Not Quite the Whole Story
Not everybody has the whole story. It's OUR job to tell it to them.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
For about a year and 3 months now, we’ve been on and off again studying the book of Acts as a church.
The book of Acts if the 5th book of the NT and is the story of how the church actually got started after Jesus ascended back into heaven.
Every time we rejoin the Book, we like to play the video recap from “The Church at Brook Hills” of what’s happened so far.
For some of you this is a great refresher, and for many of you, this will prove helpful because you just recently started attending Renovation and maybe you know nothing about the Book of Acts.
No worries, we’ll catch you up.
PLAY ACTS RECAP VIDEO
So the main player in the book of Acts is this guy named the Apostle Paul. AKA, the artist formerly known as Saul.
He keeps going on these huge journeys to tell the world about Jesus.
Christians call these Paul’s Missionary Journeys.
So far, we’ve already seen him go on two of them, and He’s about to embark on the third one.
We’re going to rejoin the story today, in chapter 18 at verse 23.
If you have a Bible and want to follow along, you can do so.
If not, there are Bible’s under your chair.We will be on page 900
Or, you can even follow along on your SmartPhone.
Just use the YouVersion Holy Bible App, click on Live, find Renovation Church, and follow along.
Okay, let’s take a look at the first half of today’s passage:
(Acts 18:23-28) – NIV
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. 24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. 27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
Ok, so here’s really my favorite part of studying Acts together as a church. It’s not talking about God’s love or miracles, it’s looking at maps
(SHOW 3rd Missionary Journey Map)
So Paul, wants again starts his journey in modern-day Syria. In Antioch.
He travels through Galatian and Phrygia (modern-day Turkey)
And he’s about to get to Ephesus, which is way over on the Mediterranean
APOLLOS NEEDS HELP
While Pauls’ on his way, there’s already this guy there named Apollos @Ephesus
He’s from Alexandria in Egypt, and he’s teaching the people about God, except there’s one problem.
What he’s teaching is…NOT QUITE THE WHOLE STORY
See, Apollos was most likely a Jew who didn’t quite know everything about Jesus yet.
Verse 24 tells us he knew the Scriptures (which is the OT, which is everything pre-Jesus), so He knew about God.
It says…he knew the Baptism of John.
Which is referring to John the Baptist, who came before Jesus.
(Mark 1:1-8) – NIV
1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’’ 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Our Acts passage even says that Apollos is teaching some about Jesus.
And yet, he didn’t quite know the whole story.
If he was just teaching the baptism of John, that means he was probably just asking people to repent (to ask forgiveness and turn from their wicked ways), but he prob didn’t understand that Jesus was actually the Messiah.
He might have heard from John that a Messiah was coming, and might have heard some of the teachings of Jesus, but he hadn’t put it all together.
And you might be like, “How does that even happen??”
But just think, this isn’t 2012 here. People aren’t skyping with each other about Jesus’ latest teaching.
Jews were pilgrimaging to Jerusalem from all over, sometimes multiple times a year, so it’s more than possible that people are coming while Jesus is still alive and teaching….
And then going back and telling others about Him, and yet never actually hearing the full story.
That, “Wait! It’s more than that! He’s not just a great teacher, He’s the Messiah.”
And there’s more! “He died on the cross, to pay for our sins, and if we believe in that, He can completely forgive us!”
I think one of the biggest miracles of early church history is simply that the doctrine and teachings of Jesus stayed as pure as they did.
Everyday a new teaching could go out to a new area, and maybe not get corrected for decades! Think about that!
HOW TO HELP
But Priscilla and Aquila are in town now, and they had learned under the Apostle Paul and others.
And when they find this dynamic speaker and defender of God, Apollos, they gently correct Him.
They tell Him about the resurrection of Christ
And I think there’s a lot we can learn here from what goes down.
If I were to grade our general Midwestern culture on imitating Priscilla and Aquila, we might get a 3 out of 10.
And I think that’s maybe generous.
Because what do Priscilla and Aquila do here? They notice that Apollos is trying to do the right thing. Teach people about God.
But he’s missing some of the story. In fact, his Doctrine about Jesus is a little off.
Or, too put it bluntly, he’s wrong.
But we hear that, and we’re like, “Oooo! Don’t say that! We can’t say people are wrong.”
And that’s our first problem.
Sometimes people are just wrong. That doesn’t have to be an arrogant thing.
There is such a thing as right and wrong.
Not in everything.
Is there a right and wrong in music? Like, is R&B right and country music wrong?
No. It’s preference.
And that’s true of a lot of things.
Is there a right and wrong to the style of clothes you wear?
No. As much as we’d like to say so, people in the 80’s weren’t wrong.
But what about morality? Is it right or wrong to abuse children?
It’s wrong. And it’s not up for debate.
What about Jesus?
Was He God? Did He die for our sins?
