Jump Start # 2400
Acts 18:25 “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John.”
With this Jump Start we reach yet another milestone, number 2400. We began this journey nearly a decade ago. Our readership is at an all time high. There are now 25 Jump Start books that have come from this work. I expect I have written over two million words. All of this is unbelievable to me. I am thankful to God who has given me the talent and opened doors for this to happen. I am thankful to a wonderful church that believes in all of this and paves the way for this to come about. And, now, onward we go!
Accuracy—that’s important. It’s important in so many areas of life. Close just isn’t close enough. Missing a three inch putt is just as important as nailing a three hundred yard drive. Accountants are paid to get the numbers right. Close isn’t good enough. At election time, every vote counts. Inbounds and out of bounds, fair ball and foul ball—all a matter of accuracy. Games have been won and lost because a matter of accuracy. Replays now allow officials to change what they said and get things accurate.
Our verse today is about Apollos. I wish I could have heard him preach. He was powerful and passionate. Those components are necessary for a public speaker. Someone may know the information, but if he can’t present it and can’t persuade people, nothing much will happen. Great in the mind must translate to great in speech. But here is the twist. Many are great in speech, but they are not great in mind. Many can sell snow to an Eskimo, but they miss the quality of being accurate. Apollos was teaching accurately, except for the topic of baptism. He nearly got a 100% on his paper. He was accurate except in one area. That one area mattered. Baptism is important. Jesus commissioned the apostles to go into all the world and preach and baptize. Baptism is part of the salvation plan. Close, here, matters. There are many who love the Lord. They got that right. They believe in Jesus. They want to worship God. They are thankful, thoughtful and compassionate. But they miss it on the baptism subject. Does that matter?
Sure it does. We must be accurate. Paul told Timothy to handle accurately the word of God. That meant to cut straight. We don’t want a crooked board. We want an architect who can draw straight lines. One test for sobriety is whether a person can walk a straight line. The guy who staggers and stumbles and walks crooked is likely intoxicated. Cut straight—some have the eye to do that. Most of us don’t. We must use a ruler, draw a line first, and follow that pattern.
And when you follow a pattern, whether it’s putting together something for the little ones, building a house, cooking according to a recipe, or, painting a wall, it will turn out just as it was supposed to. And, the reason is, you followed a pattern. All around us are examples of patterns. And when one sticks to the pattern, accurately, each item will look the same. We want that when it comes to the doors on our cars. We want that when it comes to the windows in a room. We want that when it comes to our shirt sleeves. Uniform. Accurate. Looking the same. According to the pattern.
Now, put this together with the Bible. If we all followed the Bible accurately and viewed the Bible as God’s divine pattern, we would all look and practice the same. Some don’t like that. They want more individual expression. Some want the Scriptures to be more fluid and free flowing. They don’t want a stiff pattern. They don’t want to look like everyone else. There is a way to do that. It is accomplished when one is not accurate with the Scriptures. Following from a distance, not careful with contexts, reading into Scriptures things that are not there, allowing culture to color how you see God’s word, will open the doors for multiple interpretations, ideas and patterns. Individuality will allow each person to worship God as they feel. Some may plant a flower garden for God. Someone else may write a poem for God. A group of fat guys may spray paint, “G-O-D” on their bellies and stand up and cheer for God. And in the context of individuality, who is to say one is better than the other. In this spirit a person can believe that God is a man, God is a woman, God is a man that became a woman, or God is a tree. And, this is exactly where we are in the climate of religion today. Nothing is wrong and everything is right. And, very few are accurate with the Scriptures.
Apollos was accurate except on baptism. That’s ok, most would say. But not back then. Not according to our Bibles. Priscilla and Aquila heard him. They heard that he was close but not accurate on baptism. They didn’t give him a pass. They didn’t think that it will be ok. The next verse tells us that they took Apollos aside and explained to him “the way of God more accurately.” There’s that word, accurate again. They taught Apollos. They got him “straight” on baptism. He was now cutting according to the pattern. He was preaching it right down the line. He was accurate.
All of this tells us the value of cutting straight where God has drawn the line. Don’t be coloring outside the lines. Someone comes along in the academic circles. He knows the languages. He writes scholarly material. Many start buying into his ideas and theories. Yet, this man doesn’t cut straight when it comes to marriage. He doesn’t cut straight when it comes to worship. He doesn’t cut straight when it comes to the organization of the church. He isn’t cutting straight on salvation. After a while, I think the guy can’t cut straight! He’s not accurate. He’s not like Apollos. He’s not getting more and more accurate. He’s a pied piper that is leading folks away from what God says. Accuracy matters.
So when someone defines a preacher as a “good speaker,” we really need to see how accurate that preacher is with what God has said. He may be a smooth speaker, but he may be not cutting very straight. The spirit of Priscilla and Aquila is needed today. They didn’t walk away. They didn’t talk about Apollos to others. They didn’t post something on social media. They didn’t make a scene in front of others. They cared enough to help him cut straight. They loved him enough to want him to be accurate. They took him aside. They taught him. They showed him. They helped him. And, now, Apollos was teaching accurately.
That’s the spirit we need today. More helping and less critical condemning. More showing the pattern and less pointing fingers. More taking aside and less talking to others. Apollos got it, because someone showed him how to be more accurate.
How accurate are you? Do you care?