Monday, August 27, 2018

Home




In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on the nature of our Good Shepherd, and how that relates to being a shepherd of His sheep. As the our Lord said:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (Joh 10:7-10)

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (Joh 10:11-15)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep." (Joh 10:1-2)

Some of the topics covered include the the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Good Shepherd and our Senior Pastor, the shepherding role of elders, the need for pastors to provide good care for the sheep, the servant-hood of elders, the need for people to hear and recognize the Lord's voice, the significance of the seven angels of the seven churches of Asia in Revelation, church government, the proper way for disciples to treat their leaders, the need for biblical submission to authority, dealing with persecution against leaders, accusations against leaders, the distinction commonly made between clergy and laity, the need for leaders to be accountable, correctable, and teachable, the use of titles, as well as love, mercy, holiness, righteousness, and true success as a minister.

The Lord, Our Shepherd The Shepherding Role of Elders The Servant of the Lord
Our Senior Pastor Accountable, correctable, and teachable Success in God's Eyes
How to Treat Leaders Clergy-Laity Distinction unbiblical No One to Intercede
Jesus Christ the Nazarene The Priesthood of All Believers A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul
A Tale of Two Kings Leadership Approach Reveals View of God Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity Teachers
Local Church Leadership A Word to the Wise and Learned The Great Shepherd of the Sheep

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB and from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master

___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Doulos Training School


Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Donate


Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry.

There are two ways to donate to Doulos Missions International. You may either send a check or money order by mail or you may donate securely online.

Doulos Missions International, Inc. is incorporated in the State of New Hampshire as a publicly-supported non-profit charity.  We are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax exempt organization under IRC 501(c)(3). Contributions made to this organization are tax deductible.

Online Donations
You may use an electronic check or a major credit card to make a gift today. Click here to donate.

By Mail

You may send your check or money order made payable to Doulos Missions International to the following address:

Doulos Missions International
PO Box 5526
Manchester, NH 03108-5526

By Paypal
You may also securely send money directly to Len Lacroix via Paypal, which is an alternative to donating to DMI, if you prefer this method. Please note that this alternative method of giving through Paypal is not tax-deductible, as it would otherwise certainly be if you use the online button above or mail a check, and will not be given to DMI, but to me personally. If you prefer this method of giving, just message me through the comments section of this post to get my email address for Paypal.


"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38


Thank you!

We invite you to visit our Collection of Blogs.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Great Shepherd of the Sheep

The Lord Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd, saying, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (Joh 10:11, NIV). The apostle called him that great Shepherd of the sheep (Heb 13:20). He is the one that King David wrote about in Psalm 23, when he said:

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psa 23:1-6)

Let's unpack this psalm together.

The Lord is my Shepherd
The Hebrew says, "Yehova Rohi" meaning Yehova (or the Lord) is my Shepherd. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, then He is the Shepherd that you follow, and you realize that He is the One who laid down His life for you on the cross and paid the price for sin. You believe that He rose from the dead and that He lives in your heart. He is the Lord of your life, which means He makes the decisions. You enjoy all the blessings that brings, which the psalmist goes on to enumerate.

I Shall Not Want
This is another way of saying I shall lack nothing. When the Lord is your Shepherd, He provides for all your needs, so that there is no lack.

Green Pastures (Rest)
David said, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." Lying down speaks of rest, and green pastures for us as sheep speaks of having plenty to eat as we graze at His feet. The Lord wants us to operate from a place of rest, and He makes us lie down in beautiful, fertile green places where life abounds, which are a lovely place to be. He is so wonderful to take care of us the way He does.

Still Waters (Refreshment and Restoration)
David said, "He leadeth me beside the still waters." When I read this I think of waters that are flowing gently and quietly, not turbulently. Or I think of the kind of waters where the surface is clear and placid, still and tranquil, reflecting the sky, the trees, and the mountains around it. When the waters are still like that and you come up alongside them, you can drink and find refreshment. It's a beautiful place to be, and you can drink of the living waters to your heart's content.

