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12/14/2010

OLD TESTAMENT NAMES OF THE MESSIAH REVEAL WHO JESUS REALLY IS

It is Christmas again and the world is again being confronted with Jesus. Yes, I understand that the real Jesus is too often obscured by all the tinsel and commercialism of the season, and I am aware of the overt attempts to completely remove Him from Christmas. Nonetheless, instead of cursing the darkness let’s light a candle and ask God for creative ways to make known to this generation who Jesus really is.

One of the most clear and compelling statements of His identity was spoken 600 years before His birth by the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah did this by applying four compound names to the coming Messiah. The names are “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.”

The Significance of Names

In the ancient near East, the name of a person was bound up with that person’s very existence. Parents chose names for their children that embodied their hopes for those children. A change of circumstances or a change of character often called for a new name to express the change that had taken place. In Gen. 17:4-5, for example, God changes the name of Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude) to reflect the change that has occurred in his faith and circumstances. In Gen. 32:28 God changes the name of Jacob (supplanter) to Israel (Prince of God) to reflect the change that has taken place in his life and character.

Isaiah 9:6 is a Messianic prophecy and Isaiah’s use of these four compound names make a powerful statement concerning the identity the Messiah. Inherent in these Old Testament names of the Messiah is the revelation of His deity. Understanding the significance of names, those first readers of Isaiah’s prophecy must have shaken their heads in wonder at the name of their coming Messiah.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7a).

Wonderful Counselor

Although “Wonderful” and “Counselor” are often spoken separately, most Biblical scholars agree that the two words actually belong together to form one of the compound names of the Messiah. The word “Wonderful” is translated from the Hebrew word pelẽ and refers to that which is marvelous and breathtaking and causes astonishment in those who encounter it. The word “Counselor” is from the Hebrew word yaas, which means to advise or counsel in regards to plan and purpose. What an incredible name! And what an incredible blessing to have this One whose name is “Wonderful Counselor” as our personal counselor and guide.

Mighty God

“Mighty” is from the Hebrew word gibbor and refers to greatness, power and strength. It was often used as an adjective to describe successful, victorious warriors. It was also used as an adjective for Deity. “God” is a translation of the Hebrew word “El” which was a common generic word for God and literally means “great one” or “mighty one.” It was often joined with other words to form a compound name for God, such as El-Shaddai, commonly translated as “The Almighty,” and El-Elyon, commonly translated as “The Most High.” Wonder of wonders! This “Child” that is to be born is actually gibbor El, the “Mighty God.”

Everlasting Father

“Everlasting” is from the Hebrew word ad, which refers to time without end or eternity. In Isaiah 45:17 it is translated as “forever and ever.” “Father” is translated from the Hebrew word ab, which, in the Old Testament, referred to a father or protector. From ab came abba, the word Jesus commonly used in addressing God. Abba was a term of endearment, such as Papa or Daddy, and was only used by children in the Jewish household. What a clear picture of the Incarnation. This “Child” that is to be born will be none other than the eternal God, the “Everlasting Father.”

Prince of Peace

“Prince” is a translation of the Hebrew word sar, which refers to a person of authority such as a chief, captain, governor, or ruler. “Peace” is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, which is usually translated as peace, but has connotations far beyond an inner sense of tranquility. It means completeness, fulfillment, wholeness, and indicates the complete mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and financial well being of a person. Jesus did not come to just take us to heaven some day. He came to bring us shalom, wholeness, blessing, and fulfillment. He has become the captain or master of our shalom. Hallelujah!
Conclusion
This messianic prophecy begins with the phrase, For unto us . . .. Isaiah is saying, “The Messiah is coming for us. God will do all this for us.” Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled. God has come to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Thomas recognized this when he saw Him in His resurrected form and exclaimed, My Lord and My God (John 20:28). Jesus told Peter that He would build His church on the revelation of who He is (Matt. 16:15-18). Are you on that foundation? Do you know who Jesus really is? Wonder of wonders! The Babe of Christmas is the Almighty God and Everlasting Father.

9/06/2010

WOMEN, AUTHORITY & PAUL

5 Reasons Those Who Would Limit the Participation of Women
in the Church Can No Longer Claim Paul as Their Authority

1 Timothy 2:11-12 is considered by many to be the Bible’s clearest statement against women functioning in authoritative roles of leadership in the Church. It reads, Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (NKJV). For many, this passage has become a canon within the canon and is used as the standard by which every other passage about women is measured. Passages that clearly recognize women functioning in authoritative roles of leadership are not given equal consideration but are subordinated to this passage and forced to fit within the narrow parameters of the interpreter’s take on this verse.

Typical of this approach is that of the popular Spirit Filled Life Bible (which otherwise has much that is commendable). In commenting on Rom. 16:7 where Paul recognizes a female apostle named Junia, the commentator argues that this could be a man named “Junias.” This very weak argument is made in spite of the overwhelming manuscript and historical evidence that this was a female apostle named Junia.

Why would this commentator argue for the possibility of this apostle being a man named “Junias” when every ancient Greek manuscript has the feminine form of Junia? The answer is found, perhaps, in the commentary section on 1 Tim. 2:11-12 where the commentator’s bias against a woman functioning as an apostle is obvious. He says, “The prohibition of vs. 12 refers to the authoritative office of apostolic teacher in the church.” No explanation is given for this conclusion, which is not surprising since there is nothing in the text to suggest that this is what Paul had in mind.

What does become clear is that, in the mind of this commentator, Junia, of Rom. 16:7 is probably not a woman because it would violate the standard of judgment he has chosen on this matter, which is his own interpretation of I Tim. 2:11-12. He thus subordinates the clear statement of Paul in Rom. 16:7 to his own unclear interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:11-12. His interpretation of I Tim. 2:11-12, which does not allow women to function as apostles, thus serves as his canon within the canon and he subordinates all other passages on women to this. This is poor hermeneutics, but happens when we impose our own traditional prejudices and presuppositions on the text rather than allowing the text to speak to us and challenge our traditions.

On the surface and out of context, 1 Tim. 2:11-12 can appear to be a very clear statement against women functioning in leadership in the Church. But a different picture emerges when, instead of reading into the text our own prejudices, traditions and assumptions, we take into account five obvious facts about the letter and the passage in question. Taken together, these five exegetical considerations clearly demonstrate that Paul is not restricting women from any function of leadership in the Church. The five exegetical facts presented in this article are:

(1) 1 Timothy is a personal letter, written to an individual, not to a church, indicating that Paul is addressing personal issues related to Timothy and his unique situation rather than universal issues applicable to all churches everywhere.

(2) Chapter 1 and verse 3 indicates that Paul is addressing a particular problem that is plaguing the church in Ephesus and what he writes must be considered in the light of this real-life, local situation.

(3) The word translated “authority” in vs. 12 is not the normal word for authority and is found only here in the New Testament, indicating that Paul is not addressing the normal exercise of authority in all churches, but is addressing the unique problem plaguing the church in Ephesus at the time.

(4) When Paul comes to the passages in question he suddenly switches from addressing “women” (plural) in vss. 9-10 to addressing “a woman” (singular) in vss. 11-15, leading some commentators to conclude that he is addressing a particular problematic woman in Ephesus.

(5) Paul, in his other letters, recognizes women who functioned in various authoritative roles of leadership and these must be given equal weight when considering if the New Testament imposes limitations on the role of women in the Church.

Reason #1
I Timothy Is a Personal Letter

Paul wrote three personal letters as he was nearing the end of his life, two to Timothy who was in Ephesus, and one to Titus who was on the island of Crete. These letters contain instructions and requests, some of which are obviously related to the recipient of the letter and cannot be applied to all Christians. For example, in 2 Timothy 4:9-15, Paul exhorts Timothy to come quickly to him and bring a coat he left in Troas along with the books he left there.

