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12/31/2013

"SOMETHING" OUT OF "NOTHING"

Why I Am Expecting Great Things in 2014

In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1).
How can “something” come from “nothing”? That is the question our atheist and agnostic friends must answer. They agree with us that “something” exists. And when they seek to explain the origin of the universe, they always start with “something,” usually the various forms of matter and energy necessary to provide the explosive power for the Big Bang. But where did that original matter and energy come from?

The noted Christian philosopher, the late Frances Schaeffer, use to challenge his atheist opponents to explain how “something” could come from what he called “nothing, nothing.” To illustrate what he meant by “nothing, nothing” he would draw a circle on the chalk board and say that it represented “nothing.” He would then erase the circle and say, “This is ‘nothing, nothing.’” He said that no atheist or naturalist had been able to explain to him how “something” could come from “nothing, nothing.”

The Big Bang theory, that is very popular today in the scientific community and with popular culture, begins with “something.” We are told that at some point many billions of years ago all the matter and energy of space was contained at one small and single point. But where did this matter and energy come from? For a reason that no one can explain, we are told that this already existing matter and energy began to suddenly and rapidly expand into our universe, i.e., the Big Bang. But as one scientist was honest enough to admit, “What existed prior to this event is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation.”

So where did the “something”—the matter and energy—that are the basic building blocks of the universe come from? Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning God . . .. The Christian view is that God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo, which is Latin meaning “out of nothing.” Only God has such creative power. Only God is infinite and eternal while the physical universe is temporal and contingent. The Bible teaches that the universe, not only had a beginning from nothing, but that it is also continually dependent on God’s sustaining power for its ongoing existence.


This wonderful Creator God has made Himself known to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is our personal God. So in the coming New Year let’s TRUST Him, as never before, for our every need, aspiration and desire. Let’s remember that our God is a creator and can make “something” out of “nothing.” He can take a “nobody” and make them into a “somebody.” He can turn darkness into light and curses into blessings. I pray that by the end of 2014 there will be something good in your life that today does not exist, because our God can still make "something" out of "nothing." Our God is the Almighty Creator and that is why I am expecting great things in 2014!


12/04/2013

MYTH OR MIRACLE?

5 Reasons You Should Believe in the Miraculous Birth of Jesus Christ
Believing the gospel story of the miraculous, virgin birth of Jesus Christ does not require a so-called "blind leap of faith." There is sufficient evidence to establish in a court of law, and to any open minded person, that the virgin birth of Jesus actually happened in time and space. Critics reject the Biblical account of the virgin birth, not because of any empirical evidence, but because of a biased, predisposed mindset against the possibility of such a miracle. Here are 5 reasons for believing the biblical account of the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ through the virgin Mary.
Reason #1
It is Based on Eyewitness Accounts

The virgin birth was documented by a physician and world class historian who interviewed eyewitnesses, probably including Mary herself, for his account of this world-changing event—the entry of God into the world. Luke gives the most detailed account of the Nativity and mentions Mary twelve times, more than any other Biblical writer. He also gives special, detailed attention to the birth of John the Baptist and many see his gynecological interests to be a result of his training as a physician.

At the beginning of his Gospel, Luke indicates that he has made a thorough investigation of the things about which he is writing, which included his utilization of eyewitness accounts. He spent extended periods of time with Paul in Jerusalem and Judaea and would have had opportunity to interview those who were closest to the event, including Mary if she were still alive. There is no reliable information on how long Mary lived, but some traditions say she lived as much as 24 years or longer after the resurrection. The detail Luke presents does indicate that he has derived his information from a primary source, either Mary herself or someone to whom Mary had relayed the intimate details of the event.
Reason #2
It was Documented by a Physician and World-Class  Historian
Luke’s attention to detail and the accuracy of his accounts of people, places, dates, and events in his Gospel and in Acts have been noted in the scholarly world and gained for him a high regard as a historian. For example, the famous archaeologist and agnostic theologian, Sir William Ramsay, expected to discredit Luke’s accounts by visiting and examining the places mentioned in his Gospel and in Acts. Ramsay was an agnostic who taught that the New Testament was an unreliable religious treatise written in the mid second century and not an historical document recorded in the first century. He was so convinced of this that he went to Asia Minor to retrace Luke’s account of Paul’s journeys expecting to find the physical evidence to refute Luke's account.
But after years of retracing Paul's journeys and doing archaeological excavations of the places mentioned by Luke,  Ramsay completely reversed his view of the Bible and first century history. He acquired a very high regard for Luke as a historian and wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense; in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians” (Sir William Ramsay, 81, 222).  Ramsay also wrote, “You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian's and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment” (Sir William Ramsay, 89).
Another famous historian, A.N. Sherwin-White, carefully examined Luke's references in Luke/Acts to 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine islands, finding not a single mistake (Norman Geisler, 47). His research confirmed Ramsay's assessment of Luke as a world-class historian and the amazing accuracy of Luke’s accounts.
This begs the question that if Luke was this careful to get his facts right about names, places, events and dates, can we not be confident that he was just as careful to get his facts right concerning the more important things about which he reported, such as the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The well-known Greek scholar, Kenneth S. Wuest, writing of Luke’s attention to detail, said, “If Mary was still alive, he, a doctor of medicine, investigated the story of the virgin birth by hearing it from Mary's own lips.” And commenting on accusations by critics that the story of the virgin birth was a hoax, the noted Greek scholar, Professor John A. Scott, said, “You could not fool Doctor Luke" (Kenneth S. Wuest, 52-54).
Reason #3
A Mythologist Confirms, "It is Not a Myth"
Some, of course, refuse to accept the historical evidence, and claim that the virgin birth and other miracles of the New Testament are myths fabricated by followers of Jesus who wanted to deify Him. This reminds me of C.S. Lewis, the agnostic professor of Renaissance Literature at Oxford University, who exposed the shallow arguments 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 the virgin birth of Jesus, His miracles and His resurrection were myths created by His followers. Lewis challenged these theologians, saying, “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,” he said, “is not myth!”
Reason #4
The Old Testament Predicted the Virgin Birth

