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David Marvin walks us through Acts 18. He shows how Priscilla and Aquila were hospitable, were willing to go, and made disciples. He warns us how easy it is to have a marriage full of ministry activity, but not a marriage on mission. While Priscilla and Aquila are examples for us, these truths do not just apply to married couples, but to all Christians who desire to live on mission.
Notes From the First Ever Pastor’s Conference
The Relevance of the Word and the Danger of Being Indifferent To It
How Christians Win or Lose
Marriage on Mission
Good morning. My name is David. I work with young adults on Tuesday night, and I'm excited to get to jump in with you guys this morning and continue through the book of Acts. I'm going to start with a question. Does anyone here either watch now or has watched before the show Fixer Upper? This is a safe place. It's okay. You can admit it. I once watched Fixer Upper. Loved Fixer Upper. I no longer watch it, because it essentially has, along with every other HGTV show, become 30 minutes to hate your house and to hate your life or to be discontent.
Truly. It's almost impossible to turn it on and not be like, "Oh my gosh. Our kitchen is terrible. What are we doing in here? We need shiplap." Of all of the shows you're going to watch on that channel, Fixer Upper, by far, seems to be the one that really pops. In fact, even from a ratings standpoint, it has popped above and beyond the other ones. Here's what's interesting about that. If you think about it… Why has that show been so successful?
Is it because of the uniqueness of the construction abilities they have together or the design choices Joanna makes or Chip's ability to swing a hammer that are so unique no one else could do what they do, and that's why it's so successful? You would have to say "No." There are tons of people, inside of this room even, who are part of interior decorating or interior design or construction work who could do what Chip and Joanna do, maybe even better.
So it's not the uniqueness of their abilities that makes the show what it is. The reason the show has been so successful is really because of one reason: Chip and Joanna. The marriage. This power couple, if you will. The partnership they have together is what makes the show so engaging and entertaining and you just can't stop watching it.
In other words, if you were to separate them and you had a "Joanna Show" and a "Chip Show," it would not be nearly as entertaining or probably wouldn't have even ever taken off. I mean, what would the Joanna Show be? It would be following her around to antique shops and talking about crown molding. Or if it was the Chip Show… I don't even know what it would be. Him jumping through drywall and playing with farm animals. It would just be like, "Yeah, next channel."
Yet because of this couple and their partnership and their marriage and the two of them together, they have created this incredible empire and this incredible show. Here's what's further interesting. The power of that relationship and that marriage is that marriage has been responsible for that show, and the show is transforming the city of Waco. It has become one of the fastest growing places in the country. It has grown in the last three years by 32 percent. The national average is 1 percent. That is crazy.
People look online, and they're like, "Oh my gosh. We should move to Waco. You can buy acres for a nickel." It's growing like crazy. Not only that. Twenty thousand tourists a week come in to see the Silos, which is their outdoor marketplace, their storefront they have down there. Twenty thousand people. Hundreds of employees and hundreds of jobs have been created, all because of this power couple. A city has been changed and is being changed because of this relationship.
Now why do I start there? Because although Chip and Joanna are a power couple, they are not the first power couple that has been a part of transforming the city in which they live, and not just for the cause of homes that have a more beautiful interior but a power couple that came long before them that was transforming cities through and for the power of Christ. We're going to look today in Acts, chapter 18, at a power couple that came long before them named Priscilla and Aquila.
Here's what you need to know about Priscilla and Aquila. They are the only godly couple we're given as a marriage example in the New Testament. In other words, all of the other couples are either not great examples or don't get much press time. Ananias and Sapphira? Not exactly the couple to follow. Herod and his niece Herodias and everything crazy that goes there? Not exactly the couple to follow. Joseph and Mary just don't get much press time.
The only godly couple we are given in the New Testament is Priscilla and Aquila, and they're mentioned over and over and over again. The apostle Paul talks about the incredible impact this married couple had together. Every time they're mentioned, they're always mentioned together. So we're going to look at their life and pull three qualities we see from a marriage on mission, three qualities that, as an encouragement in our study this week…
The thing that is both inspiring and encouraging about them is they are qualities that, at some level, all of us can begin to embrace and move in the direction of applying inside of our lives. Now recap. What's the book of Acts? Acts is a book we've been in for a while. Inside the book of Acts is the story of the early church, how it takes off. Dr. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, goes around and essentially documents the early days.
