The Gift and Gifts
March 13th, 1975
1 Corinthians 12:1-4
THE GIFT AND THE GIFTS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 12:1, 4
3-13-75 7:30 p.m.
We will go ahead then in your sufferance and in your attention and listen to the pastor’s lecture for his School of the Prophets on the gift and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because we have just one more night, just one, I am trying to crowd into, to capsulate in this lecture so very, very much. Tomorrow night the lecture will concern the baptism and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Tonight it concerns the gift and the gifts, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Now the title is The Gift and the Gifts, for the Scriptures make a profound difference between the singular and the plural of that word “gift.” For example in Acts 2:38 Simon Peter says at Pentecost, “Repent, turn, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, eis—because of—the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift,” singular, “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Look again in Acts 10:45: “And they of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter to the house of Cornelius, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit,” singular. And in recounting that marvelous outpouring that included us Gentiles into the household of faith, Simon Peter, describing the event to the brethren of Jerusalem, said in Acts 11:17, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord; who was I, that I could withstand God?” And he baptized them because of the repentance, the remission in sins. Now, that is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When I turn to the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter: “Now concerning spiritual gifts,” plural, ta pneumatika, plural, “now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you without knowledge.” And in the fourth verse, “Now there are diversities of ta charismata,” plural, “gifts,” plural [1 Corinthians 12:1, 4]: The Gift and the Gifts.
The Scriptures make a profound differentiation between the two. The gift of the Spirit is for salvation; it is imparted to the lost who turn in faith to the Lord Jesus [Ephesians 1:13-14]. And the gifts, plural—ta pneumatika—are ta charismata, they are imparted to the saved, and they are bestowed for service in the church [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. For example Paul would write in 2 Timothy 1:6 to stir up the gift that God has bestowed upon him as a minister of the gospel of the grace of the Son of God. So the gift, singular, of the Holy Spirit is this marvelous outpouring of God: the ascension gift of our Lord in this age of grace [Luke 24:49], when we who are lost turn from our sins and in faith accept Jesus as our Savior [Ephesians 1:13-14].
In John 20:22 the Lord breathed on the apostles and said, labete—aorist imperative, “take.” You have it translated in the King James Version “receive ye the Holy Spirit.” Labete actually is “seize, take it.” We shrink from taking the priceless gift proffered by the nail pierced hands of our Lord, but we ought not to shrink. We ought not to say, “I’m not worthy,” or “it is too much for me.” The Son of God who saved us [Romans 5:9] says, labete, take it; it is ours, it is a priceless possession.
I remember a story in the life of Alexander the Great. He gave to one of his generals a beautiful, chaste golden cup out of love and appreciation for the general. And when Alexander the Great gave it to the general, the general took it and looked at it: beautifully fashioned, beautifully cased, beautifully formed, a golden cup. And in humility the general replied, “But Alexander it is too much.” And Alexander replied, “But sir, it is not too much for Alexander to give.” God is like that with us. Take this marvelous power and presence and glory; “take it.” It is ours; it is an ascension gift of our Lord [Luke 24:49].
Now the endowments of the Spirit of God, the charismatic outpouring of the Lord upon us who have received the Holy Spirit in our salvation, those gifts are bestowed sovereignly by our Lord from heaven. In 1 Corinthians 12, verse 11, it says that they are bestowed as God wills. So I cannot choose my gift; the choice is made by the Holy Spirit. The power is not ours and does not function at our behest. The gift that I have is sovereignly bestowed of God, and they are not bestowed as rewards, and there is no indication that our spiritual excellence, our superiority, is the foundation for our charismatic gift. They are not to be sought by men.
How many times do people gather in congregations and pray and agonize and beg for some spiritual gift! They are not to be prayed for, they are not to be sought for, they are not to be coveted, they’re not to be travailed for; they are sovereignly bestowed by the Lord in heaven. Any charismatic gift that I have is something that God chose to bestow upon me; it is not something that I can seek.
Now, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, the apostle writes, “Covet the best gifts.” Paul is addressing the church, and that carnal church had been emphasizing the lowest gifts of all…for the church. And don’t magnify in the church the least profitable of the gifts, but magnify the greatest gifts bestowed among the people. These gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, that God sovereignly bestows upon His people, magnify them in the church. For example, if your pastor has the charismatic gift of prophecy, help him. Magnify it, hold up his hands, make him strong and powerful in the Lord. Don’t seek after and magnify some lesser gift. Paul says magnify the greatest gifts sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit.
