Religious - But Wrong (No. 2)
Once again we examine some passages realting to another man in New Testament times to determine the accuracy of the theory that says sincerity in religion is all that God asks of one in order that he might be saved. Remember that as we use the term religious we are using it in the sense that it is often used to designate an honest, sincere, and zealous feeling about one's convictions toward God. In other words, our question is this: Is it enough for a man to be religious?
We have already studied about a man called Saul of Tarsus, and later Paul, who was told there was something he must do in order to stand approved in God's sight. Now we want to see if the New Testament contains any more record of such need for change, or if Saul was some unusual character who had to be dealt with in an altogether different manner from ordinary men.
We turn now to Acts 18:24-28 and begin reading these words: "and a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John." First of all, we see the background of Apollos. He was a Jew; one of a group of people that God had chosen to be His people in a very special way; one of the group of people from which the Messiah was chosen to descend, and had decended. Furthermore, we read of the eloquence of this man. He was a man who had the power of voice to persuade men; one who could express his emotions in such a way as to move other men to do the things he thought best.
In addition, this man was mighty in the scriptures; one who knew what God had said in the writings of the Old Testament. Apollos was instructed in the way the Lord would have him go until God had put a new system into effect. Men were no longer to live by the law of Moses, but by the new covenant or agreement that God had put into force through His Son.
Not only was Apollos eloquent, capable of moving men; mighty in the scriptures, having a knowledge of the Old Testament; and instructed in the way of the Lord, knowing the way God had directed men to live under that old agreement; but we read that he was fervent in the spirit. He had burning zeal to do something about what he knew to be right. He was diligently speaking and teaching the things of the Lord. It meant enough to him that he felt a necessity of telling someone else. However, in his telling of the things of the Lord, there was a point beyond which he could not go because of a lack of knowledge. He knew only the baptism of John.
John's baptism was designed to point people unto someone who was to come later, as it is explained by Paul in the next chapter, verse four. That one had now come, performed His mission on earth, left a baptism of His own to be submitted unto, and had returned to God. Apollos was not aware of some of the events that had transpired, and was thus ignorant of part of the way of the Lord.
Notice now the remainder of this eighteenth chapter of Acts. "And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Acquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." The synagogue of the Jews was a place where it was possible for people to study and learn the Jewish law. Apollos, being mighty in this Jewish law, and knowing of John and the baptism which he had proclaimed, was being very bold in his efforts to teach the people in this synagogue all he knew of the way of the Lord. I believe that all who read these lines would agree that Apollos was a religious man according to our use of the word.
However, in spite of all this earnestness and zealousness in preaching all that he knew to proclaim to these people, he was in need of something more. When Acquila and Priscilla heard him speak and recognized the limitation of his knowledge of the way of the Lord, "they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." There w e r e still some things about which he needed additional knowledge.
Once again then we see a man who was a religious man according to present usage of the term, but yet a man who needed some further instruction in the way of the Lord. Is it possible that you, even though you may be religious, may need to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly? If you cannot read the things which you have believed and practiced in your religion from the word of God, then you do need to learn the way of God in a more complete sense.
Apollos did not become angry because someone came to him and taught him something that he did not know. As the incident is recorded, it would seem that he thankfully received the instruction from Aquilla and Priscilla, and became even more powerful in his ability to move men to do the things he had been taught from the will of God. All too often today, when one goes to another in an effort to show him more of what God has said, the one who is approached reacts as though he has been insulted. It is not a disgrace or a shame for one to be ignorant of certain things, but it is shameful for one to delay and deliberately refuse to learn when God speaks to him.
We see that Paul, or Saul of Tarsus,. was not the only man who was required to be more than just religious. We must be religiously right. My first question to you then is this: Are you religious? If so, another question: Are you sure you are religiously right? The only way we may be sure is to read what we believe and practice from the word of God. There are many people in our day who are extremely sincere and zealous in their religious lives, however, when those people believe and practice two or more things that are directly opposite in their religion, they cannot all be right. Someone is religious, but wrong.
Will you examine your religion and see if it came from the pages of the New Testament?
Truth Magazine I:11, pp. 14-15