I have listened to several sermons over the last few weeks in order to help prepare me for teaching on "the spiritual gifts"... during this time I have been challenged and blessed by the work of many pastors and theologians. I was especially struck by the words of Stuart Olyott (former pastor of Belvidere Road Church in Liverpool, England) towards the end of his sermon on 1 Cor. 14:1-25...
"Away with the 'simple gospel' mentality. Now, we thank God the gospel is simple–even a child can know that he's a great sinner and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior–and he can know that as a great sinner, he can call on the great Savior and be saved. You can put the gospel so simply, but because you can put the gospel simply, and because simple people can be saved by the gospel, don't be content to only have a simple understanding of the gospel... because the gospel is not simple. It's because the gospel is so profound, that it saves the simple. It's because the gospel is so profound, that it can be put so simply... but if you are content only with a simple understanding of the profound gospel, then you have cause–on the ground of Scripture–to be utterly ashamed... because Scripture says, 'in understanding, be men.' And the man with the highest intellect, and the longest life, and the most advanced spiritual perception–should he spend every waking hour studying the gospel–he will never plum it's depths or scale it's heights... it is the gospel of the infinite God! Any meeting which does not stretch the mind... any Christian book that does not inform the mind... any spiritual exercise which does not envigorate the mind–should be forsaken.
The Bible's teaching is that the heart is only reached through the head. You can't get to it any other way. The affections are stirred up by things that we know–and it's when we are informed in our minds, and our hearts are touched, and our affections are moved–that then, the will is brought into action. And the sad thing about so much Christian activity today, is that it seeks to bypass the mind and go straight to the emotions and affections, and try to move the will that way... the will is temporarily moved, and we get all sorts of people who honestly believe they've made a responsible decision for the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's just been an emotional reaction to a sort of 'salesmanship pressure' which has been put upon them... and their mind has been completely untouched. The Spirit of God is the spirit of a sound mind. Forget that, and your whole future Christian life is in danger."
You can listen to the whole sermon here:
Stuart Olyott: "Principles Applying to the Gifts of Prophecy and Tongue"