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1/30/2015

IS YOUR END-TIME THEOLOGY A HINDRANCE TO REVIVAL?

5 Reasons We Can Expect Great Revival in the Last Days

I recently received an email from an individual who chided me for encouraging people to pray and believe God for another great Spiritual awakening. He exhorted me that these are the last days and, therefore, no great revival will occur before the coming of the Lord. His gloomy, fatalistic eschatology (theology of the end) obviously left no room for God to work mightily in these days.
Sadly, this brother is like so many today whose doctrine of the end times precludes any hope of God visiting America, Europe and the world with another great Spiritual awakening. This has happened because of an unhealthy preoccupation of the end that focuses exclusively on the evil that is predicted. Out of this has emerged a dark, fatalistic eschatology that is robbing the church of faith for revival in this generation.
Here are 5 reasons we can expect great revival in the last days, and why our eschatology must make room for such revival: (1) It was prophesied by Peter; (2) It was alluded to by Jesus; (3) My experience informs me it is so; (4) Past revivalists considered great revivals to be part of the last days; (5) Eschatology is very tenuous and should not be the basis for denying the possibility of revival in our day.
#1
Predicted by Peter
A great world-wide outpouring of the Spirit of God in the last days is what Peter declared to the wondering crowd on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). As the disciples magnified God and praised him in other tongues, the on-looking multitude questioned what this could mean. Peter responded by quoting a prophecy from Joel about a universal outpouring of God’s Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28-29).
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams, and on my menservants and my maidservants I will pour out of My Spirit in those days and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18).
In Jewish/rabbinic tradition, Joel’s prophecy was associated with the coming of the Messiah and the messianic age, also known as “the last days.” The messianic age would be a time when the Holy Spirit would no longer be confined to certain prophets, judges and kings in Israel, but would be universally poured out on all flesh.
Peter declared that with the coming of Jesus, the messianic age had dawned and the Spirit was now being poured out on all flesh. Peter further made his point by substituting Joel’s it shall come to pass afterwards with it shall come to pass in the last days. As far as Peter was concerned, the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus had ushered in the promised era. The last days had dawned and the Spirit of God was now being universally poured out without the former restrictions. (Acts 2:14-18).
Is this not a solid Biblical basis for praying in faith for a great, Spiritual awakening in our day?
#2
Jesus Predicts Great Revival in the Last Days
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus declared, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.  Interestingly, the Greek word translated “nations” in this passage is ethonos, from which we get “ethnic” and “ethnicity.” According to Wikipedia, the largest ethnic groups in modern times comprise hundreds of millions of individuals, with Han Chinese being the largest, while the smallest are limited to a few dozen individuals and include numerous indigenous peoples worldwide.
In other words, Jesus is not referring to modern nation states with geographical/political borders. He is referring to races and ethnicities that make up this planet. Just because a Christian broadcast in the English language goes into, let’s say, India, does not meant that India has been reached with the gospel. India is made up of many ethnicities who speak many different languages.
When Jesus says that just before the eschaton the gospel will be preached as a witness to every ethnicity on planet earth, is this not a clear indication of a church that is alive and on the move? Is this not a church that has been awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit? Is this passage not a basis for the bold proclamation of the gospel and for praying that God will send another Great Awakening in our day?
#3
My Own Experience
My own limited experience informs me that God is pouring out His Spirit all over the world and that we should be praying for great Spiritual awakenings. In 2006 Susan and I were invited to be part of the ministry team for the Azsua-Asia Celebration in Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta is the capital of the largest Muslim nation on earth. This was not an evangelistic crusade. This was Spirit-filled believers coming together to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the world-wide Pentecostal revival and the 80 year anniversary of the Pentecostal revival in Indonesia. I had the privilege of addressing a very dynamic workshop packed with Spirit-filled believers as well as the 70,000 Spirit-filled believers in the soccer stadium, and hearing them rejoicing and praising God in their native tongues and in the language of the Spirit.
That same year Sue and I were in the Garo Hills of NE India where I was the guest speaker for the very first convention of the Garo people, whose ancestors were headhunters. Even though far removed from America and Indonesia, the same Spirit and presence of God was being poured out on those dear people who were so hungry to know Jesus. Underneath that bamboo tabernacle set on a dry rice paddy, God poured out His Spirit. Each time prayer was offered they would flock to the front, sometimes literally running and weeping and praying as they ran. Sometimes they would fall before they reached the front, often lying across one another as they cried out to God.
I have found the same to be true wherever God finds those whose hearts who are desperate for Him. It doesn’t matter if it is Sweden, Ireland, England, Bulgaria, Canada or America. We are living in the time when God said He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Knowing this should encourage us to pray for revival as God instructed His people in Zechariah 10:1. Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.