In 1 Timothy 5:9-14 Paul exhorts Timothy that widows under sixty years of age should not receive support from the church and that younger women should marry. It is interesting to note that those who are so intent on literally applying 1 Timothy 2:11-12 do not have the same concern for 1 Timothy 5:9-14.

1Timothy was written to encourage and instruct Timothy in his very specific task of confronting false teaching in the church at Ephesus that was being spread by both men and women. Good hermeneutics demands that the historical context of this letter and its personal nature be taken into consideration when interpreting the passage at hand.

Reason #2
Paul is Addressing A Unique Local Situation in Ephesus

Verse 3 of chapter 1 reveals that 1 Timothy was written as a follow-up to encourage and instruct Timothy in his very specific assignment of confronting heretical teaching in the church in Ephesus. Paul had given this assignment to Timothy when they were together in that city and he found it necessary to move on. Paul now writes from Macedonia to encourage and instruct Timothy in the carrying out of this particular and difficult assignment.
Paul was not writing a manual of church order that he wanted implemented in all churches. He is addressing the unique issues related to Timothy and the church in Ephesus at the time. Timothy’s situation and the specific nature of Paul’s instructions must be brought to the task of interpretation.

Reason #3
A Strange Greek Word

That Paul is addressing a unique situation in Ephesus is further borne out by the fact that the word “authority” in 2:12 is a translation of the Greek word authentein, which is found only here in the entire New Testament. If Paul is here giving a universal edict for church order, why doesn’t he use the normal word for authority, exousia, which he and all other New Testament writers use?

Paul’s use of authentein, which meant “to dominate” or “gain the upper hand,” may indicate a feminist movement of sorts in the church in Ephesus, probably with roots in Artemis the mother goddess who claimed priority and originality in creation (remember the chant “great is Artemis of the Ephesians” in Acts 19:28!). Paul’s use of a word that is not found any place else in the New Testament confirms that he is addressing a unique situation in Ephesus for which authentein is the appropriate word. If he had been giving a universal rule for church order in this passage, he would have used exousia, the normal New Testament word for authority.
Reason #4
The Structure of Chapter 2 Indicates That Paul
May Have Been Referring to A Particular Woman in 2:11-12

In 2: 9-10, Paul refers to “women” in the plural; but when he comes to the restrictive admonition of vss. 11-12, he changes to the singular and refers to “a woman.” Afterwards, in vs. 15, he returns again to the plural. This may indicate that, in writing this passage, Paul had a particular woman in mind, one primarily responsible for spreading the false teaching in Ephesus.
In vs. 12, the ongoing present tense of the verb (permit) also indicates that Paul’s restriction is temporary and that he may have a particular woman in mind. It literally reads, I am not permitting a woman to teach . . ..

In 1:18-20, Paul reveals that he has turned two of the false teachers who are men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, over to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. In regards to this unnamed woman he wants her to be allowed to learn in silence (quietness, without turmoil) but not allowed to teach or to authentiein, i.e., dominate or gain the upper hand. This is a temporary solution to a very real problem in Ephesus.

Reason #5
Women Pastors/Leaders in the NT

There are numerous women leaders in the New Testament, some who obviously functioned in pastoral roles of oversight. Paul mentions 2 of these female pastors in Rom. 16 as well as a female apostle.

Phoebe, A Woman Minister & Pastor
In Romans 16:1 Paul commends to the church at Rome our sister Phoebe who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, and he exhorts the Roman believers to receive her with respect and to assist her in whatever business she has come to carry out in Rome. Paul refers to Phoebe as a “servant,” which is the Greek word diakonos. Diakonos, or its verb form, is translated “minister” in 23 other places in the New Testament. For example, in Eph. 3:7, Paul says that he became a minister (diakonos) according to the gift of the grace of God.

Phoebe, therefore, was a minister, probably a pastor, from the church in Cenchrea. This is borne out by vs. 2 where Paul refers to her as a helper of many and of myself also. The Greek word translated “helper” in this verse is prostatis and, according to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, means “one who presides” or “a woman who is set over others.” When this passage is examined apart from our traditions and prejudicial assumptions, the evidence is overwhelming that Phoebe functioned in a leadership role similar to what we would call pastoral ministry.

Priscilla, A Woman Pastor
In verses 3-5 of the same chapter, Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila and the church that is in their house. Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned together in Scripture, which indicates that they worked and ministered together as a husband and wife team. This is confirmed by Acts 18:26 where both Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside and both explained to him the way of God more accurately.

In presenting this couple, Paul always uses plural pronouns (they or them), but goes even further and reverses the culturally accepted manner of mentioning the husband first and, instead, mentions Priscilla first. He obviously wanted to make a point about her role and function in the relationship. Many commentators conclude that Priscilla is mentioned first because she was the spiritually gifted one and the leader of the church that met in their home. Again, the evidence is overwhelming that Priscilla functioned in a leadership role and was probably the pastor of the church that met in their house.

Junia, A Woman Apostle
In verse 7 of the same chapter, Paul sends greetings to Andronicus and Junia who are of note among the apostles. Junia is a feminine name and so we have here a woman who is recognized by Paul as an apostle. The early church father, John Chrysostom, commenting on this verse, said, "Oh how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle."

Although some have tried to argue that the name should be “Junias,” which is male, every ancient Greek manuscript, without exception, has the feminine form of Junia. In addition, the name “Junias” is unknown in ancient history whereas the name Junia was quite common. In other words, “Junias” is a hypothetical name that has been created by translators who cannot accept the fact that Paul recognized a female apostle in the early Church.

When considering why some translations, such as the NIV, have used “Junias” in this passage, Dr. Dr. N. Clayton Croy, professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, says, “It is hard to see any other reason other than the translators’ bias against the possibility that a woman could be an apostle.” Well-known New Testament scholar, James G. D. Dunn, says, “The assumption that the name must be male is a striking indictment of male presumption regarding the character and structure of earliest Christianity.”

Conclusion

In addition to the women above, there are numerous women mentioned by Paul who functioned in leadership roles and are referred to by him as “co-laborers.” These would include at least 3 women in Romans 16 and the 2 women of Phil. 4:3 whom Paul says “labored with” him in the gospel. The expression “labored with” is a translation of a rare Greek word sunethlesan, which describes athletes working as a team side-by-side and indicates that these women had worked closely with Paul in the ministry.

When all the evidence is examined it is obvious that Paul, in I Tim. 2:11-12, is not excluding women from teaching and leadership roles in the Church, nor is he limiting their roles and function in the Church. Those who would marginalize or limit the participation of women in the Church can no longer claim Paul as their authority.

8/29/2010

A LITTLE LESS OF ME

Let me be a little kinder
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those around me
Let me praise a little more
Let me be when I am weary
Just a little bit more cherry
Think a little more of others
And a little less of me
(Recorded by Glen Campbell in 1965)

During the first year of our marriage Sue and I had a disagreement and neither of us was willing to yield any ground. Being young and naïve and having a traditional view of marriage, I went to prayer asking God to help her understand that she must submit to my God-ordained leadership. As I prayed in this manner, Paul’s exhortation for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church suddenly stood before me with the words and gave Himself for her highlighted in bold letters (Eph. 5:25). I then heard the Holy Spirit say, “The problem is that you are not willing to let go of yourself.”

Finding Life by Losing Our Life

When I heard this message from the Lord I knew that my “I” or ego was standing in the way of resolution and peace. There had to be a little less (probably a whole lot less) of me in that situation and in the relationship in general. As I obeyed the Lord and “let go of myself” in that situation, it proved to be a life-changing experience. I began to learn the truth of what Jesus said in Mk. 8:35, Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it (Mk. 8:35).

