Ravenhill Returns


One of the most perplexing parts of the Bible occurs whenever we have people wondering whether a deceased prophet has "returned" in the spirit of a new prophet. Consider this passage:

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets."
—Mark 8:27-28 ESV

Today, some highly confused people use this to endorse reincarnation, but the reality of what is said above is reflected in another passage:

And he [John the Baptist] will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
—Luke 1:16-17 ESV

John wasn't Elijah, but he preached by the same powerful Spirit that compelled Elijah. 

Leonard Ravenhill was one of my favorite preachers, but he passed on to glory a few years back. I haven't encountered anyone who can preach in the spirit of Ravenhill—that is until recently.

If you haven't heard the blistering message delivered by Paul Washer at an SBC youth rally, then you haven't heard one of the most pyrotechnic sermons since Ravenhill departed this sphere. Washer even mentions Ravenhill mid-sermon, so you know he's done his homework listening to that great saint. 

I heartily encourage you to listen to Washer's sermon by any of the means possible at the SermonAudio.com site. Several bloggers have linked to Washer's message, and I thank them all. I think every Christian in America needs to hear this one, myself included. It's an hour spent you won't regret.

No, Leonard Ravenhill hasn't come back. But it's good to see that men who minister in the same spirit and power as he did still exist. 

13 thoughts on “Ravenhill Returns

  1. YES! That sermon was wonderful I listened to it twice and then began calling up friends and begging them to listen to it as well…ahh, praise the Lord!

  2. Thanks Dan for pointing out this gem. Great sermon! Very convicting and challenging for me personally! It sounded a little Calvinistic and Baptistic to me – I thought you were a Charismatic Arminian? 🙂 Maybe I misunderstood your position.

    • Don,

      Funny, I thought just the opposite. I was surprised how Arminian it sounded, since he basically comes right out and questions the whole idea of salvation being a singular event that continues via perseverance of the saints. At least that’s how I heard it.

      As for me, I’ve mentioned many times (see the “about Cerulean Sanctum” tab above) that I’m probably closest to Lutheran in my theology, though I fully believe in the continuation of the charisma. I endorse the five Solas of the Reformation, but unlike some of the Calvinists in the Godblogosphere, I’m with Luther in saying that some things about the Faith just can’t be explained. In other words, I’m fine with what some would deem paradoxical.

  3. Hi Dan,

    I got to listen to this sermon and I have some genuine questions about it.

    1) Do you have any problems with someone who spends the first five minutes prior to a sermon, talking about how the words that will be spoken will be coming from “God. Basically setting himself up so that if you disagree with anything being said, your disagreeing with God, not with him. Therefore you have to agree with everything being said, or your disagreeing with God Himself.

    2) He repeatedly talks about not being associated with anything of the world; dress, talk, TV, music, movies, books ect. How do we live this out? I know Christians who would rip into you for going to see Cars movie because it was put out by Disney/Pixar. Who would think of you as less of a Christian because you recommend non-Christian authors in your writings. About your stance on tithing. How are these things reasonably balanced out in our Christian walk, in light of this sermon?
    3) How can you put into practice what he talks about in this message without becoming legalistic?
    4) Do you believe what he says, when he states, “what does your profession of faith in Christ means … absolutely nothing Compare that to Rom 10:9-10
    9 that (L)if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and (M)believe in your heart that (N)God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
    10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

    5) I am warying about messages like this after years of being ensnared in the legalisim of Bill Gothard’s Ministry.

    I am I missing something here? I am not trying to throw cold water on a message you have been blessed by, I am trying to understand it, in light of the concerns I have raised.

    Grace and Peace,


    • John


      As I’m sure you know, there is a very fine line between obedience and separation from “the world”, and legalism. I think that the point is where the source of your actions come from. (from guilt, or the rules of men-perhaps like Bill Gothard, of whom I do not know–or from being motivated by the Spirit) Washer is saying that if you are really saved, that it will be revealed by your actions. I’m not sure if it was in the sermon that you heard, but you are probably familiar with Jesus’s teaching that not all those who say “Lord, Lord” who will be saved, but rather, those who do the will of the Father (Mat 7:21). A major theme of Washer’s is that simply getting someone to pray a prayer (or make a profession of faith) will not save them. The only way to know if you are saved is if you see the Holy Spirit moving you to obey his commands (Eze 36:27).