That's a place where the Lord restores your soul. David said, "He restoreth my soul." We all need these times of restoration, because we go through things in life that wear us down, test us, try us, and can leave us feeling anxious, frustrated, or weary. I'm glad that the Lord leads me beside still waters and restores my soul there.

Paths of Righteousness
David said, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." As I follow Him, He leads me in paths of righteousness, which result in me experiencing His righteousness in my life by faith. It also means that I am led to practice my righteousness according to His Word (Mat 6:1). The path of righteousness is the path of life that leads to heaven. It grows brighter and brighter like the light of dawn until it reaches the full day (Prov 4:18). That means my life will reflect His righteousness more and more the longer I walk with Him. He leads me that way for the sake of His name, so that He might receive the glory, by enabling me to walk in righteousness, holiness, and truth.

Thou Art With Me
David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." At times we all have to go through valleys in life, some of which can be rather dark or even cast shadows over us, and eventually we all have to go through the valley of the shadow of death. There are low points in life and sad times, too. There may even be sickness or close scrapes with death for us or our loved ones. In fact, sometimes we experience the loss of our loved ones. Certainly there is that appointed time for each of us when we too must die and then face the judgment (Heb 9:27).

But we never have to go through any of these experiences alone, because the Lord is right there with us always. We can say to the Lord as David did, "Thou art with me," because Jesus promised us, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Heb 13:5). He also said, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Mat 28:20).

That's also why we fear no evil, even though there are times that may seem scary, because the devil is trying to frighten, threaten, and intimidate us. But if the omnipotent Lord whose name is above all names is with us, we have nothing to fear, because He is watching over us and defending us. He carries both His rod and His staff in His strong hands to protect us from those ferocious wild beasts. For that reason it's comforting to me to know that He carries His rod and His staff, but there are even more reasons why they are a comfort to me as well.

Every sheep that passes under the rod is counted and watched over with great care. The rod that comforts me also represents the Lord's discipline in my life. The shepherd uses the rod and so does the Lord to bring discipline, so that He may lovingly bring me back into line when I go astray. It's called the rod of correction (Prov 13:24; 29:15). He reminds us,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
  because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Heb 12:5-6, NIV)

The staff or "shepherd's crook" comforts me, because He uses the staff to direct me where I should go and to redirect me when I wander or stray. It's a comfort to know He is taking the lead to keep me on the path of righteousness. And He always brings comfort to me whenever I need it, especially when I go through the valleys. I can say with the apostle:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." (2 Cor 1:3-5, NIV)

A Table Prepared Before Me
David, said, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The picture here is one of the Shepherd preparing a meal for the sheep while there are lions, tigers, wolves, and serpents all around. Even in the presence of my enemies, the Lord prepares a table. They look on as I eat to my heart's content. While they would like to eat me for lunch, they stand back and watch me enjoy what the Lord my Shepherd has provided for me.

Eating can put animals, especially sheep, into a vulnerable position, because while they are looking down at their food, a predator could sneak up and pounce on them. But I don't have to fear what man may do to me or fear the devil, because I know the Lord my Shepherd, who laid down His life for me on the cross, prepares a table for me right in front of my enemies, so that I may feast on His abundance without a single care or worry. He will show the wicked that He loves me and is with me all the time, taking good care of me. He's got my back at all times. This is a sign of His goodness to me that my enemies may see it and be put to shame.

Anointed with Oil
David said, "Thou anointest my head with oil." The picture here is the Shepherd pouring oil on the sheep's head to bring healing to a wound, such as a scratch from a close scrape with the enemy that happened during an attack, or perhaps sustained from getting tangled up in briers through its own waywardness. When David said the Lord anointed his head with oil, this speaks to me of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that He pours out upon me and in my life. The Holy Spirit is so precious and His ministry in my life is indispensable, because He brings healing, comfort, guidance, wonder-working power, and guides me into all truth.

