Summary: The Gift of Exhortation is a neglected necessity for an effective church. We need a revival of encouragement!
This particular book of the Bible is simply known as “The Acts”. The full title is, “The Acts of the Apostles” and records the various ‘actions’ of those prominent individuals included. However, if we were to be completely accurate and completely specific with the title; we would not refer to this book as the Acts of the Apostles. Instead, we would call this book, The Acts of the Holy Spirit. For you see, the secret to the effectiveness of the early church was not personalities. It was not due to the influence of articulate and eloquent men. It was not the result of winsome personalities it was by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In and of themselves, the apostles were incapable of accomplishing such mighty things. In Acts 3:6, Peter readily admits, “silver and gold have I none”. In Acts 4:13, we read that Peter and John were, “unlearned and ignorant men.” In other words they had no formal training or qualifications as teachers and preachers. They lacked a large financial base to promote their ministry and influence. But what they had was the power of the Holy Spirit at work in and through them.
This is the great missing element in the modern church. We are inundated with personalities and people who esteem themselves greater than they are. The modern church has more formally trained members and degrees of higher learning than ever before. The church of today has far more money at her disposal than she has ever had in history –yet the church has little or no impact on the real world around us. The fact is education and funding is no substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing that can duplicate or cultivate what the Holy Spirit is able to do. There is no limit to what God could accomplish through one congregation who is sold out to Him and filled with His Holy Spirit.
The Book Acts is a selective history of the early church and of all that was accomplished by the Holy Spirit through willing vessels. It was not about personalities –it was all about the Person of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of ordinary men and women through whom God was able to do the extraordinary.
Here in Acts chapter 18 we are introduced to such a couple. Aquila and Priscilla was ordinary people but their willingness to be used by God enabled them to be a part of an extraordinary work. Very little is known about this particular couple.
We know they were husband and wife and tentmakers by trade: Acts 18:2, 3
And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
We know they were personal friends and co-laborers of Paul
Romans 16:3 - Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
We know they were completely invested in the work of the Lord: using their home for a church
1 Corinthians 16:19 -The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
We know that they had put their own lives in jeopardy for Paul and other believers
Romans 16:4 - Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
There are only 6 verses in 4 books that make any mention to Aquila and Priscilla. These were not super-saints with a large fan club. They were never featured in the cover of Christianity Today. They never made the headlines of the prestigious church magazines, newspapers or the like. They were not like Paul or Peter. Their gifts were not the same –but their willingness to serve made a tremendous impact on those around them. Although they might be considered obscure figures in the New Testament narrative, God knew their names and honored their faithfulness.
There are many lessons we can learn from the testimony of Aquila and Priscilla.
Let consider just a few of them quickly.
The first lesson we learn is:
1. They were Engaged in Service
Aquila and Priscilla had a combination of gifts.
a. The Gift of Exhortation –the term literally means “to come along side someone to admonish, to encourage or instruct”. It is the God-given ability to encourage other believers. Those with this gift are able to speak to the heart. They seem to have just the right words to say in any given situation. They help other find solutions to their problems and encourage them not to give up.