As a young man I had a bad experience in a church. Because of this, even though I believed in God, I was shy about getting involved with a different church. That is, until a girl I was interested in invited me to come to her Bible study, where I met their college pastor, Bob.
Bob could see that I was struggling with my faith. I believe he made it his personal mission to lead me closer to Christ and enfold me back into the church. We got together for coffee, we went on long walks, and he even invited me to be part of a reading group that encouraged me to talk theology. After a while, I began to see that what I really desired was a true relationship with God. On a summer night in Portland, I rededicated my life to the Lord.
The first person I wanted to talk to about this decision was Bob, because I knew that if he had not journeyed alongside me, I never would have made this decision.
In Acts 18, we see another story of a couple “alongsiders” helping a young man find his way to Jesus. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and they were influenced by the teaching of the Apostle Paul.
While they were in Ephesus, they met a young Egyptian Jew named Apollos. Apollos was a man of faith who knew the Scriptures, but he hadn’t yet heard the complete “Good News” of Jesus. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him teaching boldly in the synagogue, they immediately sprang into action. They could see that God was working in this young man’s life, but he need to be mentored.
They could have treated Apollos harshly because he wasn’t teaching the full story about Jesus. But instead of berating him, Acts 18 tells us they "invited him to their home." Priscilla and Aquila gently took him aside to help him grow.
Paul had the same attitude towards the Thessalonian believers. He said, "We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well" (I Thessalonians 2:7-8). When believers come alongside others and enfold them in a gentle way, we create more openness. Often, it is our actions that turn people off, more than the message.
Next, Acts says they "explained to him the way of God more adequately" (v. 26b). Healthy churches make sure new believers understand correct doctrine. Priscilla and Aquila sensed the need to make sure Apollos understood the full message of the gospel. They knew that if Apollos was going to grow and help others grow, he needed the complete picture of Jesus’ salvific work.
This was a big deal. It set his life on a whole different trajectory.
After being taught the way of God more adequately, verse 27 tells us that Apollos went on to Greece and encouraged the church through his teaching. In the same way that an attentive and caring couple came alongside him, Apollos took what he learned and encouraged others to grow in the Lord. Later on, Apollos is spoken of with the same high regard as the Apostle Peter and Paul himself (I Corinthians 3:1-9).
What an awesome testimony! The impact of two willing believers led to the development of a person who would impact the growth of the church in a dramatic way. They empowered Apollos to reach his full potential.
Mature believers need to come alongside new believers and help them accurately understand the message of the Bible. We live in a day and age where there are many crazy ideas being floated about Jesus, and it has led to a lot of confusion. Today, God is still looking for men and women who have a desire to enfold people into His church. The world is desperate for non-judgmental, mature men and women who desire to empower others like Priscilla and Aquila did.
We need to pray that God would give us the eyes to see men, women, boys, and girls who we can come alongside and disciple. Who knows? God may use you to mentor the next Apollos, Billy Graham, or Elizabeth Elliot.
Pastor Toby Gallego
Riviera Baptist Church