Title: Aquila and Priscilla: A Biblical Example of Serving Together
Text: Acts 18:1-3
Aquila and Priscilla are the prototype saintly, serving, lay couple of the New Testament. There is no evidence Aquila was called to preach; yet, he and his wife attached themselves to a man of God and gave their lives serving beside him; because of it, think about it, God rewarded them by placing their names six times in four different books of the New Testament. What an honor. I like Aquila and Priscilla for a lot of reasons - they served the Lord as a team. I like it when husbands and wives serve the Lord together. Wherever you find Aquila’s name, you find Priscilla’s name. Wherever you find Priscilla’s name, there’s Aquila’s. This is not a case of a husband who dared to go above and beyond in service to God while his wife sat bitterly at home resenting the ministry and his involvement. This is not a case of a wife who sacrificed and served while her husband sits and stews; no, they decided that God had called them to be servants together. A husband and wife team serving the Lord, serving God’s man, serving the people of their local assembly. I like Aquila and Priscilla.
For 45 years at Blessed Hope Baptist Church, God has given us our Aquila and Priscilla couples. Now, this is a church that has a ministry of a Bible college; and, by the way, a wonderful thing, a great thing, but there are pros and cons to everything. Young people, as you come in here to minister, a lot of the things you hear taught and preached are geared toward young people preparing for ministry; but, I hope that you understand, as you prepare for ministry, that the real secret, the real key, the real heroes are the people that sit around you - lay couples - here at this church, that for decades have undergirded this ministry. So much attention, sometimes, is paid to what’s going on behind the pulpit, that maybe, from time-to-time, we need to stop and remind people that the strength of the church, the undergirding of the church, are these godly couples sitting in the pews. I want to thank God - I could sit here and name them off - from the time that my dad started our church, I get to pastor the church that my dad started in 1973, in a man’s borrowed living room, and almost from day one, God gave us those two or three couples, and then, added to that, they’ve been there in their longevity, in their godliness, in their stability. It has undergirded everything that happens there; I understand, “To God be the Glory Great things He hast done, but, I’m telling you, without the faithful servants, I don’t even know WHAT Blessed Hope would be, but, I know it wouldn’t be what it is today. I was thinking about this couple and what we could learn from them - I think God has given us at our church. and I can look around the auditorium and almost spot them - the prototype, saintly serving couples, loyal to each other, loyal to the Saviour, loyal to their pastor, loyal to their church - these couples are the pillars of every church, staying together and loving each other and loving God and praying together. “Well, preacher, you’ve elevated this couple - you’ve said they are your second favorite couple - you have to have some reasons... “ the reasons will be our outline, we will get them from the Scriptures. Can I start with what ought to be obvious, what we read here at the beginning.
They were gainfully employed
Why do I like this couple? How about this reason: they were gainfully employed, I don’t think I have to defend anything we do at Blessed Hope Baptist Church, especially in this arena, I think if you come to Blessed Hope Baptist Church, you would see a very active bus ministry - for a small-town church. We reach out to people of every class. Do you know why? Because Jesus died for everybody. If we divided the offering, into the money that was brought by bus kids, and the money that was brought by working couples, I think you would pretty quickly understand that without gainfully employed working couples in our church, sacrificial givers in our church, these things just wouldn’t happen- those bus kids wouldn’t be walking in the door.
Paul was an evangelist, he was a church-planter; can I remind you of this, he also had a trade skill. There is an old Jewish proverb that says, “He who raises a son without a trade, raises a thief.” Young men, I am glad you are called in to the gospel ministry, but I also hope you have what Paul had - the Bible calls it a “craft”. It also says, by their occupation, they were tent-makers. We are reminded and often told about Paul’s upbringing and his religious training; but, long before he was enrolled in that arena, he was taught a trade. I think every young man ought to be able to work with his hands and make a living. You don’t know where you are going to be and what life will throw at you. I don’t think we should forgo the preparation of our young men in this arena of working and developing a trade skill. The importance of a learned trade skill. If a church is to grow and to prosper, it must have couples who work J.O.B. - Jobs in the community. The church needs couples that have a work ethic, the church needs couples who bring their tithes and offerings each week, the church needs couples who will win their co-workers to Jesus Christ - it does not say in these first three verses that Paul won Aquila, won Priscilla to the Lord - we do know that he began to work together with them - maybe they were already saved, I don’t know, but, it wouldn’t surprise me if I got to Heaven and found out that he won them to the Lord, because if Paul was anything, he was a soulwinner. If you were working beside him, you were going to get the Gospel, if you were in the next prison cell, you were going to get the Gospel. I just want to encourage you to develop a work ethic. Paul worked with them. He worked with his hands. I like to go to a church that when you shake men’s hands, you shake calloused hands. I love Blessed Hope Baptist Church - it is a rural community, it’s a blue-collar community. And if you shake a hand, you are probably going to shake a calloused hand.