I was learning that “a little less of me” was to be, not a one-time thing, but a way of life. This did not mean that I was to be a doormat for other people, but that I could no longer live my life—my Christian life--from self-serving motives. I was learning what true Christianity is all about.

The Character of True Christianity

True Christianity is not about you or me, but about Christ, as Paul so succinctly delineates in Galatians 2:20 where he says, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (NKJV).

Interestingly, the Greek word for “I” is ego. What Paul is saying here is that his “I” or ego has been crucified with Christ and the “I” or ego is no longer the center of his life. Christ is now at the center of his life. Christ has replaced the “I” or ego as his reason and purpose for living, and it is no longer about Paul; it is now all about Jesus. Even the phrase, I live by faith in the Son of God, expresses this reality for Paul. It is in the genitive case and literally reads, I live by the faith of the Son of God. For Paul, even faith is no longer centered in himself but in Christ, and he lives by the faith of the Son of God.

It seems obvious that the North American church has not learned to live and walk in Galatians 2:20. It is still about us—our faith, our testimony, our ministry, our miracle, our revival, our church, etc., etc. I am convinced that it is this “I” or ego centered approach to Christianity that is holding back genuine Spiritual awakening in our nation. The Spirit of God is grieved when it is about us, and only superficially about Him. This was made very real to me by an experience I had a number of years ago.

We Grieve the Holy Spirit When It’s About Us

I had just preached in the Sunday evening service of a NE Texas church and was on my way home to the DFW area. As I drove along the dark two-lane highway, I noticed that I felt troubled in my spirit. My mind questioned, “Why?” “I should be happy and joyful,” I thought. “It was a good meeting.” Indeed, people seemed to be stirred by the message and a number responded to the invitation and some were weeping. “So why is my spirit so unsettled,” I asked as I drove along in the night.

Suddenly I heard the Holy Spirit speak on the inside of me, “You talked too much about yourself tonight.” I knew immediately what He meant. My message that night had been made up of personal stories of God’s blessing in my life and of miracle answers to prayer I had seen. I had not preached the word. Although it had sounded spiritual and had stirred some people’s emotions, it was too much about me. I had grieved the Holy Spirit by talking too much about myself and not enough about Jesus and His word.

Less of Me • More of Jesus

This experience sensitized me to the importance of keeping the focus on Jesus and His word. It made me realize that we can talk about miracles and answers to prayer and yet grieve the Holy Spirit if the message or testimony is really centered in “me” and not in Him. I realized in a new and fresh way that there must be “less of me” and more of Jesus in every area of my life, as John the Baptist so aptly stated in John 3:30.

Sometime after baptizing Jesus in the Jordan, someone came to John and informed him that the crowds were now giving their attention to Jesus rather than to him. John replied, He must increase, but I must decrease. We too must decrease so that He can increase in all areas of our lives. It is not easy, but it is only as we let go of our “self” for His sake that we will find our true self in Him.

In the 13th century, Francis of Assisi must have been struggling with “a little less of me” when he wrote:
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life
.
(Prayer of Francis of Assisi)


8/16/2010

THE CHURCH'S ONE FOUNDATION

A Fresh Look at Ephesians 2:20
in Light of Biblical Research & Revelation

While I affirm the continuation of apostles and prophets in the Church today, I am convinced that Eph. 2:20 does not teach that apostles and prophets are the foundation of the Church or the churches. This conviction is based on an examination of the words “apostles” and “prophets” in this passage, the grammatical structure of the passage, and other New Testament passages which clearly point to Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation of the Church. Instead of referring to individual apostles and prophets, this passage is referring to the revelation of Jesus Christ that is found in the Old and New Testaments.

The passage in question, Eph. 2:20, reads, Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. With the current interest in contemporary apostles and prophets, this passage has become the proof text for the idea that apostles and prophets are the foundation of the Church and churches. However, it is never wise to build a doctrine, especially one of this importance, on one Scripture. What about 1 Cor. 3:10 where Paul says, For no foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ. This is a serious issue for if we replace the true foundation with a faulty one, then everything we build upon it will eventually fall. In the following essay I hope to convince you that there is only one solid and sure foundation for the Church, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Foundation of the Prophets

The Prophets was a common way for both Jews and Christians to refer to the Old Testament Scriptures during the 1st century. We must remember that “Old Testament” was an unknown expression for the New Testament writers, all of whom, except for Luke, were Jewish. Sometimes the Old Testament Scriptures are referred to as the Law and the Prophets or Moses and the Prophets or in the more abbreviated form of simply the Prophets. There are many examples of this abbreviated usage in the New Testament.

In Luke 24:25, for example, Jesus chides two of His disciples for being slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken, an obvious reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. In Acts 13:27, Paul says that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem crucified Christ because they did not know the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, another obvious reference to the Old Testament. In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul passionately implores, King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?, another obvious reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. Because of its abbreviated form, the prophets became, perhaps, the most common way of referring to the Old Testament.

When Paul, therefore, uses the word prophets in Eph. 2:20 he is most likely referring to the Old Testament. The purpose of the Old Testament was to reveal the Messiah to God’s covenant people. This is borne out in Rom. 10:4 where Paul says, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. The word “end” in this verse is a translation of the Greek word teleos and it means goal, purpose or destination. Christ is not the cessation of the law, but the destination or goal of the law.

This is confirmed by Jesus Himself when, in Luke 24:27, 44, He refers to all the things written in the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Himself. In other words, the Old Testament is not about laws, rules and regulations; it is about a person—Jesus the Messiah. When Paul, therefore, speaks of the foundation of the prophets, he is referring to the Old Testament Scriptures and their witness of Jesus Christ.

The Foundation of the Apostles

Acts 2:42 says that the earliest believers continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, a reference to the oral teaching of the Twelve. This oral teaching included the message they had heard from Jesus and their eyewitness accounts of Jesus. This oral teaching of the Twelve and the later revelation of Paul were eventually written down and canonized in our New Testament.

This whole canonization process became necessary for a variety of reasons, not least that a church leader in the 2nd century named Marcion created his own canon of Scripture. Marion’s canon, however, included only Luke’s gospel and ten of Paul’s thirteen epistles. The ones he excluded were condemned as too Jewish.

Since all four gospels, Acts and all thirteen of Paul’s epistles had been universally recognized by Christians from the beginning, this was obviously something new and novel. Because many were being led astray by Marcion’s new canon, many church leaders felt it necessary to clarify what the churches had always believed by issuing their own list of New Testament books.

The inclusion of some books, however, was questioned, even among the orthodox. These questionable books included James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John and Revelation. The number one criterion for determining if a questionable book (or any book) should be included in the canon was a positive answer to the question, “Is it apostolic?” That is, was it written by one of the original Twelve, by Paul or by one of their immediate associates? Only after an affirmative answer to this question, could a book be considered apostolic and worthy of being included in the canon.

Canon, of course, refers to a measure or rule. As such, the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are the rule against which all succeeding teachings and revelations must be measured. Why? Because the New Testament canon contains the original apostolic witness and teaching. Hans Kung, the well-known Roman Catholic theologian and reformer, says,

"The preaching of the apostles, as it has come down to us in the writings of the New Testament, is the original, fundamental testimony of Jesus Christ, valid for all time; being unique, it cannot be replaced or made void by any later testimony. Later generations of the Church are dependent on the words, witness and ministry of the first “apostolic” generation. The apostles are and remain the original witnesses, their testimony is the original testimony and their mission the original mission " (Kung, The Church, 456).

When Acts 2:42 says that the early Church continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching, it is referring to the oral teaching of the Twelve which is now canonized in our New Testament. Apostolic doctrine, therefore, is not the latest revelation touted by someone who calls himself or herself an apostle. Apostolic doctrine is the message and eyewitness accounts of those first followers of Jesus that are preserved for us in the New Testament. When, therefore, Paul says in Ephesians 2:20, that believers are being built on the foundation of the apostles . . ., he is referring to the original apostolic testimony and teaching that is now preserved in our New Testament.