The first half is the ignition and beginning of the church. The second half is Luke following around the apostle Paul and documenting Paul and his work among the churches. Paul was the apostle formerly known as Saul, who interacts with Jesus, meets him. He was trying to kill Christianity. Jesus shows up, and Paul converts to Christianity and says, "I'm going to change the world for the cause of Christ."
So Luke follows him around. Think about it, if you will, like with a camera, following Paul from town to town and just seeing what Paul does in all of these different places. Last week, we talked about Paul in Athens, and Todd covered that. If you missed that, you can find it on Watermark's app. Go check that out so you can catch up with us. This week, Paul is going to show up, and Luke is going to take the camera with him, and they're going to show up to the city of Corinth and begin to minister in the city of Corinth, where they meet our power couple, Priscilla and Aquila.
Here's the last thing you need to know about Corinth before we dive in. Corinth was unlike every other city in the ancient world. The closest thing that resembles Corinth inside of our modern world would be Vegas. It was "sin city" inside of the ancient Roman Empire. You know, what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth. To be called a Corinthian meant you were a girl with loose morals or a prostitute.
It would be like your mom would sit you down and say, "I don't think you should date her. She's kind of a Corinthian." It was just someone who had a wild, reckless living. If you study Greek plays, you'll see that inside of a Greek play, if they were going to try to portray a Corinthian, they would always act like they were drunk, because they were like, "That's just what Corinthians are. They're always out there crazy."
So Corinth was this incredibly dark city, and the apostle Paul shows up, and because of our power couple, light begins to break through into the darkest city in the empire. What I think is so crucial that ministered to me this week is if you're married in the room, it is easy to have a marriage that is full of ministry activity but not be a marriage on mission. Maybe even here.
Really at every church, but especially when you're like, "Well, of course we're a marriage on mission. We have Community Group this night. We go serve here this night. We go do this thing the next day," and to have a marriage full of ministry activity but not be a marriage on mission. We're going to explore what that looks like. If you're single, stay tuned. Don't check out and get on Bumble, because I think what you're going to discover is that it's not just a marriage on mission; it is a life on mission that we see.
Acts, chapter 18, verse 1: "After this, Paul left Athens…" Which is what we covered last week. "…and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius…" That's the emperor of the Roman Empire. "…had ordered all Jews to leave Rome."
Here's what's interesting about this. Luke says Paul shows up at Corinth, bumps into Aquila and Priscilla, who were Christians who had just moved from the city of Rome and been relocated to the city of Corinth. Why did they move? Because Claudius, the emperor, said all of the Jews had to leave the city of Rome. What's interesting is this is an incident in the book of Acts that we actually have non-biblical, non-Christian records of.
This moment in time where Claudius… In other words, there was a Roman historian who wrote about this moment, verifying, essentially, what the Bible says. This guy named Suetonius (one of the earliest mentions of Christ outside of the Bible) says that in AD 49, the emperor saw that Jews and Christians were having conflicts in the city of Rome, so Claudius said, "Everybody out." In fact, it says this. This comes from Lives of the Caesars, where essentially we're told of this idea of Christ being in the city of Rome, entirely unrelated to the Bible.
In case anyone thinks, "Is the Bible just a bunch of made-up stories?" here's a Roman historian, not a Christian, saying, "Christians were in the city of Rome as early as AD 49." Suetonius writes, "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome." And when he expels them, he kicks out Priscilla and Aquila and many others, and Priscilla and Aquila pick up and move to Corinth.
Here's what happens next. "Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker…" That's Paul's job on the side. He wasn't just a full-time preacher. He had a job. "…as they were, he stayed…" Your version may say he lived with them. "…and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks."
Paul shows up. He meets this couple. They have the same trade. They're of the same faith. They just got kicked out of their hometown for having a Christian faith. They moved to Corinth. They're trying to unpack boxes, and they meet the leader of the movement of the Christian faith, Paul, and they don't say, "Aw man. We just got kicked out of our home for being Christians. This guy is all about instigating things. Let's not have him live with us."
They welcome him into their home and provide for him. They allow him to live with them, we're told, for the next year and a half, and eventually they just say, "Hey, don't worry about making tents. We'll cover it. You just focus on going out and teaching and preaching in the city of Corinth." For a year and a half, every day, Paul gets up. He's living with Priscilla and Aquila. They're having their coffee together, and he goes out while they make tents and spends the day sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing his faith inside of the city of Corinth.
