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The Death of Discipleship

Acts 18:24-28 (HCSB)
24
A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus.25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism.26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately.27 When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers wrote to the disciples urging them to welcome him. After he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

 I love this story of Apollos.  Here is a young man from Alexandria, Egypt – one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel.  He is a Jew.  He’s been trained in the Scriptures.  But he’s also trained in rhetoric/debate and is named after a Roman god.  So he’s a bit of an anomaly. 

 He preached Jesus and repentance (John’s baptism), but his theology was deficient.  Apparently he didn’t know about the baptism of the Spirit.  So what happened next is what should be happening in churches throughout the world: Mature Christians (Aquilla and Priscilla) took him in and discipled him.  And once he was ready, they sent him with letters of recommendation to continue his ministry.

 Next week we’ll start a new message series I’m calling “The Death of Discipleship.”  Discipleship is a lost art in the church.  One reason is because we don’t understand the concept.  But also, discipleship is not easy.  Look what was involved in Apollos’ discipleship:

  • Humility in Apollos – he’s intelligent, educated, and gifted…but he had to admit that he didn’t know it all.
  •  Humility in Aquilla and Priscilla – here was a young guy encroaching their “ministry territory”, but they put aside ego for the expansion of the kingdom.
  • Time and effort – they put ministry on hold for a bit to make sure it was done right.  It pays to spend a little more time sharpening the axe before chopping down the tree.
  •   And of course there was trust and accountability on both sides of the equation.

 If you’re anything like me, that list above doesn’t come naturally to you.  Which is why, I think, discipleship is all but dead in the American church.  But since we’re called to be disciples and to make disciples, I’m hoping we can revive it…

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