Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Importance of Discipleship and Proper Baptism

A sermon based on Acts 18:24-26, 19:1-5, and Matthew 18:19-20 and preached by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett at Faith Community Church, Barre, Vermont on April 25, 2010.

Verse 24 - A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus.
  • This passage introduces us to a Jewish preacher named Apollos. The Bible tells us very little about Apollos.
  • We know that Apollos was a gifted speaker and knew the Old Testament scriptures well. The New Testament was not yet complete, so he would not have been familiar with it.
  • Though Apollos was Jewish, he was from the city of Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Alexandria was one of the most famous cities of the ancient world. It was known for its library, which held scrolls and manuscripts from all over the world.
  • Any scholar from Alexandria would be well read. Apparently Apollos was such a scholar.
Verse 25 - This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John's baptism.
  • Apollos had somehow learned about Jesus. Scholars assume that Apollos had heard about Jesus through disciples of John the Baptist who had traveled to Egypt.
  • Remember that John the Baptist was the one who prepared people for the coming of Jesus. Though John the Baptist is written about in the New Testament, he was actually the last "Old Testament" prophet.
  • Apollos had not yet heard the whole story of Jesus, just the message of John the Baptist which was that Jesus would come and be the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.
  • Based on the limited knowledge, Apollos had placed his faith in Jesus. We need more of that kind of faith!
  • We live a world filled with skepticism.
  • Though a certain amount of skepticism is good because it keeps us from getting sucked into false religions, sometimes we use our skepticism to keep from making firm commitments to Jesus.
  • We will never get EVERY question answered, nor will we ever get ALL our issues resolved. At some point we just have to step out in faith and believe. We need the same kind of faith the Apollos displayed. 
Verse 26 - He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately.
  • Being a Jewish preacher, Apollos went to the local synagogue (the Jewish version of church) and preached.
  • Priscilla and Aquila were there that day and heard his sermon.
  • Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish Christians that Paul lived with for two years while he doing mission work in Ephesus.
  • After hearing his sermon, Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos into their home and explained the Gospel of Jesus to him more accurately.
  • Apollos only knew what John the Baptist had taught, which was that Jesus would come to save the world from sin.
  • Apollos did not realize that Jesus had already died, been buried, rose from the dead and ascended to sit at the right hand of God.
  • Apollos was a believer in Jesus, he just didn't realize that Jesus had already accomplished His mission.
  • Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos come to a more complete understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus.
  • It was not that Apollos's beliefs were "wrong," they were just incomplete. He only knew part of the story.
  • There are many people in our community that went to church as children and learned about Jesus in Sunday School.
  • Often what they believe is correct, it is just incomplete. They need someone to help them move to the next level.
  • We need some Aquila and Pricilla's to take these people under their wings and disciple them deeper in the faith.
Chapter 19, Verse 1 - While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus.
  • While Apollos was getting his crash course on Jesus from Pricilla and Aquila over in Corinth, Paul is on a missionary journey that took him to Ephesus.
  • Remember, God is at work in many places doing many things. While we serve Him here, He is also at work around the world.
Verse 2 - He found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" "No," they told him, "we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
  • Paul found some other people who were similar to Apollos. They were disciples but their knowledge and experience in the faith was rather shallow.
  • They did not even know some as basic as the existence of the Holy Spirit.
  • They were not shallow because their faith was weak; they were shallow because no one had ever taught them what they needed to know to have a deeper commitment to Christ.
  • Some people have been Christians for a very long time, but still know very little about their faith. We must be discipled in order to grow.
Verse 3 - "Then with what baptism were you baptized?" he asked them. "With John's baptism," they replied.
  • Paul is somewhat surprised about their lack of spiritual understanding, so he questioned them about their faith.
  • Of all the things that he could have asked them about, he asked them about baptism.
  • The reason he asked about baptism is because baptism is the FIRST step a new Christian is supposed to take after they trust Christ as Savior.
  • If a person has not yet taken the FIRST step of baptism, then how will they be able to take the second, or third, or fourth step of faith?
  • The act of baptism itself is very important. But even more important than the act of baptism is the heart of obedience that is willing to be baptized in submission to the Lord's commands.
  • A person whose heart is unwilling to undergo this simple spiritual step will also be unwilling to do other things the Lord asked of him or her.
  • The group told Paul that they had only been baptized with John the Baptist's baptism.
  • Many people do not realize that baptism was a common experience in the Jewish religion.
  • The word baptism comes from the Greek word "baptizo" which means to immerse or dip under water.
  • Throughout Jewish history rabbis taught their followers to be baptized for various reasons.
  • This means that there were different types of baptism back then, just as there are today.
Verse 4 - Paul said, "John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus."
  • Paul explained to this group that John the Baptist taught that outward baptism was a sign of inward repentance.
  • John the Baptist also taught that his baptism was simply a way of preparing themselves for the One who would come after him, which was Jesus Christ.
  • John's baptism was not the "whole story."
  • The "whole story" is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus!
  • John's baptism was a wonderful experience.
  • Jesus Himself received baptism from John, so we know it must have been a great thing to do.
  • But John's baptism was not the same thing as New Testament Christian baptism.
Matthew 18:19-20
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