#4
Past Revivalists Believed Revival to be Part of the Last Days
Commenting the on reports of the Great Awakening in America wherein entire towns were repenting and turning to God, the well-known British hymn writer and theologian, Isaac Watts (1674-1748), linked what was happening to God’s promises concerning the latter days. He wrote;
Certainly it becomes us to give Him the glory which is due, when He begins to accomplish any of his promises concerning the latter days; and it gives us further encouragement to pray, and wait and hope for the like display of His power among us.
David Brainerd, who saw remarkable outpourings of the Holy Spirit among the American Indians of New Jersey and New England, linked the revival he saw to God’s promises concerning the latter days. Even on his deathbed Brainerd expressed hope for further great revivals in the end times. Dying of tuberculosis in the home of Jonathan Edwards at the tender age of 29, Brainerd expressed hope for revival and wondered that there was so little prayer for such a revival. Edwards wrote;
After he came hither, and as long as he lived, he spoke much of the future prosperity of Zion which is so often foretold and promised in the Scriptures. It was a theme he delighted to dwell upon; and his mind seemed to be carried forth with earnest concern about it, and intense desires, that religion [Christianity] might speedily and abundantly revive and flourish. He seemed much to wonder that there appeared no more of a disposition in ministers and people to pray for the flourishing of religion [Christianity] through the world.
Early Pentecostals also expected great revival even though they believed Christ’s coming to be immanent. Their eschatology did not preclude revival but, in fact, made room for it and demanded it. They saw the end-times through the prism of Acts 2:17 and interpreted all Scriptures about the eschaton in light of Peter’s declaration of an outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh.
This is obvious in The Apostolic Faith, the official paper of the Azusa Street Revival published between 1906-08. These papers are filled with testimonies, and even prophecies, concerning the soon return of Christ. The same publication is also filled with expectations of great revival in the earth, and they saw themselves as the beginning of that revival. In fact, the January 1, 1907 edition carried the headline, “Beginning of World Wide Revival.”
Somewhere along the way many Pentecostals, perhaps influenced by dispensationalist, evangelical theology, gave up the hope of great revival in the last days and replaced it with the gloomy fatalism that now dominates much of its eschatological thinking. It is time for Pentecostals to return to the faith of their fathers and mothers and modify their eschatology to make room for great Spiritual awakenings in the last days.
#5
End-Time Prophecy is Tenuous
From the time John wrote "The Revelation" during the last decade of the 1st century, Christians have fallen into the trap of becoming distracted with speculations about the time of the end, the identity of the antichrist, the number 666, etc., etc. Writing in the latter part of the 2nd century, the famous church father, Irenaeus, addressed the various theories that were even then being presented concerning the identity of antichrist and the possibility of him being alive at that time. He then cautioned about being overly confident about these matters and wrote,
It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found containing the number [666] mentioned.
If we had heeded Irenaeus’s warning and exercised more caution, we would have saved much embarrassment to ourselves and to the church through the centuries. Too many end-time prophecy teachers, in order to attract attention, thrive on such speculation and seek to link every tragic and sensational event, especially in the Middle East, to their theory of the end. Anyone who can convince the “folks” that they have unlocked the “secrets” of Daniel and Revelation will gain a following and a flow of income.
I have lived to see this happen again and again in my own lifetime. For example, as a young man I recall hearing preachers proclaim that the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) were now over when Israel captured the old city of Jerusalem in 1967. Some went so far as to say that no more Gentiles would be saved because God was now turning to the Jews, and the rapture of the church would now happen at any time. During this same time I heard a prophecy teacher prove that Henry Kissinger was the antichrist by showing that the letters of his name, when transliterated into Greek, added up to the number 666. Hello Irenaeus! You warned us!
There were similar claims a few years later at the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. One “prophet” claimed that the 7 year tribulation had begun. In the 1980s there was the wildly popular book entitled 88 Reasons Jesus Will Come Back in 1988. Some Christians were so duped that they had their pets put to sleep and some maxed out their credit cards thinking the debt would be left for the antichrist.
Then there was Y2K with Christians storing up dried food and retreating to the mountains because, according to many prophecy teachers, the banking systems, electronic grids, government computer systems, etc., etc., were all going to crash when the new century dawned on January 1, 2000.
I have only scratched the service here, but the point is that we need to hold our eschatology lightly and not be overly dogmatic about issues that are not clearly expressed in Scripture.
Concluding Thought: Major on the Majors
Such speculation about the end is a distraction from what is really important and a major hindrance to revival in our day. This was made clear by Jesus Himself when the disciples asked Him an eschatological question just before His ascension. Their question was, Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:7). In His reply Jesus directed them away from speculations about the end to what was really important—the empowering of the Holy Spirit and world-wide evangelism. He said;
It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).
As we anticipate His return, may we also pray and believe for Great Awakenings that will shake the nations with the word and power of God.

Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. He is the founder of "The Revive America Project" that is dedicated to reclaiming the vision and restoring the hope for another Great Awakening in America and around the world. His books on the church and revival are available from Amazon and from his website at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.

1/22/2015

WHY WE BEGAN THE "REVIVE AMERICA" PROJECT?

Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And from the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and Sarah who bore you. (Isaiah 51:1-2)

 “People without a heritage are easily persuaded.” – Karl Marx

This is a critical moment in American history and I believe, as Mordecai said to Esther, that you and I have come to the kingdom for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). I believe that “The Revive America Project” is God's idea and that it has a strategic role to play in His plan for America and the world at this time.
The Revive America Project is important because our political leaders have rejected our Christian heritage and replaced it with secularism, multiculturalism and political correctness. This is dangerous, for having dispensed with a Christian belief system and world-view, they are left void of the moral and intellectual tools to forthrightly address the things that would destroy us, such as Islam from without and moral decay from within. But there is an answer.
At a critical moment in Israel’s history, God instructed His people to revisit their beginnings as a nation—as a people. Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you (Isaiah 51-1-2). By revisiting their past, they would recover their sense of identity as a nation and would thereby be empowered to rise up and confront the challenges of their present and future.
We face a similar situation in America today and if our Republic is to survive we must revisit our past and once again see the hand of God in our beginnings as a nation. We must recover the truth of our heritage as a nation that was formed out of a Great Spiritual Awakening with people totally committed to Christ and His kingdom. And this is where "The Revive America Project" comes in.
While We Slept
Because we the church have been spiritually asleep, secular historians have been able to quietly re-write our history, removing the Christian influence and creating a politically correct America in their own image. This is having momentous ramifications for as George Orwell said in his book 1984, "Whoever controls the past controls the future."
Re-writing America's history has made it "easy" to lead the masses astray, for as Karl Marx said, “People without a heritage are easily persuaded.” Because of the re-writing of our history, secularists have been able to convince judges, politicians, and the American people that the First Amendment (Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, nor hindering the free exercise thereof) was put in place to keep religion out of public life and maintain a secular state. Blatantly re-interpreting this clause as a “separation of church and state,” secularists have used it as a weapon to ban prayer, Bible reading and Christian symbols from public schools, colleges, courtrooms, town squares and even the military. The Founders would turn over in their grave.
America’s True Heritage
The Christian origins of our nation was assumed for the first 150 years of her existence. This is obvious by looking at historical references from this period. For example, a recent ten-year study project to discover where the Founders got their ideas for Americas founding documents revealed that, by far, the single most-cited authority in their writings was the Bible.
That is why the early History of the United States, published in 1816 by David Ramsey, would point out that the Founders “wisely judged learning and religion [Christianity] to be the firmest pillars of the church and commonwealth.” That is why the noted U.S. senator, Daniel Webster, speaking in 1820 at the 200-year anniversary celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, would highlight America’s overt Christian origins, saying;
Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in the full conviction, that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild peaceful spirit of Christianity.
A French Sociologist Discovers America’s True Heritage
In 1831 the French sociologist, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited America to study its institutions and see if he could discover how she had achieved her greatness in such a brief period of time. Arriving on the heels of the Second Great Awakening, he was profoundly impressed with the spiritual vitality of America and wrote, “The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States.”
Tocqueville was also surprised to see Christianity and the government so intricately intertwined, and observed that the means of improving the government were the same means employed in conversion and the advancement of the Christian faith. He concluded that, in America, From the beginning, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved.
Although not found in his writings, a statement has historically been attributed to Tocqueville that has been quoted many times. It is likely that someone heard this statement in one of his many speeches and wrote it down for posterity. According to this unknown source, Tocqueville said;
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.
The Supreme Court Affirms America’s True Heritage
In 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court completed a 10-year investigation in which thousands of historical documents were investigated concerning the historical roots of the nation. After citing more than sixty historical precedents, the Court unanimously declared, “There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation . . . this is a Christian nation.”
There is Hope
I am thankful for all the people God is using today to help recover America's true past. I am thankful to God for His intervention in my life in 2010 when He revealed to me that there was a direct bearing of the First Great Awakening on the founding of the United States of America. At the same time I was convinced that we can see another great, national Spiritual awakening if God’s people will meet the conditions laid out in His word. It was out of that experience that I wrote the book, America’s Revival Heritage. It is also the reason I have put together a documentary PowerPoint presentation of how our country emerged out of a great Spiritual awakening and how the Founders were affected by that Awakening. This is all part of what we call "The Revive America Project."
Concluding Remark
If you do not have the book, America's Revival Heritage, I encourage you to obtain a copy and pray about how you might be involved in "The Revive America Project." The book can be purchased from Amazon and/or by going to my website at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.