It's the only time that we're told Paul spends significant time at Corinth. It's through this, as you'll see if you read the next few verses, that Paul goes out, and it says many people become saved. Many people become saved because of Paul day after day hanging out in Corinth, sharing his faith, only able to do so because of the hospitality of Priscilla and Aquila.
1._ They were hospitable_. They were willing to open up their home. "Hey, I don't have much I can offer you, Paul, but you're welcome to stay with us." Think about how significant that was. It's easy to be like, "That doesn't seem like that big of a deal." The ripples of that simple act of hospitality are still being felt today. Think of it. If Paul doesn't have the ability to go, "Hey, I'm going to go full-time ministry for the next year and a half in the city of Corinth," the Corinthian church may not be born. The Corinthian church may not be what it would become.
In other words, if you've ever been ministered to by the letters of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, you have a direct line connected back to Priscilla and Aquila, who said, "We don't have much, but, God, whatever we have we're going to offer up to the mission of reaching people for the cause of Christ. If that means having Paul live with us, or whatever that means for us, we're going to open up our home to allow him to be a part of it." And the Corinthian church would be born.
You may look at that and go, "Man, that's kind of a nice thing, kind of random. They opened up their home." What we know about this couple is not just a single act of hospitality, of opening up their home and opening up their lives. Over and over and over they're known for this. Paul would write later… Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned six times inside of the New Testament. Almost every time, he writes about something related to their home.
The other times we're told… He writes that eventually the couple moves to Ephesus, and what do they do? They set up shop again. They have their home there, and they bring people into their home. It says in 1 Corinthians 16:19… Paul, writing 1 Corinthians years later, would say, "The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house [in Ephesus] ."
So they move to Ephesus. The Ephesian church is impacted, initiated, launched from the home of this couple. They're just always opening up their home. Then they would eventually move back to Rome, and Paul writes to the Romans in Romans 16 and says it again. Priscilla and Aquila move back to Rome. What do they do? Of course, the Roman church is going to meet in their house if they're going to meet anywhere.
In Romans 16:3, Paul writes to the Romans and says, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house." They were always opening up their house for ministry. JP said a couple of weeks ago that the gospel moves on hospitality, and it's true. It was true then, and it's true today.
One of the greatest qualities we can see and one of the most significant ways maybe your marriage would be one on mission is the way you open up your home for ministry. I think when we think hospitality we think hosting parties, but the definition of the word is that you care for strangers and guests inside of your home. Priscilla and Aquila were a couple that opened up their home. What I know is so many of you in this body, as well as any church I know of, do this so well. I've seen it firsthand over and over and over again.
I moved to Dallas eight years ago, and there was a godly couple here at Watermark who said, "Hey, we're going to welcome you to come inside of our home. Come live inside. We have a spare bedroom. You can live in our home, and we'll take care of you." They welcomed not just with a place to stay, but it changed my life because of the ways they said, "We want to welcome you into our family and firsthand see what a godly family looks like."
And not just them. All over the place. There are people inside of this room who keep it up. Way to go. Our marriages on mission. One of the ways you see it is the way you're being hospitable. Just like Priscilla and Aquila had no idea how this simple hospitality, how those simple acts would transform the world, you have no idea what God is going to do through those.
Many of you who are hosting homes or hosting families are hosting people who come in for the Church Leaders Conference, and one of the best things at the conference, which is a conference we do in May, or in April this year… They'll come in, and pastors will get to stay with you, and all of them just say, "The most remarkable thing at the conference was the ways I got to see how the families, non-paid staff at Watermark, these men and women, these Priscillas and Aquilas, these marriages on mission, families on mission, would welcome us into their home."
Many of you who are welcoming foster kids into your home have no idea what God is going to do through that, if he's going to launch the next missionary, if the next Billy Graham, the next apostle Paul is going to come from the foster kids who are going to be welcomed into the home you have. You have no idea. So many of you open up your homes week in and week out for junior high and high school students to come in with their small group and to meet week after week, and you welcome them in. You provide a place for ministry to happen.
Here's what I know, because I work with young adults. I see it every single week. Lives are being changed. Young adult brokenness will not be experienced because of the ways they encounter Christ, because of the ways junior high students right now are encountering Christ on Wednesday nights inside of your home. Thank you for the ways you are pouring into the local church.
