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Study in the Acts of the Apostles
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  1. Study in the Acts of the Apostles Presentation 38

  2. A Missing Dimension Chapter 18v18-28 Presentation 38

  3. Introduction On the BBC watchdog TV programme some time ago, a car was featured. It had been acclaimed equally by manufacturer and the motor trade press as a car to be reckoned with. But a growing number of customers were becoming dissatisfied. The car’s engine mysteriously kept cutting out. The manufacturers said that it wasn’t their fault but an independent engineer had discovered a design fault. There was something wrong, something missing! Presentation 38

  4. Introduction Years ago I took a book on holiday. It was a mystery whodunit. It made exiting reading. But as I came to the great climax at the end I discovered that the second last chapter had been inserted twice. There was no last chapter. Something was missing! Now it can be disappointing, frustrating, upsetting to possess something that is incomplete. It can also be embarrassing at times to admit this is so. Sometimes the issue is a trivial one but on other occasions it can shape the whole direction of our lives as the passage before us makes clear! Presentation 38

  5. The Man Apollos At the end of his second missionary journey Paul left two of his choice travelling companions Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus. Then suddenly Apollos arrived, a native of Alexandria a city that had access to some of the finest scholarship of the day with the greatest library of that age. Alexandria was beginning to eclipse Athens as THE centre of learning in the ancient world. Many of its students would become significant figures in the early church. Apollos was schooled in Alexandrian rhetoric and logic v24. The word used describes someone skilled in the art of communication. He was a winsome public speaker. What an asset that gift can be to the work of God. Presentation 38

  6. The Man Apollos Secondly, we learn that he was a man who knew his Bible. In one translation of the Bible he is described as "mighty in the scriptures". The words describe not only someone who has a great working knowledge of the Bible but someone able to expound it with extra-ordinary power. Apolloswas able to break the Word of God down into digestible portions and explain its meaning. He could skilfully feed his hearers. This too is a great asset in the work of God. Presentation 38

  7. The Man Apollos Thirdly, Apollos was zealous for God. It was this zeal that drove him in his employment of his other gifts. He was operating as a one man mission team! We read in v25 that he spoke with great fervour in the synagogue and the word translated "fervour" means ‘to be on the boil’. Apolloswas on the boil for God. We cannot minimise the value of this quality to the work of God in an age when we can become so easily cooled by complacency and frozen by indifference. Presentation 38

  8. The Man Apollos “A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, uncompromising, wholehearted or fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing and that is to please God. Whether he lives or dies, whether he is in health or in sickness, whether he is rich or poor, whether he gets honour or is put to shame the zealous man cares nothing. He burns for one thing and that one thing is to please God and advance his glory. He feels that like a lamp he is made to burn; and if it is consumed in burning he has done the work for which God has appointed him”. BISHOP RYLE Presentation 38

  9. A Missing Dimension Ah, you say, Apollos was such a man and what an asset he was to the church! Yes but there was an all-important dimension missing. Something that neutralised all his gifts, learning and zeal. Something that prevented him from making the impact he was clearly destined to make. We read in v25 that ‘he knew only the baptism of John’. As Aquila and Priscilla sat and listened to this brilliant preacher in the synagogue it became immediately clear to them that Apollos' experience of God was sub-Christian, sub-standard. There was something missing. Presentation 38

  10. A Missing Dimension Somehow, somewhere he'd been exposed to the teaching of John the Baptist. John had made it clear that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah and that this Messiah had come in order to address the problem of human sin. Apollos was able to show that this was so from the O.T. scriptures. But it was apparent that he knew nothing of the significance of Christ's death or of the resurrection. God, though very real to him, was still distant. Apollos had no experience of a spiritual rebirth. He had no assurance of the forgiveness of his sins. He had no assurance of eternal life. He did not know the Lord Jesus Christ indwelling his heart by his Spirit. Presentation 38

  11. A Missing Dimension Here was a gifted earnest man with a great zeal for God and yet that which was all-important was missing! We may be tempted to think this could easily happen in the early church when the news of the gospel was still spreading but it couldn't happen today. It is however a well documented fact that there have been many in the church, through its history in pulpit and pew just like Apollos. Men who have sought to serve God, genuine, honest, zealous men of good intention and yet they too were to discover a missing dimension in their lives. Presentation 38

