Leonard Ravenhill

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Leonard RavenhillMatt Self over at The Gad(d)about, besides having the common sense to pick drums over all other musical instruments, also has the brains to quote Leonard Ravenhill. Good for Matt. The American Church needs to hear more Ravenhill.

If you haven’t been around Cerulean Sanctum very long, you’ll get to know Ravenhill soon enough. He and A.W. Tozer are the “patron saints” of this blog. No one in the last century wrote blistering words like Tozer and no one preached with more fire than Ravenhill. That they were friends in real life is the icing on the cake.

I don’t do a lot of imploring on this blog, but if you’ve never heard Ravenhill preach, I implore you to go to SermonIndex.net and check out the Ravenhill section at this link (with videos at this link).

Ravenhill was more than a preacher, though; he may have been the last true English-speaking revivalist with roots that went back to the Welsh Revival. He passed away in 1994, and one of the greatest losses in my own life is that I mismarked a calendar and missed him preaching at a local church. He passed away not too long afterward.

Yet he lives on in his teaching tapes, and most of them are incendiary. Not only did Ravenhill handle the Scriptures in a way unmatched today, but he could draw parallels and bring two disparate Biblical concepts together like no other preacher I’ve ever heard. He not only knew the ins and outs of the Bible, but hundreds of hymns, too. Best of all, he had a solid understanding of how the charismata work today. He was the total package. Listening to him is so convicting I find it hard not to keep from rending my clothes and pouring ashes on myself. If you want to know that “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” may have sounded like to Jonathan Edwards’ listeners, check out few of the highest-rated Ravenhill sermons on SermonIndex.net, especially those before he was slowed by a stroke in the mid-1980s.

God knows that we need another like him to rouse the Church in 2006.

And though it’s a shame to limit the breadth of Leonard Ravenhill’s wisdom to a few zingers, I’ll end with some of his more pithy statements:

The only time you can really say that ‘Christ is all I need’ is when Christ is all you have.

If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.

A popular evangelist reaches your emotions. A true prophet reaches your conscience.

The last words of Jesus to the church (in Revelation) were ‘Repent!’

A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.

Your doctrine can be as straight as a gun barrel…and just as empty!

John the Baptist never performed any miracles; yet, he was greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.

I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.

Our God is a consuming fire. He consumes pride, lust, materialism, and other sin.

There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin.

[Concerning the darkness that has enveloped most of Christendom:] When you’re sitting in a dark room, you can either sit and curse the darkness, or you can light a candle.

Children can tell you what Channel 7 says, but not what Matthew 7 says.

Some women will spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing for church externally (putting on special clothes and makeup, etc.). What would happen if we all spent the same amount of time preparing internally for church, with prayer and meditation?

Maturity comes from obedience, not necessarily from age.

What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?

The Bible is either absolute or it’s obsolete.

Why do we expect to be better treated in this world than Jesus was?

Today’s church wants to be raptured from responsibility.

Testimonies are wonderful. But so often our lives don’t fit our testimonies.

[Concerning one of the new movements in the church that was causing a stir among Christians:] There’s also a stir when the circus comes to town.

My main ambition in life is to be on the Devil’s most wanted list.

You can’t develop character by reading books. You develop it from conflict.

When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it ‘legalism.’

We can’t serve God by proxy.

We must do what we can do for God before He will give us the power to do what we can’t do.

There’s a difference between changing your opinion and changing your lifestyle.

Our seminaries today are turning out dead men.

How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV?

Everyone recognizes that Stephen was Spirit-filled when he was performing wonders. Yet, he was just as Spirit-filled when he was being stoned to death.

If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!

[Concerning the fixation that today’s church has with numbers, with growth at any price:] The church has paid a terrible price for statistics!

Any method of evangelism will work if God is in it.

Church unity comes from corporate humility.

You can have all of your doctrines right, yet still not have the presence of God.

Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously. But do they really think that on Judgment Day Christ will chastise me, saying, ‘Leonard, you took Me too seriously’?

You can know a lot about the atonement and yet receive no benefit from it.

If the whole church goes off into deception, that will in no way excuse us for not following Christ.

You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.

27 thoughts on “Leonard Ravenhill

  1. The Christian Woman

    I like him!

    I hadn’t heard of Ravenhill before so I appeciate you posting this. I can’t wait to take a look at some of his sermons – thanks for the link.

