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More Laborers for the Harvest

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2020 8:00 am

More Laborers for the Harvest

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 14, 2020 8:00 am

The book of Actsstarring the Apostle Paul! ... If Paul were here today, hed never let us get away with saying that. The real star of Acts is the Holy Spirit, and he does his work through every believer. Keep listening as Dr. James Boice introduces us to a few of the ordinary believers God used to turn the first-century world upside-down.

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It's the book of acts storing the apostle Paul. If Paul were here today, he never let us get away with saying that the real star of acts is the Holy Spirit and he does his work through every believer. Keep listening as Dr. James Boyce introduces us to a few of the ordinary believers. God used to turn the first century world upside down.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Today we get to know if you ordinary people in the next 18 Priscilla Kliewer, a married couple working folks in Jewish Apollo's was a young single man educated and Greek. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce explains how God touched their lives. One of the great things about closed doors in the Christian life is that they are not necessarily or always closed forever.

Sometimes there's. In our lives when God closes something to us, directs us in another way, but that as we go on in the Christian life we find it later, God opens the door and we find a new field of service. We have a case that in the 18th chapter of acts, beginning in verse 18 where to study because in these verses we find the door to Asia, primarily through the important town of Ephesus opening for the apostle Paul spoke of closed doors because if you can think back earlier to the 16th chapter when Paul was passing through that area of the world for the first time, you may recall that it was on that occasion. On his second missionary journey that the Holy Spirit Closing doors for them as they made their way across country and ended up control as right across from Macedonia wanted to go and Asia were told that the Holy Spirit forbid they wanted to go into Bithynia on the Holy Spirit kept them from going there as they couldn't veer to the left and South. They couldn't bear to the right North as they kept on. They eventually ended up carrying the gospel and your but I didn't mean that God had forgotten Asia here in the province of Asia was this great city of Ephesus, and at this point in the book this point in Paul's journeys.

Toward the end now of his second great missionary journey. He does finally arrive in Ephesus and begin work, which was to be greatly blessed by God and prosper over a period of many years, certainly Luke writes book was aware of the importance of the city.

Because of this point, and indeed for their rest of the next two chapters. He seems to be concentrating on the city modified concentrates on the city so much that he does something that has always been confusing to Sunday school teachers. Those who teach the book of acts and Sunday school know that at least at this portion of the book you have to teach it in terms of Paul's missionary journeys very easy to see where the first missionary journey begins and ends, because the Holy Spirit says separate and be Barnabas and Paul and they go off and do the work and when they're done come back and they reports to the church in Antioch so that was easy to understand and is easy to understand. Also when they start off on the second missionary journey because we read on that occasion that after a while Paul said Barnabas let's go often visit their churches that we found it the first time out. My other disagreement.

Barnabas went one way and Paul and another but very easily understand where the journey begins. The problem is that the ending of the second missionary journey in the beginning of the third a run together by Luke in this passage in so we would almost say, careless manner, but it's quite easy to read past them and not even understand what is happening. Nevertheless, there is a change or takes place between verses 22 verses 23 all landed in Caesarea in verse 22 went up and say where he went up to what it means Jerusalem. That's where you go up to because Jerusalem was high he went up to Jerusalem greeted the church there reported on his work and then from Jerusalem that was high he went down to Antioch and reported to the church. There really is the end of the second missionary journey then verse 23 says after spending some time in Antioch. Paul set out from their travel from place to place glaciated and Phrygia and that's the beginning of the third missionary journey reason I mentioned that the fact that Luke more or less blends these two important trips together is that Luke's interest at this point shifts from what we would call and numbering of the journeys to establishing and administering this great church in Ephesus the end of the second journey which we are dealing with now. Paul passes by and is there just briefly though he meets with considerable success. Then on the third journey as he starts out again.

The story which is told in the next chapter he spends several years in emphasis that is the longest period of ministry to date of any place that he has visited on these missionary travels while we have a new field to field beginning with this middle portion verse 18. What I want us to see as we read and study these verses that introduce it to us is that this new field was also provided for by new workers are several mentioned and chapter. Worst of all their Priscilla and Aquila, who have already been introduced to us earlier start of the chapter. They traveled with Paul to Ephesus and end up being close to the church there were told about elsewhere in Paul's writings and then told about Apollo's was very interesting. Brilliant them eloquent man that came to Asia from Alexandria in North Africa and was instructed by Priscilla and Aquila and then had a great ministry of his own which Paul reflects on in his first letter to the Corinthians written later not like to look at these people because God was obviously providing for Paul and providing for the work and what God did. There is what we want God to do as well.

