Sermon in a nutshell: “Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 18:23-28)
After two mission trips (the 1st mission trip in Acts 13-14 and the 2nd mission trip in Acts 15:36-18:22), we now have Paul’s third mission trip. In the first mission trip, Paul took a short trip starting from Antioch in Syria, to Cyprus, to Antioch in Pisidia, to Iconium, to Lystra and Derbe, and back to Antioch in Syria.
Inspired by the decision of the Jerusalem Council not to impose any Jewish laws upon the gentile converts, Paul expanded his route in the second trip. Paul started from Antioch in Syria but this time he went from Lystra and Derbe to Phrygia and Galatia. In other words, he went to Europe. Paul was able to start house churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens, and Corinth.
We can see that Paul’s evangelism was personal in the first trip. However, in the second trip, Paul was able to start public worship in houses (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth) and other places (Beroea, Athens). Another development was that Paul recruited co-workers such as Timothy (from Lystra) and Priscilla and Aquila (from Corinth).
In this third mission trip, we can see another new development. Now, it was not Paul but Paul’s colleagues who would recruit other disciples and start house churches. Paul, himself, spent more time writing letters to strengthen the churches that he had started and to encourage others to stay firm in their faith in Jesus.
This is how a movement should grow in time. We need colleagues and co-workers who share the same vision and faith. Then they can also go out and inspire others to join the movement. When a movement gets to this point, it can now move beyond the boundary of one individual. The only one issue that we have to keep in mind is the continuing education or training to keep the same vision and make sure that everybody is on the same page.
In the Bible passage for today, we can see that Priscilla and Aquila made sure that that was the case. When they recruited Apollos, a native of Alexandria, he was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and accurately taught the things concerning Jesus. However, he knew only the baptism of John (Moral aspects of the Christianity). In other words, Apollos claimed that Christianity was the better religion because it had a higher vision and standard for a moral world (Love your enemies!).
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. They had to teach Apollos about eternal life beyond this worldly reality. It is not about only making a better world here on earth but also about eternal life in heaven with God after this life. Jesus was not just a reformer of this world but the Messiah who saved the whole universe.
Many times Christians talk about good deeds and social justice. We should focus on ethical living and living together with our neighbors here on earth. However, these are fruits of the “salvation tree.” The root of the “tree” is the confession that Jesus is the Messiah. When we accept Jesus as our savior and Lord, we have the root. Then we will grow in God and bear fruits of moral living and sharing life. When we just do good deeds without this confession, it is like hanging fruits on artificial plastic trees. That was what Priscilla and Aquila had to teach to Apollos. People will still have the benefit of real fruits from artificial trees but we need to bring in real fruits from outside somewhere. Without the fruit producing trees, those artificial trees will soon experience a shortage of resources. That is why it is important to have a faith confession as well as ethical living.
Let us reaffirm that Jesus is the Messiah: Savior and Lord. Jesus is the Son of the Living God and the risen Lord. He is coming to judge both the quick and the dead. On the other side of this coin, we have this attitude: Whatever good deeds we do, we do them because of this confession and this faith in Jesus. So we do not boast about ourselves and give the credit to ourselves. We do not expect any rewards from the world. We are not discouraged when people do not recognize us or pay us back. We are always happy because we can serve God and serve others! May only the Lord Jesus be glorified!
- When did you accept Jesus as your personal savior and Lord?
- With whom would you share this faith?