    Carrie

  2. Thanks, Dan. I first heard of Leonard Ravenhill by way of Last Days Ministries, so that goes back a few years. And thanks for the lead on where to hear his messages.

    My favorite among the quotes: “You can have all of your doctrines right�yet still not have the presence of God.” You’d think the man had been reading Godblogs just before he wrote that.

  3. My wife and I are close to a couple that have been in ministry for 60 years. One day while at lunch with them I mentioned Ravenhill. As it turns out, they sat under his teaching while he was at First Baptist in Atlanta for several years. The first thing the wife said about him was not a comment on his preaching, teaching, nor writing.

    She said, “That man could pray! He would pray night and day for that church. He was always in prayer.”

    Ravenhill was a hero of mine and in fact one of the first things I noticed about this blog was that you had “Why Revival Tarries” on your book list. I about wore that book out.

    In retrospect, it should not have been a suprise that prayer was his most memorable feature but I had never heard that spoken about a preacher before. Then again, I had never heard a preacher like Ravenhill since.

    If you like Ravenhill though I might reccomend Michael Brown’s “The End of the American Gospel Enterprise”

  4. Standing_Firm

    Thanks Dan for the link. I posted a link to this post from my blog. Resources that edify are always a plus and I am sure I will be fed by brother Ravenhill. Thanks again.

  5. Carl,

    Sadly, Why Revival Tarries is the only book of Ravenhill’s still in print or else I’d have more in the sidebar. I’ve been lucky enough to read an old copy of Meat for Men, but have not located others like Sodom Had No Bible which has a title that is pure Ravenhill!

    I had no idea that he lived in Atlanta. I first heard about him through Last Days Ministries, reading the tracts he wrote for them. I know that he and Keith Green, plus the whole 2nd Chapter of Acts crowd and the Agape Force were all living in the Lindale, TX, area for a while. That was kind of a confluence of Spirit-filled ministries at the time. Green got Ravenhill involved in the Vineyard, but then Leonard bowed out a few years before the Kansas City prophets debacle. Ravenhill was certainly discerning!

  6. Standing_Firm

    Hi Dan,
    I just listened to A Burning Heart. It is going to take me a good while to fully digest what I heard. It was timely like only the Holy Spirit can plan. Thanks once again for posting the link to these great sermons.

  7. Gaddabout

    I saw 2nd Chapter of Acts in 1975 at ASU’s Grady Gammage Theater as the lone 6-year-old hanging out with the high school group. I fell asleep. I remember something about Aslan, la la la, then I remember someone poking me so I’d leave the aisle.

    I saw Andrae Crouch at our mother church a week later. Andrae never let anyone fall asleep at his concerts. Not even with a 20-minute rendition of Soon And Very Soon or an equally long Power in the Blood. Bill Maxwell was the bomb.

    I didn’t know anything about Ravenhill back then. Some things God gets to us in our time … =)

  8. Larry Who

    What a blessing to find believers that love Leonard Ravenhill! I saw a video where he preached about the Judgment Seat of Christ (the Bema Seat) and I wanted to hide under my chair.

    Dan – send your address to my blog and I will mail a free copy of “Sodom Had No Bible.” Enjoy it and be blessed.

  9. Ironically, Matt, the only time I saw 2nd Chapter was with a former girlfriend who recently found this blog and started commenting off and on. The world is a very small place, especially in the Christian community. Anyway, that was circa 1983-84 and I have the vaguest recollection of that concert.

    I wonder if she’s reading this….

    Andrae will always be “Through It All” for me. We sang that in our Lutheran church youth group and it was my favorite song for a long time:

    I�ve had many tears and sorrows;
    I�ve had questions for tomorrow;
    There�ve been times I didn�t know right from wrong.
    But in ev�ry situation
    God gave blessed consolation
    That my trials come to only make me strong.

    Chorus
    Through it all, through it all,
    (Oh,) I�ve learned to trust in Jesus;
    I�ve learned to trust in God.
    Through it all, through it all,
    I�ve learned to depend upon His Word.

    I thank God for the mountains
    And I thank Him for the valleys;
    I thank Him for the storms He brought me through;
    For if I�d never had a problem,
    I wouldn�t know that He could solve them;
    I�d never know what faith in God could do.

    That song got me through the tough times in my late teens, early twenties that I mentioned in my post on Worry.

  10. Dan McGowan

    Love all the “Bumper Stickers.”