I want to say to the couples here, I wish I could say to the couples across the country - those faithful Aquila and Priscilla hard-working people that attend every church: thank you, for developing a work ethic, thank you for your sacrificial giving, thank you for giving to missions, thank you for stepping up to the plate, thank you for working hard on Wednesdays - some of the men in this room haven’t even been home to eat yet - they just ran in the door, showered - I have guys that walk in 10 minutes after the service has started in their work clothes- they haven’t even been home yet - I’ve got a man in my church, by the name of Val Loveless - they’ve re-opened the coal mining in Southern Indiana - they used to do the strip mining - now they are doing the deep mining the underground mining - I’ve got several guys in my church that work underground in the deep coal mine. I’ve bugged him, begged him, I wanted to go down and see it, he said they have passed a policy- they won’t let you go down there because of insurance reasons - and I said, “Well, if you could ever work it out, call me.” He called me one night late, about 10 o’clock, he said, “preacher, can you be here in an hour? We are on shut--down, I talked to the boss, there is one other guy here, they are going to let you come down.” I said, “I’m on my way.” I got in my car, drove about 45 minutes, and showed up at the coal mine. They brought me into a little room, just to satisfy the insurance, I had to watch this video : “ 17 Ways to Die in a Deep Coal Mine”; after the video, they gave me a hard hat that had a little light on it, and they gave me a canister with one hour of oxygen. I guess so that you can sit there for one hour and anticipate dying! I got in an elevator and went 300 feet underground. When I stepped out, it was honey-combed. That’s how they do it - they honey-comb it - they’ve got to leave pillars of the coal every so often so it is literally honey-combed. I spent the next four hours in that coal mine - let me remind all of us who are in the ministry, do you know why I get to do what I do? Because Val Loveless works 3rd- shift in the coal mine. Because Val Loveless goes every single day, and gets in that elevator and goes 300 feet under the ground - and works a 10-hour shift - while I’m sleeping, he’s working in the coal mine; and he crawls out at the end of the week and he’s handed a paycheck, and he comes in and brings his tithes and offerings - and about the time that I just want to maybe ease off a little bit, or get a little lazy, or maybe not push as hard - those of you that are going to the mission field, let me say this: if you come to my church, I will bring you to the platform, I will treat you like a hero, and I will try to convince our church that you are more than worthy of their sacrificial giving; but if I am going to do that - when you get on the field, will you remember that there is a Val Loveless? And would you not DARE work any less than he does? Amen! The Aquilas and Priscillas. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do what we do every single day.
They became part of Paul's missionary team.
