-by Andrew Strom.
Well, the thing I have noticed about these old traditions and deceptions (-which we have treated as "normal" for years), is that they all add to the little "prison" that we have built for ourselves in the church today. In their own way, each of them builds a little "wall" of untruth around itself, and when you add them all together you have a virtual "prison" of untruths that is holding us back from being what we are meant to be. The TRUTH sets us free, remember. And we are a long way from the Book of Acts today - often because of this great 'wall' of traditions that we adhere to.
Of course, personal Revival and deep repentance and deep seeking of God are the most important things. -These are the real 'Heart' issues. But it is a fact that God needs a 'New Wineskin' for His new move. And we need to know what belongs to the "Old" and why we need to leave it behind, or we are bound to try and include it in the "New". Then our children will have to have another Reformation to correct what we have left undone. Do you see what I am saying?
The coming move of God will be a REFORMATION as well as a Revival. There will be a new wineskin. So we must be aware of the things we need to leave behind. These little "walls" have got to go. The church has to break out of this 'prison' of 1700-year- old traditions if it is ever to look like the early church again. And yes, some of this does involve "outward" things.
BIBLE COLLEGE is a good example. The fact is, the early church had no such thing. And they had more power with God than any group of people that has ever lived. There is simply NOTHING LIKE a Bible College in the Book of Acts, and you would have to conclude that they were better off without it! -More miracles, more anointing, more prayer, more depth of communion with God. So who needs a Bible College?
As we have already discussed, the early apostles were mostly not "educated" men at all. They were fishermen and tax collectors! It was the Scribes and Pharisees who were the learned Bible-scholars of their day. These were the "professional clergy" of that time. "And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were UNLEARNED and IGNORANT men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had BEEN WITH JESUS." (Acts 4:13).
So there it is, in black and white. These apostles were "unlearned and ignorant" in the eyes of the religious leaders of their day. But because they had BEEN WITH JESUS they would shake the world.
But what damage do Bible Colleges and Seminaries actually do? Are they really that harmful?
There are several ways in which they do great harm. Think about these points for a moment:
(1) Bible Colleges are the linchpin of the false divide between the "clergy" and the "laity" (-which God hates). In other words, this is where the doctrine of the "Priesthood of ALL believers" is trodden underfoot by the church. As soon as you have certain people who go away to a University or College to become "qualified" professional ministers, then you have lost New Testament Christianity. These people are allowed to 'minister' because they have a Bible College degree or diploma, while other people aren't, because they do not have the 'piece of paper'. It does not matter what their gifts or callings may be. Often the church will put people on a shelf if they do not have the right academic "qualification". They may get to minister in a limited way, but in many cases this is very restricted.
Now, don't you think this is SICK? What on earth would 'unlearned' fishermen like Peter and John do in such a world? Would they even pass the entrance exams? Naturally, they would NEVER be allowed to lead the church without a Bible College degree today! The Day of Pentecost would have to wait until they got themselves properly "qualified".
As I said, the Bible College is the 'linchpin' of this whole set-up. It is the place where you go to become a "professional". It is the place where the "divide" happens. You go there as a mere "lay-person" and you come out as "clergy" - with all the rights and privileges which stem from that in today's world. And then the whole church is trained to sit back and let you do most of the work. The concept of the "whole Body ministering" is totally lost - mostly through this ONE ERROR.
(2) Charles Finney said: "I am still solemnly impressed with the conviction, that the schools are to a great extent spoiling [or ruining] the ministers." Today we are all aware of many Bible Schools where a lot of time is spent questioning the validity and sources of many books of the Bible, questioning whether events in Scripture really happened that way, etc. Human reasoning and man's wisdom naturally tends to come to the fore in such "mind"-oriented and intellectual places. And a lot of young, zealous preachers are indeed "ruined" by attending such schools. Their head is filled with doubts and their heart quickly loses it's fire. Some of them are ruined for life. But what about the so-called "good" schools? -Where there is a solid belief in Scripture and many Spirit-filled tutors?
Well, the fact is, the whole CONCEPT of Bible Colleges is in error. The whole idea of having to study theories, sit exams, and gain a piece of paper that "qualifies" you for the ministry is a serious deception. And even the "good" Bible Schools are often simply churning out "systemized" men to keep the church 'machine' churning along. They are taught how to keep the system well-oiled - how to get the 'programs' running efficiently and so-on. All of this is the very opposite of the early church.
So what are the TRUE "qualifications" for ministry that we need to take heed of? Well, firstly, we must have mature spiritual gifts and a calling from God. And we need to be someone who has spent much time ALONE WITH GOD in prayer. Also, to be a leader in the church we need to fulfill the requirements of 1 Tim 3:1-13. "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited... He must also have a good reputation with outsiders..."
The failure to stick to the above guidelines in choosing leaders in today's church has resulted in all kinds of disasters.
So is there any place for "training" in the church? Certainly! But it clearly needs to be 'PRACTICAL' training, rather than mainly academic or intellectual training. And I believe we need to avoid the whole "degrees and diplomas" syndrome altogether.
There are many short-term training camps and practical courses that are very practical and helpful for Christians. I see nothing wrong with many of these. YWAM has run "Discipleship Training Schools" for years, which I understand are 3-month practical discipleship courses ending with a missions trip to minister to the poor and needy, etc. A lot of these kinds of things are excellent. But NOTHING can take the place of simply spending MUCH TIME alone with God. -This is the major qualification that the early apostles had, after all. And it should be no different today.
It is also possible to find the occasional Bible School that is deeply spiritual and practical. Often these are small and little-known. Charles Finney himself became a tutor at a new Bible School called 'Oberlin College' in the 1830's. A lot of his lectures amounted to full-on "Revival" preaching! But of course, now Oberlin is far removed from being a center of Revival. And that is the problem. It is usually in the second or third generation after they are founded that most of these colleges become stale and institutionalised. And it is then that they usually start doing much more harm than good.
A number of people wrote to me asking about our domain name "www.revivalschool.com". Why did we choose such a name if we did not believe in Bible Schools? Well, we are yet to get any kind of "Online Revival School" going at all, which is what I want to do someday. But rest assured, it will be a very "practical" thing aimed at teaching people the secrets of "personal" Revival and then "corporate" Revival as well. One day we will get it happening!
Like many things, I have to put it off because there are so many other things that need attention.
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