    Seriously – those are amazing thoughts. Now – – any suggestions on HOW to put all those cool proverbs into action?

  11. Anonymous

    Yeah, I very much like Leonard Ravenhill. I didn’t know about the Vineyard incident with Green that -as far as memory helps me- I found no mention of in Green’s biography written by his wife. In that book I was dissapointed at not finding too many references to how Leonard interacted with the Greens.
    Now, those who have not heard about Ravenhill may think he had no sense of humor at all, but he made remarks like this: [speaking about a well-know seminary in Texas]:”…[name] cemetery… pardon, seminary” [laughs in the tape].
    Yet, I am not sure but he also founded another seminary, right?.
    Also, I know he had at least two sons, Paul and David, who are also preachers though I do not know how close they follow in the legacy of his father. Any thoughts about it?

    Francisco

    • I’m not surprised that Ravenhill is not mentioned in Keith Green’s biography. Ravenhill must’ve declined the offer. I’ll quote a few lines from the SermonIndex forum discussing on writing a Ravenhill biography. Here it goes….

      “A friend of mine who knows the Ravenhill’s wrote a book several years back about famous street preachers and evangelists.

      He wanted to include a chapter about Len Ravenhill, but was denied permission by the family. They said that Len didn’t really like to be written about and they just didn’t want to have to deal with trying to ensure that his legacy was handled properly.”

      other quotes from the same forum…

      “I can give you guys something that I think you’ll enjoy, though. After Len passed away, this friend was visiting with Len’s late wife, Martha. He asked Martha about the miraculous in Len’s ministry. She replied, “Everything that is in the Bible, we saw.” She went on to give testimonies about blind eyes being opened and cripples rising from wheelchairs.

      I was blessed to speak to Martha Ravenhill after Lens death and she said that every person who had cancer that Len prayed for WAS healed.

      My friend asked, “Why did he never write about any of it or testify to it in his preaching.” Martha responded, “Because he was into talking about Jesus…he wasn’t into talking about himself.”

      I love to have sat at his meetings. I can only imagine how hell must’ve trembled when he went on to the pulpit to preach. His prayers before his sermons are hell shattering too. Wonder what it would have been like to be in his prayer meetings. Pure fire. O Lord we need more Ravenhills today than ever! Send us fire. Amen!

  12. Anonymous

    Dan,

    Just spotted your above comment today.

    I have a lot of 2nd Chapter of Acts in my computer.

    And Andrae always moves me. “Through it All” is one of my favorites, too. But it is “The Blood” that I find myself singing to myself most often – at the top of my lungs! These are the words – from memory, so this rendition could be flawed….

    The blood that Jesus shed for me
    way back at Calvary
    It’s the blood that gives me strength from day to day
    it will never lose it’s power

    Because it reaches to the highest mountain
    and it flows to the lowest valley
    The blood that gives me strength from day to day
    it will never lose it’s power

    I soothes my doubts
    and it calms my fears
    And it dries all my tears
    It’s the blood that gives me strength from day to day
    it will never lose it’s power

    Because it reaches to the highest mountain
    and it flows to the lowest valley
    The blood that gives me strength from day to day
    it will never lose it’s power

    This one never fails to lift me from the deepest despair.

    Didn’t know if I should sign my name since I am the “former girlfriend” and you and I are happily married to other people and I still haven’t met your lovely bride yet, so I’ll just sign off as

    Dee

  13. Ayomiposi Ayodele

    Great it is to find sites like this, am from Nigeria, reading a copy of everyday with Jesus-(1995) recently, i found a whole page given to some lines from his book “why revival tarries” i have been searching for this book but it seems it is not really inprint or would i say my end of the country doesnt have it. i believe its is a nice book, pls if am allow to ask, pls do you know of any site where i can get an online copy to read, and pls i would be glad if you would send me “SOdom Had No Bible” too.
    Thank you very much and God bless your efforts.

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  15. peter ehiwe

    HI ,

    Leonards messages are simply inspiring , i have never heard of the stories regarding the healings God used him to acheive , he was simply a very humble man.

  16. Richard

    The preaching of Ravenhill getting deep in the heart and I never heard someone preach like Ravenhill preached. I listen much to differen’t preachers but Ravenhill is very hard and nevers talks to the mouth.
    How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV?
    This one I like, tv is 9 of the 10 times a waste of time, we can better use it for praying.

