049 – The Conversion of Apollos

Apollos learned the truth about Jesus from Pricilla and Aquila.

The next conversions in the book of Acts are the conversions of Cornelius, Lydia and the Philippian Jailer. All three of these were discussed in previous podcasts. Let’s quickly mention them and then move on to the next full blown narrative which deserves full discussion, the conversion of Apollos.

A Quick Review

As a reminder, we are in the middle of the last section of our study about baptism and unlike the anti-baptism arguments which rarely use scriptures that mention baptism, we are focused almost solely on scriptures which use that word. It is difficult to craft a good argument if we avoid the very scriptures which mention the word we are trying to explain.

Our first quick review is the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. We studied this conversion story, in great detail, back in Podcast 031 – Pagans with Spirit. Please go back to that podcast or blog post where the issue of baptism is dealt with thoroughly.

The next conversion in the book of Acts is the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16. There is not much to say about this conversion other than to note that baptism is involved but infants are not. After this, in the same chapter, we read about the conversion of the Philippian Jailer. This is another major conversion story and we dealt with this in Podcast 017 – Anti Baptism Scriptures Part 3. Please review the details of that conversion in that blog post or podcast.

The Conversion of Apollos

Now, we come to the conversion of Apollos. There are two very distinct and separate parts to this story. Let’s dive in.

Acts 18:24-28
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. 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. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Analysis of the story.

This is quite a story. Apollos is probably a Grecian Jew; the name gives that away. He was very intelligent and had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. These of course, would have been the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament. At some point in time, Apollos learned about Jesus. He had been given enough information about Christ to come to a belief that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Apparently, this fired him up enough to begin speaking to people about his discovery. But how do you think that happened? What might have happened to bring Apollos to a point where he became a preacher of Christ?

I suspect the case of Apollos is not an unusual case. John the Baptist preached for quite a while in Judea and the surrounding area. We know he had a pretty good following. All of the people who followed John believed the Christ was eminent and were baptized by John in preparation for that event. Many of these folks would have been around when John declared Jesus as the Christ, “the one who’s sandals he was not worthy to untie.” Some of those same people left John and began following Jesus.

But, not everyone who was a part of John’s ministry was able to stick around and see the complete fulfillment as Christ suffered, died and was resurrected. Apollos may have been one of these transients who did not know the rest of the story. In essence, these people got all fired up and went off half cocked! John proclaimed the Messiah had arrived and that is exactly what they continued doing after they left Judea but before the conclusion of Jesus ministry..

Eventually they would learn the rest of the story. This is the case with Apollos. He is a disciple of John and is about to see the bigger picture.

Regardless of how Apollos came to be in the position he is in, it does leave him with an interesting problem. Apollos is not a Christian! Apollos has not yet obeyed the Gospel. He knew “only” the baptism of John. He did not know about baptism into Christ.

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017 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 3

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

Belief alone is not enough to be saved. There is something else you must do.
Acts 16:31 Clarified

Acts 16:31 is another common scripture used to support the idea that water baptism is not part of the conversion experience. Let me read it… we will back up just a little bit and begin in verse 15b so you have the context. The Philippian Jailer has just asked an important question…

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

This is Paul’s response to the Philippian Jailer and it comes after that very specific, very direct question. “What must I do to be saved?”

The evangelical’s argument goes like this. If the Bible ever had a chance, once and for all, to tell us baptism was a part of the salvation experience, this would have been the opportunity. But Paul says “believe and you will be saved.” This passage says nothing about baptism. I wholeheartedly agree. This passage says nothing about baptism. So why are we using it as an anti-baptism scripture?

Shouldn’t we also note the absence of obedience, repentance, confession and accepting the message? And, shall I conclude that by their absence they are not a part of the Biblical Plan of Salvation and by extension, the jailer’s belief. Paul does not spell out every single detail involved in belief. But… there are some very curious things which happen in the rest of the story we ought not ignore.

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016 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 2 – John: 3:16

John 3:16

Belief without obedience is worthless.

John 3:16 is the next popular scripture used as a proof text against baptism as part of God’s plan of salvation.

Let’s read it:

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This, of course, is probably the most famous passage in the entire Bible. We see it frequently being used as the way to escape final judgement and be saved.

Not About Baptism

The obvious problem in using this scripture for our argument is that this text has nothing to do with baptism. This passage is commonly used as an anti-baptism scripture because it indicates one of the vital things necessary for eternal life, “belief in Christ.” And then employs the “all/only” assumption, so we are forced into a wrong conclusion.

To make this passage work, we must conclude, “belief” is all that is required. This passage does not teach that “all” we need to do is believe or the only thing necessary for salvation is belief. It says, belief is essential. That’s it. Nothing more. We dare not go beyond that conclusion based on just this passage.

We already know that true biblical belief or a complete faith includes obedience to Christ’s commands. True Biblical belief is so much more the intellectual assent or agreement.

The Bible often just presents the whole process as “belief,” and just assumes we know that complete Biblical belief includes all five of the scriptural steps we find in the Biblical Plan of Salvation. Just because the Bible does not list all five steps every time it talks about salvation, does not mean that any one step is less important. Our job is to discover the composite God has created which is quiet often summed up as “belief.”

If you watched my video series, may remember this example… If I told you I brushed my teeth, you automatically understand I used a toothbrush, a bit of toothpaste and some water. I did not need to tell you everything that was involved in brushing my teeth. Many steps were summed up in one phrase, just as the Bible often sums up the complete plan of salvation as, “belief.”

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015 – Anti-Baptism Scriptures – Part 1 – John 1:12

John 1:12

Believe plus receive does not equal become, it equals given a right.
What does John 1:12 really say?

