He began to speak 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. - Acts 18:26, ESV
Is It Important for Preaching to be Precise?
Richard Rogers, the Puritan pastor of Wethersfield, Essex, at the turn of the sixteenth century, was riding one day with the local lord of the manor, who, after twitting him for some time about his “precisian” ways, asked him what it was that made him so precise. “O sir,” replied Rogers, “I serve a precise God.” - J.I. Packer, Puritan Papers, Vol. 2
Apollos was "an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures." Not only that, but "being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus." He sounds like the kind of man you would love to have come and speak at your church, the kind of man you set loose and encourage to speak boldly and freely.
Yet as Apollos was speaking boldly in the synagogue, Aquila and Priscilla noticed that he was not quite accurate in his knowledge. Some things were lacking, and so they took him aside and "explained to him the way of God more accurately." Was that really necessary? After all, why should we sweat the small stuff?
Well, as Richard Rogers said, it is because we serve a precise God. God has carefully and precisely revealed Himself, His law and His gospel in Scripture. Words matter, definitions matter, distinctions matter and so precision matters. The more important the topic, the more important precision becomes. For example, you may be sloppy with your handwriting when jotting a note for someone, but you wouldn't want to be sloppy handling a gun or a hand grenade.
What's the big deal in theological matters? Well, are you saved by faith or are you saved by grace through faith? The distinction makes all the difference! Paul says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph. 2:8-9, ESV) Every word and phrase in those verses matters.
God has not given us a throw-away book. The matters we deal with in preaching and teaching His word have ultimate and eternal consequences. Let's be precise, for we indeed serve a precise God!
Heavenly Father, Thank You for being so precise. You have disclosed Yourself and Your ways to us with great accuracy and care. You want us to know You rightly, and so You have revealed Yourself in 66 books given over centuries through many different men, but each precisely accurate and connected as a whole to reveal You. Thank You! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Prayer Based on Proverbs 22:9-16:
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor.
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
Father, we are so prone to be selfish and hard-hearted,
so give us a tender heart for the poor, that we may share with those in need.
Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
and quarreling and abuse will cease.
He who loves purity of heart,
and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
Lord, keep us from being scoffers,
and keep us from befriending scoffers,
but make our speech gracious and our hearts pure, by Your grace.
Watch over us and keep us, Father, that we may honor You.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!”
The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
Father, when we give in to the desires of self-indulgence,
when we are lazy or lustful,
we expose ourselves to harm, and we dishonor You.
Forgive us and deliver us, Lord, for Your name's sake.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Father, show us how to discipline our children, well,
even as You discipline us, driving out folly and instilling wisdom.
Lord, we need Your Spirit to make our lives a reflection of who You are,
in Jesus name, Amen.