Follow by Email

3/29/2013

DON'T BE AFRAID OF DEATH

Christ’s Resurrection Power at Work in You Today

Yes, we had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead (II Cor. 1:9).

“DON’T BE AFRAID OF DEATH BECAUSE I AM THE RESURRECTION” were the words I heard at one of the most devastating times of my life. The ministry Sue and I had begun in Canada shortly after our marriage had died and we had lost everything, including a place to have our meetings and a place to live. In spite of the loss I continued meetings with a small group of people in homes because I knew the vision for a congregation and teaching center were from God. Then I received word from Oklahoma that my brother had been killed in an accident and I had to depart to attend the funeral. Everyone was discouraged and no one had the motivation to continue the meetings and they ceased. Chris, my mother-in-law, later said, “That was when it all died.”

Thank God for the Holy Spirit; for one evening, while in prayer, I sensed the Holy Spirit rising up out of my innermost being and I began to pray in other tongues. All the time I was praying in the Spirit, I was hearing those words, "DON’T BE AFRAID OF DEATH, BECAUSE I AM THE RESURRECTION.”
I was reminded that this was the word that Jesus spoke to Martha as they stood before the tomb of her brother, Lazarus, after she had stated her theological belief that her brother would live again at the resurrection and Jesus had replied, “I AM THE RESURRECTION.” I also, at that moment, realized that the resurrection is not just a future event, but is personified in the Person of Jesus Christ, and is a present reality in the life of the believer. As Paul said in Philippians 3:10, For my determined purpose is that I may know Him . . . and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection. (Amplified Version).
A resurrection did occur in our lives and in that ministry. A yielding to God, a determination not to quit, a step of obedience, and resurrection power flowed forth. The ministry that died came forth but it was not the same as before; for it came forth in His resurrection power and in ways we could never have planned or strategized. 
I then began to see throughout Scripture this principle of His resurrection power at work in our lives. In II Cor. 1:8-10, for example, Paul tells of a devastating ordeal he and his companions experienced in which they gave up hope of living through it. But in the midst of this ordeal they learned, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
Perhaps there is some area of your life that you feel has died—a relationship, a dream, a career, a project. Maybe you have suffered the loss of a spouse in death or in divorce. On this Good Friday I felt to share with you those words the LORD spoke to me years ago in the midst of death. He said, “DON’T BE AFRAID OF DEATH BECAUSE I AM THE RESURRECTION.” 

MANY CONVINCING PROOFS

The Historical and Rational Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

One of the greatest historians of all time who interviewed the eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, said that Jesus showed Himself to them after His sufferings, by many convincing proofs (Acts 1:3). These proofs are still there to be examined by those today who are willing to lay aside their prejudiced presuppositions and examine the evidence.
A Harvard Law Professor is Convinced
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 myth 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.
Morrison’s 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.
Morrison discovered that the differences in the accounts of the four Gospels, instead of being problematic, are exactly the sort to be expected in four different eyewitness accounts. He points out that if, in a court of law, four different eyewitnesses describe what they saw in the same exact detail, they immediately come under suspicion of having concocted together on how to present their witness. The four different Gospel accounts, he says, have differences, but they are precisely the sort of minor differences to be expected by four different eyewitness accounts.
Luke Affirmed as a Reliable Historian
It was Luke, the author of the third gospel and Acts, who declared that Jesus showed Himself alive by many convincing proofs. His status as a careful historian of detailed accuracy was confirmed by the agnostic professor and archaeologist, Sir William Ramsay. Ramsay believed and taught that the New Testament was a 2nd century document filled with myths and embellishments and not a reliable source of history. However, his view of Luke and the New Testament was transformed after spending several years retracing Luke’s account of Paul’s travels in the Book of Acts. 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. 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”.15
If Luke was this careful to get his facts right about names, places and dates, can we not be confident that he was also careful to get his facts right concerning the more important things about which he reported, such as the Resurrection of Jesus. We can be confident that if there had been any smell of conspiracy or hallucination from these eyewitness accounts, Dr. Luke would have detected it.
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. 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 Bultmann, were claiming that the New Testament accounts of Jesus, His miracles, and His resurrection were myths created by His followers. Lewis challenged these claims, 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 is not myth!”
A Solid Foundation for Faith
Ours is not a blind leap of faith into the dark. Our faith is based on solid historical evidence. But even greater evidence is the transformation of millions of lives throughout the centuries who have chosen to believe the Gospel account and put their faith in the risen Christ. Yes, the evidence is there for anyone who will take the time, with an open mind, to examine the many convincing proofs.

