Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.John 7:14-18
How much does your preacher talk about himself and like to show how much he knows?
Did you know that Jesus never did this?
The people were amazed that Jesus was able to speak in such a gracious and learned manner regarding the scriptures. They knew that He only knew the trade of carpentry so it did not make sense that He could speak this way.
Jesus responds to them very plainly showing that what they were used to from the religious leaders of the day was not the way it was supposed to be. The formal education of all their “leaders” did not make them the authority of the law like they claimed. In fact, their arrogant trust in their personal education and position showed them to be false teachers!
Now, I am not saying that a man should not educate himself as much as he can. But the number of letters after a man’s name does not tell you whether or not he is called of God to preach the word. If a man boasts in His knowledge more than he boasts in the power of God, I would stop listening!
Further, Jesus states that the doctrine He preaches proves that He is sent from God. The doctrine Jesus taught glorified only God the Father. To the contrary, the Pharisees focused on themselves and their excellence in giving speeches and “turning a phrase.” They mixed in their opinion traditions and taught those as commandments rather than focusing on the word of God.
A man that seeks to give all the glory to God for salvation and everything else is a man worth listening to. John the Baptist taught preachers how they ought to act every day of their ministry:
He must increase, but I [must] decrease.John 3:30
And for those who think you must have a seminary education in order to speak with authority, have you considered how Jesus talks about the “educated men” of His time? God calls and equips men from every station of life. Churches, mission boards, and seminaries do not make preachers, God does.
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.Jeremiah 3:15
And as far as education of preachers is concerned, just look at the New Testament pattern. The disciples followed Jesus closely for several years. They not only learned from what He said but what He did. Can you get that in a university setting? Paul taught Timothy and Titus over the course of several years. There was no board of education. There was just the word of God. The only classroom was the world and church service. The only time frame was… well, there wasn’t one. This means that preachers need to ever be learning more from God’s word.
To preach with authority does not mean that you are loud, can boast several degrees, or show how many books you have published. A man that preaches with authority gets his doctrine form the word of God. He gives glory to God. He feedsthe sheep with knowledge and understanding. He loves like a shepherd and does not threaten like a taskmaster.
Now, once again, I encourage the people of God to be educated, not so they can boast, but so they can understand the word of God and His will better. I also encourage people to write articles, books, and hymns, not so they can receive the praise of men but for the the glory of God and encouragement of fellow saints.