Look over then in verse number 18 and 19 - let’s look about a few other things about Aquila and Priscilla. Verse 18, “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria and with him Priscilla and Aquila.” So Paul spent some time there in Corinth- remember the church and the letters to Corinth- he started a church there - Aquila and Priscilla were there when he started the church! Co-laboring with him, his fellow tent-makers- they either got saved or were saved, I don’t know - but they dug in, they got busy, and they had the time of their lives, and then Paul said, “Ok, we got this thing up and running, I am going to leave now, I will see you all later,” and they said, “wait, wait, where are you going?” “Well, you don’t understand, I don’t come here and stay - I start this church, we get it rolling, I’ve got some young preachers that I’m training, I plug them in - and then I go to the next city - that’s what God has called me to do.” And they said, “Well, you aren’t going without us!” If you are going, I am going! Let me give you this: they were not only gainfully employed, they were a part of Paul’s missionary team. God bless the church couples who give of their time and their life to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me ask you a fair question couples: are you a part of your pastor’s missionary team? Are you involved in door- to- door soulwinning? Are you involved in passing out tracts? Are you involved in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you know how a church is supposed to work? There is a POWER in the assembly! It wasn’t man that decided that we should have something called church - it was God that decided that. And you know what, God understood that coming together, we can do more together - all of us working together - than we could individually. God came up with the idea of the assembly. Think about this: if me and my family were by myself, and, by the way, that’s why some of you that are in this home- school, you had better be careful that you don’t get in this left-field, wrong ideology that’s connected with some home-schoolers. All of a sudden, they are so pro-home that they are against church - that’s not Bible - that’s not King James Holy Bible. You need the church - your kids need the church - so think about that ….So, you know, if it was just me and my wife, and we said, “Ok, we are going to sacrifice as much money as possible and see how many missionaries we can support.” We might be able to support one, maybe two, maybe even three, but you know what? I get to go to Blessed Hope Baptist Church-where we come together, pull our resources, and we have 65 missionary families - I couldn’t do that by myself! It’s called the power of the assembly. What about this matter of evangelism? Listen folks, if it was just the pastor that said, “You know what? I’m going to invite 10 families to church every week - and he got up and invited 10 families to church - in this day and age, you can invite 10 families to church, and not one of them will come. You can invite 10 families to church the next week, and not one of them will come. You can invite 10 families to church the 3rd week and not have one of them come. You can do it the fourth week and maybe get your first family to actually come. That’s about 40 people that will tell you “yes”, that said, “we’ll be there”, you know what? Southern Indiana is filled with a bunch of liars. Something tells me that they’ve spread up here to Northern Indiana too; but you think about the power of the assembly-everybody decides that, “I’m a missionary” - and I believe this, that every Christian is a missionary. You’re either a good one or a bad one - but you are a missionary. “Well, I haven’t been called!” I know - you’ve been commanded. So, you are either obedient or you are disobedient. You are either a good missionary, or you are a disobedient, lousy, lazy missionary. You think about what happens when you have a hundred men in your church, a hundred families in your church that stand up beside you and say, “preacher, if you’ll invite ten, I’ll invite ten.” Now folks, you know what? Your preacher, by himself, may meet 40 families in an entire month and get one of them to come, but we are talking about the power of the assembly, why God brought you together in this place; and if every single one, if a hundred couples, families, would say, “If you’ll invite one, I’ll invite 10.” You realize, folks, that’s a thousand different families that’s been invited every week- let me tell you something, if a thousand families get invited this week between now and Sunday - I guarantee you, you are going to have one, two, or three of them walk in that back door, and maybe three or four, or five or six - it’s called the power of the assembly. Aquila and Priscilla got it. Man, they got it. They got around this guy named Paul and he was so excited about souls, it was infectious. “Man, if he’s doing this, if he’s reaching people, we’re not called, but we can do that! And next thing you know, they got so excited about it, they said, “We’re gonna join the missionary team.” They served the Lord together. They got involved in winning souls to Jesus Christ. What a wonderful, saintly, prototype couple! All the churches - we ALL need Aquilas and Priscillas.
They helped disciple others
Let me give you something else: Lets look at verse number 24- look at this matter of being used in discipleship. Let’s back up to verse 19 -“And he came to Ephesus and Paul left them there.” Who’s them? Aquila and Priscilla. Paul tried to get away from them one time, and they said, “no, no, no!” Now, they’ve been with him a while and Paul says, “listen, I’ve got to go unto the next city, and they go, “no, preacher, we just want to go with you.” Paul said, “No, you’ve learned enough that I can trust you. You’ve learned enough that I can plug you in. You learned enough that I can use you to disciple these people. Listen, you are needed here. I haven’t trained you and put time in to you just so you can follow me around.