In other words, abortions will not take place because young girls are meeting Jesus inside of Wednesday night homes inside of this body. Divorces will not take place because of the ways you open up your home and high school kids are getting exposed to the fact that "Christ is where life is found. I should follow him. There is life there." Men and women, faithful marriages on mission, are opening up their homes and saying, "Whatever we have, God, we're going to turn it toward you."
The temptation, if you're anything like me, is to think, "I would be hospitable if I had more house. If I had a bigger house, of course… If I had a backhouse, I would for sure welcome people in. If I had more square footage or if I had a bigger kitchen or the bathroom wasn't pink, of course I would welcome people in." What we see from Priscilla and Aquila is that hospitality is not about how big your home is; it's about how big your heart is.
Likely, they didn't have a backhouse and a garage apartment where the camel pulled in underneath. Likely, it was one room where they were like, "Paul, this is it. You're welcome to stay, you're welcome not to, but we want to welcome you in." It shows us that hospitality is not about the size of a person's home. We've all experienced this. It's about the size of someone's heart.
There are people who welcome you over to their home, and it's huge, but they're not hospitable. Then there are people in a shotgun house, and you're like, "Gosh, love grows in small places, and it was warm in there." One of the ways the mission moves forward and marriage is on mission is by being hospitable. They welcomed Paul in. They welcomed the church in Ephesus. "You guys are going to meet here." The church in Rome. "You guys are going to meet here."
So Paul spends the next year and a half, and he goes out, and it says many people come to Christ in Corinth. Sin city is beginning to have light break forward. One day, Paul comes home, and he's talking to Priscilla and Aquila, and he says, "Hey, I think it's time for me to leave and go to Ephesus, and I think you guys should come with me." Here's what happens next.
Acts 18:18: "Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time." During that time, you see in verses 11-17 that Paul goes out. He's preaching. Many people get saved. The leader of the synagogue gets saved, and eventually Paul says, "I think we should leave." "Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken." So Paul gets a haircut.
Verse 19: "They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they [the church there] asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. But as he left, he promised, 'I will come back if it is God's will.' Then he set sail from Ephesus." Leaving Priscilla and Aquila.
Paul shows up and says, "I think we should move. I think you should come with me, and we're going to head to Ephesus." Then we're told Paul doesn't really even stay long enough. He gets there and says, "I think it's time for me to go again. I'm going to leave you guys here." Priscilla and Aquila don't put up any sort of contest or fight that we're told of. They just say, "Hey, we're willing to go."
2._ They were willing to go_. They're willing to go when others aren't. They're willing to go wherever the needs of the ministry, where the needs of Christ are seen. They see themselves… "Hey, if there's a problem, if there's an opportunity for the cause of Christ, we see ourselves as the answer, the solution to that. We're willing to go where others aren't."
Think about it. If I was Priscilla and Aquila, I would think I have every reason to not go to Ephesus. They moved from Rome. They set up new shop in Corinth. They're only there a year and a half. They just got done unpacking all of the boxes, and now Paul says, "Hey, can we move again to Ephesus?" They pick up and move to Ephesus.
If you're Priscilla and Aquila, you're going, "We just moved. The tent-making business is just starting to get off the ground here in Corinth. We're just establishing ourselves. We really love the elementary school down the street. I don't think it's time for us to move to Ephesus, Paul." We don't see that at all. They just say, "Hey, if you need someone to go, we're willing to go."
In other words, if there's a need in the body, we're going to assume that we're the answer. If there's a need for someone to go, we're going to assume we're the solution. We're not going to start with "Here's why I don't think it makes sense for us." We're going to seek to meet the need, which is so contrasted to how I often think, maybe many of us often think about responding to needs.
When someone pops up here and says, "Hey, we need people in our children's ministry to serve at least once a month to help care for the hundreds and hundreds of kids," my mind begins to run through, "Here's all of the reasons why I don't think that is me and someone else would be better for that." Or "Hey, we need someone to be a part of launching a Plano Campus or someone to be a part of one of our ministry partners in South Dallas. We need mentors there."
All of a sudden, the Rolodex in my mind goes through, "I think someone else is probably better suited for that. I don't think I should do that one." The way I can think about needs like that is not like Priscilla and Aquila. It's almost like how I think about jury duty. Here's what I mean. Two weeks ago, I got summoned, as one does, to come down and be a part of the jury selection. So, jury duty. Got to show up. I go downtown, get to the courthouse.