The phrase having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets is now clearly seen to be the Old and New Testament Scriptures and their revelation of Jesus Christ. The authors of The Formula of Concord also recognized this prophetic role of the Old Testament and apostolic role of the New Testament. Produced by Lutherans in 1577, this historic document contains the statement,

"We believe, teach and confess that the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged."

Jesus Christ the Only Foundation

That Eph. 2:20 is referring to the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Old and New Testaments is also borne out by the fact that the phrase apostles and prophets is in the genitive case, the case that shows possession. It is like saying “the coat of John Doe.” Although the coat and John Doe are related, it does not follow that the coat is John Doe or that John Doe is the coat. In the same way, it does not follow that the foundation is identical with the apostles and prophets or that the apostles and prophets are identical with the foundation. This passage, as already demonstrated, is referring to the foundation of Jesus Christ that has been laid by the prophetic and apostolic witnesses of the Old and New Testaments.

This fact is further borne out in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church. In 1 Cor. 3:10-11, Paul refers to his founding of the church in Corinth and says, I have laid the foundation and another builds on it. What foundation did Paul the apostle lay for the church in Corinth? It was not himself! He says in vs. 11, For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ. The foundation of Paul the apostle in Corinth was Jesus Christ. If contemporary apostles wish to be legitimate, they must follow the example of Paul and not preach themselves, but Jesus Christ.

This coincides with Jesus’ response to Peter’s revelation of Him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God in Matt. 16:13-18. Jesus commends Peter for his revelation, saying,
Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

The Greek word for “Peter” in this passage is petros, which means a little rock or pebble. The Greek word for “rock” is petra and refers to a large massive stone. With a play on these words, Matthew has Jesus saying, You are petros (a small rock or pebble), and on this petra (a large massive stone) I will build my Church. The foundation on which Jesus said he would build His Church was not a little rock like Peter, but the massive foundation stone that is the revelation of who He is, i.e., Himself.

What It Means to Be “Apostolic”

Like the early church, the church today must also continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching. How? By hearing and adhering to the original apostolic message that has been preserved for us in the New Testament. This message belongs to the Church of every generation and every Christian has the privilege and responsibility of bearing witness to this original apostolic message of Jesus Christ. When presented in its purity and clarity this message will be as powerful and revolutionary today as it was in the 1st century. This is how we lay the foundation of the Church in the 21st century.

No church, therefore, can rightfully call itself apostolic if is preoccupied with its own power, prestige and importance. No church can call itself apostolic if it is continually distracted with novel and faddish teachings and trends. Only a people committed to proclaiming the original, apostolic message of Jesus preserved in the New Testament can rightfully be called apostolic today.

An old hymn sums it up well:

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is His new creation by water and the word
From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride
With His own blood He bought her and for her life He died

8/09/2010

THE NEW GNOSTIC JESUS

Take heed that no one deceive you, for many will come in My name saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. - Jesus

Do you know the real Jesus? If you are depending on TV preachers for knowledge of Jesus, you may find yourself falling short. Benny Hinn recently preached a message about Jesus at a conference in Sweden that his friend and host, Ulf Ekman, said on his blog, “went far beyond what I see as classic Christian faith and sound doctrine.” “It was not just some Gnostic elements,” Ekman said, “it was too much pure Gnosticism.” Ekman wisely encouraged his audience to read their Bibles and compare what Benny said about Jesus with what Scripture says about Him. He also talked to Benny personally about the error and expressed hope that he listened and took it to heart.

The Resurgence of the Gnostic Jesus
Gnosticism, which is experiencing a resurgence in our post-modern world, values spirit over matter and personal, subjective experience over objective truth and reality. Because of this, the early Gnostics denied that Jesus had a real physical body, claiming, instead, that He was a spirit and only appeared to have a physical body. This same approach is rampant in our world today where the real Jesus of Scripture who not only comforts, but challenges and confronts, is exchanged for a spiritual, New Age/Gnostic Jesus who is offensive to no one and can be made to fit into any world-view.

Oprah Winfrey, for example, has popularized a Gnostic (New Age) spiritual Jesus that can be discovered within every person’s consciousness. She has helped popularize the New Age author, Echkhart Tolle, and his book, New Earth, in which he presents Jesus as a Spiritual Master, along with Buddha and others, who have tried to help humanity discover the “Christ consciouness” or “God consciousness” that is already residing within every person. For Tolle, Gnosticism was a positive movement, representing a rediscovery of the “original teaching,” which for him seems to be a mysterious, mystical truth that lies deep within the human concsiousness beyond the reach of words and intellect (which makes one wonder why he bothers writing his books).

In this same vein of Gnostic thinking, Deepak Chopra, the well-known Indian medical doctor and purveyor of Eastern mysticism, recently published a book entitled Jesus. Chopra admits that the Jesus of his book cannot be found in the Bible. Where did he get his Jesus? He says that he researched the cultural, political, and religious contexts of Jesus’ time. “Then I went into incubation, meditation, and I allowed this story to unfold.” Another Gnostic Jesus!

In a similar fashion, a Gnostic Jesus can emerge with Christian mystics who prefer the spiritual Jesus they encounter in a mystical state of contemplative prayer to the Jesus that is revealed in Scritpure. Indeed, in this post-modern world where every person’s experience is truth for them, it is easy for visions of Jesus to emerge that are divorced from truth and reality, often the product of someone’s over-active imagination.

The Only Reliable Revelation of Jesus
The only reliable revelation of Jesus is the one found in Scripture, and every other revelation must be subjected to this one. Jesus Himself clearly taught this to His disciples. For example, Luke 24:13-32 records the story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to two of His disciples as they walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The two disciples did not recognize Jesus in His resurrected body and they shared with Him their sadness and disillusionment because the One they thought was the Messiah had just been crucified in Jerusalem.
Jesus responded by saying, Oh foolish ones and slow of hear to believe in all that the Prophets have spoken. The Jews of Jesus’ day referred to their Scriptures in various ways: “The Law and the Prophets,” “Moses and the Prophets,” and sometimes by simply, “the Prophets.” The reference here to the Prophets is a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, Jesus tells them that the reason they are so disillusioned about what has just happened can be traced to the fact that they do not adequately know the Christ/Messiah of Scripture.

Luke then says, And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27). In other words, during this approximate two hour walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus Jesus spent the entire time taking these two disciples from Genesis to Malachi, showing them the Christ (Himself) in every book of the Old Testament.

Think of what He could have shared with them, but did not. He had just come out of the tomb where He had experienced the greatest demonstration of God’s power ever known. He had seen Satan’s grip on humanity broken. He had seen mighty angels at work rolling away the stone. But during this approximate two-hour walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, He mentioned none of these things. Instead, He gave priority to going through the Scriptures, making sure that they knew the Christ of Scripture. For Jesus, the most important revelation the disciples could have of Him was the revelation from Scripture.
Paul’s Modus Operandi
Although Paul, at the time of his conversion, had a supernatural encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he too knew that the ultimate revelation of Jesus is the one in Scripture. In describing Paul’s ministry in the synagogue in Thessalonica, Luke says,
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ” (Acts 17:3-4).
Notice that “reasoning from the Scriptures” about the true identity of Jesus was Paul’s "custom," i.e., the normal way in which he carried out his ministry. In Thessalonica, Paul met with much opposition to his message of the Jesus of Scripture, but the problem was not with the message but with the hearts of the hearers.

