Summary: To establish that God calls upon ministers, teachers and leaders to make a difference in their messages, in their methods and in their ministries. The difference is the substance of the message, and not the style of the presentation.
1. The Difference in the Message
2. The Difference in the Method
3. The Difference in the Ministry
1. The setting of this lesson is in Ephesus; sometime after Paul had left for Antioch, closing out his second missionary journey. A new preacher has come to Ephesus and delivers a lesson to the church. He was a Jew born and probably educated at Alexandria, the third largest city in the then known world. As qualified as he was, he knew only part of the message of the Lord. We will be discussing the theme “making a difference.” We will notice three things. The difference in the message, the method and the ministry as it pertains to Apollos. We could say: “this is the difference which makes the difference!”
2. First notice the difference in the minister's message concerning the gospel of Christ. His understanding was unfruitful as it related to the entire Christian System. Luke was careful to list and enumerate the minister’s qualifications; his zeal, his talents, his spirit and sincere convictions for the truth he knew concerning the Old Testament Scriptures. Yet with all these qualifications, he hadn't been taught himself the "difference that makes the difference." Luke reports; "he knew only the baptism of John." Apollos knew of the preaching of John the Baptist – regarding the coming Messiah.
3. Second, we see a man and his wife in the congregation that made a difference by their method of correction and instruction to the preacher. This husband and wife team was able to expound the way of God more perfectly to him. We would be wise to follow their example; and sincere concern not only for truth; but also for the messengers. Their example of wisdom fostered an attitude of heart of the minister to listen; to take heed; and make corrections where it has been pointed out in a constructive manner. It was their method that assisted this minister in obtaining the needed understanding of the gospel of Christ. Priscilla and Aquila’s approach "made the difference" in this minister's life and ministry.
4. Finally, the congregation made a difference in Apollos’ ministry, by supporting him. The church encouraged him and sent a letter accompanying him to the brethren in Achaia (church at Corinth) to receive him. Thus, this correction, teaching and support affected a positive change in the minister’s message and ministry! This congregation had become the "difference that made the difference” in the ministry of Apollos. Could we do any less? This was a method used for many years in introducing younger ministers to the church. I came into the city of Enterprise, AL, bearing a letter from Jim H. Warren from Biloxi, MS in September 1967. This letter introduced me to the church of Christ; and bore witness of my faithfulness and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, like Apollos to the Corinthian church.
BODY OF LESSON
I. THE DIFFERENCE IN THE MESSAGE
A. To lack understanding concerning the gospel of Christ could prove fatal. He lacked a full comprehension in an important matter. Webster says comprehension means: "the act or process of comprehending; ... having perception… the capacity of the mind to perceive, to know and understand...." It was clear Apollo’s lacked understanding concerning the baptism of Christ. Solomon stated: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding,” Proverbs 4:7. Apollos though having a good education; trained in one of the finest school in Alexandria Egypt; was deficient in his understanding concerning the Christian System. Luke says he "knew only the baptism of John." Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:17 “Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Notice, Isaiah 28:9-10 “Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall we make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little.” See also James 1:5-8; 3:17-18.