More Than John’s Baptism


“Apollos … had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:24-25 ESV).

The church has relied too long on academic credentials, ecclesiastical machinery, and the efforts and ingenuity of the flesh instead of the blessed Holy Spirit. And the results? A skilled, professional clergy that knows only John’s baptism. And since the pastor cannot lead his people where he has not traveled, our pews become populated, for the most part, with sincere people who may have been born from above, but who know nothing of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many churches are content to have an Apollos as their preacher—one who knows only the baptism of John. Why do I say that? Because—and let us be candid here—this is the present pathetic state of the average church. There is a famine of Spirit-filled preachers.

What is our greatest lack? The Holy Spirit. What is our greatest need? The Holy Spirit. Who is the missing Presence? The Holy Spirit. Oh, for preachers like the venerable Baptist, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), who, when ascending to his pulpit every Sunday morning and evening, prayed at each of the fifteen steps, “I believe in the Holy Ghost.” Is it any wonder the Lord honored his ministry, as he preached in the power of the Spirit to London’s masses?

Listen to what Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), the late renowned pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel, had to say on this subject: “The church has fallen into the error of thinking that a man can get this knowledge by academic teaching and learning. I am not here to decry these things; [he was a medical doctor when God called him to preach] … But they are not all-important, and the tragedy of the last hundred years has been to put a premium on such things, men boasting of their degrees and diplomas … and so on. That is all very well, but it is not the way to know God more fully. It is through the Spirit, through the baptism of the Spirit that one comes to this fuller knowledge.”*

It takes more than John’s baptism to make a preacher!

*Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Joy Unspeakable” (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985), 114.

Taken from “Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations,” July 20,
©Ralph I. Tilley
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Author: Ralph I. Tilley

I joyfully identify with the long history of the orthodox, evangelical stream of the Church. Theologically, I am a conservative. On issues of secondary importance, I will not quibble with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I would hope I have no doctrinal biases; however, I realize that is a practical impossibility: “Now I know in part.” You can read more on the About page.