Now all of us have some gift or gifts. Every member is essential to the body. The brain may be more essential than my toe, and a man’s heart may be more essential than his fingernail, but it takes all to make the body function beautifully, efficiently, effectively. So all of us have gifts that are sovereignly bestowed and their purpose is for service. Now I’m going to pick out just some of those charismatic gifts, and we’re going to look at them.
First of all, the gift of miracles [1 Corinthians 12:10]: it is a marvelous thing how people seek after the gift of miracles and the gift of healing, and the attempt to duplicate the apostolic miracles is a wonder to behold. For example, I have here in my hand a tract. Somebody sent me a prayer cloth. I listened to a testimony one time, and the woman had some kind of an ailment in the posterior sacroiliac section of her body. So she testified publically that she pinned the prayer cloth where she sits down, and it healed her completely and miraculously. What a wonderful thing! What a marvelous thing! So with the prayer cloth there came with the marvelous announcement:
You can be made whole. God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, “so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them” [Acts 19:12]. This was and still is God’s way of providing deliverance for those who for one reason or another cannot avail themselves of the laying on of hands. Just as the woman who pressed through the mob to touch the hem of Christ’s garment was made whole, the moment she touched the cloth, so when you touch this prayer cloth your faith will make you whole. Receive thus in obedience and faith this prayer cloth. The effect as you place this cloth upon your body is the same as if Jesus Himself had laid His hand upon you and commanded you to be made whole. For it is by the authority which He gave to me that as His agent acting for Him in His absence… I—and he names the preacher who is sending me the prayer cloth—
now command in Jesus’ name every affliction, every infirmity, every tormenting spirit to flee from you as you place this cloth either upon your forehead or upon the afflicted part of your body.
This great ministry of faith is maintained by the freewill offerings of those desiring to join us in bringing deliverance to the suffering. If you have my book, God’s Guarantee to Heal You, read it at this cost. You can get God’s Guarantee to Heal You for one dollar plus ten cents postage and handling. Mail it to—and the name of the preacher is there.
What do you suppose he’s doing that for? I can tell you exactly what he is doing that for. He is doing it for the money that he gets out of it. That’s exactly why he is doing it. As I have said so many times, I believe in divine healing. I don’t believe in divine healers—these professionals who are around making money, and many of them uncounted sums of money—all for the illnesses and the disease of the people.
In the city of Dallas, for years and years and years, we had Hoxsey’s Cancer Clinic on Gaston Avenue. The American Medical Association fought that clinic for years and years and years, and finally got a judgment against them in courts and put them out of business. What was Hoxsey’s Cancer Clinic? It was, “We have discovered a little red and white pill, and if you have cancer, you come, we will give you this pill, and we will heal you of your cancer.” It is a quackery of the first order, and I receive telephone calls from all over the world asking me about that cancer clinic. You see, when people are sick, really sick, they are so desperate that they are open to any kind of quackery and charlatanry, any kind, any kind. And people come by, like Hoxsey and these divine healers, and take advantage of the desperateness of their condition.
Why, I went out there to California one time to watch the divine healer Aimee Semple McPherson. All that she healed were people that I could not tell were ill at all, but in that group were some that I could see were desperately ill. Not one of them did she heal. And the medical association says to me, “So far as we know, there is not one authenticated case of a divine healing by any of these professional healers.” The whole medical association avowals that.
Well, what of this thing of healing? I have another tract. “I don’t care,” now this is another divine healer:
I don’t care how many times you have been prayed for. It is God’s will that you have a well body. Friend of mine, will you obey God? When you make up your mind to obey God, you will be healed. This tract costs fifty cents per one hundred; two dollars per five hundred; three dollars per one thousand. Order from…
And then the name of the man who wrote it. Just like all of them, they are after the money.
Let’s look just for a moment at this whole spectrum of miracles. Besides the marvelous period of creation in the beginning, and beside the marvelous period of the consummation of the age, the end [Revelation 21:1-22:5], there are three periods—and just three—in the story of the Bible in which you find of great phenomenon of miracle. One was in the days of Moses: the introduction of the law. The second was in the days of Elijah and Elisha, in the great apostasy. And the third was in the days of Jesus and the apostolic introduction of a new dispensation. There is something that all three periods have in common; their purpose was authentication.
