Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Helping Apollos

In Acts 18:24-28 we are told of a time when Priscilla and Aquila ran across a follower of Jesus preaching in the synagogue.  He was eloquent in speech and very bold in proclaiming the way of the Lord.  We are told that he "taught accurately the things concerning Jesus".  Yet, interestingly, Priscilla and Aquila saw a need for further training.  We are told, "...they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately".

I've been a Christian for almost thirty years. I've taught Sunday school, youth groups, small groups and have preached more sermons than I can remember.  But sometimes I wish I could burn all my sermons and erase the minds of everyone I ever taught both formally and informally.  Why do I feel that way?  Because, even though I knew the Scripture, loved Jesus and had a zeal, I had almost zero real guidance.  No real discipleship. What teaching I did have came from so many odd and, often times wrong, sources.

Twenty years after being called by God to follow his Son my theology had been cobbled together from so many different and competing sources that I found it increasingly difficult to give a one sentence explanation of what I believed.  Reformed, Charismatic, Anabaptist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Wesleyan, Finnian, and more.  Needless to say my teaching and sermons sometimes took on flavors of all these schools with me having a constant battle inside my heart and my head for one system and then another.  Not a few times I despaired.  Not because I was worried that I would never know right from wrong, but because I lamented the fact that what I had once taught (sometimes just a few weeks earlier) was being challenged and I wasn't sure I had taught the right thing.

Now let me assure you, before I continue, that my core beliefs never changed much.  For example, since I was born again I have always believed that I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity.  So it wasn't like I was off visiting cultville at any time.  I preached the truth of the gospel.  But I so desperately needed and wish that someone had come along to explain the way of God more accurately.  It would have saved much heartache, confusion and frustration.

Even now I must admit that I still don't have a team Priscilla and Aquila in my corner. I have had to turn to the Internet and a shelf full of dead people to get to where I am today. How do I know I am right in what I believe now?  I am sure I am not right in everything I believe.  However, I do know the things I use to teach which are, according to the entirety of the Bible, dead wrong.   And that is a very good thing.  So I am not saying that the growing will ever be over this side of the veil or anything like that.  What I am saying is that those of us out there who have the ability to teach and an understanding of biblical (dare I say, Reformed) doctrine have a responsibility to disciple everyone and anyone who will submit to being discipled.

Notice in the text Apollos was actively preaching the gospel. This wasn't your Sunday Christian who signs up for membership classes and then never shows up because he forgot about soccer practice or the new convert who can't be bothered to even show up on Sunday.  This is one of those people who just "gets it" and, for good or for bad, jumps in - not feet first - but head first!  This kind of person is every teacher's dream student.  But today many would just let him do his thing, saying things like, "You are so mature for someone who has just started following Jesus".  At least he loves Jesus, right?  At least he loves people enough to tell them the gospel, right?  Wrong! Those things are great, but in the case of our text, at least two people thought he needed more and so they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.

It is true that many big personalities out there will not listen to instruction and that typically is what makes them horrible teachers, peddling false doctrine and destroying lives.  But many more are not like that and I wonder sometimes where our churches would be if we had more Priscillas and Aquilas ready and able to teach and more Apollos ready to be taught.

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