Both Genesis 2:15 and Isaiah predicted beforehand a virgin birth. Genesis 3:15 records the words of God to the serpent (Satan) after the fall that, I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel. This is a Messianic passage that speaks of the Seed (descendant) of woman who would triumph over Satan and his works. In Scripture, the seed or posterity of a family is traced through the males. But in this passage the Seed is said to be from the woman. The noted Methodist scholar, Adam Clarke, commenting on this verse, said, "The person [Messiah] is to come by the woman, and by her alone, without the concurrence of man. Therefore, the address is not to Adam and Eve, but to Eve alone; and it is in consequence of this purpose of God that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin" (Adam Clarke, vol. 1, 53).

Isaiah 7:14 says, Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. The Hebrew word translated “virgin” in this passage refers to a young woman of marriageable age, but would include the idea of virginity since that was expected of a young Jewish woman being married for the first time. This is borne out by the Septuagint, which translates the Hebrew with the Greek word parthinos, a word that specifically means “virgin,” i.e., a young woman who has never had sex with a man. Luke, whom we have seen was very careful to get his facts right, uses parthinos in referring to Mary at the time of conception, affirming that she was a young woman who had never had sex with a man when Jesus was born. Incredibly, Isaiah says that this Son that will be born of a virgin shall be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us,” a clear Old Testament prophecy of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. Although this passage has a real historic setting, its prophetic and Messianic character is confirmed by the fact that Matthew, in Matthew 1:22-23, quotes it and applies it to the birth of Christ.
Reason #5
The Earliest Christians Believed in the Virgin Birth
Both Matthew and Luke make clear in their Gospels that the birth of Jesus was supernatural and that He was conceived without the involvement of a man. Luke records how Mary asked the angel Gabriel how she could give birth when she did not know a man, a reference to her state of virginity and being unmarried. Luke says the angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the highest shall overshadow you; therefore, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 2:34-35). Interestingly, Gabriel links the miraculous conception of this Child with His deity, for it is because of His miraculous birth that He will be called the Son of God. The statements of Matthew and Luke about the virgin birth are quoted by early church fathers who obviously believed in the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ by the Virgin Mary. 
That the earliest Christians believed in the virgin birth of Jesus is verified by the “Apostle’s Creed,” an early confession of faith that probably dates from the second century in its earliest formulation. It reads in part:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
Conclusion
Believing in Christ does not require a so-called “blind leap of faith.” Because of the clear account of Dr. Luke and the other reasons mentioned above, it is more reasonable to believe in the virgin birth than it is to deny it. Those wonderful Christian carols heralding the birth of our Savior can be sung with zest and confidence because the Christmas story is true. We know it is true because of the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; but even for those who do not yet have this inner witness, there is adequate, external evidence provided to by Dr. Luke that Jesus was truly born of a virgin. And if that part of the story is true, then when can have confidence that the rest of the story is true as well.

by Eddie L. Hyatt
www.eddiehyatt.com

Works Cited
Ramsey, Sir William M. The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. Hodder & Stoughton, 1915.
Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.
Wuest, Kenneth S. Word Studies In The Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.
Clarke, Adam. The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with a Commentary and Critical Notes. 3 Vols. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1824.