Now, is God the same? Yes; the wonders and miracles in His sovereign grace, in His purpose, if they are needed and necessary, God will bestow them. But they are always for authentication; always. It is expressly said, for example, in John 10:41 that John the Baptist did no miracle. Here is the greatest man God ever made, Jesus said that [Luke 7:28]. He was unable to perform any kind of a miracle.
In the miracles of our Lord in John 5:1, following, there is the healing of that palsied man at the pool of Bethesda. The Bible says there was the throng there at the pool of Bethesda, and Jesus healed one of them [John 5:2-9]. Why didn’t He heal the rest of them? He left them there diseased and sick. In Jesus’ sermon at Nazareth, in Luke 4:25, in that sermon Jesus said there were many poor widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, but he helped one of them, a Sidonian at the town of Zarephath. In the twenty-seventh verse of that fourth chapter, Jesus, in that sermon in His home town of Nazareth, said there were many poor lepers in Israel in the days of Naaman the Syrian, and Elisha healed one of them, namely [Naaman] [Luke 4:27].
When Peter was delivered in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts [Acts 12:3-11], marvelous deliverance, the chains fell off of his hands, the iron doors were opened, the guards were sound asleep and an angel let him out, but the twelfth chapter begins with Herod Agrippa I cut off the head of James, the brother of John [Acts 12:1-2]. Why didn’t God deliver James? He delivered Simon Peter. Why didn’t He deliver James? The chapter begins, Harod Agrippa I cut off the head of James.
Let’s look at Paul’s handkerchief. In Acts 19:12 there were aprons from Paul that were taken and laid on the sick, and they got well. I now quote 2 Timothy 4:20, “Trophimus—the great marvelous companion of Paul—Trophimus, have I left at Miletus sick.” Why didn’t Paul heal him? Because neither Paul nor Peter nor John nor any other apostle had the gift of healing everybody! “Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.” That is the gift was for authentication. When a man stood up in a strange and heathen and pagan land, and proclaimed the gospel of Christ, God confirmed it with miracles, and Paul refers to them as the signs of an apostle [2 Corinthians 12:12].
Now, Lord, what is it for me? Health, strength, or suffering and agony and death? In the twenty-first chapter of John, God says to Simon Peter, “You are going to be crucified. You are going to die with the outstretched hands” [John 21:18-19]. He said that signifying by what death Simon Peter would die. Simon Peter would die nailed to a cross with his hands outstretched. And when the Lord said that to Simon Peter, Simon saw John his dear, close friend and asked the Lord, “And, Lord, what about this man, John? If I am to follow Thee unto death and unto crucifixion, what about John?” And the Lord said to Simon Peter, “Simon, if I will that he never die, never die, that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me” [John 21:20-22]. And Simon Peter died, crucified, nailed to the cross. And John, at a hundred years of age, was still alive. Nobody knows how or when John died.
In Gethsemane, the Lord cried, “Thy will be done” [Luke 22:42], and the will of the Lord for Jesus was that He die on a cross. If God honors me with health and length of days, I will praise Him with every breath of my body. But if the will of the Lord for me is that I suffer in illness, I pray that when the deacon comes and the staff member comes and you come, that you look into my drawn and agonizing face and see me smile, praising God in sorrow and sickness and suffering, as I’ve tried to praise God standing here in strength and in health. It is not God’s will that all of us be well all the time and forever. It is not God’s will that we never die. And when God’s sovereign choice is made for me, then, “Lord, give me grace for the hour: living grace while I’m strong, and dying grace in that last and final confrontation.” Now, this is the Holy Scriptures.
And there’s no such thing as a man made of the dust of the earth, who comes around for pay, and for collection, and for selling tracts and prayer cloths, and saying, “You give me money, and you’ll have health all the days of your life.” That is a travesty upon the sovereign grace and choice of God for us, His children.
I must go on to this last avowal: tell me, what was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”? [2 Corinthians 12:7]. Well, I believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Whatever it was it was in his flesh; the thorn was in his flesh! It was in his body, it was grievous. And for it, Paul besought the Lord, “God take it away!” You know, the Greek word for that is “stake”–translated in the King James Version “thorn”—the Greek is “stake.” “Lord this stake in my flesh,” like you’d drive a great spike in a man’s body. He didn’t say what it is. It was in his flesh, and the Lord said to Paul, “I will not remove it, but My grace is sufficient for thee.”
