First: Paul. We see him leave Corinth after a long visit and ministry. He had been kicked out of most cites long before this time. There was a lot to do there and from reading 1 and 2 Corinthians, it was worth every hour. Much need there. And the stayed there because of what the Lord had told him in the night vision back in verse 9-10.
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."
I feel very strongly from these verses that the Lord has something to say about the “hit and miss outreach strategy.” Some feel that it is important to get the Word out-no matter if it is a short shot-or one poorly done-as long as it is out there. I find that the idea of staying in a local is so important as the longer one stays, the longer and the deeper the community relations gets. Some had come with our mission and left in 2.5 years. I don't have a problem with that, as they needed to stay here for that period. Short-term missions are very important and we owe a great deal to them as they have had a deep impact on this community. My concern is two years here to establish a work and then move on to another location for two years may not be the best use of the worker.
In the words of a ministry friend from Montana, the usually stay of a pastor there was three - four years. The community got use to the fact that their Shepherds were not staying beyond that. They were outsiders. When my friend stayed five years, they wondered. When he arrived on his seventh year, they were very interested to learn why. He told them he was going to stay. Then the doors of their hearts were opened and ministry really happened.
Paul leaves from Corinth's eastern seaport that is about 7 miles southeast of the main city. He had left Silas and Timothy once again and takes on the husband and wife team of Priscilla & Aquila.
Paul has cut his hair. What does that mean?
He had asked God to bless his ministry. God did and now Paul is reminding himself of God's faithfulness.
This is a form of thanksgiving on Paul's part. The Lord has made good on His promise to bless Paul. So, off comes the hair. This will bring many to question why Paul was doing this and it will give him an open door to explain he still keeps the Law of Moses. See, he really has not thrown the Old Testament away. He still lives in it; he still supports it! Those who will criticize him later needed to see Paul acting this way. He was and still is a Jew. Nothing wrong with that!
So now that the hair is cut, he is now free to do what?
It is not a matter of being free to do anything. It was just an expression of having a thankful heart. He is not bound to the law but he has been set free to express his heart in the way he knew best; i.e., the Nazirite vow. He had made a vow before this departure time called a Nazirite vow. Don't get this confused with the city of Nazareth. The term comes from the OT from the book of Numbers 6:2-3
He is someone who is called to be separated or consecrated unto the Lord-for a time period. This is someone who was separated from the general population and consecrated to God. You may remember Samson was called to be a Nazirite from birth, but earlier references to this vow is made much earlier as from the time of Moses. Such a person is involved with three things- no alcohol, including all products of the grape vine, uncut hair for a time, and no contact with the dead therefore making him clean.
'If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins…
In our walk of Faith, we too should be confident that when God calls us to do something, He will empower us to complete it. See Phil 1:6
But we fear… sometimes, don't we? Why?
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
IS God using you to your full potential? Can He use you more that you are being used now? Are you fully aware of His control in your life? What is it that He is to complete in us for 'that day?” ( … … think about it … … )
Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. He is in a hurry-for some reason. Either he wants to get back for Passover in early April (in 52 AD) so with the sea-lanes open for travel from March 10 on, he would need to book passage on the first ship out of the area. He expresses his intention to return to Jerusalem IF it is God's will.
Acts 18:21 But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus.
Rom 1:10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Rom 15:32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.
1 Cor 4:19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.
Keeping the door open…
1 Cor 16:7 I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.
In any event, Paul lands near Ephesus and walks into the city. He goes straight into the Jewish synagogue and reasons with the Jews. Again, that is his heart. He had dusted the dirt off his cloths in the last city but this is a new city-new people- new souls to talk with and to set them free with the Main Thing of the Gospel: Jesus, that Christ who came to take away the sins of man, was crucified, died and was raised from the dead and is alive today to deal with the sins of man.
The Gospel again would be explained there in Ephesus.
They ask him to stay and he says he has to go. In the past, they wanted him planted in the red dirt of the city (be killed). And he would NEED to leave but here the people WANTED him to stay and he says he has to go. (What does this mean?) And he is off again and goes to Antioch, his home sending church. He then travels around the area
Now, the focus is off Paul, for a time, the light is on these two exiled Jewish believers. Priscilla & Aquila are a special twosome and it is these two we will finish with this morning. As I said before: “we will center on the ministry style and success of the two tent makers'”.
23a and traveled from place to place throughout the region … , strengthening all the disciples.
Style: They were looking and listening. They were aware!
Many today have no sense at all. No decrement in what they hear or read or even believe. False teachers with their false doctrine are rampant in our culture today. It is sad to note that few believers understand the differences between Biblical Christianity and the smorgasbord of cults around today. For example, today, Mormonism has increased their baptized membership out of the homes of men and women who were professed Christians. It is best that we who teach and we who listen return to the Word of God.
We would do best to follow Paul's example in Corinth and
2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
Acts 18:1 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the Word of God.Fad or shallow preaching produces ignorant sheep that are easy prey for the wolves in cults and false religions. We need to be sharp!
Success: Priscilla & Aquila - centered on that Word of God.
They heard a man from Egypt-Alexandria-a Jew with a Greek name who knew the Word as well but there were a few things missing. Priscilla & Aquila were going to help Apollos gain what he needed to be one who is approved. He knew some-a lot more than most but he was lacking in “the way of God.” He knew about Jesus but only about the baptism of John. He spoke with great fervor and had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lordbut he was lacking some important elements. Priscilla & Aquila's style was to take someone aside and re-teach them in the way of God more adequately.
Some factors that Priscilla & Aquila followed were the following: Endurance in the Truth. See 1 Cor 15:58 to see the definition.
The end result in such a way is rewarding as found in
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
2 Tim 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us.The result would be as
James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I was asked recently what is Good. My answer came from
Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man or the faith of the Gospel.
There are four things to hold onto-to stand firm to:
1. Hold on to Good: 1 Thess 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
2. Hold on to courage: Heb 3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are His house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
3. Hold on to faith: Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
4. Hold on to Hope: Heb 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Not Space Science here! Common and basic and down to earth things to hold onto. The goal we receive when we follow these guidelines is found in
1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Priscilla & Aquila, once the corrections were made in Apollos' heart and mind, set him free to do the work of a workman who was now no longer ashamed of the Gospel. Now Apollos knows that this Gospel can now work into the practical outworking of an every day life.
Let us draw near to one of our own who is going out this summer to tell Teenagers about that Gospel. WelcomePatrick McGinty as he shares about the open door the Lord has for him with Gospel Teams with HiBA.