Today, it is very chic to claim the title of "Life Long Learner." We are impressed with people who read a lot, who expand their skills, who travel and meet new people, and who are open to learning something new which might change the way they think or act.
This idea of being able to change your mind, to be teachable, is a value indeed.
The Bible calls this process "conversion." Romans 12: 2 states it this way:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
One of the main characters in our text today had this wonderful attribute. Apollos was "teachable." We learn from 18:24-26 that even though he was "eloquent," "well versed in the Scriptures," "instructed in the Way of the LORD," and had great "enthusiasm," he was still open to what others had to teach him.
Priscilla and Aquilla pulled him aside and taught him more "accurately." The word here in Greek means more "exactly" or "more precisely." He knew "only in part."
As the Body of Christ, each of us as individuals knows "only in part." It is wonderful to have one another to sharpen us; "as iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." (Proverbs 27:17)
Gisbertus Voetius, a Dutch Calvinist theologian coined this Latin phrase: "ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei" which means "the church reformed, always just about to be reformed according to the Word of God." It is important to clarify reformation. We are not to be reformed to any new idea but only to the word of God; the Word of God alone brings life.
So how do we interpret the phrase "Word of God?" Does this just refer to the closed canon of Scripture, or does it refer to the "Word who became flesh," even Jesus Christ; and is one more precise--accurate--from the other?
When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he warned them in chapter four:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
All of this, then, demands the question: What if believers disagree on the interpretation of scripture? What if one person wants to teach who, though eloquent and well versed, is not the most accurate? How does one discern if one needs to be reformed or if one is already standing with scripture?
These are hard questions for believers who face hard situations. The answers and the path are not always crystal clear. Verses 17-18 help us with this. We need to confess our weaknesses, our sins and our struggles to one another and be willing to be transparent with one another. We also need to be willing to "throw off" what we once held dear if the Holy Spirit so convicts us.
As we fellowship with one another and with Christ, the Holy Spirit will make the way clear. We need to speak the truth in love with one another. We need to be humble and teachable.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.James 1: 19-20
Being a life long learner as a disciple is not always as easy as just picking up a newspaper to gain facts. It takes prayer to the Father for wisdom, listening to the Holy Spirit for discernment and trust in Jesus Christ for light upon the path.