O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

11/30/2013

Sarah Palin and the Hypocrisy of Secular Feminism

Why the Church Must Recognize
What God is Doing through Women Today

When Sarah Palin was vilely and viciously attacked by MSNBC host, Martin Bashir, the secular feminists were eerily silent, affirming once again that their political and social agendas trump any concern they may have for women. If they were really for women per se, they would have been the first to come to the defense of Palin who has achieved the sort of success that organizations like NOW (National Organization for Women) claim to advocate for women. She has served successfully as mayor of a city and governor of a state. She and her husband partner together in running a successful business and she was chosen as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate for the 2008 presidential elections.  

This being the case, shouldn't the feminists be celebrating Sarah Palin? Why are they so glum about Palin? The obvious answer is that Palin does not fit into their secular, socialist, non-Christian worldview. She marches to the beat of a different drummer. She is a committed follower of Jesus Christ and she is prolife. She believes marriage is between one woman and one man and she advocates for personal responsibility and smaller government. All these things are anathema to the secular feminists and they have gone out of their way, not only to be silent when Palin is attacked, but to verbally attack Palin themselves.  

The well-known feminist, Gloria Steinman, for example, accused Palin, and women like her, of “selling out” the women’s movement. This statement, however, shows the smallness of Steinman’s thinking in that she would narrowly define the “women’s movement” in terms of her own organization and others like it. Much to her chagrin, there is a women’s movement taking place outside of NOW that Steinman and others like her would prefer to ignore. In the political arena it is happening in with devout Christian women like Palin, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and a host of others. That these women are either ignored or opposed by the secular feminists is why the National Organization for Women (NOW) should change its name to reflect who they really are. A more honest name and reflective of reality would be something like “The National Organization for Socialist, Secularist Women.”  

This new women’s movement that the secular feminists so disdain is centered in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. The women of this new movement are discovering that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the great Emancipator of women through His life, death and resurrection. They are discovering that Jesus treated women with dignity and respect and welcomed them as His disciples. I recall speaking to a group of sad, depressed women in Bulgaria near the Macedonian border. They had been excommunicated from their church and physically beaten by their husbands because of their passionate commitment to follow Jesus. As they told us their story through an interpreter, there was much weeping. When it came time for me to speak I turned in my Bible to Luke chapter 8 and read about the women who had left everything to follow Jesus. I showed how these women traveled with Him from village to village and followed Him all the way to Jerusalem. I pointed out that Jesus did not tell them—even the married ones--to go home but allowed them to set their own priorities and make their own decisions to follow Him. “The most important thing anyone can do is follow Jesus,” I told them. As I spoke, those Bulgarian women saw Jesus’ acceptance and affirmation of them in a way they had never seen before and they proceeded to drown out my voice with their shouts of joy and praises to God.
Indeed, there was a large company of women who followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and were there observing His crucifixion and burial (Luke 23:49, 55). It was one of these women, Mary Magdalene, whom He honored by appearing to her first after His resurrection and commissioning her to be the first preacher of the good news of His resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18). In other words, Jesus required that His male disciples hear the initial news of His resurrection from the mouth of a woman. He was obviously making a very important statement by that purposeful act.
The women of this new movement are also discovering that Paul, when understood in the historical context of his day, did not confine or restrict women, but showed great respect and deference for their gifts and callings. In the same way, John Wesley, when challenged as to why he commissioned ignorant laypeople, including women, to preach and teach, replied “Because God owns them in the saving of souls and who am I to withstand God.”
If the church had taught what the Bible actually says about women there probably would never have been a "feminist" movement. In her book, In the Spirit We're Equal, Susan Hyatt has documented how the roots of the modern feminist movement can be traced to devout Christian women and men in the 19th century who began a push for equal rights for women including the right to vote. This came at a time when it was controversial for women to even pray in public. These early "feminists" took the Bible as their guide and covered their activities with prayer. Over time, however, this movement lost its way and moved away from its Christian beginnings into secularism and materialism, and morphed into the modern feminist movement as we know it today.

It is time for the church-at-large to rethink its theology about women and their role in the church and society. But first, many will have to rid themselves of the fear of being accused of being influenced by feminism. "The chuch is too feminine," some will complain. This is the boogey bear that traditionalists use to try and intimidate churches and pastors from fully embracing the gifts and callings of their female members. This fear must be cast aside and the work of the Holy Spirit in both men and women must be fully embraced so that the entire body of Christ can be mobilized. This is of utmost importance for this new women's movement could well be the key for true revival in the churches of our land and the key to reaching the Muslim world with the good news of Jesus Christ.


Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is a board member of God’s Word to Women, an organization that is lifting the status of women around the world by teaching them their equal standing and status in Jesus Christ. His website is www.eddiehyatt.com. The website for God's Word to Women is www.godswordtowomen.org and www.icwhp.org

11/17/2013

Let God Fight Your Battle

Thus says the LORD to you, "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's" (II Chronicles 20:15).

