A Testimony of Hearing God’s Voice in an Academic Setting

This coming Sunday Kevin Springer will be teaching on Acts 3, which happens to be a chapter detailing both the healing of a lame man and another evangelistic sermon preached by Peter (can you say, “Power Evangelism”?) This testimony was written by Dr. Gary Greig, who is a friend of Kevin’s and a co-author with Kevin on another book entitled, The Kingdom and the Power.  To view or download Gary’s paper on power evangelism (which contains some excellent small group questions) click here.

Gary writes… The way that I made it through my undergraduate and graduate school degree programs was through continual prayer and conscious dependence on the Lord—praying for wisdom and understanding in all my studies. I finished a B.A. degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1983 and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1990. All my studies at the Hebrew University were in Modern Hebrew, which I had to learn before entering my course of study there. When I told my academic advisor, Aviva Rosen, an older Israeli woman, that I had no family in Israel and had just had a summer to study modern Hebrew before entering the classroom where all my lectures would be in Hebrew, she exclaimed in Hebrew “My God!” And I thought, “Yes Lord, only you, God, can help me do this and succeed!” I had received prophetic words before traveling to Israel that the Lord would be with me and give me success, and I leaned hard on those prophetic promises in my prayers.
In my department of the University of Chicago, doctoral course-work and dissertation research normally took doctoral students ten years to complete, but I was able to complete the necessary course-work and research in seven years between 1983 and 1990. I say this not to praise myself. I was an average-to-above-average student all my life. I say this to demonstrate how the power of prayer and conscious dependence on God’s Spirit for all knowledge and wisdom can and should transform a Christian’s study in traditional academic degree-work, including seminary and Bible college degree-work.
Countless times, I remember praying and asking the Lord for wisdom in what I was studying, and He would prompt me to look in a certain book or journal, or He would let me stumble across the exact information I needed. Once a ruthless graduate student instructor at the University of Chicago, teaching a course in Old Egyptian (the oldest and most difficult form of ancient Egyptian), gave the class an impossible assignment to translate a very difficult Old Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription without giving us the normal references to journal articles analyzing the text. We had two days to translate the text into English and our grades (and chances for university scholarships) were depending on it. Well, my knee-jerk reaction was to pray and cry out to God for mercy in the research archives (library) of the U of C’s Oriental Institute! As I was doing so the Lord seemed to point to one volume of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology among about 100 similar volumes. The quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit was persistent, “Look at that volume!” I picked out the volume, which had perhaps 200 pages of articles, and the first page I opened to was an article analyzing and translating the very Old Egyptian hieroglyphic text that we had been assigned in the class! Needless to say, I was thanking the Lord as I shared the information with my class-mates, who were not Christians but among whom the Lord got the glory! As a result we were all ready for the next class, though our instructor had no idea how we were all so well-prepared to translate and discuss the text!
Experiences like this taught me what the Old Testament means when it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowing the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). The Lord already knows all there is to know. That is why Scripture calls Him the “Spirit of Truth” who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13; cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 1 John 4:6). We fail to honor the Lord, the Spirit of Truth, when we do not seek Him for all knowledge and understanding that we wish to acquire. The sin of the Garden was that Adam and Eve impatiently grabbed for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil without calling on or waiting for the Lord (Gen 3:6). They made it happen by themselves without consciously waiting for or depending on the Lord. And this is what happens in every classroom where Christian leaders in universities, colleges, seminaries, and Bible colleges—even with the best of intentions—try to figure it out for themselves, just them and their “gray matter,” apart from consciously depending on and asking the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth.

The Old and New Testaments present all teaching, education, and ministry preparation as a process of depending on God’s Spirit within a framework of mentoring modeled after the nuclear family.

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