“Therefore,” says Paul, “I will take pleasure in my infirmities,” that is, “my sicknesses and in my weaknesses and in my suffering, this stake in the flesh; for when I am weak, then am I strong.” [2 Corinthians 12:8-10]. It may be that God can glorify Himself more, better, when I am sick than when I am well. If that’s true, Lord, then when I am ill, give me victory and grace that when people see me suffer, they also see me sing songs in the night and bless the name of the Lord [Psalm 42:8]. So when you become ill, don’t think, “Oh, there’s some sin I’ve done and God is cursing me.”
There are some illnesses that are the results of sin. If you have syphilis or gonorrhea, if you dissipate your body in whoremongering, you’re going to reap a dismal rebuke. But most of our sicknesses have nothing to do with our sins, absolutely nothing. They are disciplines of the Lord that we might love God, and be humbled before God. Even as Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” [Job 13:15]. That’s great and that is Christian.
Now we’re coming to the “speaking of tongues, the speaking of tongues.” What does the Book say about the “speaking in tongues”? Phillips translation says in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians:
For if there are prophecies they will be fulfilled and done away with. If there are tongues, the need of them will disappear. If there be knowledge it will be swallowed up in truth.
For our knowledge is always incomplete and our prophecy is always incomplete.
And when the complete comes that is the end of the incomplete.”
[1 Corinthians 13:8-10]
Paul says that there is coming a time when so-called “tongues” will cease, will disappear. Just when did that time come? In the Bible the word “tongue” is glōssais, tongue. And when Pentecost was poured out, they spoke in “tongues,” glōssais, and everybody understood in his own language the marvelous charismatic gift of proclaiming the message in other languages [Acts 2:1-11]. The two other times that it happened, they used the same word—at Caesarea [Acts 10:45-46] and at Ephesus [Acts 19:6]—glōssais, “tongues,” magnifying God in languages. The only time in the Bible that you come across the strange unusualness of speaking in a tongue, in a language, in an utterance that was un-understandable, the only time is at Corinth [1 Corinthians 14:2] and it is a phenomenon that is not duplicated or found anywhere else. Not in the church at Rome, not in the church at Thessalonica, not in the church at Ephesus, not in the church at Colosse, not in the church at Philippi, not anywhere else, period! There was a phenomenon that happened just in the church at Corinth.
And they spoke there in utterances that nobody could understand. Now when Paul writes concerning that strange phenomenon that happened at Corinth, he is struggling with it and said, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding”—five words in English if you understand English—”than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” [1 Corinthians 14:19]. Those are tremendous odds, don’t you think? “Five words with my understanding than ten thousand in an unknown tongue,” yet all over this country, there are those who try to get us to speak in gibberish, and they say we have not received the Holy Spirit. Remember my first speech of The Gift and the Gifts, that we have not received the Holy Spirit unless we speak in gibberish?
I have a tract here, “How Can I Receive the Holy Ghost?”
All you have to do, if you are saved, is to raise your hands up toward heaven and turn your head up toward heaven and just let your tongue go and let the Holy Ghost come in. Thousands of people receive the Holy Ghost this way. You can receive it too, if you will just let the Holy Ghost speak through your tongue.
So the tract says:
Here where I am, people come and the elders get the man’s jaw and they say let the jaw go loose. “Let the jaw go loose,” and then, he wiggles the jaw like that. And then they tell the man to say, “ah, ah, ah, ah, da, da, da, da, ya, ya, ya, ya,” and the man wiggles his jaw and behold! the man receives the Holy Ghost from heaven. And he magnifies God in tongues, the sign of his conversion and his sanctification.
Can you imagine the apostle Paul, before the court of the Areopagus on Mars Hill [Acts 17:22-31], speaking to those brilliant Athenians in an unknown tongue and Silas interpreting? Can you?
Now do you remember a picture show, Dragnet? Do you remember a TV show? And always that detective—every one of them, he leads up to a situation and he says to the man witnessing, “Just the facts, mister, just the facts.” Do you remember that, “Just the facts”? All right, in my concluding remarks, “Just the facts, mister, just the facts.”