Overflowing Cup
David said, "My cup runneth over." This speaks to me of how the Lord gives me such an abundance that it overflows in my life like a cup that is filled to the brim and then He keeps adding more. This speaks to me of the abundant life that Jesus promised when He said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (Joh 10:10). There's not only enough for me, but for everyone around me who comes into contact with the overflow. By the way, I think that we should minister to others from the overflow in our lives, not from a place of lack. The Lord gives us so much that there is plenty to go around for everyone to enjoy. If you are not experiencing His overflow today, then let me encourage you to connect with Him and receive a fresh infilling with the Holy Spirit. If you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, then you have never known what it's like to receive the anointing with oil or to have your cup overflow quite like this. Take the time to seek the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised (Lk 24:49; Ac 1:4,8; 2:4), and you will never regret that you did.

Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me
David said, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Since the Lord is my Shepherd, His goodness and mercy always follow me. Even when I sometimes fail, I am reassured of His loving goodness and mercy to me, so that I can get up and keep on going. His mercy follows me, because "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Joh 1:9, NIV). His goodness follows me, because "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28, NIV).

A wonderful illustration of this is the true account of how my friend Michael Thomas Sambo miraculously escaped from terrorist assassins that kidnapped him, and was taken care of by two angels called goodness and mercy. Perhaps you have never thought before of goodness and mercy as two angels, but that is what their names were. You can read about that in my article Angelic Escape from Terrorist Assassins.

Eternal Life in the Shepherd's House
David said, "I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." This is what I am able to look forward to all because of Jesus' finished work on the cross. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, because He promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Him. He said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." (Joh 10:27-29, NIV). He also said, "“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and he who lives by believing in me will never die." (Joh 11:25-26, NIV).

A Special Blessing for All Sheep
I hope this has encouraged you in your walk with the Lord today. In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, Jesus has overcome the world! Now I pray this blessing upon all the Shepherd's true sheep who have read this post:

"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Heb 13:20-21, NIV)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version. Other quotes from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as FullnessBaptism with the Holy SpiritA Tale of Two Kings, The Servant of the Lord, The Shepherding Role of Elders, Success in God's Eyes, Accountable, correctable, and teachable, A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul, Persecuted or Popular?, and Having a Servant's Heart. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Word to the Wise and Learned

Some people are impressed by learned theologians and give them a lot of respect and credence because of their educational degrees. But since when does being a well-learned theologian have any great importance in the sight of God? Where in Scripture does it teach that such men are favored by God or usually chosen by Him for special purposes?

It was the well-learned, highly respected doctors of the law, scribes, and other theologians like the Pharisees and Sadducees that opposed the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry. These hypocrites failed to recognize that God was walking among them, speaking to them face to face. They did not recognize the time of God's coming to them (Lk 19:44).

However, the Lord did not have any kind of formal, theological education. When the Jews asked in amazement how He got such learning without having studied, Jesus told them His teaching came from the Father and not from within Himself.  "The Jews then were astonished, saying, 'How has this man become learned, having never been educated?' So Jesus answered them and said, 'My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.'" (Joh 7:15-16)

He also said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do." (Mt 11:25-26, NIV). It is the Father's good pleasure to hide His mysteries from the wise and learned and reveal them instead to simple little children, as well as child-like people.

Therefore, He chose common fishermen to be His disciples, whom the learned members of the Sanhedrin could plainly recognize as unschooled, ordinary men (Ac 4:12). Although they were unschooled, they had spent three and a half years walking with the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. They may not have had a Th.D, a Ph.D, a D.Div, a D.Min, or an MDiv, but they had been with Jesus and received their BWJ. They had been baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire and received power from on high to be witnesses for Jesus. Thus Peter could later warn others about ignorant and unstable men who distort Paul's letters and the other Scriptures (2 Pe 3:16).