From Thessalonica Paul and Silas traveled to Berea where they met a more fair-minded response than they had found in Thessalonica. Luke says, in Acts 17:11, that the Bereans, Received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether those things were so. Notice that the determining factor in the Bereans decision was not how well Paul and Silas preached, or whether they felt goose bumps, or whether they saw miracles. The Holy Spirit commended the Bereans because they used Scripture as the final standard in judging the message of Paul and Silas.
Paul later traveled to Ephesus and, using this same approach of presenting Christ from the Scriptures, saw such a move of God that the economy of the city, which was based on idolatry, began to collapse. Luke sums up the success of his ministry in Ephesus by saying, So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed (Acts 19:20). Paul discovered that the real power is in preaching the Christ of Scripture.

Although Paul had many supernatural experiences of God's power and at least two supernatural encounters with Christ, except for the rare occasion, he avoids mentioning these in his letters. We only know of them because Luke included them in his historical account of early Christianity. For Paul, the revelation of Jesus in Scripture was what mattered and he discovered that God works powerfully when the Christ of Scripture is boldly proclaimed. Hopefully, the Church today will rediscover this same truth.
Martin Luther’s Vision of “Another Jesus”
Martin Luther found the revelation of Christ in Scripture to be the only protection against being led astray by a mystical, Gnostic Jesus. For example, while in intense prayer one day, he suddenly saw a shining vision on the wall of Jesus, with the wounds of His passion, looking down upon him. Luther, who had been an Augustinian monk, at first thought it was a heavenly vision, but changed his mind when he noted that the person in the vision was not compatible with the Christ he knew from Scripture. He said,
"Therefore I spoke to the vision thus: 'Begone you, confounded devil. I know no other Christ than He who was crucified, and who in His Word is presented unto me.' Whereupon the image vanished, clearly demonstrating from whom it came.'"
Conclusion
I grew up in a Pentecostal church that valued personal encounters with the Holy Spirit and, through the years, have grown in my appreciation for the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in my life and in the lives of others. However, when it comes to the all-important task of knowing the real Jesus, we cannot rely on personal experiences or esoteric visions. We must be firmly grounded in the Christ of Scripture. Only by acquainting ourselves with the real Jesus of the Bible will we avoid being led astray by the many Gnostic/false christs that Jesus Himself said would appear in the last days.
For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matt. 24:4,5,24).

7/25/2010

TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT

Politics aside, one thing the Shirley Sherrod incident demonstrated was how words and sentences lifted out of their context can be so easily infused with meaning they do not have within their context. And this leads to a very serious question. How guilty are we in the body of Christ—especially preachers—of lifting Bible verses out of their context and infusing them with meaning that Jesus, Paul, Peter and others never intended? If it is such a serious matter to take a government employee out of context, how much more the Living God!

7/03/2010

THE RE-BIRTHING OF AMERICA

“The Declaration of 1776 was a direct result of the preaching of the evangelists of the Great Awakening,” declared Perry Miller, late Professor of Church History at Harvard University. Perry’s statement is based on the fact that the Great Awakening was the first national event that brought the scattered colonies together as a single people. The preaching of the revivalists helped democratize the inhabitants of the colonies by putting everyone on the same level (guilty sinners before God) with only one solution for the sin problem, faith in Jesus Christ. It was in this sense that the Great Awakening brought together the scattered colonists and helped prepare them to become a single nation under God.
Denominational Barriers Broken Down
The Awakening also broke down denominational barriers and helped the colonists see themselves as a single people with one Divine destiny. In one of his sermons preached to several thousand gathered in the open air, George Whitefield mimicked a conversation with Father Abraham who was looking over the banister of heaven at the gathered multitude. Whitefield, who was an ordained Anglican minister and a part of the Methodist movement in England, cried out, “Father Abraham, are there any Anglicans in heaven?” The answer came back, “No, there are no Anglicans in heaven.” “Father Abraham, are there any Baptists in heavens?” “No, there are no Baptists in heaven.” “Are there any Methodists in heaven?” "No, there are no Methodists.” “Father Abraham,” cried Whitefield, what people are in heaven?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians in heaven.”

In the Great Awakening, which I date from 1726-1750, it seemed that entire communities repented and turned to God. It was a sovereign work of God in response to the fervent prayers of His people. This Awakening led to the birth of the United States of America. The question I want to pose today is, “Can a nation be born again?
The Faith of the Founders
George Washington, the first president, took the oath of office with his hand placed on a Bible, signifying his recognition of the Bible as the source of guidance and inspiration for his administration. This has continued as a tradition down to the present time. Washington declared that, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” He once prayed, “Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ.”
Did Washington want to exclude Christian influence from the political or public arena? Hardly!

John Adams, one of the founding fathers and the 2nd president of the United States, gave an account of the 1st continental Congress that was convened in September of 1774. The congress was opened with prayer and the reading of Psalm 35:9, 23 which says, "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation. . . . Awake and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord!" There is no question that God’s presence was powerfully manifest in their midst. Adams wrote, “Who can realize the emotions with which they turned imploringly to heaven for divine interposition and aid. It was enough to melt a heart of stone. It seems as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read that day.”
Did Adams want to exclude the influence of Christians and the Bible from the congress? The answer is that he obviously did not.

Benjamin Franklin is often pointed to as one of the non-Christian founders of this nation. There is evidence, however, that Franklin came to know the Savior in his latter years. But even in his earlier deistic years he carried a Christian world-view. He was a good friend with the famous revivalist of the Great Awakening, George Whitfield, and when Whitfield was in Philadelphia, he stayed in Franklin’s home and they discussed eternal matters. Years later, on June 28, 1787, the Constitutional Convention was about to be suspended because of unresolved dissension. It was at this time that Franklin, now an old man, rose to his feet. He addressed the Convention president, George Washington, with these words.
"How has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly appealing to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. I have lived, sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this."

Franklin’s words were heeded and the delegates went to prayer—many on their knees. The much-needed breakthrough came and the Convention went on to complete its task.
Did Franklin want to exclude Christianity from the public arena? Absolutely not!

Thomas Jefferson is also often pointed to as one of the non-Christian founders, and the champion of the separation of church and state. It is true that Jefferson had leanings toward deism and entertained questions about the deity of Christ and the miracles in the Bible. Yet, he was thoroughly Christian in his thinking and held to a Christian world-view. He believed in the God of the Bible as the creator and the governor of His creation. He believed in moral absolutes based in the Bible and the exercise of common sense, i.e., human reason. In spite of questions about Christ’s deity, he had no doubts that Jesus was the greatest teacher of truth and morality who had ever lived. He once said,
"God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that His justice cannot sleep forever."

The Truth About the Wall of Separation
It was in a letter, dated Jan. 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut that Jefferson referred to “a wall of separation between the church and state.” The Baptists were concerned about their status in the new nation and how they would be treated. They had reason for concern for throughout Europe the Baptists were an outlawed religious sect, severely persecuted by the state and the state sanctioned churches, both Catholic and Lutheran. Jefferson quoted the 1st amendment, enacted Dec. 15, 1792, that congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and assured this Baptist association that this meant that in this new nation there would be “a wall of separation” that would protect them and any other religious group from the intrusion of the state.
So, was Jefferson attempting to exclude Christian influence from the public and political arenas? Absolutely not! Like Washington, Adams, Franklin and others, he did not want an official state church (like in Europe) monitoring the beliefs and activities of its citizenry. The "wall of separation" he refers to is unidirectional, erected to keep the state from meddling with the church and the free expression of faith.