I get there, and I'm honestly thinking, "I'm going to be out of here in an hour and a half. Surely, they're not going to pick me." They needed 12 people. There were 75 of us. We go into this room, and I'm thinking, "I'm going to get out of here quickly, I hope." Each one of us gets a number, so we're numbered 1 through 75. I'm number 53. The lower your number is the higher the likelihood is that you had to be a juror. They only needed 12. I'm like, "Fifty-three? Oh my gosh. I might as well leave right now."
The judge comes into the room, and she begins to say, "Hey, we expect that this case… You're going to be here for the next three days, so we need people who don't have a conflict in their schedule who are willing to be here for the next three days." I'm going, "Oh man. That is not me. I don't know what my conflict is at this point, but I do not want to be here for the next three days." She says, "But work excuses don't apply."
In other words, if it's like, "Well, I have this meeting" or "I have something related to work," legally, your boss can't force you to be there unless there's a plane ticket or something purchased. If you're going to be in the city, work excuses don't apply. So she says, "Does anyone have any conflicts?" I can tell I'm not the only person in the room thinking, "Oh no. How do I get out of this?" As people began to share, because inside the room of 75 everyone has to share in front of everybody else, "Here's why I can't," and you're standing up and sharing your conflict.
Some people had legitimate ones, like, "I'm leaving here on a flight tomorrow," and then you could see that some people were just attempting to get out of it and think like, "I don't think this is good for me." I mean that, because people would say things like this. True story. One guy stands up and is like, "I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and I can't miss it." The judge says, "What time is the doctor's appointment?"
"Well, I haven't set it yet, but I'd like to go tomorrow."
"Can you not set it tomorrow?"
"I mean, I guess I could not set it. I'd like to set it tomorrow."
Then another person stands up and goes, "Well, I'm having my house remodeled, and I'd really like to be there during it." She's like, "Yeah, that doesn't count either." On and on through the group. One guy (true story, the most crazy one) I think (if you're here today, you can correct me) was just attempting to get out of it, because at one point one of the lawyers stands up and says, "Hey, the defendant has tattoos," and she said, "Even I have a tattoo."
The lawyer is speaking. It was like on her wrist. She said, "Does anyone in this courtroom have something against people with tattoos?" This guy straight from the back goes, "I have a problem with people who have tattoos." She goes, "Well, I mean a serious problem. Like, you would be unwilling to give him a fair trial because he has a tattoo." "I will not give him a fair trial because he has a tattoo." I was in this moral dilemma, because I'm like, "Tattoo guy is going to get to go home. I'm going to be here for the next three days."
She sends us all out of the room, and they call us all back in. I don't know what they do in there. They send us all out after everyone had expressed their conflicts or so, and they call us back in, and I'm picked for the dang jury, and I'm there for the next three days. I'm sitting there going, "Oh man. I should have thought of better excuses about why this shouldn't be me." I'm begrudging that I've been selected for this.
I think oftentimes that can be the approach that at least I have (and I don't think I'm alone) when it comes to my faith, whether it's obedience to Christ, whether it's obedience to just the needs that are inside of the body. "Hey, we need people who could be part of the respite ministry," which supports and comes alongside the families who are doing the foster care program in the city. They provide care and support to those families.
All of a sudden, when I hear that need, I begin to go, "Oh, yeah, here's why I don't think that really applies or it shouldn't be me," rather than assuming, "Hey, if there's a need, my default is I'm the solution to that need." What we see here from Priscilla and Aquila is the example of they start with "Yes." I'm not going to think, "How can I get out of this?" I'm going to assume "How can I be a part of meeting the need we see here?"
"You need someone to move to Ephesus. We're willing. You need someone to lead and host the church in Ephesus. Despite the fact that we just moved here, we're willing." So, they're hospitable, they're willing to go. Then we see our third quality with what happens next in Ephesus. In verses 22-23, we're told that Paul picks up and leaves Priscilla and Aquila there, and he goes to Antioch and Jerusalem and all of these different cities.
Luke does something different that he doesn't do often in the book of Acts. Remember how I said the book of Acts is Luke following Paul around with the camera. This is one of the few moments we're told where Paul takes off and leaves and Luke doesn't follow him with the camera. All of a sudden, he turns the lens back on Priscilla and Aquila and zooms in to what happens next in their time in Ephesus, where we see the third quality of this marriage on mission.