II Chronicles 20 tells of a huge confederate army of 3 nations that came against Judah to destroy her. In the natural, there was no way out. It seemed that Judah was doomed; but instead there occurred an incredible victory when King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah decided to let God fight their battle.

Are you facing overwhelming odds in any area of life today? Do you belong to God? He will also fight your battle. You live under a better covenant than did Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. Stop trying to fight on your own and put yourself and your situation in God's hands today. He will bring about victory in ways you never imagined possible.


There are 5 important responses on the part of Jehoshaphat and Judah that are expressed through their prayer and their obedience, and these are very telling for us today.

1) They acknowledged the absolute, sovereign power of God in the situation  (vss. 5-6).
2) They acknowledged their own human inadequacy and helplessness in the situation (vs. 12).
3) They reminded God of His covenant promises to answer prayer and that He had given them the very land the enemy was seeking to take (vss. 8-11).
4) They focused their faith on God, saying, Our eyes are upon Thee (vs. 12).
5) They obeyed and went out to face the enemy with the singers and praisers out front, shouting praises to God as they went out to face the enemy (vs. 21).

As Judah marched forth against her enemy singing and praising God, confusion hit the enemy camp and they began to fight and kill one another. By the time Israel reached the battlefield all that was left was dead bodies lying everywhere. The LORD had fought their battle! There was much jewelry and precious metals on the dead bodies. In fact there was so much "stuff" that it took the people of Judah 3 days to carry off the spoils from the battle--the battle the LORD had won for them. They renamed the area the Valley of Berachah, which means Valley of Blessing. The place that looked as though it would be a place of destruction had become a place of blessing when they let the LORD fight their battle.


Put yourself and your situation in God's hands now and let Him fight your battle!

11/11/2013

The False Doctrine Behind the "Strange Fire" of John MacArthur

In his latest book, Strange Fire, John MacArthur viciously labels the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement as “a false church as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity.” As I have read and reread his polemic, one thing that becomes clear is that MacArthur’s entire theological outlook is guided and determined by his commitment to the Calvinistic doctrine of cessationism, i.e., the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church after the death of the original apostles of Christ. This, however, is a false doctrine that cannot be substantiated by either Scripture or church history.
Those who succeeded the original apostles as leaders in the churches make no mention of a cessation theory. On the other hand, they give clear testimony of miraculous gifts and healings occurring in their day. I have documented this in my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, published by Charisma House. Consider the following quotes from church fathers recognized by both Protestants and Catholics as the legitimate successors of the original apostles.
Justin Martyr (100-165) “For the prophetical gifts remain with us even to the present time. Now it is possible to see among us women and men who possess gifts of the Spirit of God” (Eddie Hyatt, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, 15).
Irenaeus (125-200) “In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church who possess prophetic gifts and through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages . . . Yes, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years” (Hyatt, 16).
Tertullian (150-240) “For seeing that we too acknowledge the spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift . . . and heaven knows how many distinguished men, to say nothing of the common people, have been cured either of devils or of their sicknesses” (Hyatt, 17).
Novation (210-280) “This is he [the Holy Spirit] who places prophets in the church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works . . . and arranges whatever gifts there are of the charismata; and thus making the Lord’s Church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed (Hyatt, 20-21).
Origen (185-284) “Some give evidence of their having received through this faith a marvelous power by the cures which they perform, invoking no other name over those who need their help than that of the God of all things, along with Jesus and a mention of his history” (Hyatt, 18-19).
Augustine (354-430) In his work, The City of God, Augustine tells of healings and miracles that he has observed first hand and then says, “I am so pressed by the promise of finishing this work that I cannot record all the miracles I know” (44-45).
These testimonies clearly demonstrate that Spiritual gifts continued to be common in the church from the Day of Pentecost and up to the beginning of the fourth century. The Episcopal scholar, Morton Kelsey, was correct when he said, “These men were well aware of Paul’s list of the gifts of the Spirit and what it included. In no place do they suggest that any of them had dropped away.”
In an Appendix entitled “Voices from Church History” MacArthur seeks to substantiate his doctrine of cessation from church history. Interestingly, the earliest quote he presents is from John Chrysostom (344-407) who refers to his ignorance of Spiritual gifts and their cessation. The reason MacArthur begins with Chrysostom is that there is no evidence of a cessation theory prior to this time.
MacArthur next quotes Augustine’s statement that the tongues at Pentecost were a sign “adapted to the times” and had passed away. But what he fails to mention is that Augustine’s views on this matter changed with time and he later fully embraced the continued work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts in the church (see the above quote). Nonetheless, Augustine’s earlier comments were taken up by those not experiencing Spiritual gifts and used to justify their experience, or lack thereof.
While some articulated a theory of cessation to explain the lack of miracles and Spiritual gifts in their midst, others throughout history have acknowledged that the problem has been a lack of faith and holiness within the church. This was the view of A. J. Gordon, 18th century Baptist pastor and founder of Gordon College in Boston, who wrote,
It is not altogether strange that when the Church forgot her citizenship in heaven and began to establish herself in luxury and splendor on earth, she should cease to exhibit the supernatural gifts of heaven (Hyatt, 36).
John Wesley, the unflappable Oxford scholar, revivalist and founder of Methodism, showed his disdain for the doctrine of cessation when he wrote, “I do not recollect any Scripture wherein we are taught that miracles were to be confined within the limits of the apostolic age or the Cyprian age, or of any period of time, longer or shorter, even till the restitution of all things.” After reading a book that defended the continuance of Spiritual gifts in the Church, Wesley wrote the following statement in his Journal.
I was fully convinced of what I had once suspected . . . that the grand reason why the miraculous gifts were so soon withdrawn was not only that faith and holiness were well night lost, but that dry, formal orthodox men began even then to ridicule whatever gifts they had not themselves, and to decry them all as either madness or imposture (Hyatt, 29).
Beginning with the dawn of the 20th century, the church has seen an explosion of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit around the world. Churches old and new are embracing this dynamic work of the Spirit in their midst and this very diverse movement now numbers over 600 million world-wide and is growing at the rate of 9 million per year. This Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, that MacArthur so detests, is actually a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy for Peter, in explaining the tongues on the Day of Pentecost, declared,
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17).

