For our Federation of Churches (CESA or as we are known today, REACH SA), I was appointed as a delegate to the Board of Free Churches to represent our clergy who was in the Chaplaincy in the Defense Force and Police Services. Due to this, I had the privilege of visiting a Camp outside our city that was used as an integration camp for APLA and MK Forces returning to South Africa to be incorporated into the SANDF. As a group we watched men and women soldiers march. It was the most fascinating marching I had ever seen. To achieve the level of proficiency, they would be trained and trained over weeks. I know this because as a youngster of 17 I was conscripted to do military training. It took us about 2 months to reach the level of working together in all the marching movements as a fully refined unit of 1100 men. What we saw at the Integration Camp were officers and troops who had put in many hours of hard training to achieve operating as a team … and as a team I mean as one man! In looking at Apollos, Priscilla, Aquila and Paul, team work for the purpose of Jesus’ army was also so unique and needs to be copied in the modern church. Some churches do but they are few and far between.
Ac 18:25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Apollos’ understanding of the Gospel was incomplete, since he was “acquainted only with the baptism of John”. This probably means that Apollos preached repentance and faith in the Messiah … he maybe even believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah—but he did not know the full magnitude of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Aquila and Priscilla spent some time with him and filled in the gaps in his understanding of Jesus Christ. Personally I can identify with Apollos. After my salvation I started to preach what I thought was the Gospel. The Gospel I preached was faith in Jesus or else eternal hell. My Gospel was hell and damnation. Although what I said was right, it was incomplete and hurtful leaving the hearer in confusion. A couple I met within months of salvation had been through Bible School. They took me under their wing and slowly discipled me to the point where I understood the Gospel. Faith in Jesus includes God’s grace and mercy at Calvary. Failure to surrender means damnation. Each believer needs to be discipled and have continued discipleship because spiritual and Biblical growth and development never ceases. Have you availed yourself to discipleship yet?
2) Approval. Apollos was now armed with the complete Gospel message. He now had confidence and immediately began a preaching ministry and was used by God as an effective apologist for the Gospel.
Ac 18:27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. 28 For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
This is why the brotherhood approved him as a powerful, diligent, fearless Gospel worker. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. Paul was an itinerant missionary and in a similar way Apollos seems to be an itinerant evangelist. In those days, without the telephone and the internet, the only authentic means of “approval notification” was letter writing. A letter was handed to the one recommended (approved of) who in turn handed it over to the leadership of a church in another region. This was to prevent “false teachers and preachers” from infiltrating the church. We know Apollos was well received because we read … On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. This is what we need in our churches today. There is a great need for helpers in every church, but they need to be approved. Today there is lots of movement between churches of different doctrinal positions, so before appointing someone to serve, particularly in preaching, teaching, discipleship, evangelism, counseling and prayer ministry, people need to be examined to prove and identify their doctrinal status. This is not being judgmental. It is to protect the church.
3) Discipler. This leads on from the previous point. Just as Apollos needed correction, we need people in the church who are able to disciple others as they have been discipled. Look at what Apollos did once fully equipped with the Gospel. Paul writes
1Co 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Look at the flow … Paul preached the Gospel. He did the evangelism. The Gospel seed was planted. The interest was there … and it seems as though there was a response. Then came Apollos … he watered … that is he discipled. Get the point? From being discipled he became a discipler! That is the natural process in the Kingdom. Are you ready to disciple others?
4) Team Worker. Take the previous verses and add
1Co 3:4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.
Go back to my opening illustration, Gospel, team work is vital to make the church work like a well-oiled machine. See the words “servants” and “assigned” in verse 5 and “planted”, “watered” and “God made it grow” in verse 6 … these spell team work. We work for God and with God to grow the Kingdom. Are you doing your part?
Dear God, show me how and where I can participate in a team to grow the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus for Your glory and the sake of lost souls. Amen.