Today Priscilla Kohler interesting. Now they were what we would call just working people.

They were changemakers probably meant they worked in leather because tents were made out of skinless and that would mean that they were not among the aristocracy. Certainly, they were not particularly well educated so far as we know they were Jews had been living in Rome, but when the Emperor Claudius issued his edict against the Jews in Rome and banished them from the city Priscilla Kohler were among those who were affected and as a result of that edict of Claudius. They left Rome and traveled to Corinth where Paul met Claudius mentioned hidden the earlier part of the chapter and verse three is significant. Historically, because that is the first indication and secular literature of the presence of believing people in this great capital of the Roman Empire in direct reference in the questionable one. So Tony asked the Roman historian says in one place where he's reporting on the activities of Claudius that because of insurrections that place by one Christus Claudius banished the Jews wrong.

Always been a great deal of speculation. What Suetonius meant when he said that this trouble was at the instigation of a man named Christus CH RESTUS could of course be a reference to somebody that we'd never heard of and don't know about any other way but that general feeling is that what Suetonius probably did was mixed up work Christus with the word Christ he was writing about this later. After all, was getting a secondhand all he really knew is that at this time there was a great deal of disturbance in the Jewish community that centered around this person whose name he thought was Christus probably was the name Christ and that's an indication that they are in the Jewish community in those days was a great deal of ferment certainly when Paul later got to Rome himself. He tells us about it because it was jealousy in that community.

And Paul actually experience certain amount of mistreatment. As a result of himself. But here you have a disturbance which resulted, as I've indicated in Priscilla: being banished from the capital, how they came to Corinth their abatement. Paul Paul later writes to the Romans when she did from Corinth on that second missionary journey. He says in the 16th chapter verse three that he wants those in Rome to greet Priscilla and which means that some time during the year and 1/2 that Paul Spence and Corinth Priscilla and Aquila left Corinth and went back to Rome, probably because at that point edict of Claudius had been lifted, but they came back to Corinth because now in this passage that were reading. They were there. When Paul finally left at the end of the year and 1/2 ministry went emphasis and they went along with them and apparently settled there so it was a couple that though they had no particular status of the Roman world, and no exceptional education lease didn't terms of the learning of the day were nevertheless very active Christian people and they were mobile and they traveled with Paula were very helpful to him in his ministry here and then also later as were going to say some things about them as we study the various references to them in the New Testament here in Paul's letters already in the 18 chapter earlier. Verse three we find that when Paul was at Corinth in the early days, he lived with.

We lifted that we saw that Paul had come from Macedonia and at that point apparently had run out of money. Churches had been helping them along the way without the church in Antioch done that in the churches of Macedonia had done it as well when he writes to the Philippians and letter the bears. That name means thanks them for having sent money to his support. Time and time again were several occasions in the churches of Macedonia supported that when he got to Corinth, he had no money and found that he had to work which he was quite willing to do. And in that connection fell in with Priscilla Tukwila, who had the same trade heated so here you have a couple that opened their house ball and labored with them, not only in this manual trade tent making but also in the gospel, and undoubtedly learned a great deal from them during that time they lived together in that city in the 16th chapter of Romans, which I mentioned earlier, verse three when Paul writes to the Romans and says greatly: Priscilla. He says something else about them. That is worth noting.

He says because they risk their life for me what that refers to nothing here in acts that speak Summit.

We don't know whether that's something that happened early on in his ministry or something that happened rather late. Paul wrote the letter from Corinth presume something that happened in that city. Yet we don't know what it was was an occasion where Jews try to make trouble.

And yet it didn't seem to be anything that affected all directly.

The last when Paul writes of them. He says cease to risk their lives for me is important. There was a great bond and a great service. So when all is we saw an earlier study was perhaps a bit down and discouraged being in financial need, and having left his coworkers Timothy and Titus others behind as he came on to Athens and Corinth. God provided this couple were even willing to risk their lives for them and then when they went on.

Emphasis all over again. It doesn't say that here. Apparently they establish themselves in the home where they began their business and there were had at church begin to meet these verses also tell us about Apollo's policy was quite a different kind of character role in Priscilla were Jews were working people married couple upon us was a man who so far as we can tell was single, Greek, and was quite eloquent and learned that all of the learning of the day came from Alexandria to start with the great metropolis of North Africa city, which figured at that time and also in early church history is a source of great learning. Alexandria was, for example, the city of Philo great Jewish philosopher who was so versed on only in the Greek philosophy of the day, but in the Old Testament, and who interpreted much of the Old Testament in Greek philosophical terms. A very wise man since Apollo's was educated in Alexandria and was from that city.