Here's what happens in verse 24. So Paul takes off. "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus." Where Priscilla and Aquila were. "He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John."
Luke tells us all of a sudden this guy named Apollos shows up. He's really intelligent. He's an incredible communicator. It's the only time the word… Literally, it says dynamite. Powerful speaker. He's unique among everyone else in communicating. He is a very eloquent and powerful communicator, but he only knew the baptism of John. What was the baptism of John?
Apparently, Apollos had been exposed at some point to John the Baptist's teaching. What did John the Baptist teach? "Repent. Repent. Repent. Turn from your sin, because God is going to judge the world unless you turn from your sin and trust in the one who is to come." John the Baptist came before Jesus, and he basically said that all people everywhere need to repent and turn from their sin, because God is going to send the Lamb of God into the world to provide a sacrifice for that sin.
Apollos never knew Jesus had showed up. Somehow he had heard the first part but hadn't heard the second part. He shows up and is teaching people, "You need to turn from your past, turn from your sin, and God is going to provide a solution. Keep your eyes peeled for the solution." Here's what Priscilla and Aquila do as they hear him speak.
"He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him…" When they heard he was off on what he taught, they did what of course you would think they would do. Go post clips on Facebook about how the church in Ephesus is not doctrinally sound anymore or there's not enough meat at this place anymore. That's not at all what they do.
"…they invited him [Apollos] to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately…" So Priscilla and Aquila see this guy with incredible gifts. He's really gifted, but he's off on some of his teachings. Some people say they lead him to Christ because he didn't have a full understanding of the message of the gospel. They don't do it out in public. They don't shame him out in social media.
They pull him into their home and begin to explain the way of God more adequately. They begin to disciple him. They pass on what Paul, who spent almost two years with them, had passed on to them. In other words, the teachings and understanding they had had of the Christian faith and what it is and what it looks like… They begin to pour into Apollos what had been poured into them.
3._ They made disciples_. What is a marriage on mission? They're hospitable. They're willing to use their home. They have a posture of, "God, whatever I have, will you use it for the sake of the mission? Will you use it for the cause of reaching people who are going to spend eternity in hell or eternity in heaven?" The second quality is they're just willing to go. They're willing to raise their hand. The third quality is they focused on making disciples. They made disciples. They poured into Apollos what had been poured into them.
Here's what's crazy about that. Apollos would soon leave, we're told, and begin to head up the Corinthian church. In other words, Apollos had become an incredible force for the gospel. So much so that Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 3 and would say things about Apollos that indicate that Apollos had become this celebrity pastor, essentially.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul essentially writes to the church in Corinth where Apollos is leading and is such an incredible leader and speaker that he gets all of these groupies who are like, "I'm an Apollos guy. There are Paul guys and Apollos guys. I'm an Apollos guy." Paul says, "Hey, you don't need to worry about following Paul or following Apollos. You need to follow Jesus."
He was so gifted and such a force for the cause of Christ he became one of the most significant leaders in the early church, all of which had not been possible had Priscilla and Aquila not said, "We're going to focus on making disciples." They had no idea who was in their midst. They had no idea the story God was going to write through this man they welcomed into their home and passed on the teachings of Jesus to, passed on what had been poured into them through the apostle Paul.
I heard a story recently from Todd of a woman who so reminded me of Priscilla and Aquila, because Priscilla and Aquila are a couple that you really… Most people don't even know who they are. I mean most people even on our church staff are like, "Remind me who Priscilla and Aquila are again," this couple that would transform the church in Ephesus, the church in Rome, that would be a part of leading the leader of the Corinthian church, Apollos, which is what he would go on to become, to Christ.
Most people have no idea who this couple is, yet they had such an enormous impact on the cities they lived in, on even today the church being what it is. I talked to a guy on our staff who's a doctoral student. He's working on seminary doctoral stuff. I was like, "You know the story of Priscilla and Aquila," and he was like, "Give me a refresher again."
One of our worship leaders, as I was like, "I'm teaching on Priscilla and Aquila this weekend," he said, "Oh. Remind me of the story of that again." You can be on staff (and I won't tell you which worship leader it was) and not know who this couple was, because they just kind of come in, they're faithful, and it's like they said, "We're going to make disciples, die, and be forgotten."
