Seminaries Are Great, But Cannot and Must Not Replace the Holy Spirit

In yesterday’s post, I alluded to a passage in Acts 4:13, in which the Jewish council looked upon the disciples:  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.  And they recognized they had been with Jesus.” 

As a three-time product of seminary (from Southern Seminary—MCM 1997, MDiv 2003, DMin 2009), I furiously resisted the temptation to thing that just because I had the institutional education that I was spiritually mature.  Not so!  One can venture through seminary without the Holy Spirit that has sealed their heart in Christ. 

Seminaries that hold to the Scripture above all else are great.  I benefited greatly and was sharpened there like no other place educationally. 

John 14-16 gives us a great understanding of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus has informed his disciples that he must return to the Father.  That, along with the news that one of his own would betray him and another would deny him, left the disciples grieving and afraid.  How would they go on alone?

They wouldn’t!  Jesus would leave but would send the Holy Spirit.  Look briefly at what the Spirit can do:

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you. . . . 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:16-17, 25-26).

  • He is another helper that would never leave (v. 16);
  • He is the Spirit of truth (v. 17).
  • The world cannot receive him—that is, those in the kingdom of this world and not in the kingdom of God (v. 17).
  • He dwells in (not just with, in) every Christian (v. 17).
  • He comes in the Father’s name.
  • He is our Teacher (v. 25).
  • He will bring to remembers everything Christ said to them (v. 25).


“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).

  • The Helper is certain to come (“When the Helper comes”—not if). 
  • He proceeds from the Father.
  • He bears witness about Christ.

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.


  • Jesus had to leave—in fact, Jesus says it is better that he leaves, so the Spirit will come (v. 7). 
  • The Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment; working to keep us between the hedges (v. 8). 

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:7-14).

  • Again, he will guide into all truth (v. 13).
  • He speaks what He hears from God and thus speaks with ultimate authority (v. 13).
  • He is everpresent, knowing the future as he does the present or past (v. 13). 
  • He glorifies Christ, making us aware of what and whom are his (v. 14).

As incredible an education I received from seminary and as amazing as they are at teaching the Scriptures, even those professors must be under the anointing of the Holy Spirit as much as the students must be.  Otherwise, the professors and students over time will begin to actively or subtly believe that the Scriptures are simply another book that must submit either to other leadership or church growth books on how to ‘do church,’ or they will submit Scripture to the scientific world and just the veracity of Scripture up against their limited scope of the universe.

Seminaries are great!  The Spirit is ultimate!

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