      This stands in stark contrast to keeping commands in order to be saved, whether from “the Law,” or some guilt or scare tactics by some human teacher. I think that we have all fallen victim to legalsim, even from within ourselves.

      In just the last few weeks I have begun to understand what Paul (the Apostle) meant when he said, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” It seems simple and redundant, but it is truly profound.

      Grace and Peace to you, as well. I hope this helps.

  4. John

    I first heard Paul Washer at a revival in 1998. His preaching turned my comfortable Christian life upside down. He was the first one to push me out of the boat of Modern American Safe Christianity (if that makes any sense), and into the deep, scary waters of God’s truth. He challenged my beliefs and forced me to ask, “is this right?” I have spent years now, studying the things that I first heard from him and comparing them with what I’ve learned at my home church and from my family.

    Washer is one of those polarizing kind of people; either you love him or you hate him. Listen to what he’s preaching. Is it a correct interpretation of scripture? If not, as he has said before, throw it out. He’s a fool. If it does line up with the Bible, then we are bound by it–not because some “man” said it, but because it is the word of God.

    Here’s why Paul Washer’s ministry has been useful and beneficial to me: It has made me dig deep into the Bible. It has made me seek God and cry out to Him for answers. Do I agree with every point of Washer’s theology? No. However, the greatest thing I have gained from him is exactly what every true preacher should desire for his listeners: a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Jesus.

  5. chad

    To all who have appreciated Paul’s message from Sermon audio:
    You may listen to a lot more of Paul’s messages at our website:
    Granted Ministries. I am a friend of Paul’s and the other men on our site are all of the same stripe as he.

  6. Francisco

    To those of you who receive the sermonaudio.com newsletter, Paul’s message is the top download of the week and has been downloaded almost ten times the next item in the top 10…just for you who are curious about stats…

  7. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the issue is not whether a Christian can lose his or her salvation, but rather whether they ever had it. If we are known to be Christians by the fruit of the Spirit that inhabits us, then we must question the actions of our own lives in that truth.

    Two things come to mind: “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling” and “These things are written that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.”

    We should have no doubt about our salvation, but at the same time, we live in fear and trembling because we are living through grace, and that our salvation is something we do not deserve or earn by our actions. Our actions should be the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and I can’t see that lying on the couch watching TV, or going to see Cars, or shaking our fists at people we consider sinners are the fruit of the Spirit.

    While we should not turn to rules and regulations to guide us, we are too often eager to embrace what can only be considered a worldly life because we don’t want to appear legalistic. How many poeple live lives indistinguishable from those of the unsaved, and still call themselves Christians? By what standard are they judging? Because they said a prayer once? Because they consider themselves Christian? That is not Gods standard.

    We may say that going to see a movie is not a sin, and it isn’t. But what could we have been doing for the Kingdom while sitting in a theater for three hours? What could a missionary have done with the $20 we spent for a movie?

    Well, you reply, we need some time to relax, to enjoy life, don’t we? God doesn’t want me to slog away through every hour of the day, does He? Who says that doing the will of God is slogging, in the first place, and if we seek our own pleasure, what god are we worshipping? Him, or Me?

    If we bear fruit we are pruned and cared for so that we bear more. If we do not bear fruit, we are cut off and tossed into the fire. How much clarity do we need?

    • David,

      Even the most ardent missionary enjoys times of relaxation. God made this world to enjoy, too. No, it is not our final home, but that does not mean it holds nothing for us.

      Still, I believe that Christians can do more to live out their calling than we’re doing now.

      I think the mistranslation of the Matthew 18:19 has caused some problems for us. The Great Commission should truly be translated “As you are going, make disciples….” which lends itself to being more of a lifestyle of evangelism than one of hopping onto a plane and flying to Calcutta. We’re to bear the name of Christ wherever we go, whether it be down to the local grocery store or into the village of an unreached people group.

      • Are you sure it’s not our final home? In the Revelation of Christ the world is remade, or renewed, not done away with…

        I agree that we all need those times of relaxation. Jesus often fled the crowds to unwind, and He did it in the company of the creation and His Father. We all, as followers of Christ, need to be constantly evaluating what we do for the reasons we do it. First and formost should be the question, “why am I alive?” To which Christ provided the perfect answer: “To do the will of Him who sent me.”

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