Now, let’s turn our examination to the scriptures offered by the anti-baptism proponents. In this podcast, we will begin discussing the assertions of the article from GotQuestions.Org titled “Does Acts 2:38 Teach Baptism for the Remission of Sins?” 

That article presents the main arguments of the anti-baptism side very well. The article concludes with a list of nine scriptures commonly used to support the view that water baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. As we shine a critical light on each of these scriptures and their associated conclusions, we will discover five basic errors. 

The first common error occurs in interpretation. We’ll see a misapplication or misunderstanding regarding the scripture. 

The second error unfolds when we apply, what I call the “all / only” assumption. I explain this shortly.

The third error is that the scripture chosen as the proof text, has nothing to do with baptism.

The fourth error is the now familiar mistake of deeming baptism as a work of human effort.

The fifth and infrequently used error occurs when we equate baptism with Old Testament Laws and rituals such as circumcision or sacrifices.

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012 – The Proponents

Photo by Peter Dargatzl on Pixabay

The issue of whether baptism is necessary for salvation is really not about baptism at all. The issue we are dealing with is whether or not a person is willing to obey the Gospel, which just happens to included baptism. Let’s talk, for a few minutes, about this age old argument and see if we might be able to make a little progress.

In order to define and understand the arguments, it may help to know a little bit about the proponents.

Two Groups

The first group are those who believe that water baptism is not necessary for salvation. They say baptism has absolutely no connection to the remission of sin.

This would be the position of most of the evangelical world today. Their position states that when someone makes a heartfelt and sincere commitment to Jesus Christ, sins are forgiven and we are saved. This salvation experience happens at some point in time before water baptism. Many of these same people are baptized later… but not for the forgiveness of sins.

In the other camp, are those people who believe that baptism IS necessary for salvation and it has an incontrovertible connection to the forgiveness of sins. They teach that someone who is not baptized is not saved. They believe that baptism is the exact point in time salvation occurs.

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011 – For the Executive Listener

The Anointing of Jesus
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Few people have enough time to dive into a complete series of video lessons or plough through a bunch of podcasts so, I wanted to record one short podcast to provide a brief, concentrated “executive summary” of what “A Faith that Obeys” is all about.

At “A Faith that Obeys,” we believe the Bible presents a clearly defined plan of salvation. This plan, God’s Plan, was established in 33 AD and has not changed nor can it change. The plan is still alive today and we should still be following that plan if we want to follow Jesus scripturally. I call this plan, “The Biblical Plan of Salvation.”

Now, there is a problem. A new plan developed over the last few hundred years which has become what I call, “The Modern Plan” or “The Traditional Plan of Salvation.” This plan is taught in almost every evangelical church today. When people hear about Jesus and are willing to make a life-long commitment to Him, it is at this critical point in their spiritual journey, the traditional plan is promoted as “the way” to be saved.

I created “A Faith that Obeys” to help people spot the difference between these two plans, and explain how the Biblical Plan of Salvation differs so greatly from a plan they may have followed. I want to challenge people to dig into the scriptures, so they can decide, for themselves which plan makes sense. I do this through a series of 11 short video lessons which can be watched at www.afaiththatobyes.org.

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009 – Who Told You Baptism is a Work?

In Baptism, Who's Doing the Work?
Baptism is an act of faith.

I can’t tell you how many times I have presented the Biblical Plan of Salvation to a friend or family member who, even though the take the time to patiently listen to me and even study the plan out… they reject it because they believe baptism is a work.”

The argument always comes down to those four words, and those four words constitute the firm foundation on which the entire argument rests!

“Baptism is a work.”

But guess what, there is a huge flaw in the reasoning. Let’s work through this together using logic and the scriptures.

Building Our Case

For the sake of our argument, let’s agree; baptism IS a work. This is our position. From this position we naturally and logically conclude, since baptism is a work, it cannot be necessary for salvation.

Sooner or later, someone will step forward to challenge our position. We need to mount a defense How should we begin?

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006 – John 1:12 – A Most Misused Scripture

A Most Misused Scripture

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:12 is not about faith alone!
John 1:12 – Dana Haynes

This passage of scripture is used by the evangelical church to demonstrate that a person becomes a Christian when they accept Christ for the first time. A popular metaphorical formula was developed, probably in the 60’s to help people remember this plan of salvation. It reads like this: “Believe + Receive = Become.” In other words, if you believe in Christ and you receive Christ, you become a Christian. The problem is, this formula is wrong.

Grammar 101 – Verbs

The verb is not “become,” it is “gave.” When you believe and receive, God gives you something. He gives you the “right” to become. We don’t “become” anything upon our decision to receive the message with an open heart. While it may be true that God gives us a new gift, the “right to become his child,” this is not yet salvation!

The problem with this form of teaching lies in the conclusion it offers. The conclusion the Evangelical world presents is that a person is saved when they receive Christ. This is wrong; dangerously wrong.

The Wrong Path

When a person is taught they become a Christian when they first believe and receive, it sets them on a false path to Heaven. Just think about it. If I follow this unbiblical practice and believe I am saved at the time of my acceptance there is no point in a variety of other commands Jesus gave his disciples which always precede the forgiveness of sins. Because I believe I am already a Christian, what is the point of confession, repentance and baptism, all of which precede the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, when we look at those issues in the Bible.

Following this incomplete pattern does not lead to salvation. Yet this pattern is presented, practice and promoted, with vigor, by most Evangelicals today. It bears a striking resemblance to a pattern Jesus identified in his own ministry. Take a look.
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