    Jesus Christ King of kings and Lord of lords

  17. Patricia

    Men like Keith Green and Leonard Ravenhill nearly drove me to suicide. They always made me feel that I could never do enough to please the Lord; that the Lord was always disappointed with me and my sinfulness; that I was barely getting into heaven; that I was never secure in my salvation or in the love of God. Their messages always made me afraid of “missing the mark”. No matter how much I repented, prayed, fasted & abstained from the world & the flesh their message was always more of the same, “Do more penance! Break up more of that fallow ground. Don’t ever think you’re safe with the Lord! He will break you! He will find you out!” I still believe all of that is true but boy oh boy, I am never again going to put myself under the teaching of someone who makes me feel so condemned that I would want to kill myself.

    • Omar

      Hello Patricia, I try to understand what you mean, but suicide is murder of oneself and a very dangerous thought.
      The purpose of many preachings like those is to make us feel CONVICTED, so that we may see we’re like dust. As 2 Cor. 7:10 says “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret…” SO that we repent (turn from our ways), humble ourselves and CRY OUT to God and He may save us. The point is that God is NOT pleased with sin!. It’s not that we have to suicide ourselves, but we must be ready to DENY ourselves perceptions & desires IF we WISH to follow Jesus and be disciples. God DOES LOVES us, but He HATES our SIN. Our natural human person is sinful, our own works are like dirty rags, and our own self thoughts may seem right, but at the end, they lead to hell. That’s why Jesus say we got to deny ourselves, we must like DIE to SIN and self. So that we follow (obey) Him, His words, and do what Jesus says, by faith.

      Consider that Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:24-25

      The sense of feeling convicted and wanting to “die” shouldn’t lead us to a desire of physical death, but it should lead us to desire a spiritual self-death, a salvation by the Spirit of God. We cry out to Him, and then Jesus will baptize us in the Holy Spirit so that we could truly BORN AGAIN. Indeed!
      Wonder why Apostle Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

      I hope you think about and, seek God and follow Jesus. May Jesus bless you.

    • Joy

      Patricia, I can totally relate! Back in the 1980’s, Rev. Ravenhill was the guest speaker at a series of week-long meetings at my Bible college. I don’t know if he was just having a bad week, or perhaps starting to have “old people’s problems”. He scowled the whole time, and came across as arrogant and bad-tempered. One time he had us sing the hymn “O Zion Haste”, and then sneered at us for singing about the lost with “such dry eyes”. I was quite new to the faith and didn’t understand all that was going on. I had just come out a broken, very dysfunctional family, and struggled with the concept that God was a loving Father who truly cared about me. Rev. Ravenhill’s preaching confirmed my worst fears that I must be awful in God’s sight. I remember one evening leaving the meeting totally shattered. My best friend pulled me into a classroom. She was normally mild-mannered, but that evening she was angry: “He’s preaching nonsense!” It turned out most of the students and professors were quite disturbed by his preaching. So much so, that about a week after he left, a meeting was called where the administration tried to explain what had happened. A lot was said, but not really said: “Rev. Ravenhill is a great servant of God/after he returned home he said the burden had been lifted/we know many of you were concerned about the meetings… etc. etc.”

      What went wrong? Was he trying too hard to do the convicting work that only the Holy Spirit should be doing? I just don’t know.

      It’s sad, because I found out afterwards that Rev. Ravenhill has some great quotes, but I can never get out of my head the image of that grumpy, scowling old man.

      • Len Hummel

        Just a note. Did it occur to you that at an advanced age (and having seen TRUE revival in his time in England) Mr.Ravenhill was a bit disgusted and greatly disappointed in the Church in America ? He was, … and he saw many things that broke his heart.

        Maybe he was having a bad week, yes. Maybe it was other things as well. But certainly he wasn’t up to cracking jokes or being entertaining. Ravenhill knew what revival was about; and REAL revival is an awesome thing. Leonard also knew the ‘church’ in America was too worldly, too carnal, & too lazy to pay the price for true revival. Sometimes, I’m sure, that disgust and discouragement won-out over being “uplifting.”
        Also, let it be said, that as a brokenhearted prayer-warrior, he made most of the rest of us look like slackers.
        Just saying.

  18. J

    It is Grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness, nothing more, nothing less. If we do not understand the nature and character of Grace, which is who Jesus Christ is, then we will fall short of truly knowing what it means to live a life set apart unto God.

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