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The Forgotten Couple (A Sunday Morning Sermon) October 21, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Jesus, Religion, Sermons, Teamwork.
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SERVANTS IN ACTS – AQUILA AND PRISCILLA – SERVING AS A FAMILY

Acts 18:24-28

 

When one reads the New Testament, it is striking how few couples are mentioned in the first century church. We find men, both married and single, who are prominent and we find women who are prominent in the church but we find very few couples. Of those few, Aquila and Priscilla, especially stand out.

 

There is something else that stands out in the New Testament and that is that there are very few instructions of family members. There is a reason for this. Paul and James and John and Peter and Luke and the other writers of the New Testament are writing to a larger family, the family of God, the body of Christ, the Church. Usually, they assumed that what they were writing to the church should be applied to the family. In fact, when they are writing to the family, we find that it is always in the context of the local church. We are not going to be able to look at these verses this morning but what we are going to do is look at Aquila and Priscilla and see what principles that were written to the church at large and how they practiced these principles as a couple.

 

In fact, that is why they seem to be singled out as a couple. They practiced the principles of God’s Word as a couple. They were of one mind in spiritual things. Certainly, this is the ideal for each and every one of us but if you are not able to be of one mind as a couple in spiritual things, it is still possible for you to apply the principles of the Word of God to your life that Aquila and Priscilla applied to their lives.

THIS COUPLE WAS HOSPITABLE.

They Exhibited The New Testament Principle of Hospitality to Strangers. That is the meaning of the word – “love strangers”. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to pull back from each other, even from those believers who we do not know. The leadership of the church is commanded both in 1 Timothy and Titus to be hospitable. Hospitality in the lives of Abraham and Lot and Rahab is shown to be signs of their faith in God. Paul included a passion for hospitality in the lives of the believer as a characteristic of a believer, who is a living sacrifice. A couple of times during the past two years we have preached on this subject. Have you applied what you have learned from God’s Word? Is your attitude toward people an attitude of love?

Now you may ask, what difference does it make? Why does it matter if I make it a point to talk to someone different every week at church? Why does it matter if I seek fellowship with those who are not my closest friends in the church? Why does it matter if I open up my home to visiting Christians? Why does it matter if I show spiritual interest in other people? What difference does it make if I visit or call those who cannot or do not show up at church on Sunday morning?

THE REAL “PILLARS” OF THE CHURCH 

Their Hospitality in Corinth to Paul (Acts 18:2) aided the establishment of the church. “When Paul first reached Corinth he was experiencing a great deal of discouragement.” At Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, Paul had preached the gospel and then was run out of the town. He went to Athens and the response was under whelming. He comes to Corinth, alone because he had sent Timothy and Silas to Thessalonica to make sure that they had remained in the faith. This couple took Paul in gave him work and gave him a home. They sustained him until such time that he was able to renew his strength and throw himself again fully into the work of preaching the gospel of Christ to the city of Corinth, which he did for the next year and a half. Who are you helping and encouraging so that they might be able to minister more effectively in the future?

Their Hospitality in Ephesus to Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) resulted in the transformation of a man. Aquila and Priscilla had moved to Ephesus with Paul and had remained there. Although they were Christians, they continued to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath and hear the Word of God. A visiting preacher by the name of Apollos came to town. This man was a powerful speaker and preached the message of John the Baptist and how that related to Jesus being the Messiah. That was the baptism to which he had committed himself. There was something, however, that was missing. Perhaps Apollos did not know about the resurrection of Christ. Maybe he was not aware that Jesus was not just the Messiah but God Himself. It is possible that he did not understand the implications of the cross. One thing is for sure, Aquila and Priscilla explained the missing component and Apollos was transformed.

Their Hospitality in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 6:19: “The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”) and in Rome (Romans 16:3-5b: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.) within the Church. Because they consistently and constantly hospitable, whether in Corinth or in Ephesus or in Rome, wherever they were they were open to the people of God and had a positive impact on others throughout the whole region of Asia Minor and Greece and Italy. Being hospitable next week will not make a difference. One time going out of your way to encourage a fellow believer has limited value. However, when you day in and day out show the love of God to others, you will have an impact beyond what you could ever do with finances and great gifts like preaching or teaching. One of the greatest needs of the church today might be a revival of love and hospitality among God’s people.

HOSPITALITY MEETS EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS. 

The two greatest emotions felt when people come to church are often fear and loneliness. Fear that they will be embarrassed and loneliness because no one seems to care whether they are there or not. A friendly church is not one where you greet the same people week after week with great joy. That is a “cliquey” church. If perfect love casts out fear, then let us show God’s love by casting out fear and loneliness through hospitality to others.

