Christianity is a Learned Experience

We’ve all got to start somewhere. Many have misconstrued ideas about the Christian faith. Are you open to give and receive new information? 

I met a man once who told me he was a Christian because he always went to church as a kid. When I suggested that there was more to it than just going to church on Sundays, he replied that he “believed in God and Jesus and all that stuff” and just tried to “do the right thing.” He said that he “figured that if the good he did outweighed the bad, then God would cut him some slack on Judgment Day.”

That’s probably not too far off from the theology of many people who call themselves Christians.

Makes logical sense at some base level. At least he believes in the God and Jesus “stuff” and is trying to be a good guy. He actually sincerely believes he’s got it figured out and moves forward in life with the best of intentions and sincerity.

Are we open to the idea that our understanding may be off and incomplete? Perhaps it’s something we’ve never learned or even heard before. Certainly many have misconstrued ideas about the Christian faith. There’s ample proof of that in the Bible.

Fortunately, God does cut us some slack. Not so much on the doing good stuff, but on our growth of knowledge and understanding, and maturing in our walk and journey with Him.

A Man Named Apollos
In the Book of Acts in the New Testament, there in the midst of all the comings and goings of the apostle Paul and the disciples launching the early Christian church, there’s a brief reference to a man named Apollos.

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 and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 18:24-28)

In A.D. 54, Apollos was a dynamic teacher and preacher who arrived in Ephesus at the time that Paul stopped there on his way home to Antioch from a journey to Corinth outside of Athens, Greece. Apollos was a well-educated Jewish man from sophisticated Alexandria, well-known as a center of leading Jewish scholarship. He actually knew the Scriptures quite well. He also had learned about Jesus and this became part of his teaching and preaching.

However we learn that his teaching was incomplete. He knew only about “the baptism of John.”

The Mentoring of Apollos
Apparently Apollos had heard about Jesus, and he might even have understood Jesus’ atoning death. Did he know about Christ’s resurrection? That much is not clear. But what’s clear from the text above is that he knew nothing about Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2). Paul later explains in Acts 19:1-6 that “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.”

But it is the Christian couple, Priscilla and Aquila, who actually coach and train Apollos in his growing understanding of Christianity, the New Way. When they heard Apollos preaching his partial gospel in the Ephesus synagogue, they did not ridicule or even engage him in public debate. Instead, they took him aside and filled him in on what he was missing.

Apollos, a Quick Study
Apparently, Apollos was a quick study. In subsequent years he became a noted Christian speaker and teacher with a substantial following in Corinth. Paul later speaks well of Apollos in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-7)

Martin Luther and some modern scholars have suggested that Apollos was the author of the Book of Hebrews, a significant treatise that brought much clarity to the Jews about the tenets and context of Jesus and this growing Christianity. Other debatable authors are Paul and Barnabas, both also with sufficient intellectual authority.

Where Do We Start?
As mentioned, we all have to start somewhere. Christianity is a learned experience. Paul began his Christian walk as a devout Jew and enemy of all things Christian. The Disciples began as ignorant Jewish fisherman. Apollos began as a learned scholar with an incomplete doctrine around the truths of Christ and His promise of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, for his Church.

I began as an ignorant, un-churched 9th grader. I’m grateful for the wise teachers and mentors that instructed me along the way. And I’m thankful for a patient and merciful God who cut me some slack while I figured it out.

Are you learning the correct Christian Gospel?
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.. – 2 Peter 3:17-18

Categories: Abundant Living, Devotion, Faith, Jesus, Theology

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