It's quite tempting to think that he probably knew Philo go nothing in the New Testament tells us that exactly what we are told about him. In verse 24 and following the number of very interesting things.

First thing we find there are his assets and there are quite a few because he was very impressive man told.

First of all, that he was learned as he had been taught all the learning of the day on the school not only high school, he got into what we would call college and university in the done graduate work is a very learned man, secondly we're told that he had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. The reference their courses, not to the New Testament Scriptures, because they were only coming into existence at this time. Certainly not circulated references rather to the Old Testament Scriptures. There again, it's hard not to think of Philo because Philo managed the goal of the Old Testament and expounded in contemporary terms, and if the policy had any contact with Philo. Undoubtedly, this would have been part of his training. There was a man who knew the Old Testament into the Old Testament well and were told about him is that he had been instructed in the way of the Lord it's hard to know how to take that when we read the words the Lord we think naturally of Jesus Christ. It may be. That's what this refers to later on. It does say he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately so you something about Jesus but on the other hand, the words the Lord often referred to Jehovah God of the Jews, the God of the Old Testament, and at this point in the listing of Apollo's assets at probably means that he was instructed in the ways of God is that was unfolded in the Old Testament.

I would mean that he knew the law. He knew what was expected of God's people and certainly he tried to follow it before thing that is mentioned in his favor is a great asset is his fervor as a didn't barely know these things with detached intellectual academic remoteness but on the contrary, these things were very important to him and when he spoke about them and talk to me talk with great fervor.

We say with great energy and great conviction.that's one reason why he was so effective is an order although he would've had all the skills of Grigori Torres knew how to hold an audience know how to develop his point C knew how to use language in a way that Drew persuaded his hearers, but what is mentioned here is his fervor is not merely an exercise or skill on his part but is something that was deeply embedded in his heart. Then finally for thing mentioned is that he taught about Jesus accurately want to comment on that.

But before I do in order to comment on it. Well, I want you to say that although Paulus had all these very definite assets.

He also had one great liability when liability is that he knew only the baptism of John. I asked the question, what does that mean Paulus knew only the baptism of John. Well can mean one of two things. It can mean that he knew only the baptism to repentance and not the baptism that is associated with the work of the Holy Spirit on a person first comes to Jesus Christ would mean perhaps that he was strong in his knowledge of the first person of the Trinity, and even to a certain extent in his knowledge of the second person of the Trinity, but he knew nothing about the third person of the Trinity, it could mean that under some encouragement to think that it does because in the next chapter, we have a situation like that where the baptism of John is mentioned people knowing that baptism but who understood nothing of the Holy Spirit. And when they were taught about the Holy Spirit that believed were baptized by the Holy Spirit and also undoubtedly with water into the name of Jesus. Verse five is one meaning the other hand, this could mean something quite different when it says that Paulus knew only the baptism of John.

It could mean, particularly censuses put in the context of policy is knowledge of the Old Testament that he knew the unfolding of God's plan to and including the ministry of John the Baptist that he did not yet know that the Messiah will John the Baptist to come to announce that actually come I inclined to latter point of view for several reasons, mostly because of the way in which Priscilla Moquila came and began to explain the word of God to him whatever I can even understand it. Historically, Paulus was well educated and therefore also a well-traveled man, we can well imagine that in his very early days as you he had gone up to Jerusalem, especially had an interest in the Old Testament Scriptures, and while they are in those days a come perhaps under the influence of the preaching ministry of John the Baptist, partly if he had a spiritual hearts, he would've responded to John's preaching, and he would've her John preached that he had come to prepare the way of the Messiah were not told a lot about John's preaching in the New Testament, but John would've known the Old Testament Scriptures. We know that he quoted them on occasion, quoting Isaiah for his own ministry that he had come to make straight the way of the Lord and perhaps we all know this for sure, but perhaps Paulus and soak this up and had come to believe no doubt likely that the time of the Messiah was near and had taken it upon himself as his task now as John Baptist disciple to go and preach the same message and perhaps that message on his lips.

