But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. – Acts 6:10
Stephen, as one of the seven men called by God and raised up by the early church to handle disputes and benevolence issues, was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. He was a servant, preacher, and apologist (defender of the faith). In short, he was an amazing man for an amazing time, yet none of his extraordinary ability was gained through Bible college or seminary. Stephen was Greek and possibly educated, but the power behind his preaching came from Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and a full knowledge of God’s revealed work in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Soon after making the decision to go to seminary in 1987, a pastoral staff member in my church urged me to contact T.W. Hunt at Southwestern Seminary. I had never heard of him, though I later learned that he had authored The Disciple’s Prayer Life. When I got Dr. Hunt on the phone, I told him that I was preparing to enter seminary and asked if he had any advice for me. His answer has guided me for the past 33 years. Dr. Hunt told me that I would be spending many hours studying theology, Church history, and how to serve the Body of Christ, but in all my academic pursuits there was one thing I must never neglect. He said that I must never let anything keep me from my personal time with Jesus.
It is always good to be reminded that advanced degrees and popular pulpits do not make one a success in God’s kingdom. The Holy Spirit and His wisdom are, however, absolutely essential. Study? Yes, but we must not forget to also spend time with the Teacher.
The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter sun that shines, but warms not: but meditation is like a blowing upon the fire, where we do not mind the blaze, but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. – Thomas Manton