April 27, 2017
by Dr. Rick Boyd
How important is seminary? Allow me to share something that the Lord showed me through an assignment on the Book of Acts while I was in seminary.
The first eight verses of Acts portray an interesting dynamic between the risen Lord and His apostles. After spending three years walking with them before His death and resurrection, Jesus takes another forty days to teach them. Interestingly, He also restrains them from running off with the teaching alone:
[To the apostles Jesus] also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which you heard from Me, because John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” [Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has appointed by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:3-8).
The author of Acts, Luke, spends the rest of the book unpacking the general statement in this last verse (1:8). This strategic passage also reveals two complementary truths essential to every Christian, applying especially to those considering seminary education.
First, even though Jesus had spent three years walking and talking with his apostles, he spent an additional forty days further instructing them about the kingdom. Even after all that time, the instruction was not enough. They needed the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses.
Second, the Holy Spirit was not enough. If the Spirit alone were enough, why would Jesus have taught them for another forty days after those initial three years? The disciples apparently needed both the Spirit and the teaching of the kingdom in order to fulfill their call. As the book of Acts unfolds, we see this become a reality. Neither the teaching nor the Spirit is sufficient in isolation, but both working together equipped them to be Jesus’ witnesses and fulfill their charge.
The abiding presence and power of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for the witness of the church, but so is the concentrated teaching of the kingdom. Luke does not elaborate on the teaching of those forty days, but the New Testament presents the teachings of those apostles who sat under Jesus’ instruction and who were anointed by the Spirit at Pentecost. The thought of one (the Spirit or teaching) without the other should cause every believer to reconsider what is truly necessary, especially those called to vocational ministry. Like the apostles, we need both the kingdom teaching and the Spirit. God has and continues to provide both if we will fully surrender to Him and follow as He leads.