The apostle Paul had great learning, but the gospel he preached was something he received by revelation directly from the Lord. He considered his pedigree and all his great theological learning as a loss. He considered it as dung (Phil 3:7-8). He did not come with eloquent words or superior wisdom (1 Co 2:1). His preaching was not with wise and persuasive words (1 Cor 2:4), because the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom (1 Cor 1:25). God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Co 1:27). He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are (1 Co 1:28).  You see, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know." (1 Co 8:1b-2).

Although Apollos was a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, who had been instructed in the way of the Lord accurately, he still needed common tentmakers like Priscilla and Aquilla to explain the way of God to him more accurately (Ac 18:24-26). He was humble enough to receive their gracious assistance.

Head knowledge is not what is important. In fact, head knowledge will get you killed! That's why many of the seminaries around the world have become cemeteries where the life of God is snuffed out of their students that are there studying for ministry. Rather than making disciples, who have been taught to obey everything Jesus commanded us -- disciples who are Spirit-filled, Spirit-baptized, on fire for God, who know how to move in the power of God, these seminaries are turning out mere theologians who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof (2 Tim 3:5). We are to have nothing to do with them. They are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (2 Tim 3:7). They are not preaching explicitly against sins that will keep people from heaven, but are following deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Ti 4:1).

They are experts in greed -- an accursed brood (2 Pe 2:14). They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness (2 Pe 2:15). They have rushed for profit into Balaam's error (Jude 1:11). They change the grace of our God into a license for immorality (Jude 1:4). They are autumn trees, without fruit, and uprooted -- twice dead (Jude 1:12). It is such men as these who have slipped in secretly among us. We do not exalt them or promote them or endorse them or pay them special respect. We do not even listen to them. It is because of men such as these that we must contend for the faith once for all handed down to the saints.

The True Bible Scholar
The Lord has taught me that the true Bible scholar is the doer of the Word. As James said:

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." (Jas 1:22-25)

If you are not doing what you have learned, you have no right to be taught anymore. Think about that. As John Wimber once said, “Knowledge without application is incomplete.” 

Personal Experience
For those who think I am against all theological training, they are badly mistaken. As John Wimber once said, “I am not one of those who despises education. I think that’s like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” I write these things as one who has graduated from Bible school and received a Master's degree from a graduate school of divinity. I thank God for the privilege of those two valuable experiences, and the anointed servants who taught me in those institutions, which the Lord led me to attend. I also provide theological training myself to those who attend the three-year Doulos Training School (DTS) that I founded. But the focus is not on head knowledge. The focus is on the Word of God, on the power of the Holy Spirit, on becoming a disciple who multiplies disciples, and on service to the Master.

He commanded us to go and make disciples, not to go and pursue theological degrees, or to go and make theologians. Before His ascension He commissioned the apostles saying, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20, NIV). The command in part is to make disciples and teach them to obey everything the Lord commanded the apostles. Since one of those commands was this one to go and make disciples, then the apostles were commissioned to teach their disciples to go and make disciples. And those disciples were in turn to go and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything the Lord commanded, including to go and make disciples. This is so simple and yet it is grossly neglected by most Christians. And how many theological educational institutions are emphasizing this?

When I was in seminary in the early 1990's, there were different Master's degree programs offered. Some of them such as the Master's of Divinity (MDiv) program provided the student with the necessary coursework to go on for a Doctoral degree in theology. They also offered the Master's in Theological studies, as well as the Master's in Practical Theology -- Church and Ministry, which is more focused on the practical side of things. Although I enjoyed studying Greek and learning the original language of the Bible, I had to make a decision, based on what the Lord had called me to do. After prayerful consideration, I decided to pursue a Master's in Missiology, with a concentration in the area of Church Planting, since I was called to help fulfill the Great Commission by bringing the gospel to the nations.