It is thus obvious that those who formulated the 1st amendment were not seeking to inhibit religious expression, but were, instead, throwing the door wide open to religious expression without government interference. This was understood for the first 150 years of this nation’ existence. In History of the United States published in 1816, David Ramsey declared that the founders of this nation, “Wisely judged learning and religion to be the firmest pillars of the church and commonwealth.”
Let’s Pray for Another Great Awakening
Many are concerned today about the direction of this nation and its loss of morality and respect for God and His word. Many are entertaining hopes of a political solution through certain politicians or a certain political party. But I want to suggest that the only real answer is a rebirth of this nation through a national spiritual awakening characteristic of the one that brought it forth 234 years ago. This July 4--and in the coming year--let's pray for another Great Awakening that will lead to a rebirthing of this nation.

6/27/2010

GETTING TO THE HEART OF "WORSHIP"

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
It's all about You. It's all about You!
I'm sorry for the thing I've made it.
It's all about You, It's all about You, Jesus. 
(Matt Redman)

Much of what is called "worship" in Pentecostal-Charismatic circles has deteriorated into an anthropocentric (human centered) religious exercise that is more concerned with the act of worship than with the object of worship. God is calling His Church to return to a christocentric (Christ-centered) expression of worship that focuses on the object of worship rather than the human act of worship.

Who Is This For?

This was made very real to me some time ago as I sat in a meeting and noted a troubling in my spirit during the praise and worship. Outwardly, everything was great. The musicians and singers were superb. The congregation was enthusiastic and some danced in the aisles while others waved banners. As I prayerfully pondered my experience, the question was posed to my mind, Who is this for? The answer then became clear. This was for them. They were having fun. They enjoyed doing this. They were reveling in their own excellence and feeling good about their expertise in "worship." They were more enamored with their act of worship than with the object of worship.

This experience reminded me of Gods rebuke to Israel for their anthropocentric worship. They too had lost their focus in worship and had become centered on themselves. They were doing the right things, but for the wrong reasons. Through the prophet Zechariah, God said, "During those seventy years of exile when you fasted and mourned, was it really for Me? And even now in your holy festivals, you dont think about Me but only of pleasing yourselves" (Zech. 7:5-6, NLT).

Music, Singing & Dancing
Do Not Equal "Worship"

One mistake we have made as Spirit-filled believers is equating music and singing with worship. We thus have a time of "worship" before the preaching. Did you know that the great revivals in history did not have "worship teams" and "praise bands?" Frank Bartleman, a participant in the Azusa Street Revival, wrote, "In the beginning in Azusa, we had no musical instruments. In fact, we felt no need for them. There was no place for them in our worship--all was spontaneous." Don't get me wrong! Anointed music can be a wonderful means for expressing worship to God. True worship, however, encompasses all of life as can be seen from the meaning of the word itself.

Worship Encompasses All of Life

"Worship" comes from the old Saxon word weorthscipe meaning "worthship" and referred to any activity utilized to recognize or describe the "worth" of a person or thing to which homage was being paid. Worship is thus synonymous with the whole of a reverent and devoted life. We ascribe "worth" to God by the way we prioritize and live out our lives. Listening to Gods word can be an act of worship as much as singing and dancing. In fact, even hoeing ones garden can be an act of worship, as is illustrated by the following story from the life of Francis of Assisi.

Hoeing Ones Garden Can Be "Worship"

Francis was hoeing his garden one hot afternoon when a friend passing by stopped and posed a question. "Francis," he asked, "What would you do if you knew that at sunset you would be standing in the presence of Jesus Christ?" Francis replied, "I would finish hoeing my garden." Francis answer revealed how that, for him, every act was a sacred act done for the glory of God. Even the hoeing of his garden was an act of worship. We must get beyond the idea that worship is something we do for a half hour on Sunday morning.

Our Life Must Become Integrated

Most Christians have segmented their lives into the sacred and the non-sacred, or secular. When we go to church and lift our hands and sing, that is sacred. But when we are sitting around the dinner table or when we are working at our job that is secular. This dichotomized approach to life has hindered us from becoming true worshippers of God.

To the contrary, we must see all of life as sacred, lived for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. As 1 Cor. 10:31 says, Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the gory of God.

Remember how the Father spoke from heaven at the baptism of Jesus and said, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17)? This was before Jesus had healed a single sick person, cast out a single demon or preached a single sermon. His life had been lived in the carpenter shop, making chairs, tables, plows, etc. Nonetheless, His was a life of worship because everything He did was for the glory and honor of God, and God was well pleased. Question: Are we living all of life for the glory of God--every thought, every word, every deed? That is worship!

We Must Repent For Our Wrong Approach to Worship

The third line in the worship chorus by Matt Redman says, "I'm sorry for the thing I've made it." What have we made it? We have made it a performance--a show. We have made it a religious exercise within a restricted time frame on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. We have shifted the emphasis from the condition of the heart of the worshipper to the expertise of the musicians, singers and dancers. My heart trembles when I think of it, but I am afraid that what we call "worship" is more about us than it is about Him.

Let's Keep It Simple

In Exodus 20:24-25, God instructed Moses that when the children of Israel made an altar on which to offer their sacrifices to Him, it was to be a very, plain altar of earth. If they built an altar of stone, they were not to cut or hew the stones but to merely pile the stones, for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it. The altars--the means of their worship--were to be plain and simple. Why?

God was giving guidelines to protect Israel from the human tendency to become enamored with that which is outward and sensory. The means of worship must never eclipse or obscure the object of worship. This does not mean that God puts any premium on ignorance or crudeness in worship. It does mean that He looks on the heart and is not impressed with our pomp and circumstance.

What impresses God? Isaiah 66:2 says, This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Many churches today would do well to dispense, at least for a time, with their elaborate means of worship and emphasize, instead, the inward condition of the heart in worship.

Simplify the means of worship and focus attention on the Object of Worship. The Fire of God will fall. His Presence and Glory will come. After all, worship is not about us, but about Him. It's all about You, Jesus!


Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, Biblical scholar and ordained minister with a vision for another Great Awakening in America and around the world. His books are available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html. To invite him to speak to your congregation, group or event, send an email to dreddiehyatt.com.






6/04/2010

7 IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM AZUSA STREET THAT WILL SAVE CONTEMPORARY REVIVAL MOVMENTS FROM IMPLODING AS HAPPENED IN LAKELAND


The following quotes are from The Apostolic Faith the official publication of the Azusa Street Revival published from September 1906 – October 1908


# 1 Stay focused on Jesus

We do not have time to preach anything else but Christ. The Holy Spirit has not time to magnify anything but the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are simply a voice shouting, “Behold the Lamb of God!” When we commence shouting something else, then Christ will die in us. If Christ be lifted up, he will draw all men unto Himself. (January 1907)



#2 Measure Everything by the Word


We are measuring everything by the Word, every experience must measure up with the Bible. Some say that is going too far, but if we have lived too close to the Word, we will settle that with the Lord when we meet Him in the air. (September 1907)

Do we need to study the Bible as much after receiving the Holy Ghost? Yes, if not we become fanatical or many times will be led by deceptive spirits and begin to have revelations and dreams contrary to the Word, and begin to prophesy and think ourselves some great one, bigger than some other Christians. But by reading the Bible prayerfully, waiting before God, we become just humble little children, and we never feel that we have got more than the least of God’s children.
(October 1907- January 1908)

The Corinthian church was one of Paul’s most gifted churches, and just as it is today, where a church is very gifted, the only safeguard from deceptive spirits is by rightly dividing the Word of God, to keep out of fanaticism. We must rightly divide the Scriptures and compare scripture with scripture so that there is no confusion, and no deceptive spirit or wrong teaching may creep in. (January 1908)


#3 Learn to Flow With the Spirit
Without Becoming Fanatical


Many times when we were receiving this blessed Pentecost, we all used to break out in tongues; but we have learned to be quieter with the gift. Often when God sends a blessed wave upon us, we all may speak in tongues for awhile, but we will not keep it up while preaching service is going on, for we want to be obedient to the Word, that everything may be done decently and in order and without confusion.
(January 1907)

