Monday, April 08, 2013

Preacher, how's your ferve?

Acts 18:25, of Apollos says:
And being fervent in [the] Spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, 
Fervency in the Spirit linked to being able to speak accurately about Jesus. At this point Apollos has a serious gap in his understanding, but God gives Teachers to the church and Priscilla and Aquila complete what faithful Apollos is lacking. He didn't know a lot, but he did know enough and with enough life. The Spirit was at work in him. He had ferve! Subsequently:
...he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
The work of gospel ministry is teaching that the Christ is Jesus from the Scriptures. That takes some ability, but before that it takes faith in Jesus. The Pharisees Jesus spoke with knew the texts of the Scriptures but couldn't see that Jesus is the Christ. They lacked the illuminating animating filling of the Holy Spirit.

I've wondered in the past about whether the call to rightly handle the text might not just be about technical grammatical accuracy and expertise.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,  and their talk will spread like gangrene. 
Right handling seems to be on contrast to irreverent babble. Is it more character than skill? Both/And...

Recently Mark Bailey spent a day with my team and noted in a passing comment that you can't teach people where you haven't been. That's not the same as saying we should live what we teach. We can only really teach what we're living. Sometimes we have knowledge beyond our experience, but that's untested knowledge. And sometimes what we've lived is quite small and so our teaching will have a smaller or shallower range. Grey-haired preachers may have some advantage there, though age and experience sadly aren't always related to depth and maturity in the Christian life.

That surely has implications for developing and training Christian leaders - classrooms have a place but so does shared life. Probably a both/and approach is needed. Teachability more than academic ability. Someone who is growing is better than someone who has amassed information. Spiritual vitality ahead of doctrinal accuracy (I know that can be a false dichotomy but they don't automatically come together either...). Paul asked the Galatian church: How's your joy? In other words: how's your ferve?

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Bish, and in this instance, both/and isn't a cop out. Priscilla and Aquila obviously sat down with Apollos and taught him doctrine. And while Paul, Luke, Mark and Timothy toured Asia Minor together, there's no doubt that the younger men learned how to do life from the older. Heart warming to think about!