Preparation, not yours, but God’s.
DECEMBER 8, 2022
Preparation, not yours, but God’s. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free. And Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give into slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown. He’s an author, broadcaster, and seminary professor who is sick of phony religion.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it to the last part of the 18th chapter of Acts. And yesterday I took a little bit of time to talk about Apollos, who is the key figure in that final paragraph of the 18th chapter of Acts. We don’t know a lot about Apollos except what it says in this text. And there are four or five other quick references to him in the New Testament, and I think maybe that he was the writer of the book of Hebrews, but I don’t know that we just don’t know. When we get home, we’re going to say to Jesus, among other things, tell us who is the most famous, the Christian who was used the most when we were living on Earth. And Jesus would say, I’m not going to tell you. And then we would say, why? And he would say, because you wouldn’t even know the name. We don’t know much about Apollos. He’s mentioned and he’s given as an example. And we see that God used him in a great way, but that’s it. And it’s quick and it’s easy, and God moves on to other things in the Scripture because as Wesley said.
God buries his workman and he goes on with his work. Hallelujah.
The Bible is not so much about people as it is God using ordinary people in a supernatural and wonderful way. Now, yesterday, and I probably took too much time talking about it. We talked about how God prepares, how he prepares, he doesn’t act in a vacuum. Things that we think that are just present aren’t God’s immediate act. He prepared it for you. I will often ask Christians, when you became a Christian, was it brand new or did you feel like it was a part of a process and that you were coming to a home you even knew before? And they say, no, I was a new creation. And then they stop and they say, but you know, I knew him. I just didn’t know his name. In other words, God was moving in their past in a way that prepared them for the present and for the future. C.S. Lewis used to say that before he became a Christian, there was somebody who was watching and he knew it. He said he couldn’t sit down and even write, and he felt like somebody was standing behind him, looking over his shoulder. He was an atheist then, but finally God got him, Lewis said.
To say that I was searching for God was like saying that a mouse was searching for a cat.
And Lewis came to know Christ, but when he did, he could say with great authority, as can you, and as I can, I knew him. I knew him. I just didn’t know his name. And so, yesterday I suggested that a biography, your biography is really important because that’s the place where God speaks to you. Sit down and say, I was born in, and then begin to write and ask God to bring back the memories, the bad ones and the good ones, the places of trauma, the places of joy, the places where you were hurt, the places where you were healed, and say, God, show me your hand in all of that. And the reason I bring that up is because the text that we’re studying about Apollos, shows that some things had happened long before what happened in the 18th chapter of Acts happened. He was born in Alexandria, no accident. The Septuagint that’s the Greek version of the Bible, was penned there. He was born to Greek and Jewish parents, that was no accident. He was a scholar, that was no accident. And he was religious because he came out of a religious background and that was no accident either. And then we start reading the verses where he was used in the work of God in the early church. Now, that brings me to three or four stages, and we’re going to look at them through the eyes of this text because these are the stages where God begins to work with somebody. The first stage, and I’ve already mentioned it but we’re going to talk about it some more, is that Apollos was prepared by God for what you read in Acts 18. In the 24th verse it says.
Now, a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the Scriptures.
In other words, God had prepared him for that very moment, and God prepared you for this very moment. I had lunch not too long ago with a brand new Christian, who serves in the District Attorney’s office. He’s really on fire for Christ. And during the lunch he told me how God had prepared him for the decision he made only a short time ago when he ran to Jesus. He said, I kept being hit and I kept saying I can handle it. And then I would hit again and I would say, I can do this. And then finally something happened that I couldn’t handle and God was there and I ran to Jesus. That’s the experience of every Christian. There isn’t a thing in your life that was an accident, Jeremiah 1:5 said.
Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you and I appointed you to be a prophet to the nation.
Now, he didn’t find out about that until much later, and then he realized what God was doing and where he had been called. In Psalm 139:13 through 15.
For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise the, for thou art fearful and wonderful, wonderful are thy works. Thou knowest me right well. My frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret.
And then John says in I John 4:19.
We loved because he first loved us.
That means that it’s not an accident where you are now, you are to bloom where you’re planted and you were planted in exactly the place where God wants you. He has prepared you for this very moment. The scholars, the theologians call a part of this process, something titled Prevenient grace. What does that mean? It means that before you knew his name, he was preparing you, and that’s the first stage of when it happens. I look at my own life, before I knew Christ and I became a Christian when I was quite young, I was a teenager and I was at a Billy Graham meeting. It wasn’t a Crusade. He was preaching at Montreat, a place near my home, and my mother brought me to be there and I heard the gospel, for the first time I understood it and I came running, but I looked at some other things when I got older that brought me to that point. Extreme loneliness because my father was an alcoholic, fear of being rejected, fear of being ostracized, fear of not belonging, and then Mr. Graham talked about Jesus, a place of belonging, and I came running. That night at Montreat was not an accident and it was not a vacuum. God had prepared me for that and everything that happened that preceded it. Okay. That’s true with you too. I’m just using me as an illustration. That’s why biography, your biography is so important. And then secondly, and I’m just going to mention this and then we’ll talk about it next week. But secondly, you should notice in this ladder of development, not only God’s preparation, but notice also the brother’s instruction, Acts 18: verses 25 through 26.
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Find them, teach them. It’s part of God’s way. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. And that wraps up another wonderful week of exploring Acts 18, landing the plane by getting to know a guy named Apollos. And we’ll actually talk about him a bit more next week. Hope you’ll join us for that. Don’t forget Friday Q&A happening tomorrow. Always a good time when Steve and Pete Alwinson sit down to answer the questions you’ve sent in. So, I don’t wanna stress you out. I don’t. But the opportunity to order this year’s Key Life print magazine is running out. In case you haven’t heard, it’s packed with great articles from Chad West, the aforementioned Pete Alwinson, Kendra Fletcher, and of course Steve. I mean, just picture it, a crackling fire, Christmas songs playing in the background, and you leisurely reading through this great magazine. And when you’re done, hey, into the fire. Claim your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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