You can say, “Yes,” or you can say “No,” but the one thing you can say is it doesn’t matter.
There is a RIGHT answer.
And Priscilla and Aquila better know the teachings about Jesus, and they inform Apollos, that “Yes, Jesus was God in the flesh and He died for us”
And they had every right to tell Him that. It was truth.
But we live in this sort of wimpy culture.
We think, “Well…I can’t tell somebody what to think.”
Even if we know they’re wrong, we often won’t do it.”
And in our fear, and our cowardice of feeling unpleasant for a moment, we get in the way of God’s truth getting out to the world
But Priscilla and Aquila, they don’t care. Is it gonna be awkward to pull Apollos aside and say, “So, we heard your talk about Jesus….and um…well, that’s not quite the whole story...”
Yeah, sure, but by doing so, the world better gets reached.
Apollos goes off and starts telling the world about Jesus and his death!
So let me ask you, what’s more important to you? Your comfort or God’s truth?
I gotta tell you, I am grateful for the people in my life who pulled me aside and said, “David, you’re wrong.”
Was I usually mad when they told me so? Yeah usually. Was I better off for it. You bet.
I am who I am today because of a series of people telling me I was wrong.
Think about that.
Who could the people around you be, if you just had the guts to help them w/ their thinking on a few things?
When I became a Christian at 18, I knew nothing about Christianity.
My first year was an endless sequence of finding out that I was almost completely wrong about everything I thought about God
When I started in ministry at 22, I started under a great man and a great leader named Sean McDowell (who’s actually here with us for the first time today)
And so much of who I am today as a leader is because of people like him telling me, “no that’s not quite right” (whether it was how to work with people, how to run a church, theology, you name it)
I used to describe seminary to people this way, “Everyday, I show up and find out I’m wrong.”
But listen, that’s how you grow. That’s how you learned in school.
You didn’t ONLY just assimilate brand new information.
You heard information, and often had to adjust the way you thought: “Oh, hmm, I’m slightly wrong. I should change my thinking”
We did that all the time growing up…so why are we so afraid of it now???
And when it’s comes to spiritual things, we get all tip-toey around each other. And it’s silly!!
“Well, that’s their belief.”
Yeah it is, but it can still be wrong.
Now, some of you are getting overly excited right now.
You’re just coming up with a list of people, and you’re gonna leave here and tell them all, “You’re wrong!”
That’s not what I’m saying.
I’m saying this: “Say you’re in House Groups, and you’re in your small group, and one of the people says, “You know, I don’t think God can forgive people if they cross a certain line (murder someone, abuse someone) etc.”
And you know that the Bible clearly says otherwise. God can forgive the worst of the worst. Like the Apostle Paul!
7 out of 10 of us (I made that up) hear that, and in our heads we go, “Not true.” But then we don’t say anything!!
And this is what God’s Word is telling us today. We have to teach each other truth!
Otherwise….that person will continue thinking that…and NOW they just told 5 other people that! And on and on…
I mean think of it this way, “How is it possible that 20 years after Jesus died there’s still a man in Ephesus telling people inaccurate stories about Jesus?”
It’s probably in part because no one ever corrected him
But there’s an art and a Biblical practice to HOW to this. A method for it.
All too often, we just let our cowardice seep out in our methods.
Some of us choose the cowardly method of saying nothing. Letting falsehood just be thrown around
And some of us choose the cowardly method of throwing stones from behind a fence.
Well, I’ll just get online and blog about this ridiculous statement!
Or, I’ll find some pastor online who said something controversial, and rather than talk to Him about it, I’ll share a YouTube clip of his sermon and ask all my facebook friends to comment on how ridiculous this guy is!! HA HA!!!
Meanwhile the Bible teaches us, that yes, we have to strive for teaching truth to one another, but there’s a process.
Priscilla and Aquila didn’t stand up in the middle of Apollos’ message and yell, “You lie!”
We’re told that they just simply invite Apollos privately to their home, and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Here’s the other thing I love about this real life story.
It’s Apollos’ willingness to learn from Priscilla and Aquila. It says a lot about his character.
What are you like if someone corrects you on something??
Many of us, when we’re corrected, we just put up a wall
And then we immediately tell other people, “Ok, so she like came up to me, and was like, “I think you’re thinking is inaccurate.” And I was like, “You’re inaccurate!!”
But we’re never going to grow in our understanding of God and His word unless we can demonstrate a willingness to learn truth from Christians more seasoned than us.
And there are a lot of you at Renovation Church that are brand new to this whole thing. There’s A LOT about the Bible and God for you to learn still
And I want to challenge you specifically today to humble yourself as you interact with some of the older and more seasoned believers here.
They have so much to teach you. So much wisdom to pass on
And for those of you that have known Jesus for a while….
Be empowered to teach truth.
Don’t just bury your talent and knowledge. Use it.
