Demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was/is the Christ.
Acts 18:23-19:12 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 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; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
19 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7 There were in all about twelve men.
8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.
Today’s text begins saying: Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 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; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. The first thing that occurred to me when I read that was that the scriptures it speaks of, were not the New Testament, they were not the gospels or the writings of Paul, Peter, James and John. The scriptures he used to demonstrate that Jesus was the Christ, were the Old Testament scriptures of the law and the prophets. Words which were written hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus was born, lived, died on the cross and was raised from the grave, accurately predicted the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. Depending on who is counting, there are between 350 and 400 Messianic prophecies in scripture, which were fulfilled by Jesus. Yet sadly so many today call the Old Testament irrelevant. They say we are no longer under the law or the old covenant. It is true that we are not under the law, but to disregard the Old Testament scriptures is to disregard the revelation of Christ and the nature of God. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is God’s revelation of His plan for the redemption of man. When we demonstrate Jesus as the Christ from only the New Testament gospels and letters, we lose the convincing power of the prophetic word, which accurately predicted Christ and God’s plan.
Still, the second thing that occurred to me was that the text says: …he greatly helped those who had believed through grace… What is it that matters so much about those few words? We today need to understand that we can demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, through the scriptures, both the Old and the New Testament, but those who believe, must believe through grace. As convincing as Apollos was, as convincing as Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles were, there were many who still rejected what they said. We may convince some people by the demonstration of the truth of scriptures, but in truth, it is by grace that even they must believe. Today’s text ends saying: God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. Paul walked in a powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit. When Paul, an expert in scriptures, described his own preaching, he said: When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) Like Paul, we will not convince many by superior speech. We may win some debates, but we will win very few souls for the kingdom. They must believe by grace. We must be careful even in this, even in the message of grace. Far too many today speak of grace as though it makes every sin okay. Paul says he was determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified. Jesus didn’t endure the suffering of the cross to redeem sin; to make sin okay. Jesus was born, lived, died on the cross for our sins, that we would be redeemed from our sins. The true message of grace is not that sin is okay, but that rather through Jesus death on the cross, we are okay.
How then should we live? What should we do and say, that by grace others would be convinced that Jesus is the Christ? Jesus Himself says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18) The power of the Holy Spirit will accompany those who believe and preach the good news. Like Paul, we should speak of Christ and Him crucified for sin. We should walk in the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Still it is by grace that they will believe. The message of grace is not that sin is okay, but rather that because Jesus died for our sins we are okay. The message of grace, more than what we say, is a message we speak through our lives. If they are to believe by grace, then they must see and know grace through the lives of those who believe. One of the greatest powers of the Holy Spirit which we can demonstrate to others is to, as Paul says in Galatians 5:16-25: I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. If others are to believe that Jesus is the Christ, they should hear the truth of the gospel, that Jesus died, not to redeem sin, but sinners. Our lives should demonstrate the power of the Spirit as we walk powerfully in grace.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may both the words of scripture, the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit and a life of grace, be my witness and testimony that Jesus is the Christ. Amen