He returned to Alexandria and had breached their and then eventually had gone on to Asia and emphasis as we find in this passage, and it breached the same thing. There was a man who knew what the Old Testament Scriptures taught who understood what the Messiah would do and who said the time is at hand. Messiah is about to come by, say, that may very well be what it means when it says that she talked about Jesus accurately is everything that Jesus was due. Paulus was knowledgeable of and willing to teach on the basis of the Old Testament Scriptures. Yet he didn't know Jason said, what you do with the case like that, there's a man of great eloquence, great ability, and apparently even being greatly used of God because he went into the synagogue that he was arguing most effectively with the Jews and other people while me tell you a story from church history back at the time of the Reformation in England was a man like this man was very learned had a thorough knowledge of the Scripture. And who could speak with great fervor and eloquence was a bishop in the church of the time. His name was Hugh Latimer, Hugh Latimer was the man who was later martyred for his faith. During the Reformation and who was carried out to the steak with master Ridley had those great words which are often quoted in church history courses. He said the brave master Ridley in place. The man we shall stay white in such a candle in England as I trust my God shall never be put out.

So that was a great dying testimony of this great martyr Hugh Latimer in the early days. You Latimer was spotted Christian was in the church Scriptures, we didn't really know what it meant to be born again, and he certainly was not justified by faith like many in his day he still thought way to get to heaven was by works. There was a young monk who knew Latimer and looked up to him a great deal name is Billy.

Just a little lamb and he didn't have much education in Oman thought very bunch of him and he wondered how in the world it would be possible for him to bring the gospel to this important man he Latimer we prayed about it and finally hit upon an idea priests were required to hearing the confessions of those wanted to confess their sins. So one day when Latimer was ministering in church. Vinnie went up to him and is see was going out of the church tugged his sleeve and said to them, survey I say my confession willing to hear my confession and Latimer of course said yes. He would someday when into the confessional and Billy began to confess what he confessed was the gospel he spent a lot of time confessing how he was the center and was unable to save himself by his own good works that he was so thankful to Jesus and died for them and now by faith, the righteousness of Jesus could be imputed to him, apart from works and that's what he confessed he Latimer knew Latimer the gospel in that way in the confessional for the very first time was converted was a very clever device on the part of this young monk, but God richly used it and it was important in the outworking of the English Reformation something like that happened here.

I can imagine that when Paulus is very learned man came to Ephesus.

Priscilla and Aquila, who were still there at the time Paul having gone on to Jerusalem and then to Antioch said to each other.

This is a very distinguished and interesting man. Let's go to hearing loss is teaching in the synagogue, they were Jews.

They were welcome.

Of course it's others were also only went up and they listen they sat there and they had the same kind of reaction that many Christian people had sitting in the pews of Christian churches listening to ministers very learned an eloquent but don't know the gospel must've said to themselves as man certainly knows the Bible and he can quote the Old Testament effectively only one thing he lacks he doesn't know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that Jesus Christ is come doesn't know that Jesus died for our sin. He does know that Jesus was raised again from the dead by God the father on the third day doesn't know that he's ascended into heaven he doesn't know that he is now commissioned his apostles and disciples to go in all the world with this gospel. So after service standing in the vestibule. They must've said to each other. What do you suppose we can do. Priscilla said well let's have admin for dinner and Carla has been said that's a good idea. Maybe will have an opportunity to talk to them so that's what they did. They said Mr. Paulus, would you care to come home with us and have dinner today. Next week, and he said well I would be glad to thank you very much and so he did. He accepted the invitation, and after he had eaten and enjoyed their hospitality after they have demonstrated their friendship. They must've said something like this. They must've said we were really very moved by your teaching from the Old Testament today. You certainly know it well. It was a great blessing to our hearts, but we wondered you know that the one about whom you were speaking has come upon us would have said what you mean is, John the Baptist came only to announce the way all know they would've said that's true. John the Baptist came to announce the way but he did come as a matter of John the Baptist pointed amount and he baptized him when he said, pointing to this man. His name was Jesus of Nazareth. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Paulus said that true.

I believe that so what are the evidences began in that context to explain away have gone more adequately to this man. Paulus I must say at this point he was more receptive to teaching and encouragement than many members of the clergy.

I have known he really received the word humbly and he believed it and assimilated it with the knowledge that he already had and it utterly transformed his ministry. We know that because later he went on to Corinth where was it tells us he was greatly used of God causes it says the very last verse of the chapter. He vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate proving from the Scriptures that Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ followers of the people that God brought to help Paul and the others in this work in Asia and also in Corinth, where the word had gone forward in such power. Let me apply what we have looked at here to us in these ways.

Three ways number one learning education.