The demonstrations are not the shouting, clapping, or jumping so often seen in the campmeetings. There is a shaking such as the early Quakers had and which the old Methodists called the “jerks.” It is while under the power of the Spirit you see the hands raised and hear speaking in tongues. While one sings a song learned from heaven with a shining face, the tears will trickle down other faces. (October 1906)


#4 Avoid Pride · Stay Humble

We humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and constantly search the Scriptures to know His whole will and plan. (October 1906)

There is no pope, Doweism, or Sanfordism, but we are all little children knowing only Jesus and Him crucified. This work is carried on by the people of Los Angeles that God has united by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. (December 1906)

(Note from E. Hyatt: The references to “Doweism” and “Sanfordism” pertain to John Alexander Dowie and Frank Sanford, two of the most famous, charismatic ministers of the day who projected themselves as special end-time apostles and prophets)


#5 Avoid Exaggerations

Correction: We want to correct some errors that were in the last published report from Portland. It was stated that one hundred were baptized at the evening campmeeting. The saints believe there were not so many. The insane persons that were brought for healing were not fully healed, or else through lack in our faith and through weakness lost their healing. The saints want the simple truth stated about the work. Amen! May no one from any place send in a report that is overstated but rather let it be understated. (January 1908)


#6 Realize that You Can Receive Directly from God


Is it necessary to have hands laid on in order to receive the Holy Ghost? No, you can receive Him in your private closet. The gift of the Holy Ghost comes by faith in the Word of God. You may receive the Holy Ghost right now, that is, if you are sanctified. Take your Bible, turn to the first chapter of Acts, 5th verse, “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Read this verse of Scripture and cry out to the Father, “Lord Jesus, baptize me with the Holy Ghost,” and believe the Lord with all your heart and the power will fall. (October 1907- January 1908)


#7 Equality of Women with Men
in the New Era of the Spirit


Before Pentecost, the woman could only go into the “court of the women” and not into the inner court. But when our Lord poured out Pentecost He brought all those faithful women with the other disciples into the upper room and God baptized them all in the same room and made no difference. All the women received the anointed oil of the Holy Ghost and were able to preach the same as men. They both were co-workers in Eden and both fell into sin; so they both have to come together and work in the Gospel. (January 1908).

4/19/2010

THE 8-FOLD MINISTRY: How the Coming Restoration Will Usher the Church into a New Era of Influence & Power

A Satire

And God has appointed these in the Church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).

The passage above, 1 Cor. 12:28, clearly teaches an 8-Fold Ministry. God is about to restore this ministry to the Church. This will be the final stage of the restoration that has been going on since the time of Luther. Many, no doubt, will do a disservice to the body of Christ by continuing to promote the old, traditional 5-fold ministry, for it is still true today as it was when Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day, You reject the commandment of God in order to keep your traditions (Mk. 7:9). Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, many will reject the revelation truth of the 8-Fold Ministry in order to cling to their old, traditional 5-fold ministry. But for those who are willing to embrace this final work of restoration, they will experience a new and unprecedented release of God’s glory and power in their lives.
In this article I will share 4 compelling reasons why the 8-Fold Ministry should be recognized and implemented in the Church today. The reasons are: (1) God’s Prophetic Timetable indicates that 2010 is the year the restoration of this ministry will begin; (2) The prophetic significance of 8 is far superior to that of 5; (3) There is obviously more power generated by an 8-Fold Ministry than by a 5-fold ministry; and (4) There is a good chance that Paul knew nothing about a 5-fold ministry. I will also discuss the unique characteristics of the 8-Fold Ministry.
Reason #1
God’s Prophetic Timetable

The prophetic significance of the number 8 strongly suggests that the restoration of the 8-Fold Ministry will begin this year. God works through times, seasons and numbers. This is the year 5770 on the Jewish calendar. If you multiply the number 8 by 470 and subtract it from 5770, you get 2010. Is this a mere coincidence? I don’t think so! This is God’s prophetic timetable for restoring the 8-Fold Ministry to the Church.


Reason #2
The Prophetic Significance
of 8 is Far Superior to that of 5.

Are there any significant 5s in the Bible? The best I have heard for 5 is that the 5 smooth stones that David took out of the brook, when he went out to face Goliath, represents the 5-fold ministry. David, however, only used one of these stones to kill Goliath. To use this example we would have to conclude that God has set 5 ministries in the Church, but He only uses one of them to defeat the enemy. So, if we go this route we are eventually left with only a 1-fold ministry. But maybe this has validity and actually confirms the many churches today that are functioning with a 1-fold ministry.

Nonetheless, there is much more prophetic significance to the number 8. Eight is the number of “new beginnings.” Jesus arose on the 1st day of the week, which is the 8th day. I have heard some talk about the Church being in the 3rd day. They are obviously lagging behind. This is the time of the 8th day Church--the Church of new beginnings. We recently entered a “new century” and a “new millennium.” Only the 8-Fold Ministry, the ministry of “new beginnings” can lead us into the “new thing” that God has for us in this new century.
Reason #3
The 8-Fold Ministry Will Generate More Power

We see from Scripture that in the realm of the spirit there is a multiplication of power when there is an increase in numbers. For example, Deut. 30:30 says that one chases a thousand but two puts ten thousand to flight. From this we can see that the 8-Fold Ministry will be far more powerful than a mere 5-fold ministry.
Reason #4
The 5-Fold Ministry May Not Have Been Paul’s Idea.
There is a good chance that Paul never wrote about the 5-fold ministry, but that someone using his name came up with the idea. For example, Paul was very close to the believers in Ephesus, having founded the church there and many or most of them being his converts. But none of them are ever mentioned in this very generic letter to the church at Ephesus. Just look at Acts 20:36-38 where Paul is about to depart from a meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus. As he makes preparations to leave, they all start crying and hugging and kissing him. What a sight! That Paul would write a letter to these same people and never mention any of them is kind of far-fetched, and has led some scholars to conclude that Paul didn’t write this letter. So, right up front, there is a question whether Paul himself ever knew of a 5-fold ministry. On the other hand, nobody questions that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 12:28. So, we are on much safer, Biblical ground if we let go of the 5-fold ministry and go with the 8-Fold Ministry.


The 8-Fold Ministry of the Apostle
In his 8-Fold Ministry list, Paul lists the apostle first. We should not make too much of this since in 1 Cor.4:9 he thinks God has put the apostles last and says they have been made as the scum of the earth. And in 1 Cor. 13:13 Paul lists faith, hope and love, these three, and then turns around says that love, which he listed last, is the greatest of the three. So, it is not always that easy to tell what Paul thinks about something by the lists he makes. Sometimes the very thing he esteems the most, he puts at the end of the list; and the thing he thinks least of, he puts at the top of the list. And sometimes he puts something on one list and then leaves it off another list.
Pastors & Evangelists Not Needed
For example, in the 8-Fold Ministry there is no mention of a pastor or evangelist. Paul obviously did not see these as being important or he would have listed them here. This is confirmed by the fact that in all his letters to churches, Paul never addresses a pastor or evangelist, or even refers to one. In a personal letter to Timothy, he tells him to do the work of an evangelist, but that is about it in regards to pastors and evangelists. This is because the 8-Fold Ministry brings the Church into a place of maturity where these ministries are no longer necessary.
Restoring the 8-Fold Gift of Steering
One 8-Fold Ministry gift that is desperately needed today is that of “steering.” The NKJV calls it administrations. The Greek word is kuberneseis and it originally referred to a steersman who guided a ship. In his Greek-English Interlinear, Alfred Marshall translates the word as "governings" and it obviously refers to steering, guiding and giving direction. This gift is greatly needed to steer the other ministry gifts in the proper direction. Many thought that with the recent restoration of apostles and prophets everything would be fine. Instead, things have gotten worse because the new apostles and prophets have had no one to steer them in the right direction. As we see a restoration of the kuberneseis, and the other ministry gifts becoming aligned with it, we will see a release of power in the Church unknown since the 1st century.

