Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Seeking Godís Face
Pastor Steve Schell
Acts 18:24-19:7
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There are those who believe in God and those who love God. Everyone who loves Him, believes in Him, but not everyone who believes in Him, loves Him. This is because God is real. He’s a person with a distinct personality. You’ll often hear people say things like this: “I can’t believe in a God who would…” In other words, they don’t like the God they see in the Bible, and they refuse to follow a god they can’t modify until He comes up to their high standards. One distinguishing fact about people who talk like this is that they have never personally met God. It’s all theory and philosophy, because people who’ve actually met Him talk differently. They speak about Him as if He’s a person, and He’s there watching, somewhere in the room. And to be honest there’s a bit of fear left in them because He was much bigger than they originally thought. Actually, He was downright intimidating. It was obvious He had come down to their level to talk with them. In that moment, it never even crossed their mind to tell Him ways they felt He needed to change.

There are people who are looking for salvation and there are people who are looking for God. There are people who want to make sure they’ll go to heaven when they die, and people who long to be close to Him now. If you think about it, those are two wildly different motives. One is raw self-interest: “What do I have to do so God will let me into heaven?” The other is a hunger for relationship. Like a lover who feels lonely and empty apart from the one they love, this person never seems to get enough of God. They’re always pursuing Him, wanting more. They aren’t focused on His gifts or blessings, though those things seem to come along naturally for people like this, instead they’re focused on His presence. They want to sense that He’s close, they want to talk to Him. One person said it this way: “Some people seek God’s hand, others seek His face.” I would submit to you that Apollos was a man who was pursuing God, he was seeking His face.

Apollonius of Alexandra (Ac 18:24-26)
Let’s meet a very unusual man:
DBS (Sunday-Saturday)

Ready for more
There’s something about Apollos that startles us. I think it’s his humility. Most people simply wouldn’t do what he did. The way he responded to correction from strangers, from a woman, is amazing. The suddenness with which he took in this new information, and then undoubtedly submitted himself to the same ministries that others, like him, later experienced under Paul, is almost too good to be true. Where’s the arguing? Where’s the pride? Let’s not forget, when Paul found more of John’s disciples he:
1) Baptized them again, in the name of the Lord Jesus (Ac 19:5).
2) And then laid his hands on them for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Ac 19:6).

Can there be any doubt that Priscilla and Aquila ministered these same things to Apollos after they taught him the full gospel? Why was he able to go deeper with God so easily? I think Paul explains this in a letter to the Corinthians.

Removing the veil (2Co 3:16; 4:3, 4, 6)
Paul is explaining why some people can’t see the truth about Jesus. He says it’s because they deliberately put a “veil” (hood) over their face because they don’t want to see God’s glory shining from Him. He says the devil motivates us to do this by deceiving our thinking. Then Paul says that the same God who said, “Let there be light” when He created the universe, and light filled the darkness, is the One who must again speak light (spiritual revelation) into the darkness of our hearts. When He does, we are able to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. Our part is to turn (2Co 3:16), God’s part is to reveal (2Co 4:6). “When a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” In other words, the first step is for us to stop putting a veil over God’s truth, to stop running away. Our attitude has to change before revelation can be given. I think I assumed the reverse was the case. I thought God had to give us revelation before we could respond. But Paul says our heart moves first, and then our mind is able to see Christ. This means we’re not victims. We can’t blame all our unbelief on the devil or ignorance. We got ourselves into this hardened condition, so the first step out is to stop refusing to see the truth.

What does this have to do with Apollos? It tells us that John’s baptism of repentance had done its good work in him. His heart was already turned toward God. He wasn’t refusing to see anything God wanted to show him. In fact, he was thrilled to have more of God.

No compromise
Apollos didn’t compromise:
1) He walked in all he knew of God. He didn’t choose, out of convenience, to walk at a lower level.
2) He gladly learned from anyone who knew more than he did. In spite of all his learning he was still humble and teachable. Someone said, “People like this are pretty sure to be rewarded with what their books have failed to teach them, from some who have studied in a higher school.”
By putting Priscilla’s name first when he talks about this couple’s ministry to Apollos, Luke may be indicating she took the lead in some way. Both husband and wife had gifts, but she may have been the better teacher or ministered in greater power. And Apollos received it gladly.
3) He immediately put into practice all he had learned, so these new truths became deeply understood and personal. He didn’t have an encounter with God and then put it aside and let it all die. True to his character, he immediately wanted to go to Greece and minister what he had learned to them (vs27, 28).

I think it was his hunger for more of God, and a passion to help others find more of God, that drove Apollos. He didn’t compromise, he remained humble, and he wasn’t passive. He immediately began to proclaim new truth and minister with new power, and as a result he stepped into the mainstream of what God was doing and became a major force in the early church (1Co 1:12; 3:5, 6, 22; 16:12; Titus 3:13).

Apollos’ example
This man’s example challenges all of us:
1) His passionate pursuit of God challenges those of us who’ve been passive toward God. We believe in Him and still want to go to heaven, but Apollos’ example demands we not be content with a shallow relationship. He dares us to seek God’s face.
2) He challenges those of us who used to passionately pursue God, but at some point began to neglect God, and lost the desire to tell others about Him. Apollos dares us to stir up those things that have become dormant, to minister again with all God has given us.
3) Finally, he challenges those of us who’ve left our first-love, for whom the face of God is no longer enough. He dares us to love Jesus like that again, until we can say with the psalmist:
“Besides you, I desire nothing on the earth… God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Ps 73:25, 26, 28).

1) Think of a time when you felt very close to God. Where were you? What did He say (if anything)? How did that change you?
2) Are there areas of your spiritual life you have neglected? Do you know why? Do you want it back?
3) When you feel lonely for God, how do you draw close to Him? 

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