2019-02-17 – Acts 18:24-19:7 – Almost Christian
Bible Text: Acts 18:24-19:7 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts |
2019-02-17 – Acts 18:24-19:7 – Almost Christian
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
(Valentin’s Day, New Bathroom, Visiting Palestine Pastor, Washington’s Birthday)
I put together a small slide deck to share with you with a few photos of Israel. But I must pre-curser that with the understanding that although it has much historical, religious, and emotional significance, it is not something that we should worship. Only God Himself is worthy of our reverence. https://youtu.be/nXaJwW8Detk
What an amazing trip. One that I have been training up for more than a decade. Our guide said, before you see in black and white, now you see in color. And he was right. What a blessing it was for us to finally see the promised holy land.
In Today’s message we are going to see our dear brother, the apostle Paul as he is in Ephesus, reaching out and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those God puts in his path. This is the start of Paul’s last missionary journey. We are now 2/3rds through this book of Acts, and it has been a great teaching indeed. I have a brief 1-minute video to get us started. https://youtu.be/E4eUa8owgTE
Please turn now to Acts 18, verse 24, page 985 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
At the end of last week’s message Paul started this last international mission. He first goes back to some of the same locations where he started churches. He is now in Ephesus, for which Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesian churches later.
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was competent in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately about Jesus, although he knew only John’s baptism.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.
Apollos, was an evangelist, apologist, leader, and eventual friend of the apostle Paul from Alexandria, Egypt. And according to this verse, he was an eloquent man and spoke competently and confidently from scriptures. This says he was “fervent” in spirit. That’s not a word we use often anymore, but fervent according to Miriam Webster is exhibiting great intensity of feeling. He was zealous, which in the Greek it means boiling hot. Probably something like a Billy Graham, RIP. Apollos was smart, wise, and on fire for sharing the Gospel.
Generally you meet people who are perhaps great at one of these attributes, they are wise, but maybe cannot speak well. Or they speak well but when you actually audit what they are proposing, it may not be really wise at all. Or they might be wise, and they might be eloquent, but they are boring. Apollos exhibited all three of these fine attributes in one person. I love it when I find such speakers. I would put Dr. David Jeremiah, or perhaps Ravi Zacharias in that rare category. When I hear them speak, they magically capture all my attention, especially if it is a topic that I have interest in, and for me there is no better topic than God’s word.
We may not all have these attributes, but we all can and should show passion in what we believe. Paul writes later in the book of Romans, chapter 12, that as Christians we should “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord”. Paul tells us here because we need this reminder. Sometimes we do back off from demonstrating zeal, or excitement in sharing the Gospel and making disciples. That’s okay, but don’t get stuck there. We need to feed our zeal, feed our fervor and become wise about God’s word. Therefore we can continue to effectively witness for Christ. Be brave and bold in sharing your Jesus.
In this last verse it reveals that Apollos knew of Jesus and was teaching the Gospel. But in the verses that follow we will see that he had gaps in his knowledge and understanding. None of us know all there is about Jesus Christ and the Bible. I learn something new each and every day. And when we see somebody with a knowledge gap, we should discreetly and with all sensitivity want to correct that gap of knowledge, so as it will not get propagated. I hope you all as well would discretely correct my understanding of scripture when, not if, but when you see or hear it. We all need each other, and that is why Paul says we should be sharpening each others swards. In Proverbs 27:17, Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.
26 After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. (I thing that is wonderful)
27 When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers and sisters wrote to the disciples to welcome him. After he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
Let me remind you that the New Testament had not yet been written. So Apollos was presenting what he knew of the Gospel from the Old Testament and the stories of Jesus that he had heard, but it wasn’t yet a complete picture. I am not suggesting that you should know all the Gospel before you speak, but when we find somebody speaking boldly for Christ with error, we should correct them.
I love how it says here that they took Apollos aside. They didn’t call them out, they didn’t belittle him, they simply waited and took him aside. This is a great example for us as Christians. All of us are growing in our faith and growing in the knowledge of the Gospel and this Christian life, we are lifelong learners. When somebody finishes seminary, or becomes a leader in the church, that doesn’t mean they got it all figured out. I am here to tell you that I am learning something new every day, and I expect that you too, like me, have gaps in our understanding of some parts yet to be filled. Priscilla and Aquila are teaching Apollos, that tells us that Apollos is teachable. We have all met people who are not teachable. People who think they have it all figured out and they no longer want to even reason with others. That is not how we should be. We are all disciples, which means students. And what do students do? They learn.
