GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Breaking With the Past
Jerry A Collins
Transitions usually mean some kind of change is happening. We are facing a major transition in our family. Yesterday we took Chandler to college and returned home without him. His transition into college is bringing a major change into our family. He will not be around every day like he used to be. Each of us will have to manage the difference this will bring into our lives. I saw many tears yesterday as I walked thru the campus. Students and parents both hugging and saying their goodbyes as they come to grips with the transitions taking place in their own families. In Acts, we discover that it took time for the new church to separate itself completely from its old religious habits. The book of Acts records the transition from an early Jewish beginning to the gradual transition of a gentile church. From the abandonment of the ceremonial practices of the Old covenant to the superiority of Christ and His saving work. We will learn of two major transitions that bring permanent change that still impacts the work of God today. In both cases this transition embraces OT believers into the church as it has Jews, Gentiles and Samaritans before.
1. WE MUST HAVE A MINISTRY THAT TRANSITIONS PEOPLE INTO A FULLER KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD OF GOD 24-28
First, note the need for this transition. It is because Apollos is acquainted only with the baptism of John vs 25. What is that? (1) John baptized people not before or after but as they confessed their sins. He preached repentance that saved people and baptism as a physical act associated with it (Matt 3:6; Lk 3:3). This would then prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. Today, we must call people to a specific decision of repentance and receiving Christ which they can document with some outward act like baptism. It is not that baptism saves, John did not even believe that, but is an appeal to God about the salvation He has given to me. (2) John saw baptism as a means of demonstrating repentance and the washing away of sins which happens at salvation but that it would end when Christ replaced it with the HS and judgment (Matt 3:11; Mk 1:8). There is nothing magical or holy about baptism in and of itself. Today, Johnís baptism ministry is replaced with the conviction of the HS. Second, the knowledge he had of Christ was accurate but deficient. He needed the rest of the story. And Priscilla and Aquila explained the rest of the story to him vs 26. What was that? (1) That the Messiah had already come and baptism was now a picture of oneís union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. (2) That when a person receives Christ they are baptized by the HS (Rom 6; 1 Cor 12:13). The Spirit had already come and the church was birthed on Pentecost. Jesus was truly the Christ, the Savior of all who repent and believe. He is already a deliverer and that spiritually. Johnís message only anticipated this work but Christ ahs already fulfilled it. Third, the result is that Apollos, armed with this new knowledge, powerfully demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ vs 28. This description indicates that Apollos was so effective in his discourse that he crushed his opponents, totally disproving them at every point. It is possible that this performance is what impressed some to hold him in the same high esteem in which they held Peter and Paul (1 Cor 1:12; 3:4-6). Some even formed an Apollos party. By way of application:
(1) We can only teach people as much as we have learned. You cannot take people any further than you have gone. Priscilla and Aquila were used because they had more to say to Apollos than he himself knew. If you are going to impact peopleís lives with Godís Word you must become a student of that Word.
(2) Your ministry may be diminished in itís effectiveness because you have a deficient understanding of the Word of God. This means a lifetime of cultivating the Word of God in my life. Do you have a Priscilla and Aquila in your life that God is using to increase your understanding? We must handle accurately this Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
(3) God seems to be more interested in the depth of your ministry than He is in itís breadth. The call of the scriptures is to deepen our understanding of the Word of God. Like Apollos, God can use us to help greatly those who had believed through grace vs 27. Putting out the welcome mat for
the Word of God in my life (James 1:27).
2. THE COMING OF THE HS MARKS THE MAJOR TRANSITION OF THE WORK OF GOD TODAY 9:1-7
The church, which has embraced Jews, Gentiles and Samaritans, now gathered in the last group usually described as Old Testament saints. First, we note that these disciples were baptized only into Johnís baptism vs 3. It is significant that Paul would encounter followers of John the Baptist nearly a quarter of a century after his death. John made disciples. Even some of his disciples had first been disciples of John the Baptist. Our ministry must include the making of disciples. Preaching, teaching or evangelism are only part of the ministry. We should never consider our lives and ministries complete until we are reproducing the life of Jesus Christ in others. Second, we seem to have here a miniature of the day of Pentecost when the Hs descended and entered into believers for the first time. They, too, after being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, with a fuller understanding of the meaning of baptism and itís association with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, received the HS and spoke in tongues just as at Pentecost. So now all the groups were gathered in. And in each case apostles were present to verify that all received the same HS in the same way. Having been accomplished, Paul could write to these believers later in Epehsians 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism. From now on the HS would come to every heart at salvation. Third, note that Apollos preceded Paul in his ministry. Apollos with his John-like ministry, precedes Paul in Ephesus vs 8:24, 19:1, with his Christ-like ministry. Apollos, like John, did no miracles but many are done by Paul just as many were done by Christ. So we see in Johnís disciple, Apollos, and in Christís disciple, Paul (Acts 9), what amounts to a Ďpattern foundingí of the church. The ultimate result in Apollos and Paul, like John and Jesus, is the founding of a great church with vast outreach. The 12 men of vs 7, recall for us the 12 apostles who received the HS on Pentecost. God has marked a major transition in His work on earth by the coming of the HS. By application:
(1) Disciple-making is a lifetime pursuit. This is our assignment today. John did it. Jesus did it. Paul did it.
(2) Teach people to understand, trust and appreciate the work of the HS in our lives today. His role in salvation, sanctification, prayer too. What kind of ministry