A sermon excerpt of Leonard Ravenhill on the idolatry of education, the need for preaching on repentance & my experience at a heavy shepherding – legalistic church

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Leonard RavenhillThe great late distinguished Leonard Ravenhill gave this message 30 years ago. It will be an honor to one day meet this man. The blood is not on his hands, as he surely warned us.

Back in 2013 when we were searching for a new home church (closer to home), we visited one here in Redlands, which was an affiliate to the ‘parent church,’ which is located approx. 85-miles from here.

We were at this church for five weeks. The pastor was a nice man, but never in my life did I hear so much emphasis on “seminary.” Moreover, the emphasis was only on their own seminary (which is also located on campus with their ‘parent church’.) We all heard about his completion of “seminary” to ad nauseam.

One morning during a men’s study on Ecclesiology / Biblical leadership, one of the men asked their pastor, “Is attending seminary Biblically required, to qualify a person to be an Elder or Pastor in the church?” The pastor answered “yes!”

After hearing a couple other things that were not biblically correct; I asked the pastor if I heard him correctly. He reaffirmed that his answer was “yes.” I respectfully asked him in the presence of the other men, to show us this belief in the Scriptures. He could not.

Had this pastor stated that it was his own personal preference, and/or the policy of their local church, I would have respected his policy. I too am for high standards, and a higher education. But to say that it’s Biblically required for leadership when it’s not; that is wrong. The Bible says that the Lord even uses the uneducated.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

A consistent pattern that I have noted over the years, of those that tend to go off the chart of sound doctrine, is that most of them hold an M.Div. or higher. In the eyes of man education is great, but in the eyes of the Lord it means nothing. With some, their education has become pride, and a form of idolatry. Brethren, a seminary driven church, is just as bad as a purpose driven church. We must RUN from churches filled with extra-biblical opinions.

As Ravenhill says in this video, your pastor does not need a BA, MA, or a Ph.D. to be ‘Biblically’ qualified. On the contrary, may I add that he does need to be anointed by the Holy Spirit, and appointed by Christ God Almighty.

Brethren, if you do not have a formal Christian education, don’t let anyone discourage you from His service. However I would encourage you to pursue one, as it is much better to have a higher education than not.

In those weeks spent at this church, I learned the following. All in which many other men also heard, at the same men’s’ study. Their pastor stated the following.

  1. That is was “Biblically required” to attend a seminary, to be qualified for Elder or Pastor.
  2. That is was “unbiblical” for Christians to do any form of Christian outreach or evangelism, without the approval of his church leadership.
  3. That he did not want any of his church members to ever attend any other Bibles studies, events, or conferences apart from his church.
  4. That the only people he desired to attend his church, were those that would agree with him on everything. He stated “I don’t want my members to agree to disagree on anything.” He further added that he wants them to agree with him on everything.
  5. He stated that there was only one other church in the greater Inland Empire (other than his) that is “Biblical.”

Regarding #1: Had he stated that it was his own personal preference, and/or the policy of the church, I would have appreciated his policy. I too am for high standards. But to say that it’s “Biblical,” and then when asked to show that belief in the Scriptures, but he was not able to, that’s wrong. It’s actually false teaching. The Bible says that the Lord has used even those that were uneducated (Acts 4:13).

Regarding #2: I understand that it would be better to have their approval (as I do my elders,) for issues such as sound doctrine, accountability, discipline, etcetera. But again, when asked to show that command in the Scriptures, he was not able to support his opinions with Scripture. Nowhere does the Bible state that your elders shall first give you permission to evangelize.

Regarding #3: It is good and right for a shepherd to strive to protect his sheep from false teachers. But he should not Lord over them, or control them. I am so thankful for all the conferences and misc. events that the Lord provides us with.

Regarding #4: Folks if you ever belong to a church, where the pastor says that you have to agree with him on everything, RUN as I did. This pastor even admitted that recently when a lady left his church, that she accused him of being “cultic.” I can understand why she thought that. They really believe that there are ‘the church.’

Brethren, anytime that we become more loyal to a seminary, of its denominational leader, than the truth of the Scriptures. We need to repent from that idolatry.

Any time that we place so much trust, and reliance on our education, we need to repent from that idolatry.

Regarding #5. It’s PRIDE! Several times over that 5-week period, this pastor proactively told several of us men “I am humble, and still teachable.” Anytime someone proactively claims to be humble, they’re not. Anytime someone proactively claims to be teachable, they’re not. That is usually the same with love. We see people that claim to ‘love,’ but often it is a man-centric unbiblical worldly love.

This is the same pastor that frequents a Starbucks (simultaneously,) while his lady members are being assaulted at abortion mills.

The same pastor that placed more emphasis on isms and schisms (during Bible studies), than the Word of God.

The same pastor that opposes Biblical open-air preaching.

This is the same pastor whose very young assistant pastor attends the same seminary. His assistant pastor (who is bi-vocational) admitted at a men’s Bible study, that he’ a social liberal. He then went on to complain that he only gets paid minimum wages at the restaurant which he works at. He also stated that any Christian who does not believe in tax paid social welfare programs, is “un Christ like.” Of course he started this political rant by prefacing it with, “I don’t usually wear politics on my sleeves, but…”

We all fall short in sound doctrine (myself included.) But when there’s a consistent continuing of unbiblical, and/or extra-Biblical errs, it’s time to say enough.

We must avoid and/or repent from denominational pride, or non-denominational pride. We must avoid being indoctrinated by your own self-made education system. That is very dangerous.

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