Because of Apollos’s and Priscilla and Aquila interaction, Apollos went on to become a strong advocate and leader along side of Paul in reaching the nations and living out the Great Commission. What a wonderful example for us here in these verses. We need each other for the Godly mission ahead, Amen?
19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
“No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 “Into what then were you baptized?” he asked them. “Into John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in other tongues and to prophesy. 7 Now there were about twelve men in all.
So Paul arrives in Ephesus, and he noticed that something just wasn’t right in the church. So he decided to ask questions to assess where they were in their Christian understanding and practice. Effectively Paul is asking, has your salvation been made evident yet in your character? Paul didn’t feel kindred spirits in these folks. Perhaps you know what I mean. Some folks you meet, and right away you can feel their spirit about them. Kind of like when Marry went and met Elizabeth. The Bible says “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit”. We all as Christians should rely more upon the Holy Spirit guiding in our relationships. Something changes in a person’s character when they accept Jesus in their lives. And that something is the Holy Spirit. A question that I get frequently from folks is, how do I know if I have received the Holy Spirit? How do I know if I am truly a Christian? The answer is you can know by what now fuels your heart. As a born again believer, you should now be more attracted to things that are more Christ centered, more righteous. That is the fruit, or the results of the Holy Spirit being a part of who you now are. It generally doesn’t happen overnight, but as you look back, you should see a difference, and others will also see a difference as well.
The title of today’s message is Almost Christian. I chose that because we have two separate instances in our verses here today where the people knew of the Savior Messiah, however they were not complete in their understanding of Jesus Christ yet. The first one was even the Evangelist, Apollos who was going out and eloquently proclaiming that the Jesus had come, but he was misleading people. And then we have the disciples from Ephesus, but they only knew the teachings of John the Baptist. Paul subsequently told them about Jesus, then baptized them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which lead to them receiving the Holy Spirt indwelling in their hearts. They were Almost Christians before hand.
There are countless amounts of people in this world today, and that of Orion even, that claim they know of Jesus and they claim they love God, but they have never taken the next required steps to become a true Christ follower. Let me remind you that even satan and the demons know Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t mean that they bow down to Him and call them their Lord and Savior. Therefore they are Lost and are destined to an eternity in Hell. Everyone who wants to go to heaven must be born again, there is absolutely no exceptions.
Everyone who desires to go to heaven must receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. They must repent of their sin by asking Jesus to forgive them, and in doing so they will also be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. That is the definition of how we become born-again. It is the only way that anyone will ever get into heaven. I hope I make that poignantly clear. If I do anything in this church during my tenure here at First Baptist Church Orion, I want to make sure that everyone that comes into that door, everyone who I meet on the road, and even everyone that happens to call me up on the phone even if it is a wrong number, knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that this truth is fully understood.
These folks mentioned here in this book of Acts chapter 18 and 19, were Almost Christian. But Almost, is never good enough in this regard. That is like saying that you almost graduated from high-school, or you almost got the job, or you almost got pregnant. All of these almost instances still mean that you did not ultimately achieve the goal. Either you are or you aren’t, there is no middle ground and no exceptions. Otherwise, why would Acquilla and Percilla and Paul go through the chore of clarifying and correcting the disciples? And that is the same reason that God had Dr. Luke write these verses down in this book of Acts for us here today, so that we all will have the chance to clearly understand the Gospel message.
Everyone must acknowledge Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, Repent, ask forgiveness for their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit so they can go to heaven. Then we follow up with a public proclamation of our faith decision by getting baptized. That is what it is all about, are you with me? Amen?
So next time you run into somebody that says they believe in God, or believe in Jesus, do like Paul did here in these verses. If you care enough for the person,
and care about their eternal position, then listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart, and assess their understanding, ask the difficult questions, maybe just start with, Are you a Christian? I know many will feel embarrassed, but if you really care, then lay your fear aside, take the godly risk, as it could make an eternal impact.
Finally let me leave you with this. As Christians, since we truly received the Holy Spirit in our hearts, then the things of Christ should become more appealing to us. We should grow to want to have fellowship with other believers, we should grow to want to sing Christian songs and hymns, and we should grow to want to read or hear God’s Word, because it feeds our souls, such things now should become enjoyable for us to partake in.
So now, after all this, as Paul inquired upon the believers in Ephesus some 2,000 years ago, I ask of you again here today, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Are you a Christian or are you Almost Christian? If it isn’t evident in your person, if you are no more in keeping with Christ’s life and works now as you were before, then maybe you should consider coming forward right now in this church, and allow us to pray over you together.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation
Let us sing: Amazing Grace..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”