I pray that that God will enable John MacArthur to see what is obvious to so many; that the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, though having many human imperfections, is a genuine work of the Holy Spirit, empowering the people of God everywhere to be witnesses of Jesus Christ and His salvation in these last days. 

10/23/2013

The "Strange Fire" of John MacArthur

BOOK REVIEW
Strange Fire by John MacArthur
Reviewed by Eddie L. Hyatt
As a life-long Pentecostal-Charismatic, I recommend that every Pentecostal-Charismatic leader read Strange Fire by John MacArthur. I say this because we need to see how the bizarre “spiritual” behavior and doctrinal extremes by some in our movement are viewed by those on the outside, and used to whitewash the entire movement. We have done a very poor job of addressing these problems from within, so I do not doubt that God has raised up a voice that is fundamentally opposed to our movement to address these extremes. If God could use a pagan Babylonian king to discipline his people Israel for their sins (Jeremiah 25:8-11), could he not use a merciless fundamentalist preacher to point out our shortcomings?
That being said, MacArthur’s latest book does not represent an honest search for truth. It is obvious that his mind was already made up when he began his research for Strange Fire, and he found what he was looking for. He presents a circular argument, beginning with a faulty premise and proceeding with selective anecdotal evidence that determines the outcome. He begins with a commitment to cessationism, i.e., the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church after the death of the twelve apostles and the completion of the writings of the New Testament. That being the case, then modern expressions of Spiritual gifts must be false. He then utilizes the selective anecdotal evidence to buttress his presupposition, which leads him back to his starting point of cessation.
It seems that MacArthur wants to believe the worst about the movement of which he writes. At times I felt he was embellishing the bad to make it even worse. For example, Oral Roberts was not a Christian brother with whom he had profound differences but a heretic who did much damage to the body of Christ, “the first of the fraudulent healers to capture TV, paving the way for the parade of spiritual swindlers who have come after him” (155). Make no mistake about it, MacArthur is not out to bring correction to a sector of Christianity with which he disagrees; his goal is to destroy a movement he considers false, heretical and dangerous.
MacArthur is either unaware or purposely ignores the historical evidence for the continuation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit as was presented in my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. He ignores clear statements of church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Augustine about healings and miracles in their time. He uses Augustine’s statement about tongues being “adapted to the times” as an argument that the gifts had ceased. He ignores, however, Augustine’s later works, including Retractions, in which he acknowledges the ongoing miraculous work of the Spirit and tells of miracles of which he is personally aware.
MacArthur’s Biblical argument for cessation is also very weak. He relies primarily on Ephesians 2:20 where Paul told the Ephesian believers that they were being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. He then argues that the gift of apostleship was only for the foundational period of the church, which in his mind is the first century. He then argues that the other gifts of the Spirit passed away with the gift of the apostle. This, at its best, is convoluted thinking that goes far beyond what the text actually says. Paul’s point in this passage is not to teach cessationism, but to show the common faith of Gentile and Jewish believers in that both are built on the same foundation, which is Jesus Himself, and this fact is witnessed to by the Old (prophetic) and New Testament (apostolic) writings.
MacArthur’s disdain for women and their prominence in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement spills over when he refers to I Corinthians 14:34, which carries the admonition for women to be silent in the churches. He then says, “Given the nature of typical Pentecostal and charismatic church services, simply following that final stipulation would end most of the modern counterfeit” (152). He fails, however, to address the fact that Scripture itself states that women will have a prominent voice when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, as Peter so eloquently stated in Acts 2:17-18. The prominence of women, therefore, may be seen as an indication that the modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is a genuine work of the Holy Spirit.