This story I heard from Todd was of a woman named Henrietta Mears. If I was to ask, "Who knows who Henrietta Mears is?" most of us would say, "Did she play Aunt Bee in The Andy Griffith Show ? I don't know who that is." People don't know who Aunt Bee is anymore, and that is what's wrong with our country.
Henrietta Mears was a Sunday school teacher in California for decades. Faithfully, week in, week out, she would lead this Sunday school class. In the midst of this Sunday school class, God would send through men that she had no idea who she was instructing, just like Priscilla and Aquila had no idea who they were instructing, who would transform the world in which we live.
What I mean by that is some of the students she led included Billy Graham, who would go on to reach through his ministry over four million people; Bill Bright, who started Campus Crusade. She led Bill Bright and his wife to Christ. He started Campus Crusade all over the country, and 99.6 percent of the world has coverage of Campus Crusade (you may have heard it called Cru) in 190 different countries. The ministry started by Bill Bright.
Dawson Trotman, if you've done ED1 or ED2 or any of the Equipped Disciple classes, who started Navigators. All over the world, people are being impacted by Navigators. Jim Rayburn, who started Young Life. These were four of her students. Hundreds of people ended up going into ministry.
Those four men, who would have profound impact, sat through and sat under the week-in, week-out faithful teaching of Henrietta Mears (who was single, by the way, if you're single in the room), who just said, "I'm going to take the time. I'm going to teach the gospel. I'm going to teach people how to study their Bible and share their faith." Think about that impact. She had no idea what she was doing, but she just focused on making disciples.
If the ministries of Campus Crusade (or Cru), Young Life, Equipped Disciple, Navigators, or Billy Graham have had an impact on your life, will you raise your hand? Think about that. At some level… Let me just awaken everybody. Todd, our senior pastor, trusted Christ at Young Life, so in some ways, everybody in this room is in Henrietta Mears' downline. She wasn't the most gifted person in the world. She wasn't the most incredibly talented.
She, according to Billy Graham, was one of the most significant influences on his life, all through just faithful focus on making disciples. "I'm going to live a life on mission, have a marriage on mission, and do what Priscilla and Aquila did, which is to say, 'This life is not about me. I'm not going to focus on how I can build my kingdom, how I can make my name more famous. I'm going to seek to make disciples, die, and be forgotten.'" Like Priscilla and Aquila.
What I know about myself is I'm healthiest as a person when that's my attitude. In other words, when my attitude is, "Hey, I don't care who gets the credit. All that I care about is making Jesus more famous. My marriage is not about me. My life is not about me. Everything I can I want to point in the direction of Christ…" I'm healthiest when that's the posture of my heart. So it is with you.
Priscilla and Aquila, this couple most people never even hear about, transformed the world by being a marriage on mission, being hospitable, willing to go where others weren't, and by focusing on making disciples. I look at the story of Priscilla and Aquila, and my wife and I have been married five years, and I'm so convicted. I feel like in five years the only thing I've mastered is how to get into conflict. I have that one down.
I look at this couple, and I'm so convicted, and at the same time I'm so inspired and so encouraged. I have such a dream of what I want to see my marriage be like someday, see my life be like someday, that I would be someone who says, "God, whatever I have in my hands, whatever I have, I open it up for the cause of you. Would you use my life? I don't want to make it about me. Don't use my life so you can have others be like, 'Wow, look at that guy's faithfulness.' Would you use my life to point people to Christ? Would you use my marriage to point people to Christ? Would we have a marriage on mission?"
We're told as the time on earth for Paul ends, in his last letter… Paul knew this couple, walked with this couple. He wrote these letters, and his last letter was 2 Timothy. In chapter 4, he mentions this couple again. Paul is literally days, maybe months at the most, away from being killed, and he writes to Timothy and gives all these instructions. He says, "Hey, will you do this? Will you do this? Take care of this. Can you bring this to me?" They're the last words he's ever going to have from this incredible man.
He says, "Will you do one last thing? Will you greet Priscilla and Aquila?" Decades after they had first met. They were still faithful. Think of all of the people, if you've read the Bible, who fall away, and Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:19, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-laborers and workers in the gospel," who after decades were still faithful, still making disciples, still leading the church in Ephesus in their home, and leading with Timothy.
We're told from church history that they not only ministered together and lived together, but this couple eventually died together for their faith, which is so crazy. It's such a romance story. One day they were arrested. Persecution was breaking out, and Christians were being killed and dying for their faith.