3/03/2013

FALL ON THE STONE

Moving from Bitterness to Brokenness & the Power of God in Your Life
“He will either become bitter or broken,” were the words I heard in my heart as I prayed for my brother-in-law, John, who was feeling very discouraged in life. He had been unable to find employment for two years and had just filed for bankruptcy. I immediately knew what the Holy Spirit meant. John had a choice in how he would respond to this devastating ordeal. If he responded with anger, self-pity, and blaming God, his heart would become bitter and hardened, and God would not be able to use him. On the other hand, if he would fall on his face and say, “God I do not understand why this has happened to me, but I know You are good and I am putting myself in your hands and trusting You through it all,” pride and unhealthy self-reliance would be broken and he would become a vessel through whom God could flow. This is what Jesus called falling on the stone.
Jesus & Brokenness
In Matt. 21:44 Jesus said, And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. The context of the statement reveals that that the stone he speaks of is “the chief cornerstone,” i.e., Himself. Jesus is saying that whoever will fall on Him—the Stone-- in utter abandonment will be broken of all self-trust and self-reliance that is rooted in ego and pride. Through such a broken vessel, the river of God’s Spirit will flow freely out to others bringing hope and healing. 

Biblical brokenness is not a breaking of one’s will and spirit, but the breaking of ego, pride, and self-reliance. One may do impressive religious works from ego, pride, and self-reliance, but the life of God will only flow through a vessel that has been broken of any trust in self—a vessel that has been abandoned to God in absolute trust and reliance.
Paul Experienced Brokenness
Paul knew what it was to be broken in this sense. In II Cor. 1:8-9 he tells of going through an ordeal so terrible that he and his companions gave up hope of ever living through it. Yet, in the midst of this ordeal he and his companions learned, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. They gave up any trust in themselves—they fell on the Stone--and out of their brokenness and trust in God, His resurrection power was manifest and they were delivered from so great a death


In I Cor. 2:1-5, Paul describes his ministry at Corinth in terms of his human brokenness and weakness. He reminds the Corinthians that when he first came to them it was, in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. The word “trembling” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word tromo from which we get “trauma” and “traumatic.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines this word as “a trembling, quaking with fear in one who distrusts his/her ability completely.” Paul did not arrive in Corinth full of self-confidence and announcing that God’s great apostle had arrived to take over the city. He arrived in the city a broken man, having been stoned and left for dead in Lystra, beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, and attacked by a mob in Thessalonica. But instead of responding to his difficulties with anger and bitterness, he fell on the Stone in utter abandonment of faith and, through his brokenness, God worked mightily to establish a beachhead for Christianity in that wicked, pagan city of Corinth. It was out of these deep broken experiences that Paul would declare, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God (II Cor. 3:5).
Brokenness in My Own Life
I recall one of the most devastating times of my life during the early days of our marriage and ministry. Through a series of circumstances, over which it seemed we had no control, Sue and I lost everything, including a place to live and a place to have our “church” meetings. Our already small congregation dwindled to a handful. At the same time, my brother in Oklahoma was killed in an accident and I had to leave Canada to be in OK/TX for several days. Everyone was discouraged and no one had the motivation to continue church meetings while I was gone. Chris, my mother-in-law, said, “That was when it all died.” It was a devastating time but I fell on the Stone in utter abandonment of faith and I heard one of the most amazing words I ever heard, “Don’t be afraid of death, because I am the resurrection.” With pride and self-reliance broken, we stepped out in a faith purified in the fire of adversity, and God came forth in power and brought forth a work far more wonderful than what we had been previously attempting to do in our own human flesh.
The Original Sin was Human Self-Reliance
The sin of the fall was one of human sufficiency apart from God. Our first human parents were not atheists—they did not deny the existence of God. Their sin was that they declared their independence from God and set out to build a world—a social and ethical system—in their own wisdom and ingenuity apart from God. This sort of self-reliance, based in human-centered ego and pride, has become innate in fallen humanity. This is the original sin. It is what keeps non-believers from God and believers from fully experiencing His power in their lives.
America was Settled by Broken Believers
I often hear conservative pundits speak of America being founded on “self-reliance.” This is not true. America was founded on a God-reliance, as is clearly documented in my book, America’s Revival Heritage. I understand that these pundits are making the point that the people who established America were not dependent on government, which is true. But that is only part of the truth. Having been beaten down and persecuted by both the civil government and the state church, they had given up all trust in their own human strength and came to this land with a faith abandoned to God. Not until the churches in America move away from a human-centered self-reliance and fall on the Stone in an utter abandonment of faith will we see a true spiritual awakening in America.
From Self-Centered to Christ-Centered Confidence
Yes, God wants us to have confidence, but it is a Christ-centered confidence, not a self or ego centered confidence. In Phil. 4:13 Paul makes that familiar statement we so often quote, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens (empowers) me. Paul can do all things, but it is not through Paul, it is through Christ in whom he had learned to completely trust. 


If today you are going through a difficult or devastating time. Do not respond in bitterness. Let go of all self-trust or self-reliance. Fall on the Stone in an utter abandonment of faith. You will see God come forth on your behalf in ways you would never have imagined.












The above book is available from Amazon 
and from http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html