- listen, I want you to stay here, I want you to disciple these new converts. I want you to be a good example to them.” “Aquila, you are to teach them how to be a godly man, and Priscilla, you teach the ladies how to be godly ladies. I need you here.” And you know what, they stayed there- and while they were there, look what happens in verse 24- “A certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.” Now, this wasn’t some rookie, this wasn’t some new convert, the Bible says he was eloquent, the Bible says mighty in the Scriptures- he knew the Bible. He was instructed in the way of the Lord. He had received some instruction. He was fervent in spirit. He had the ability to speak and talk. The Bible says he was eloquent in that, he was gifted in that, but, he was lacking in his doctrinal knowledge. There was an area of his belief that needed shored up a little bit. And then look who had the influence on him. Was it Paul? Was it Peter? “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” You know what, they got to the point where they were mature enough to be able to disciple . I don’t know if Aquila was called to preach or not, but he helped a young preacher. I’ve seen these kind of guys - you can tell the hand of God is on them - you can tell they have a zeal for God; and they are out there shaking the bushes and doing something; but there’s a couple of things that they are a little off in their belief system. And you know what, I guess we’ve got a choice, we can just go around, point at them, and tell everybody they are a heretic. But you see what Aquila and Priscilla did? They brought him unto themselves. They said, “Can we just show you a couple of things?” What wisdom they must have had. I don’t know exactly how this happened. Maybe they said, “Can we take you out to eat? Can you stop by our house tonight? My wife makes the best apple pie-would you stop by/” I think they had enough sense to do this…”God is using you, and our hearts were moved” So many times, we go straight to the correction, the criticism - if your kid is doing nine things right or ten things right and one thing wrong and all they hear about is the one - why don’t you talk about the nine before you address the one! I think they probably had some wisdom about them, they had the ability not to offend him. They had the ability to fix something that needed to be shored up. And look what the result was, verse 27, “And when he was disposed to pass through Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” You know what, after they got done helping him a little bit, he was even used in a greater way. Let’s not throw away people that might be a little “off”. If they still are teachable and they are open to instruction,...sometimes, we look around our community and there’s a guy that has a touch of God on him - would you take him out to dinner before you just preach against him in your pulpit? You might not be able to fix it, but would you try to help him? Be patient with him. A lay couple had enough wisdom, knew enough Scripture to say, ‘ I heard you preach, and there’s one thing...we would just like you to take a look at, there’s one thing that Paul taught us.- maybe it will help you a little bit.” Thank God for young men that are teachable. It’s not just preachers that can teach you some things - some of the best lessons I learned growing up at Blessed Hope Baptist Church, I learned from laymen in our church. Some of the best correction I received - don’t be uncorrectable - don’t be that person - but, thank God for men who were men, thank God for men who just said to me, “Jerry, come here.” and they walk over to the parking lot with me, put their arm around me and say, “You know what, God’s hand is on you, and you are a good young man, and I’ve been watching - I want you to know that I pray for you every day - but, there’s something you are doing, and you know what? You need to be aware of it, and its hurting people .And whether or not you know it, young man, there’s other people in this youth group looking up to you. Now, I’ve seen you do this - and i didn’t go see your daddy, I came to you. That’s what men do. I don’t want to see that again.” “You are right, sir. I was out of line there.” “Ok, ok, we are still friends?” “Yes” You know what? Thank God for laymen. We build everything at Blessed Hope - we had to draw blueprints - I think we had the kindergarten class draw them up - we drew blueprints, sent them to state, we pay them a couple hundred dollars - they stamp it - and then we bring them down and a bunch of rednecks get out there and say, “Alright, we are going to build us a building.” And we have - and most of them are still standing. And you know what, from the time I was in 5th grade on up, I showed up to work days, and I worked beside laymen in our church. And they brought me over and said, “Let me show you this…” “Why don’t you try this..” You know, financially, young men, how much that has benefited me in my life - just because I was willing to be taught? Young men need to spend more time hanging around older men and learning. Stop being a know-it-all! There are men all over this church who know something that you don’t know. There are men in this church that have built businesses and they’ve been successful, and they’ve got money to stop at Burger King on the way home - how are you doing, son? They didn’t even have to ask their mommy for ten bucks. I guess I am just here tonight just to say to the lay people, “thank you, thank you for supporting this church, for backing your preacher, thank you for being here during the highs, thank you for being here for the lows - because every church has highs and every church has lows. Ladies, thank you for all the thousands of times you’ve brought in something - made something - provided food - helped with the kitchen - showed up early - run the sweeper. Men, thank you so much for getting in that elevator and going 300 feet down, or going to that factory and working, or whatever you do. You are the reason we get to do what we do. And I believe this - you know how everybody talks about this line at the Judgment Seat? I think a lot of us who think we are going to be in the front of the line, will be at the back of the line. I think when we look at the front, there is going to be just a lot of faithful lay people. Aquila and Priscillas. They just worked in the shadows. Preachers get some of the spotlight - it’s just what we do - we don’t seek it - maybe in Heaven, that will get evened out a little bit. And the people who have always worked in the shadows will get a little more of the spotlight. You may not think anybody notices, God keeps accurate records. I think a lot of faithful lay people are going to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”