It says they were arrested, and one day a Roman leader said, "It's time for them to die," and he led both of them outside of the city walls. They were told to kneel, and they chopped off both of their heads. They lived together, they ministered together, and they died together, all for the sake of the mission, all for the sake of Christ.
I started with a show, and I'll end with a TV show that I think gives somewhat of a clear example of what marriage, biblically, was meant to look like. It's the show The Amazing Race. I don't know if anyone here watches it. It's a show, for those of you who haven't seen it, where couples or partners, where a man and a woman… Sometimes they're in a relationship. Sometimes they're just friends. It's not always a man and a woman. Just basically twos will be broken up and told, "Hey, you have a race around the world."
So, couple against couple, these pairs against one another. You race around the world, and there are these different tasks or objectives you have to complete in order to move on to the next task, and you have to search for these clues, and there are just different things you have to compete in and succeed in in order to move on to the next thing and continue the race forward. At the end of the line, the winner of the race gets a million dollars. So there's a lot at stake, and you see very clearly what makes for a successful couple and what makes for the worst couples.
The couples who are successful are the ones who are most dedicated toward succeeding in the mission of getting the million dollars. They keep their eyes on the prize, so to speak, and it drives everything they have. They focus on the mission, and it allows them to succeed in what they're doing. The couples who are the worst in the competition are the ones who essentially take their eyes off of the goal and get distracted by where they are.
You'll watch the show, and you'll see these fights break out, where you're like, "Oh my gosh. What are you doing right now?" They'll get into these petty conflicts, where they're in Calcutta and getting in a debate about "Where are we going to have lunch? I can't believe you want to eat there again. This is ridiculous that you would want to eat…" And you're sitting there going, "Oh my god! What are you doing right now? You're wasting time. Get back in the game."
Then there are couples that do very much the opposite, where you're watching them, and they're going from task to the next task, and they're encouraging one another, and they're like, "You've got it. Let me help. How can I help you here?" They work through whatever conflicts they have as quickly as they can, all for the sake of the mission. They care for one another, all for the sake of the mission and out of a focus on the mission.
The biblical picture we get is that marriage…my marriage, your marriage, if you're going to be married inside of the room…really life in general, is like one long episode of The Amazing Race, where you and I fix our eyes not on the things… And it's so hard in Dallas. God, will you help us? Where we don't get distracted by petty things that are around us, like, "What kind of car am I going to drive? How much more can I make this next year? How much bigger of a house am I going to have someday? When are we going to actually get to go on a vacation that I really want to? We keep going back to Florida. I want to go somewhere more exotic."
Where we don't get distracted by the things around us but allow focus on the mission to transform everything here, even the fact that we're going to work through conflict well and quickly and care for one another, because there is too much at stake. We live in a world where we are the only means by which people will ever know the God who loved them enough to die for them, the God who would come in the form of a man, Christ on the cross, to die in their place.
Whoever trusts in what he did for them, dying in their place and rising from the dead, will have eternal life, and no one will go to heaven without knowing that. Are we going to allow the marriage we have to be focused on the things and the petty discrepancies around us or the petty things that can flood our minds with distractions, or are we going to focus on the only mission that will ever matter? To make disciples, die, and be forgotten. The couples that succeed most are the ones who allow the mission to capture their mind and, in doing so, transform everything about them. They have a marriage on mission. Let me pray.
Father in heaven, I just want to pray right now for the marriages represented here. I know inside of this room there are men and women who are in all stages of their marriage, some who are newlyweds, some who have been married for years and are clinging on, just trying to make it work, some with little kids who feel like they're treading water. Father, would you strengthen our marriages through the power of Christ? Would you multiply the types of things Priscilla and Aquila embodied?
Would you multiply those inside of my marriage, Lord, and the marriages that are here? Would you raise up incredible kids and children through the strength of the marriages that are here? We need your help for that to happen, Lord. I pray for the marriages that don't even exist yet inside of this room, for the single friends who are here, that they would look for an Aquila, a godly man to lead them; that they would look for a Priscilla, a godly woman who wants to spend her life chasing the mission.
Would you multiply the Priscillas and Aquilas I've seen firsthand inside of this body, and would you kill the things that are not like Christ inside of our marriages, inside of my heart, and the hearts that are here, Lord? Thank you that marriage, just like life, ultimately finds all of its meaning and purpose in you. Would you capture our minds and capture our hearts and capture our marriages? Amen.