PARTNERS IN THE LORD’S WORK 

The New Testament Principle of Partnership in Ministry as shown by Their Move from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18) As Paul’s Fellow Workers (Romans 16:3). When you join a church, you become more than a member. You become a fellow worker. Now what is the task of the church. Reaching the world with the gospel. Everything that we do here is to have as its ultimate go the transformation of men and women, boys and girls through the message of Jesus Christ. That is the basis on which we be rewarded according to 1 Corinthians 3:5-15.

I am afraid that we sometimes misunderstand what it means to be rewarded when we stand before Christ. Just as it is impossible to do enough good works to please God and get Him to forgive us of our sins, it is impossible to do enough good deeds and to avoid enough sins and to have a good enough attitude to get Christ to reward us. Our reward is based on how we build others up in Christ Jesus.

 

The basis of our reward being in a large part based on our impact on the lives of others cannot be underestimated. Paul wrote the Thessalonians and said that they were his crown of rejoicing at the coming of Christ.

It is interesting that both Paul and Apollos, the planter and the waterer were sustained by they same two people: Aquila and Priscilla. If Paul and Apollos are rewarded for the transformation of the lives of the Corinthian believers than surely Aquila and Priscilla will not be forgotten.

MY WIFE’S THANK YOU…

There is no insignificant work in Christ’s kingdom. When we were on deputation, my wife used to give her testimony to the churches in the form of a thank you. She would tell how that Edgar and Oleta Mitchell came to their town and started a church in their home and how that the young St. Onge family was saved in that little house church and how that from that church came missionaries to German-speaking Europe and to Argentine and to Canada and leaders of other churches came from that little house church but that all the credit was not to go to the Mitchells but to the dozens of churches and hundreds of believers who supported them financially and prayed for them daily and weekly and monthly. My wife was never able to say thank you to those people who supported the Mitchells but she was able to say thank you to those in other churches who were supporting missionaries and praying for missionaries around the world. The Mitchells planted and watered and God gave the increase but certainly those churches and individuals will be rewarded also.

THE GREATEST PRINCIPLE

The New Testament Principle of Expounding Christ Accurately (Acts 18:24-28). Once again we come to the guiding light of our Christian life. It is possible for an unsaved person to be hospitable, to show love to strangers. It is possible for them to partner together with others for the common good. It is not, however, possible for them to expound the gospel of Christ, as Luke puts it, “more accurately.”

I understand that it is possible to be saved without full knowledge of many of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. When I was saved at the age of eight, I did not understand what the Virgin Birth of Christ. I did not understand the meaning of Justification and being made righteous in Christ. I did not know that the Holy Spirit came to live in the heart of the believer or what the Body of Christ was. What I did have though was a very clear picture of my sin and my inability to do anything about my sin but that Jesus through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead guaranteed salvation from the lake of fire to all who trust Christ. That is the more accurate understanding of Jesus Christ that is absolutely essential to salvation.

 

As we have already seen, Apollos knew the Scriptures but did not have a fully accurate understanding of who Jesus is. It is amazing that Apollos was willing to listen to this couple but he did. Spurgeon tells of a young man with great gifts and ability but with a different attitude who accompanied a minister friend to the city jail to observe his friend preach.

“…As the minister looked at the audience, he preached to them Jesus with so much earnestness as deeply to impress his companion. On their return home, the young man said, ‘The men to whom you preached to-day must have been moved by the utterance of such truth. Such preaching cannot fail to influence.’ ‘My dear young friend,’ answered the minister, ‘were you influenced? Were you impelled by the words you heard to-day to choose God as your portion?’ ‘You were not preaching to me, but to your convicts,’ was quickly answered. ‘You mistake. I was preaching to you as much as to them. You need the same Saviour as they. For all there is but one way of salvation. Just as much for you as for these poor prisoners was the message of this afternoon. Will you heed it?’ The word so faithfully spoken was blessed of God.” from My Sermon Notes, Volume 3, Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Apollos heard the message and his ministry was changed. The change is evident in 1 Corinthians 3. Apollos is no longer building on the foundation of John’s baptism but on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The reason Paul could write that the church in Corinth has all knowledge was because both the planter and the waterer built on the foundation of Christ. It is vitally important that people understand who Christ is.

The popular thought today is that the only way to keep our young people from leaving the church is to make church more appealing to them. That will not work in the long run. There is nothing wrong with trying to make a church service enjoyable or even more culturally appealing. We desire every week to put our best foot forward in our church service but that will not change people’s lives. They need to see Jesus more accurately. They need to understand Him more fully.

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