Preach the Cross

    Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”  Acts 19:4

    Paul had desired to go to Asia early in his first missionary journey, but the Holy Spirit forbade him. (Acts 16:6) So, Paul followed the guiding and direction of the Holy Spirit and preached in many places Jesus Christ crucified.  In the interim, things were happening elsewhere from where ever Paul was.  God was working on several fronts, establishing beachheads in the spiritual battle, preparing the people to receive the Truth.  Paul was unaware of what was happening, but God knew, and God was working.

    One of the things God did was send a couple, Aquila and Priscilla to Paul when he had come to Corinth.  All of the Jews in Rome had gotten tossed out for the disturbance that the division of believers and non-believers had caused.  So, Aquila and Priscilla make their way to Corinth.  This is God’s hand, for Paul needed work to be able to stay there and not syphon from the church he was trying to plant, and they all had the tent making trade in common.  Of course, being in the presence of the great Apostle would inevitably prove influencial in their faith, and in their teaching of others.

    So, after a year and a half the Holy Spirit opens the door for Paul to go to Asia, for God’s timing is indeed perfect, and he takes Aquila and Priscilla with him to Ephesus. (Acts 18:18&19) But Paul needed to make it to Jerusalem to attend the feast that was shortly happening.  He leaves Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus and travels on.  While he is gone, a man named Apollos shows up in Ephesus and preaches the baptism of repentance as taught by the prophet John the Baptist.  Aquila and Priscilla hear him and they know he is chasing after the Lord, and they instruct him on the side by filling him in on the rest of the story as Paul had taught.  They bring him up to speed, but then they take him to Corinth, and there he preaches Christ crucified and many are saved and the saved are strengthened.

    But, there are twelve who are still in Ephesus who only know the baptism of repentance as taught by John the Baptist.  Now, the Word does not say how these twelve came to know this, but it would be a giant coincidence that Apollos was just there proclaiming this and they just happened to know it from another source.  Since I believe there are no coincidences and that God is sovereign, I would have to believe that this was orchestrated by His hand.  Here’s how I see it:

    Paul, if confronted with Apollos’ teaching, would have told him publicly, as he did the twelve, that he needed to know Jesus on top of what he already knew.  It could have been, that if this had happened, it may have been a discouragement to Apollos, especially coming from an Apostle.  So, perhaps this is why Paul goes, but leaves behind Aquila and Priscilla.  This couple, it would seem, were very sensitive to Apollos’ spirit.  The Word says he was fervent of spirit, and perhaps they knew that he might be easily discouraged, since he was speaking so boldly the baptism of repentance.  In fact, they are seemingly so sensitive, that they remove him from Ephesus and take him to Corinth to preach there, where he would be an unknown and could have a fresh start.  Only then does Paul return, and he finds the twelve who now need what Apollos needed, since Apollos, having left for Corinth, did not teach them.  They were left with the last thing Apollos had taught them.  So, Paul corrects them and brings them up to speed.  Apollos’ incomplete teaching is dealt with on all fronts, and Apollos is brought up in the church as a result, even being used as reference by Paul to the Corinthians.

    Would things have gone differently had Paul disobeyed the Spirit when he originally wanted to go to Asia?  Would he have planted a church in Ephesus that would have grown by this time in the span of almost a decade?  Would that church have swallowed up Apollos when he showed up preaching what John the Baptist taught, and discouraging him from ever being a powerful preacher in the church?  God knows, but looking at the way things did happen, it is blatantly obvious that it was all a part of God’s plan.

    Now, let’s look at how God dealt with presenting the Truth.  Aquila and Priscilla taught to Apollos in a gentle, sensitive way the very same thing that Paul taught the rest in a matter of fact way.  God knew what all of these people needed to hear and accept the Truth of the gospel.  There are many ways to speak the Truth, and God has given each of us our own personality, our own gifts of communication, our own gifts of the Spirit, and our own experiences to be equipped to deal with the people He presents to us.  God knows how we all are, individually.  He brings to us those people who need to hear the Truth, and He asks us, in faith, to share the gospel with them.  We are to be about the work of the Lord, and learn of Him to bring ourselves closer to Him and help others come closer, too.  It doesn’t matter that we think we are unworthy.  No one is worthy except Jesus.  Having accepted Him makes us worthy.  All He asks us to do is believe and keep on believing.  As Paul references Apollos in his letter, he writes:

    I have planted; Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

    Even if what we say seems to go unheard or unheeded, we are still to say it in Love and in Truth.  We may be the one who plants the seed; we may be the one that waters it.  All we can ever know is that God is with us, and when we speak the Truth, He authors the faith, grows the faith, and brings that faith to fruition.

    Be the person God has created.  Use all of those gifts you have received to do the work He has called you to.  Trust Jesus and live the life He asks you to.  I know that is my desire for myself, and for you.