Further, even knowledge of the Scriptures and fervor in presenting its are not enough in themselves either in Christian workers or just plain Christians. There must be a knowledge of Jesus Christ I say that because there are always many people who sit in churches who learn a great deal know in our day not only the Old Testament but they know the New Testament as well. And if you asked them to tell the Bible stories. They certainly are able to tell the they don't know the way of Jesus. I don't really know personally that he died for them and that he rose again for their justification. They know his name but they don't know him as their Savior and Lord, and they are not as disciples so I say, in order to apply misusing the case of a policy as an example, although you may have on the church for many many years and you may know a great deal about the Scriptures we are learning and even the fervent teaching of these things is not enough. You must know Jesus Christ and you must trust him all of the other is good, but you can know that and still be lost. What you have to know is that Jesus died for you trust him. If you're to be his and go to heaven second thing is this obvious point. Many different kinds of people are needed in Christ work pointed out how different will and Priscilla were from the Paulus and we know also how different Apollo's was from Paul all was a Jewish rabbi, one who got in their tussle with people in the synagogue and elsewhere. Paulus was a man of great polish, erudition and learning. Matter of fact later on. Quite apart from anything that a Paulus or Paula done it produced a problem with Corinth because some were naturally attracted to a Paulus of his gifts and they said we are of the Paulus and others were attracted to Paul and his and slightly said were of Paul understood Peter so long. There were factions in the church from either Peter and her partner Paulus were part of it. And Paul did everything he could overcome it, saying at one point so I have planted a Paulus is watered but it's God who gave the increase but nevertheless they were quite different making is that all of them were needed in the church.

Paul with his energetic missionary advance much needed in a policy came later in watered with the song was much needed and Priscilla Tukwila settled down and opened their house and were host to the church were also very much needed application of fact offices simply that you are needed. You are Christ's disciple Bible says that the Holy Spirit imparts to Christians various gifts as it pleases God and to everyone. A gift God has given you a spiritual gift if you're a Christian, of the reason he is given it is because that gift is needed where you are. If you choose not to use your gift thing. While I'm not needed because someone is more eloquent or someone else is more hospitable or someone else has more energy or is a better evangelist that I am then you're making a great mistake and if you hold back on your gift churches impoverished as a result your believer in Jesus Christ. Your need in your needed right where you are get on the how to use your gift within you pray about it.

You say, or Jesus Christ show me what I can to show me why I'm here why you brought me to faith why you would made me the way I am at use what I am and where I am, in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and the third point I want to make is this is a bit of an inference, but I think probably Paul in these days must've been praying very strongly for these churches. Churches that he had been instrumental in founding and was then leaving behind a must've been wondering who the world was going to come and stay in these churches and teach them and lead them on in the way of the Lord. After all, he only had a certain number of workers with it when he started out he had Silas had Timothy only picked up along the way. Later he got Titus, but that was only three, he founded more churches than that the people at one here in another when there is another when there were still churches, for which he had no one must've been praying a must've been praying is the Lord himself had taught his disciples saying the harvest is plenteous with the laborers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest, that he will send out laborers into his harvest was workers true for us today as they were in Paul's day to day of our Lord harvest is plenteous, just outside our doors. There are millions of people.

Millions of people in the city alone need the gospel. All I know their resistance to the gospel. I know that no one left to himself is coming to God. No one is seeking God. What if Paul was told by God it Corinth. I have many people in the city, certainly among 4 million people in the city of Philadelphia.

God has yet many people, but we need to do is go to reach them, you say well I can't reach them. All that is true.

That is why we must pray we must ask God to raise up laborers for this vineyard. I prefer that don't you every time someone comes to Philadelphia. That seems to have a interest in the city. I say hallelujah. Lord, thank you for answering my prayer I met someone like that this morning would come from inner-city Chicago. They plumbed inner-city Philadelphia may want to start churches in the inner-city. I thought a mat board you really hearing us. I'm sure we needed more than Chicago does any rate, God sent them here and every time I hear somebody leaves. I feel diminished. All I know, I direct people to other places. Maybe even to Chicago but I'm always unhappy when I know that someone leaves because the work year is so great we want to pray to God will raise up laborers. God will give us Priscilla slick Willis God will give us a Paulus people that speak well. People are friendly people who were great evangelists.

People who are willing to serve because all of these are needed and it's by all these means that God does work to save some spray father needs her so great the needs of our city are great. These were country are great.

Even the world. So we pray that you would raise up laborers to the task at hand here and elsewhere, father, above all, their Christian sewer sitting back saying well I'm not much I don't have much to offer.

I don't understand the Scriptures well or I really don't have much education we asked our father that you would reach those very people show them impractical tangible effective ways what it is that they can do in order that the gospel might go forth in great power and many might be brought to Jesus Christ as Savior we pray in his blessed name you are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

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