Number one: I have been a student of ecclesiastical academic learning for over fifty years. That’s half a century. I do not know a great Christian leader in two thousand years of history who ever spoke in an unknown tongue; not one, not one. I had a Pentecostal accost me one time and say, “That is not true.” Well, I said, “Cite me one great ecclesiastical leader who ever spoke in an unknown tongue,” and he said, “John Wesley spoke in an unknown tongue.” Well, I said, “I haven’t been able to find it in his life, and I’ve read several. But you could be right and I could not find it.”
So in the city of Dallas, in Perkins Theological Seminary is the greatest authority on the life of John Wesley who ever lived, and he’s still living; his name is Albert Outler, Dr. Outler. Out here at Southern Methodist University Perkins Theological Seminary, I was eating lunch with Dr. Outler, the greatest authority on the life of John Wesley who has ever lived. So I said to Dr. Outler, “In my studying I have never found one Christian leader in two thousand years of Christian history, not one that had ever spoken an unknown tongue.” And I said, “I was challenged on that; and they said John Wesley spoke in an unknown tongue.” I said to Dr. Outler, “Is that true?”
And Dr. Outler replied, “That is not true. John Wesley never spoke in an unknown tongue.” Out of all of the glorious men who have followed Jesus, there has never been one in the two thousand years of Christian history who spoke in an unknown tongue.
Again I was challenged. You say that, “Well, Paul said, ‘I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all.’ Wasn’t he a great Christian leader?” I said, “What Paul said was, ‘I thank God that I speak glōssais, glōssais, more than you all.’“ Paul spoke in Sicilian. Paul spoke in Aramaic. Paul spoke in Hebrew. Paul spoke in Greek. Paul spoke in Latin; there are five tongues there that I know from the Bible that Paul spoke. How many others, I do not know. I know five that he spoke—glōssais, languages—but to say that Paul spoke in gibberish is to lay to his feet an inanity that he never engaged in. So number one: there has never been a great Christian leader who spoke in an unknown tongue, not one.
All right, number two, “just the facts”: in history, wherever it has appeared—and this is just in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—it has always been looked upon as a heresy in the church. It has never been looked upon in any other way. I’m talking about the great historical churches of Christendom. It has always been looked upon as a heresy.
All right, fact number three: modern glossolalia, this gibberish that we’re talking about, is a bewildering development, and I mean a confusing picture. In the last century there was a man in England by the name of Edward Irving, and he began to speak in gibberish, and his followers were called “Irvingites.” Old rugged Thomas Carlyle said of him, “God is evidently working miracles by hysteria”—the impression the “Irvingites” made upon that great essayist. When you look at the development in modern glossolalia, you don’t know where to turn or what to think. It is a surprising development in the last century and this century. It began with Edward Irving.
All right, the next fact: there is no real language ever spoken, period. Time and again, tape recordings have been made of Pentecostal glossalalia, “speaking in tongues.” They have been taken to experts, those recordings, to some of the greatest linguists who have lived today; those recordings have been taken to them. There has never yet been one that is recognizable, not one. And I hear them say, “Oh, this man over here in Africa spoke in English, and this one over here spoke in Hottentot, and this one spoke”—that just is not so. There has never been yet a recorded glossalalial speaker, that when it was taken to a linguist, to a man learned in language, that it ever was recognizable. There is no such thing as it being a language.
Out here at [Dallas] Theological Seminary, Dr. Walvoord, the president of the seminary, said one of their students went to one of those glossalalial meetings. And being taught out there at the seminary, he stood up in the glossalalial meeting and quoted the first Psalm in Hebrew; interesting, the first Psalm in Hebrew. So they all waited for an interpreter. And a fellow got up and said something like, “Oh, how blessed is the Lord, and how wonderful is the church, and how glorious is the fellowship of the saints,” and that’s what that fellow said. Then the man stood up and he said, “You know what I did? I quoted the first psalm in Hebrew.” And they threw him out bodily. That’s what they told me.
I ought to close. A last fact: wherever you see that, that unusual phenomenon, which started the last century and continues in areas today, wherever you see that, it is divisive and hurtful, and there’s no exception. It sows seed of tragic discord among the churches of Jesus Christ, and it doesn’t sow anything else. I wish I had time and time and time to illustrate that.
