Near the end of Acts 18, we are introduced to a skilled and scholarly speaker named Apollos. However, when we first read about him in Acts 18:24-28 he is in need of correction because his knowledge about Jesus is incomplete. A Christian couple, Priscilla and Aquila, help to point him in the right direction. We all have friends and neighbors who are in a similar situation to Apollos. We can adopt some best practices from Priscilla and Aquila that will help us to be successful in our evangelistic efforts with those who are already religious. Here are 5 things we can do to help those we love that are religiously mistaken.
1. Point Out the Good (Acts 18:24-25) – Rather than start with the negative and the points of disagreement it is wise to notice the good things first. Begin where you agree with your friends and neighbors and find the common ground. Luke praised Apollos as one who was, “eloquent, competent, and fervent in spirit.” When talking to those who may not have a full grasp on truth acknowledge the things that they do have correct. Maybe it’s their zeal, their love for the Bible, their devotion, or their sincerity. Agree with everything you can agree with and point out the good before you point out anything else.
2. Pinpoint the Error (Acts 18:25) – Apollos’ issue is specific, he only knew about John’s baptism. Rather than destroying everything those in error believe it is better to point out the specific thing or things that they have wrong. Avoid speaking in broad generalities and focus on the specific issue at hand. If the issue is worship, the church, baptism, or repentance be specific about what you want to discuss. There may be multiple things that need to be discussed, but it is best to discuss one thing at a time.
3. Pull them Aside (Acts 18:26) – This couple did not embarrass Apollos, but instead they took him aside and corrected him in private. Our greatest success in correcting those in religious error probably will not come from embarrassing them on social media or in the break room at work. Talking one on one shows our care and concern and also allows the other person to think through things without being distracted by outside influences. Jesus often corrected people one on one and we should follow his example.
4. Put the Focus on the Lord (Acts 18:26) – They wanted to instruct him in the way of the Lord more accurately. This is important. It is not about showing them our way more accurately or how we have figured things out. People are more apt to change and reconsider their beliefs when they see what they believe is out of step with the word of the Lord. As much as we can, let us bring up the Lord and the fact that it is his way that is right and not ours or theirs.
5. Praise & Applaud the Change (Acts 18:27-28) – When Apollos received the correction he went on preaching boldly. Luke points out how he greatly helped others and went on to do great work as he preached and taught that Jesus was the Messiah. When people change their views and accept God’s truth hold them up as an example for others to follow, there may be more people in heaven as a result of their decision to change (1 Tim. 1:12-16)!