When I made that decision to pursue that degree during the first year of my seminary studies, I knew that by doing so, I would not be well-positioned to pursue a doctoral degree in theology, due to the fact that I would not be completing all the necessary prerequisites for the doctoral program. This was at a time when some of my colleagues had chosen pre-doctoral programs that would enable them to later pursue their doctoral degrees. There was a strong lure to go in that same direction, because of the great value in society that is placed on holding a doctoral degree. I knew that the title of Doctor and the degree could help earn respect and credibility with many people, and that it could open doors. But I made my decision based on my calling, as well as the leading of the Holy Spirit, and I don't regret it one bit.

There were many valuable aspects of my degree program that I enjoyed, and plenty of sound wisdom from my professors that I benefited from. I know they took their roles seriously and I am grateful for the way they poured themselves out for me. Still much of what I studied theologically was a repeat of what I had already learned in Bible school. And if I may be candid, I would say that what I learned about Church Planting was mostly men's ideas that often seemed to be patterned more after Madison Avenue than the Bible. However, about eleven years after graduating from seminary, I attended a three-day seminar called Beyond Church Planting, which was offered in my home town by a couple pastors with many years experience. Their names were Tom Johnston and Mike Chong Perkinson of the Praxis Center. I found that the teaching presented in that short seminar was more powerful, meaningful, and valuable to me than all the books I had read about Church Planting in graduate school. It was based simply upon the life of Jesus and His approach to making disciples that make disciples.

They emphasized the Great Commandments and the Great Commission, which they called the "irreducible core" of the Church. You can remove a lot of other things from the Church, such as the programs, the paid staff, the sound system, the parking lot, the educational degrees, the PowerPoint presentations, the building, the drama team, and the choir robes, but you cannot eliminate any part of the irreducible core, or else it would no longer be the true Church. Jesus never commanded us to go and plant churches, but to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and as we go, to make disciples. We are supposed to be planting the seeds of the gospel in men's hearts and multiplying, and we don't need advanced theological degrees to do so. In fact, one of the problems of education is that it prepares you to go to another school. Each time you go on for an advanced degree, it prepares you for another advanced degree, more so than truly preparing you to obey the Great Commandments and fulfill the Great Commission given by our Lord.

Ten Factors to Consider 
If you are considering the idea of pursuing an advanced theological degree, such as a doctorate, here are some factors to consider:

1. The time that you will spend in academic institutions doing so. Once you have earned your Bachelor's degree, it could take up to three years to obtain a Master's, and up to another five to six years to obtain your doctorate.
2. The time that this will take away from your prayer life, seeking the Lord, communion with God, your time in the Bible, your wife and children (if you are married), and from your ministry. You will be under a tremendous workload. Something will probably have to suffer for it, so be aware of that as you make your decision, and be on your guard against that. "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" (Mt 16:26, NIV)
3. The cost of the education. Higher education is expensive, but if God is calling you to it, then He will provide for it, just as He has done for me and so many others.
4. Unless you go into debt by taking out a large student loan or receive a scholarship, you may also need to be working at a job to pay for your degree, all the while still studying and perhaps doing ministry as well. Sustaining that can take a toll on your health, spiritual well-being, and your finances (Rom 13:8).
5. The enormous number of books you will need to read, many of which were written by authors that are not necessarily speaking for God, or who deny the truth of the Bible, or who may be adding to the Word of God. Many of them are natural men without the Spirit who do not accept the things of the Spirit and deny the power of God (1 Cor 2:14; 2 Tim 3:5). These will plant seeds in you and could pollute the well spring of life, which is your heart, if you are not careful. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." (Pr 4:23) "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body." (Ecc 12:12b, NIV).
6. Knowledge puffs up (1 Cor 8:1), so you cannot continue to acquire more knowledge without consequences (2 Chr 26:16; Prov 16:18). Remember to walk humbly before your God. There are certainly men and women who have obtained advanced degrees and yet remained humble, so it is possible with God. But there are others who have become prideful and fallen.
7. You are accountable to God for what you know and do. To whom much is given much is required (Lk 12:48). Those who teach will come under stricter judgment (Jam 3:1). If you are not already practicing what you know from the Word of God, then how will you escape God's judgment? (Mt 7:21-27; Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10).
8. Whatever is not of faith is sin, and he who doubts is condemned (Rom 14:23). Whichever path you choose, you will need to have a deep-seated faith that this is what God wants you to do. What is your motive for wanting that degree?
9. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Prov 14:12). You must be led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14; Gal 5:25). What is He leading you to do? What is the will of God?
10. The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom (1 Cor 1:25). God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Co 1:27). He hides things from the wise and learned and reveals them to little children (Mt 11:25-26).