Let’s take a case here in my church, my bishopric, my parish, this congregation. One of my deacons came to me and said, “My daughter goes to Baylor. She came home with a solemn announcement. She’s been baptized with the Holy Spirit and she speaks in tongues, and we’re just crushed.” I visited with the girl. That’s correct. I found out from her where it came from. There was a young fellow at Baylor, a gifted, handsome—out of an affluent home—young man, and he was speaking in tongues, and had gathered around him a little group at Baylor to speak in unknown tongues, and this girl had been caught up in that group. So I sent for the young man, asked him if he’d come to see me, so he did; set in my study there and recounted to me the marvelous experience. He’d received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues.
He didn’t know, but I received a call from the Baptist leadership in Fayetteville, Arkansas: the superintendent of the churches there. They had planned a great crusade on the campus of the University of Arkansas, and that brilliant, gifted young man was to lead it. So he called me, this superintendent of the churches in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and said, “We hear that the young fellow speaks in tongues. What shall we do?” I said, “I don’t know what to tell you to do. I’m just overwhelmed!” So as the days passed, he called me again, and he said, “There’s not anything for us to do but to cancel the meeting, they are so divided over it. There’s no possibility of having a revival meeting when the young minister and his cohorts coming from Baylor are to speak in tongues, so we’ve cancelled it.”
So I said to the young fellow, I said, “He called me about you the first time, and then he called me about you the second time, and the meeting is cancelled. You’re not going up there to hold that great crusade, one of the fine opportunities God has given you.” I said to the young fellow, “You know, had you come up from Waco to Dallas and said to me, ‘Pastor I’ve received the filling and the fullness of the Holy Spirit; I’m going to spend four hours every day in prayer,’ I would have said, ‘Glory to God! Oh, what the Lord will do with you!’ Or had you driven up here from Waco and said, ‘Pastor, I’ve been filled with the Spirit of God. I’m going to win a lost soul every day!’ I would have said, ‘Glory to God!’ Or,” and I said, “being from an affluent home, had you have come up from Waco and said to me, ‘I’ve been filled with the Spirit of God; I’m going to give ninety percent of everything I have to the work of the Lord,’ I’d have said, ‘Glory to God!’ But you come up here and say, ‘Pastor, I’ve been baptized with the Spirit; I’m speaking in tongues all over the place.’” I said, “Just what little I’ve touched it, you have ruined the finest opportunity for witness on one of the great university campuses of America. You have brought to indescribable tears and heartache one of my finest deacons and his wife, and what you’re doing down at Baylor is a disgrace to the faith.”
He was furious, he was livid, and he got up and stomped out that door and went back to school down at Baylor. You know what happened? The young man came to see me once again, and in deepest humility, said, “I have come to apologize and to ask your pardon, for I was deceived and made a gross mistake. And having studied the Bible and the experience of great Christian men, I was misled.” And you know what? That young man, I heard him on the radio the day before yesterday. That young man now is one of our finest young preachers and evangelists.
There is a deception in that stuff that is tragic. And for the church to be exhibited to the world, “This is the faith of God,” and that gibberish! I tell you truly, if that is the Christian faith, I am walking out. You will not see me in it, if that is the Christian faith.
I believe God of all things is rational. I think that’s where reason came from, from God. I think God is intelligent. I think His master mind is seen in every sovereign law in the universe, and I think God’s truth is mediated to us in simple language where a child can understand. And if I preach where a child can’t understand me, I ask God to forgive me and help me to start over again and to use words that are plain, so all of those who listen can be blessed by the mediation of the revealed truth of the Lord.
I love to think this was my sermon last Sunday. “Come,” says God in Isaiah 1:18, “Come, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” You don’t have to be an idiot to be a Christian. You don’t have to be unlearned, or un-academic, or anti-intellectual to be a child of God. My brother, all the things we are beginning to learn now in science, God put it here from the beginning of creation! He did it. And for us to think God’s thoughts after Him, and to learn what God has done, and to present it in the mind of Christ of the meaning of our Lord, is the highest privilege that a student and a disciple of Jesus could ever, ever know. “Wherefore, my brethren,” as Paul would say, “Seek earnestly the best gifts” [1 Corinthians 12:31], these that sanctify and hallow and encourage the people in the faith of the Lord.”