In summary, we who embrace the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the world must not flinch or compromise our commitment because of Strange Fire. At the same time, may we be diligent to address the errors and extremes that always creep in to any Spirit filled movement, whether the church in Corinth, early Methodism or the modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. 

9/29/2013

IT'S TIME

A New Consecration for a New Season in God
Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you (Joshua 3:5)
“It’s time!” are the two words I recently heard from the Lord that have had an incredible impact on me. These two words have released in me a sense of faith and expectancy beyond anything I have known, probably in years. It released a sense in me that things I have prayed about and put off in the future are now here. I am not to cry out for revival and awakening as I have in the past, but I am to walk, act and speak in the realization that God’s time to act mightily on our behalf is here. Then, just recently, God showed us what I believe is the next step in moving more fully into this new season into which He has brought us.
God’s Call to a New Consecration
It was during our Tuesday night stream and I spoke in passing about Elizabeth Eliott and how her husband, Jim, was murdered along with four other young missionaries by the Auca Indians of South America, whom they were trying to reach for Christ. Elizabeth and some of the other wives later returned to this same tribe and led to Christ the very men who had murdered their husbands. As I told this I began to weep and I had this clear realization that God was calling “us” to a new level of consecration. At the same time the words of Joshua, as he was about to lead Israel into the Promised Land, were brought with force to my mind. And Joshua said to the people, consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you (Joshua 3:5). A new consecration is necessary if we are to fully enter the new season to which God has brought us.
Definition
Consecration is the giving over of a thing or person completely to God. A friend recently pointed out that there is an element of “destruction” in many of the Old Testament passages about consecration. Idols must be destroyed; and consecration may involve the destruction of things in our lives that are not pleasing to God. Consecration may look differently in your life and mine; but as we give ourselves unreservedly to God He will take, and maybe destroy, the thing that is distracting us and keeping us from fully loving and obeying Him.
An Experience from My Past
I recall as a young man, and new believer, having to lay my musical abilities and aspirations on the altar and give them completely to God. As a young person I loved to play and sing country-rock music in parties, bars, and other unsavory settings. When I gave my life to Christ, I put it all away for a time, but then I began to slip back into playing the old songs when I would stop by the homes of old friends and they would want to get out the instruments and jam. But even as I would play, there was a struggle going on inside for I knew this was the one area that had the power to pull me away from the Lord. It was an idol that had to be destroyed!
Then one day I received an invitation to do a gig that was very appealing and attractive to my flesh and ego. I decided I would accept in spite of the struggle that was going on inside of me. The night after receiving the invitation I went to church and experienced the hand of the Lord upon me in a powerful way, calling me to give myself and my music completely and singularly to Him. At the end of the sermon, I went to the front of that small church and knelt before the Lord. I laid everything on the altar, giving myself completely to Him! I said, “Lord, if you will help me, from this moment forward I will only play songs that bring glory and honor to you.”
That was my consecration and something astonishing happened on the inside of me. There came an incredible joy that seemed to consume me for the next several days. I recall driving alone in my car and shouting at the top of my voice because I could not contain the happiness and joy that was bursting forth from my heart. The power of that temptation was broken and from then on it was easy to say, “No.” I have been completely free ever since. But the interesting thing is, even though I have no passion or desire for secular music, if I were to find myself in a situation where it would be appropriate to play a wholesome non-Christian song, I am free to do so.
Consecration Brought a Miracle into Our Family
Many of you have heard the story of the miraculous healing of my brother, Pete, when three doctors said he would not live more than ten minutes after he was run over by a farm tractor at the age of seven. It was a new and fresh consecration by my father that led to the miracle. When our Dad heard those devastating words from the doctors, the only thing on his mind was that for five years he had ignored the clear call of God to preach the Gospel. He had told no one of this call, for it seemed impossible since he only had a fourth grade education and a family to care for.
But as they wheeled Pete away he stepped into a bathroom and made his consecration to God. Outwardly, it looked simple, but for Daddy it was a very serious and heart-felt act. He raised his right hand and said, “Lord, I’m ready!” At that moment the power of God fell and Pete was instantly and miraculously healed. One of the doctors returned a while later and said, “Mr. Hyatt, there has been a Higher Power here tonight!”
Conclusion
Just before the children of Israel were to cross the Jordan and begin possessing their God-given inheritance, Joshua said to them, Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you. (Joshua 3:5). I believe consecration is a necessary prerequisite for fully possessing our God-given inheritance, and entering the new season to which He has brought us. It’s time!