  12. A Missing Dimension Many people will have heard of John and Charles Wesley. They were the children of a minister. Both studied at Oxford, where Charles founded the Holy Club, a club that was devoted to prayer and Bible study. In 1737 both brothers sailed off as missionaries to Georgia, in North America to undertake a mission on behalf of the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel." Both returned to England a year later disillusioned and dissatisfied with their mission and unsure of the reason for their unsettledness. Presentation 38

  13. A Missing Dimension Like Apollos there was a missing dimension from their lives. Their zeal and learning was no substitute for the spiritual quickening and indwelling they so much needed. This was to take place in their lives some months after their return home and was the subject of many of Wesley’s hymns : Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and natures night Thineeye diffusseda quickening ray I woke the dungeon flamed with light My chains fell off my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee. When God became real to the Wesleys you could not stop them from communicating the gospel in church pulpit or open field. Presentation 38

  14. A Missing Dimension A second example is taken from Scotland. Thomas Chalmers was ordained as minister of Kilmany in Fifeshire in 1803. He had a brilliant mind but had little interest in the spiritual condition of his flock. He spent at least five days in the week lecturing in or studying Mathematics, and Chemistry. He published widely and was a regular contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica. When questioned about his failure to channel his energies in the service of the church he replied that one day a week was quite enough in which to discharge all his ministerial duties. Presentation 38

  15. A Missing Dimension Eight years later his outlook was radically changed. This minister of the gospel was converted to Christ. He discovered God and what he described as : “The expulsive power of a new affection”. All his energies and gifts were now placed at the feet of Christ to be used in his service. He moved to Glasgow where he showed how the gospel could be addressed to the social problems of a growing industrial city. He revived the office of deacon, established Sunday Schools and a systematic parish visitation. The list of his accomplishments is endless and all stemmed from the day he discovered there was a missing dimension in his life. Presentation 38

  16. A Missing Dimension Is it possible for ministers and church members to have this dimension missing from their lives today? Is it possible to be enthusiastically involved in the service of the church and yet to be accomplishing little of eternal value? Both the testimony of scripture and the examples of history make it clear that it is certainly possible. It is not enough to be zealous or gifted. Our lives need to be harnessed by God. We need that new nature which God alone can impart. Zeal, gifts and learning are no substitute for the life of God in the soul of a man! Presentation 38

  17. The Situation Resolved How did Aquila and Priscilla handle the situation? They could've said, ‘Why interfere its unlikely that a man of this person's stature, learning and experience would listen to a couple of tentmakers! We'll remain silent. We'll let him struggle on. Clearly there's something missing from his life and preaching, what a pity to see that potential failing to achieve all it might for God.’ But they didn't say that! Presentation 38

  18. The Situation Resolved They could have behaved in a superior fashion because their experience and grasp of the gospel was greater. They could have mocked Apollos and stood outside the church with placards that read, "This man is in error" or "Apollos is wrong". Some people draw particular delight from being able to humiliate others and publicly put them down. But they didn't do that! What did they do? cf v26 "they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately". They saw that they had something to offer this man, they simply couldn't remain silent. At the same time they found a way to expound the fullness of the gospel which did not denounce this well-meaning man or make him feel uncomfortable. Presentation 38

  19. The Situation Resolved Apollos for his part could only benefit from this encounter because he had a teachable spirit. His response was not, "Who do you uneducated people think you are to tell me about Jesus?" "Who are you to call into question my experience of God?” I'm sure that Apollos saw their love for him. I'm sure the graciousness and Christ-likeness of their lives impressed him. And that coupled to his openness to the truth made him sit and listen and allow God to lead him from the dungeon of sin into the fullness of life that Jesus came to bring to men. Presentation 38

  20. ? Conclusion This passage asks us some very important questions. It asks us not if we are zealous for God but is a living relationship with God is missing from our lives? It asks, how teachable are we? How prepared are we, like Apollos, to listen to the suggestion that something is missing? It also asks what is our motive in seeking to see change in others? Do we confront other people with a religious superiority or with a sincere and genuine concern to see them enjoy God's best? The right answer to these questions will shape our ultimate usefulness to God. Presentation 38