Our educational system may qualify us for a lot of things in this world but it cannot qualify us for ministry under the New Covenant. Only God can qualify us for this ministry, for it works through His empowering presence. As I said last time, this kind of knowledge is experiential, it comes from a very different source than what we can receive from human institutions of learning.
As I mentioned last time, formal education is helpful. It helps us think logically and in a disciplined manner. That’s all good for a lot of things. It just doesn’t qualify us to preach the Gospel, even though most of us in the West seem to think it does.
In describing his ministry qualifications, here’s what Paul told the Corinthians:
5 Yet we don’t see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God’s empowering presence. 6 He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life. (2 Cor. 3:5-6 TPT*)
As I mentioned last time, Paul didn’t think his extensive education was of any use to him at all (see Phil.3:7-8). In fact, he tells us that this kind of knowledge only makes us argumentative and prideful, but passionately loving God leads us to true knowledge.
It seems that everyone believes his own opinion is right on this matter. How easily we get puffed up over our opinions! But love builds up the structure of our new life. 2 If anyone thinks of himself as a know-it-all, he still has a lot to learn. 3 But if a person passionately loves God, he will possess the knowledge of God. (1 Cor.8:1b-3 TPT*)
As I mentioned last time, the irony here is that we put our confidence in the very opposite. We go to school so we can be qualified to minister the Gospel. But one of the reasons that it doesn’t is because the New Covenant represents an invisible kingdom can only be accessed by faith and empowered by the Spirit.
Again, here’s Paul explaining it to us:
4 The message I preached and how I preached it was not an attempt to sway you with persuasive arguments but to prove to you the almighty power of God’s Holy Spirit. 5 For God intended that your faith not be established on man’s wisdom but by trusting in his almighty power. (1 Cor.2:4-5 TPT*)
Paul is very clear. It’s not persuasive arguments or man’s wisdom, but God’s almighty power that we’re to trust in. Of course, we must believe before we’ll see any of it.
They asked Jesus what His qualifications were since He didn’t go to their seminaries. Here’s His answer:
15 The Jewish leaders were astonished by what he taught and said, “How did this man acquire such knowledge? He wasn’t trained in our schools—who taught him?”
16 So Jesus responded, “I don’t teach my own ideas,but the truth revealed to me by the One who sent me. 17 If you want to test my teachings and discover where I received them, first be passionate to do God’s will, and then you will be able to discern if my teachings are from the heart of God or from my own opinions. (John 7:15-17 TPT*)
It’s possible to have a profound knowledge of the Bible and not know Jesus at all. Methodist founder, John Wesley, talked about going to the Americas to convert the heathen to the gospel before he had experienced his own conversion. That trip was fruitless because all he had to give them was religion. The Pharisees knew their Scriptures better than we ever will, yet they crucified their own Messiah.
Beloved, it possible to know the words of the Scriptural text, inside and out, and still be bound, living under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and not the Tree of Life. It is the Spirit that pours out life, not our head knowledge.
And, again, the irony is astounding. We’ve set up an elaborate qualifying system for ministry based on the very thing that doesn’t qualify us!
I will said it again: education is important for a lot of things, but the only thing that qualifies you for the gospel is God in Jesus Christ, which is demonstrated by the power of the Spirit to transform the lives He’s allowed to touch. And the true fruits of New Covenant ministry are people growing in the power of God demonstrated by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23 NIV)