I urge you to go ahead now and offer yourself to God, no strings attached. Consecrate yourself to Him. Put yourself on the altar and tell God that you and all you have belong to Him. Be assured that He loves you more than you can imagine; and as you give yourself to Him, He will bless you in ways you never thought possible. 

To view the message I recently presented on consecration (mentioned above), click this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yGGgd6WJlE&feature=youtu.be

9/15/2013

DON'T YOU QUIT

“I have not yet begun to fight,” Captain John Paul Jones signaled to the captain of the 50-gun British frigate, the Serapis, that seemed to have Jones and his smaller ship, the Richard, at their mercy during a battle during the Revolutionary War. Realizing he was out-manned and outgunned by the larger ship, Jones had attempted an unusual maneuver that failed. It was at this time that the British, who seemed to be in complete control, taunted him with an invitation to surrender. With a note of sarcasm and vehement determination, Jones gave his famous reply, "I have not yet begun to fight," and then went on to win the battle and force the surrender of the British fleet.

My word to you today is NEVER QUIT! NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! When you hear the voice of the enemy taunting you and telling you it’s all over and you may as well throw in the towel, let him know that he has not seen anything from you as yet. Let him know that you are just now beginning to fight and lay hold of all that God has for you. Rise up today in the strength of our God and in the name of Jesus Christ. With vehement determination, face life with all its challenges and see what God will do for you as you move forward in faith. Don't you quit! Incredible victories await you!










Don’t You Quit
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
So don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow,

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

8/25/2013

WHERE IS THE CHURCH?

Being Salt & Light in Our Generation
Like many of you I am very concerned at the things I see happening in our country. When I hear continuous reports of senseless violence throughout our land, like the gunning down of a young college student by three teenagers in the small Bible-belt town of Duncan Oklahoma who said they were “bored,” I wonder, “Where is the Church?” When I read where public housing and public schools of our nation are described as “mostly dreadful, dangerous, and amoral,” I wonder, “Where is the Church?” When I hear statistics that over 70% of babies born in the black community, and over 50% in the white community, are born out of wedlock I wonder, “Where is the Church?” When I hear a liberal news commentator lamenting the violence in our culture, the loss of values and the breakdown of family, I wonder, “Where is the Church?”
Is it possible that without realizing it we have lost our saltiness—our ability to have any impact on our culture—as Jesus warned in Matthew 5:13?
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matt. 5:13; NIV).
Jesus used the salt metaphor to communicate a very powerful truth. In the first century, before refrigeration, salt was used to preserve meats for long periods of time because salt restrains corruption and spoilage. Salt was also used for flavoring foods that otherwise might be rejected. Salt also has healing properties and all these factors made it very valuable in the ancient world. In fact, workers were often paid their wages in salt, which is where we get the expression of a man being “worth his salt.” But salt that had lost its pungency, tartness and strength was no longer of any value and was discarded.

