There is a fascinating look at the movement of the Holy Spirit in Acts 18 and 19. While this story is about the Holy Spirit’s work it is really a very real life portrayal of where many people live spiritually mostly out of ignorance rather than choice. My guess is that many of you in this room will have never heard a message on the subject of sanctification or personal holiness and yet it is clearly taught in the Bible as way we are to live and something we should experience in the “normal” life of Christfollowing.
We are focusing on a word today although it does not appear in the text or passage of scripture.
The word is Sanctification: Theologically, sanctification “means to make clean or holy in the ethical sense, though the idea of consecration is not necessarily lacking.” It is the total act or process by which inner renewal takes place in the justified. Justification may be said to be “Christ for us with the Father”; Sanctification is “Christ in us by the Holy Spirit.”
There is a notion that this experience is reserved for some special class of Christfollowers and that it is not the norm. There are many Christians that would view this experience as being optional sort of like picking between flying first class or coach.
As we wrap up this summer series on the movements of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts and in the lives of the early Christfollowers it is fitting that we examine the most personal aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit. We are going to take a quick look at three different examples of the Holy Spirit’s powerful presence and work in the lives of some early Christians. As you can see in the notes we are looking at the three aspects of the process of sanctification as it relates to their stories. We will look at their dilemma, their deliverance and the difference the Holy Spirit made in their lives.
Who was Apollos? He was a man that stood out in a crowd of people. He knew the scriptures – The Old Testament – thoroughly. He was based on the description I am going to read in a few moments eloquent speaker that could hold a crowd “in the palm of his hand.” Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh was said to such a preacher. When he smiled the crowd smiled and when he frowned the crowd frowned. They were so absorbed in the message, so one with him, that they acted unconsciously as a perfect mirror.
Apollos was dynamic as a speaker using the natural gifts God had given him but there was something missing.
24 Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25 He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spiritand with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately. Acts 18:24-26 NLT
Priscilla and Aquila were a godly couple that came alongside Apollos. There is no doubt that he was a Christfollower and in fact the scripture says he not only had an enthusiastic spirit but taught with accuracy. But there was something missing. They did not publically embarrass him. There was no scorn or rejection. They were not nit pickers. They took him aside and explained the promise of the Holy Spirit.
While we do not have as much information as I would like to read on what happened next however I believe I can paint a credible picture for you. Though talented and gifted beyond the normal speaker this godly man sits at the feet of a couple of tentmakers and he found new life! The promised life of living in the Spirit come to those that are humble enough to be taught. Such an attitude is essential for life and ongoing growth in the Spirit.
27 Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28 He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah. Acts 18:27-28 NLT
When it is all said and done we find him ministering in power and with great grace. He became an itinerant missionary overflowing with the Spirit of God. While Apollos was in Corinth watering what the Apostle Paul had planted, Paul came to Ephesus on this third missionary journey.
Case Study 2: The Disciples of Ephesus
What Paul discovers in Ephesus is some disciples that have the same problem Apollos had. They are disciples and Christfollowers but lacking the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believer 2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” Acts 19:1-4 NLT
During the latter part of the eighteenth century many colonists left Virginia and started through the mountains to settle the valleys that lay far to the west. Fear of Indians, the death of a horse, or the breaking down of a wagon forced may to stay in the mountains. For over twenty years these mountain settlers saw no white men at all, until a group of travelers straggled into the neighborhood. Naturally there was much conversation about the outside world. The travelers asked the mountaineers what they thought of the new republic and the policies of the Continental Congress. The o