Don’t let your fear of confrontation get in the way of you helping others grow closer to Christ.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONFUSION
I want to read the next 7 verses in Acts to you today because they are quite related to what went on with Apollos. So, let’s continue in Acts. Page 901.
(Acts 19:1-7) – NIV
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
And interestingly enough, in the same city of Ephesus, you have a very similar situation to what we just talked about
A group of 12 Ephesian men who had heard of John the Baptist.
They had even went down to a river and got baptized to say that they were going to be better people. (just like John baptized ppl before Jesus
But they still didn’t understand about Jesus.
They knew part of it, but again, “NOT QUITE THE WHOLE STORY”
And Paul knows so, because they didn’t even know that Christians receive the Holy Spirit when they believe.
They say, “We have not even heard that there IS a Holy Spirit!”
The passage calls them “disciples,” but they’re really just disciples of God. Followers of God, but they didn’t understand the full truth:
The full truth that Jesus was God. That he came and died for our sins. And that if you believe in that, you can be completely forgiven.
& then, that Christians get baptized after that to show the symbolism that their sins have been washed away, and they are now going to rise up clean and forgiven
One quick theological note on this passage:
This is a passage that is fairly hotly debated between Charismatic circles and Evangelical circles because the charismatic church believes that this is actually a passage where these Ephesian men were already Christians, but just needed to pray to receive “The baptism of the Holy Spirit” or a fullness of the Holy Spirit
I’m not going to say much about that besides the fact that one of the first things Paul does is have them baptized into the name of Jesus…so they obviously weren’t already Christians
But, if you’re curious about this topic, and you want to hear more, we actually spent an entire message on the topic of the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” when we studied Acts 8 last February.
You can watch the message online at our website. It was called, “A Spirited Debate”
THE ‘EPHESIAN 12’ STILL EXIST
What’s interesting to me is that we think of this as such a once in history moment where ppl know about J the B, but not Jesus yet.. right?
I mean, how odd is it to have a group of people who are trying to live for God (they even get baptized for Him), but yet they don’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah, and they have a choice to make about whether to accept or not what he did for them on the cross
Pretty odd, right?
Sounds like 50% of America to me.
Think about it.
Doesn’t that pretty much describe a good portion of people’s spiritual beliefs in this country?
It’s like, they have John’s baptism.
Meh, they want to be good people.
Most people aren’t out there wreaking destruction and havoc on the world.
They’re trying to be decent people.
Secondly, this country’s full of people with their names on the baptism rolls of some church log.
Maybe they’re even like Apollos.
Had some sort of Baptism, believe in God, heard about Jesus, know some stuff about Jesus
But do they truly understand what He DID??
Who He was??
That this was God on earth. And He came to die BECAUSE we weren’t good enough. And we would never be good enough.
And it has nothing to do with our good outweighing the bad at the end of life as long as we intellectually assent to the existence of God
No. Jesus came to die for US. In our place!
But how are they supposed to know that????
Well….what did the Bible tell us today? What happened?
People told them. They helped them “understand the way of God more adequately”
And the people gladly followed and let God change their lives..
Listen, this city is not short on people looking for God to change their lives.
It’s just short on Christians being bold enough to help God change lives!
God can use you, yes you, to do incredible things for Him!
And that’s what we want…for each one of you.
That you can live and experience the Book of Acts in Blaine, in Anoka county in 2012.
Maybe you’re not going to be out speaking like Apollos or Paul, but that at minimum God’s using you to help someone else learn about Jesus.
And He can do that. He can use you.
Of course He can! HE’s God!!
And this comes back to our vision.
That we would be would be a people being changed by God to change the world.
That we would be a people serious about studying God’s truth, not so we can win some Bible trivia game, but so God could use our knowledge to help us help others.
Because He’s given us a vision and a mission for this city.
It’s why we started the church here.
This city is full, and I mean full of people just like those 12 ppl in Ephesus
They’re interested in God, they just don’t know Jesus yet.
Well, let’s do something about that!
This isn’t a church of 20 people anymore. Not even a launch team of 80, or a church of 100 like it was in our first year
There are 250 people here. Most of you live right in this area.
And I’ve got news for you. God didn’t bring you here just for yourselves.
He wants to use you to help the people He’s already strategically put around you, at work, in your friendship circles, in your neighborhood…
He wants to use you to tell them about Himself
Or to use you to bring them here to hear about Him
Because the Bible is not dead.
Because the Book of Acts is not over.
God’s movement is not dead.
God’s ABILITY to go into a city and change the very face of it is no different today than it was 2,000 years ago in the book of Acts!
It’s not like He can’t do it anymore.
He did all the time then, and you better believe he can do it again today!
And He wants to do it…right now…right here…through this church…in this city.
So let’s do it.
Let’s be bold.
Let’s trust in God.
And let’s go.
But first, let’s pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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