To get the restoration of this gift moving, I am considering calling myself “Steersman Eddie Hyatt,” or maybe “Governor Eddie Hyatt.” But since others will also be using this as a title once the restoration gets under way, I will probably use “Senior Steersman” or maybe “Presiding Steersman.” I would use the Greek word, but I don’t think “Kuberneseis Eddie Hyatt” sounds impressive enough--and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Conclusion
If you feel challenged in accepting my argument for the 8-Fold Ministry, don’t feel badly. I have the same problem with much teaching that is being propagated today in charismatic circles. Nonetheless, I think I have presented a pretty valid argument. Maybe there is something to this 8-Fold Ministry after all.

This article is a satire. I wrote it using the same sort of erroneous methods that so many in charismatic/prophetic circles are using today. It is supposed to be funny and at the same time communicate a very serious message. The erroneous methods and ungodly mindset it addresses are:
(1) Taking a single Scripture out of context and making it the centerpiece of a new "revelation."
(2) Using numbers, dates and calendars to come up with far-out, ridiculous claims and appear clever, knowledgeable and very spiritual.
(3) Using the word "prophetic" to justify bizarre claims and erroneous interpretations of Scripture (the adjective "prophetic" is not fround in the Bible. No one in the Bible ever used it. So why are we using it so much?)
(4) Making erroneous applications of Scripture (David's 5 stones, 2 puts ten-thousand to flight, etc. etc.) to futher the "revelation" and to appear "spiritual."
(5) Using the new "revelation" to promote one's self and minstry. (In their zeal to promote themselves they eventually go too far and expose themselves as fleshy and not spiritual)

4/07/2010

2000 YEARS OF CHARISMATIC REVIVAL, WHERE ARE WE TODAY?

It is true that genuine revivals go astray. It has happened again and again in Christian history. The link below is to an interview I recently did on Grace TV out of Toronto, Canada. In the interview I discuss how to detect when a revival movement is getting off track. To watch this interview, click the link below

4/03/2010

THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION

The Christian belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is not blind faith. In fact, there is more empirical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than for any other event in ancient history. This is because there were numerous eyewitnesses who saw Him, talked with Him and ate with Him both before and after His death and resurrection. The first person to whom He appeared after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene, but then to the Twelve, to others and, on one occasion, to over 500 at one time of whom, according to Paul, most were still alive at the time of his writing his 1st letter to the Corinthians (I Cor. 15:6). The testimonies of these primary, first-hand witnesses are recorded in the 4 gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Not a Myth

Some, of course, refuse to accept the historical facts and claim that these stories are myths fabricated by followers of Jesus who wanted to deify Him. If this were the case, then those who created these myths were literary geniuses beyond anything we can imagine, for they created a person and a narrative that changed the course of human history and continues to move millions to forsake everything to follow this so-called mythological figure they created.

This reminds me of C.S. Lewis, an agnostic professor of Renaissance Literature at Oxford University, who exposed the shallow claims concerning the mythological character of the New Testament. Lewis was an expert in mythological literature and he tells of his astonishment the first time he read the gospels. His surprised response was, “This is not myth!” Lewis, of course, became a believer and an astute apologist for Christianity. It was at this time that higher criticism was being popularized in seminaries in Germany and certain theologians, such as Rudolph Bultman, were claiming that the New Testament accounts of Jesus, His miracles and His resurrection were myths created by His followers. Lewis replied, “I would like to know how many myths these people have read!” Lewis went on to explain that he had been a long-time professor and critic of mythological literature and knew how a myth sounded and felt, “And the gospel story is not myth!”

Ours is Not a Blind Faith

Yes, the evidence is there for those who are willing lay aside their prejudices and open themselves to truth and the Holy Spirit. This evidence includes, not only the eyewitness accounts, but also consideration of questions such as how the earliest disciples of Jesus were suddenly transformed from cowering individuals to bold witnesses willing to lay down their lives for their testimony of Christ and His resurrection? And why didn’t the Jewish and Roman leaders in Jerusalem, who tried to suppress the new Jesus movement, produce His body, display it publicly and, thereby, put an end to the preaching about the resurrection of Jesus? Many skeptics have been convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by being willingly to lay aside their prejudices and honestly examine this sort of evidence.

A Harvard Law Professor is Convinced

For example, Dr. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University and one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School. He authored the famous three-volume work, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which is still considered one of the greatest single authorities on judicial legal procedure. Greenleaf originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, believing that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would reveal the myths at the heart of Christianity. Instead, this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen. As a result he became a believer and wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. Greenleaf concluded that, according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best-supported event in all of ancient history.

A British Lawyer is Convinced

A brilliant young British lawyer, Frank Morrison, decided that he would write a book showing that, based on the testimony of the eyewitnesses, Jesus Christ could not have risen from the dead. Unfamiliar with the earlier work of Greenleaf, Morrison’s plan was to examine and compare the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the same way he would examine and cross-examine the testimonies of witnesses in a court of law. He felt confident that by doing so he would be able to show that their testimonies could not be corroborated. His book was never written for in the process of examining the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection and the questions raised by such an examination, he too became convinced that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead. Instead of a book disproving the resurrection he wrote a book entitled, Who Moved the Stone?, demonstrating, from a lawyer’s perspective, convincing proof that Jesus did rise from the dead.

The Foundation of Our Faith

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith. If He did not rise from the dead, then His birth, His life and even His miracles are void of meaning. However, He did rise from the dead just as He predicted, giving meaning to all of life. His resurrection is the guarantee that everything else He promised, such as eternal life and His personal return, will also be fulfilled.

The Same Power that Raised Jesus
From the Dead is at Work in the Believer

According to Paul, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work in the believer. He clearly spells this out in Ephesians 1:15-23 where He says that the same power that broke the power of sin, Satan and death on that first resurrection morning is the same power at work in you and me. Paul says that this resurrection power, not only brought Jesus out of the tomb, but raised Him to the pinnacle of the universe far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named both in this world and that which is to come. In 1:19 Paul makes the point that this same power is in us by using the Greek preposition eis, which the NKJV translates as “toward” and the NIV as “in.” It literally means “into.” In other words, that same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the pinnacle of the universe (the right hand of God) is now directed “into” us.

You see, there was a great cosmic shift in the spiritual realm when Jesus was raised from the dead. Satan was absolutely defeated. Sad to day, many Christians are still relating to the devil from an Old Testament perspective, and even formulating concepts of spiritual warfare that are based on the Old Testament. Don’t let anyone tell you that you do not have authority over Satan and all demonic forces!! This also means that you do not have to run here and there looking for an impartation from a preacher, a revival, a relic or a shrine. You already have something in you that is far more wonderful—the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Knowing this is a key to victory over the world the flesh and devil now, in this life.

The Resurrection is Personified in Jesus

In Jesus, the resurrection became personified. When Jesus discussed with Mary and Martha the death of their brother Lazarus, He made the statement, I Am the resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25). During one of the darkest periods of my life when it seemed that a vision God had given me had died, I heard Him say to me, “Don’t be afraid of death, because I Am the Resurrection.”

At this time of the year—and all during the year—let’s remember that the resurrection is a reality and is a person—Jesus Christ—Who is living in you. Yes, at some future point in time He will raise from the dead all those who have trusted in Him. However, His resurrection power is at work in us now and will, through the Holy Spirit, resurrect hopes and dreams and give meaning to all areas of our lives. Rom. 5:10 says, For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His [resurrection] life.