was more than even the desire, and right desire, to dutifully fulfill what Christ had commissioned them to do. They had the horse appropriately leading the cart. They knew the loving heart of Him to whom they had surrendered. This, alone, covers a multitude of academics .....though by no means excusing you and I from the fervent study and proclamation of His word.

Study God's word! (2 Tim. 2:15) Know it well. Hide it in your heart! Memorize the Scriptures. But never, never let even these healthy academic practices preclude the over-arching truth that Jesus loves "you"! He died for "you"! Love Him as One who sacrificed for your very soul and eternity. I firmly believe that when we recognize Jesus for who He is .....the study of Scripture will no longer be academic, but simply amazing! It is a means by which to know its Author more each time we breathe it in.