Trustworthy Sayings
Over the years, while I was obtaining my theological training, I captured some quotes from people about the pursuit of knowledge that spoke to me, and I didn't want to forget them. Here are some of them.

“The pursuit of knowledge has become a national pastime.” – John Wimber

“Multitudes are bowing down and burning incense to a doctrine rather than Christ.” – Frank Bartleman

“Philosophical reasonings, intellectual speculations, ect., are… actuated by demon forces to sweep us from…child-like faith in God.” – Frank Bartleman

“You can spend your life accumulating degrees and doctorates, and then hobble across the stage of life trying to balance them.” – Charles Zeirle

“You don’t need theology, you need knee-ology.” – Dr. Ben Fraser

“You need power. You don’t need head knowledge. Head knowledge will get you killed.” – Jason Alvarez. He is the pastor of The Love of Jesus Family Church in Orange, New Jersey, who prayed and fasted two days a week for months.

Putting it All Together
So I hope this article has helped to put things into perspective for you. If you don't have a theological degree, don't worry about it. The Lord can still use you to fulfill His purposes. If you have been esteeming highly the well-learned theologians and teachers, then you should stop doing that. They are ordinary men just like the rest of us, and they do not necessarily have a corner on the truth or an immunity to error. They can make mistakes, too, and teach incorrectly. Just because they have doctoral degrees doesn't mean they are always right or that you should always believe whatever they say. You still need to test their fruit, because by their fruit you will recognize them. And you need to search the Scriptures to see if these things they teach are really so (Ac 17:11).

And if you are either considering an advanced theological degree or already pursuing one, I hope this has given you something to consider. Perhaps you will reevaluate what the Lord wants you to be doing, and whether or not He really told you to get that degree. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of obtaining academic degrees. Nevertheless, we should not dismiss the possibility that the Lord may call someone – for reasons known only to God – to pursue advanced degrees. For those of you who already have advanced degrees, please know that I still love you and do not pass judgment on you. If you are humble and honest, hopefully you will find some merit in what I have said. If you take offense to it, then ask the Lord to show you why, because I don't have anything against you personally.

Regardless of who you are or whether you find yourself in one of these categories that I have just described, your emphasis should be on the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Focus on loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Spend your time studying the Bible, being a doer of the Word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, being led by the Spirit, receiving and maintaining the fire of God, spending time in prayer, abiding in Christ, practicing His presence, becoming a disciple, and making disciples of Jesus Christ. Keep it simple, follow Jesus, obey His commands, keep yourself from being corrupted by the world, and pursue holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, except where those taken from the Holy Bible NIV are noted.

Author's note: Please prayerfully consider enrolling in our Doulos Traning School for discipleship.

If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my articles The Kingdom of God is Like ThisMultiplication, Multiplication Illustrations, Here I Am, Send MeThe Cost of Discipleship, Compelled by Love, and Life Transformation Groups.You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as The Servant of the Lord, Success in God's Eyes, Accountable, correctable, and teachable, A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul, Persecuted or Popular?, The Popularity of the Gospel, Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity Teachers, and Having a Servant's Heart. For an great example of how the Lord spoke to a dear friend of mine to pursue a doctoral degree in medicine, please see The Voice That Changed Everything -- Testimony of Dr. Stenhouse. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org