Seeking Jesus for all the Wrong Reasons

I have come to the conclusion that the church in America has, to a great degree, lost its saltiness—its ability to influence society--because of a self-centered approach to the Gospel that makes personal comfort and convenience the number one priority. We preach Jesus as a means to personal happiness rather than as the End or Goal for whom no sacrifice is too great. We are like the people in John 6:26 whom Jesus chided for seeking Him for their own personal benefit.
Jesus had multiplied one lad’s lunch and fed a hungry multitude. When these same people later crossed the Sea of Galilee looking for Him, Jesus said to them, Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” In John’s gospel the miracles of Jesus are presented as signs that point to His identity as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Jesus is, therefore, saying to these people that they are seeking Him, not because they recognize who He is, but because of what they think they can get out of him. They see Jesus as a means to their end or goal of self-gratification.
When this is our mind-set, our whole life is lived for self and even our spirituality is tainted by our self-seeking. In his Lectures on Revival, Charles Finney tells of the many invitations he had received from churches and pastors wanting him to travel to their communities to promote revival. He says, however, “When I came to weigh their reasons, I have sometimes found every one of them to be selfish. And God would look upon every one with abhorrence.” Some wanted revival in order to raise their social status and influence. Others wanted revival to increase the numbers attending their meetings, which in turn would enable them to build new and larger buildings. Still others wanted revival so that they would feel superior to one or more congregations with whom they felt a sense of competition. They were seeking revival, but from self-centered motives. Jesus was merely a means to their end of personal success and gratification. Finney rightfully refused their requests (Charles G. Finney, Revival Lectures (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, n.d., 351).
I See a Vision of a Falling Away
In 1975, at the height of the Charismatic Renewal, I was sitting one evening cross-legged in the floor talking to the Lord. Suddenly I saw a vision of three overlapping arches, increasing in size from left to right.
I immediately knew in my heart that they represented three revivals. The first arch represented the revival we were experiencing at that time—the Charismatic Renewal. The second arch represented a second and larger revival that would emerge out of that current one and the third arch represented the final and largest revival that would emerge out of the second one.
But there was something different and unique about the second arch and I knew instinctively that it actually represented a “falling away.” As I thought on the second arch I heard the words “Jesus is a means and not an end.” I knew immediately that the Holy Spirit was saying that the next revival would be characterized, unfortunately, by Jesus being preached as a means to personal happiness and fulfillment, rather than as the End that we are to pursue and love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  
Listen to the typical sermon today and see if Jesus is not preached as a means to personal happiness rather than an End, in and of Himself. “Come to Jesus,” we are told. “Jesus will bless you!” “Jesus will heal you!” “Jesus will prosper you!” Now, there is truth in all this but these things are by-products of the Gospel, not its essence and core. We have lost our saltiness because we have preached a human-centered gospel—what’s in it for me--rather than a Christ-centered gospel that is centered in Him and His call for us to take up our cross and follow Him.
This is crucial for, as Finney pointed out, the end of all sin is self-gratification. Whether the act of sin is lying, cheating, stealing, adultery or murder, the act is merely the means to the end of gratifying self. In our modern Gospel Jesus is presented as just another means to self-gratification. Now, this is where repentance comes in; for repentance, which comes from the Greek word metanoia, means to “change the mind.” New Testament repentance refers to a change of mind-set wherein Christ replaces the self or ego as the center or end of life. This was an integral part of Paul’s message for he summed up the content of his preaching as, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
We Must Purge the Message
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul emphasizes the power of the message of the Cross of Christ and stresses the importance of guarding the essence and content of that message. For example, in 1:17 he says that Christ did not send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (NIV). Paul is saying that if we over-do it in trying to make the gospel more snappy, cool, and attractive to contemporary culture, we run the risk of preaching a gospel that has been emptied of its power. Is this not what has happened in the contemporary American Church?
In 2000 Sue and I were attending a week-long doctoral seminar on “Missions” at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. All week we discussed and heard lectures about various strategies and methodologies for bringing closure to the Great Commission. On Thursday around 4 p.m. someone suggested that we (a class of about 30 Christian leaders) pray. As Sue laid her head on the table in front of her, the Spirit of God hit her like a bolt of lightning and she began to intensely pray and intercede in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit then spoke and said, “You have been talking all week about methods and strategies for taking the Gospel to the world, but I want to purge the message you are taking.” There is no question in my mind that part of that purging involves moving from an anthropocentric (human centered) Gospel to a Christ-centered Gospel. Only a Christ-centered gospel has the power to transform lives and produce salty disciples whose very lives will impact our culture and our world.

His Priorities Must Become Our Priorities

If we are to see this nation preserved, we, as American Christians, must regain our saltiness. This means that we must move from a Christianity of comfort and convenience to a Christianity of commitment and character. This will require a shift from a faith that is centered in me and my desires to a faith that is centered in Christ and His kingdom, will, and purpose. But do not fear such a giving up of self for He has promised that when we seek first His kingdom, all these things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33).
There was a time when the American Church was salt, restraining evil and exerting a positive moral influence throughout society. The French sociologist, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited America in 1831 to study its institutions and discover the secret to its success. He arrived on the heels of the Second Great Awakening and at the height of the revivals led by Charles Finney. He was very impressed with the role of Christianity in America and wrote, “The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me upon arrival in the United States” (Eddie Hyatt, America’s Revival Heritage, 83-84). Although the following quote is not found in Tocqueville's writings, it has been historically attributed to him and may have been passed along orally by someone who heard him make these remarks in a speech.
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there; in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
Conclusion
I hold out a hope that the American Church can regain its saltiness as we turn to God and truly seek Him. Five years ago I had given up hope of America ever seeing another national awakening. But one day I was surprised by the Holy Spirit as for several hours my mind and heart were flooded with expectation and hope that we could see another Great Awakening—an Awakening that will revive and renew the churches of America, impact our culture, and stem the tide of secularism, immorality, and false religion that is flooding our land. I have hope that we can once again become salt and light in this world and to our generation, but we must purge our message.

by Eddie L. Hyatt
www.eddiehyatt.com


If you would like to read more about revival in America, check out Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, America's Revival Heritage, available from Amazon and at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html. Eddie is also available to speak on this topic and you can contact him by sending an email to dreddiehyatt@gmail.com.