  • Jesus talked about New Testament Christian baptism in His last words to His disciples.
  • Jesus told them to and make other disciples who would follow Jesus.
  • They were to baptize those disciples in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • They were then to be taught how to live the way Jesus said to live.
  • FIRST, a person makes a conscious decision to become a disciple of Jesus.
  • SECOND, that person is baptized.
  • THIRD, that person is then taught how to live like Jesus wanted them to.
  • There are many other types of baptism:
  • For example: infant baptism is a commitment of parents to raise their child in a Christian home. That is a lovely ceremony to watch, but is different than the baptism that Jesus taught.
    Another example: Some churches believe that baptism is the removal of "original sin." Theologians have argued about this one for centuries, regardless what we may or may not believe about this, it is clearly different than the baptism Jesus taught.
    Another example: Mormons are "baptized for the dead," which is confusing to most Protestant Christians and based on a small phrase in the New Testament. Whatever that phrase may mean, it is clearly different than what Jesus taught about baptism.
  • The New Testament Christian baptism that Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 18:19-20 was the immersion of believers under water AFTER their salvation experience in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as an outward sign of their inward faith and in recognition of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. While there may be many other types of baptism, none can replace the one Jesus gave us.
  • What should we do if we experienced a baptism different than this type?
Verse 5 - On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • The disciples of John the Baptist whom Paul encountered in Ephesus chose to be re-baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • This did not mean that their first baptism was wrong, it was simply different.
  • Their first baptism, though valid, had a different symbolism and a different meaning.
  • They wanted to be re-baptized as New Testament Christian believers in the name of Christ.
  • They correctly understood that it was going to be very difficult to grow deeper in their faith until they got this FIRST step done.
  • If we keep reading we see that after their re-baptism, God did great things in their lives.
  • If we are struggling to move forward in our Christian walk, could it be that we have not yet been baptized the way Christ wants us to?
  • We cannot move on to deeper things until we get the basic issues worked on first.
  • Some people are genuine Christians but their faith still lacks the depth that it needs.
  • More mature believers should be investing themselves in these "younger" Christians.
  • If we expect to build a healthy faith that will take us closer to God, we must start with the first step, which is baptism.
  • In the New Testament, baptism was ONLY for believers and was ALWAYS by immersion under water as a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • If we have never been baptized, we should do it. If we were baptized previously but our baptism had a different meaning or different symbolism, then we should be re-baptized in obedience to our Lord's command.


  1. i had the absolute pleasure of being baptised in the roaring ocean off of was wonderfully blessed.

  2. Many of us who were baptized as infants and then re-baptized at an older age understand the difference. We often forget that we go through Baptism to Identify with Jesus Christ. Crucified, Burried, and risen. Mathew 28:19-20 makes it clear that we are to "GO" to all nations meaning all people and Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When a person excepts Christ, and starts to grow in Christ the desire to come to Baptisim will also be there. There is a book and Movie called Love Comes Softly. What we can learn is sometimes our relationship with God comes slowly, but when it gets there we are ready to be Baptized. It is the most special moments a person can have. For me Baptism became very special when my son asked me to Baptize Him. Why because he wanted to identify with Jesus.

  3. I grew up in a Baptist church my whole life and never heard a real sermon on Baptism. We just did it because it was our tradition. Thanks for making this important issue so clear. As I was sitting in the service I realized that my baptism was much more important to me than I had ever realized.

  4. The church I grew up in taught that you were "saved" because of your baptism. This sermon helped me realize that is not correct. Now I am considering being re-baptized.

  5. I was there on Sunday is the sermon made me remember how special my baptism was to me. Thanks for bringing back such wonderful feelings.