1/17/2015

A JESUS REFORMATION IN ISLAM? COULD IT HAPPEN?

With the continued rise of violent Islamic extremism around the world, many today are calling for a Reformation of Islam such as happened with Christianity in the 16th century. Commenting on the call of Egypt’s president for a theological “revolution” within Islam, Mayor Rudi Giuliani, in an interview on Fox News, concurred saying that Islam needs a Reformation such as Christianity experienced. Others within Islam, such as Dr. Zudhi Jasser, are also calling for a Reformation within Islam that will deal with the radical extremism. Can it happen?
The Critical Importance of Origins
The Christian Reformation was needed because, with the 4th century (supposed) conversion of Constantine and the merging of Christianity with the political state, the peaceful church of Jesus and the New Testament had been transformed into the imperial church of the Middle Ages that relied on political and military force to advance and maintain its cause. The Reformation occurred when there was a movement within the church to return to its founder, Jesus Christ, and its founding document, the New Testament. This is why there are no beheadings today by Baptists, Methodists or even Catholics. Not a smidgeon of justification for such acts can be found with Jesus and the New Testament.
Jesus was a man of peace who taught love for God and one's neighbor. But never mistake this for weakness, for it was in the midst of much civil and religious war and strife that Jesus boldly confronted the powers-that-be with His radical message of faith in God and peace and nonviolence toward people. It was Jesus who told His followers;
But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, give him your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two (Matthew 5:39-41).
With the Reformation and its return to Jesus and the New Testament, there was a disentangling of the Christian faith from the political ambition and the use of force that had begun with Constantine. The power of the Reformation and its return to Christian origins produced new churches that renounced the use of political and physical force. The power of the Reformation and its emphasis on Christian origins also led to the Catholic Church giving up the use of force in matters of conscience and faith.
America Founded on Reformation Values
America was founded on Reformation principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This is what the First Amendment to the Constitution is all about. “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, nor hindering the free exercise thereof.” This is merely stating that the new nation will not have an official state church, as in medieval Europe, that seeks to control the minds and speech of its populace.
This is the context of Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” comment to a group of Baptists concerning the First Amendment. The “wall,” in Jefferson’s thinking, was unidirectional designed to keep the state out of the church, while at the same time protecting everyone’s right of religious freedom. He used this terminology to assure the Baptists that they could freely practice their faith in the new nation without government interference.
These are the values on which this nation was founded. These are not Islamic values. These are not even Roman Catholic values. These are Reformation values! These are Christian values based on the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. Woe to America if she ever forgets the values on which her freedoms are based.
The Challenge for Islam
The problem Islam faces in seeking a Reformation is that its founder, Mohammed, unlike Jesus, was a man of war who spread his teachings and influence with violence and the sword. A return within Islam to its founder and origins will thus have a very different outcome than what occurred with the Christian Reformation. In fact, returning to Islam’s founder and origins seems to lead people to becoming even more radicalized, and we get Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram.
This does not mean that all Christians today are nice people or that all Muslims are bad people. Not at all! But here is the big difference: Christians are continually confronted with Jesus and His amazing example of sacrificial love, and His command to love one another as I have loved you (John 14:34). Even though they fall short of the standard, Christians are continually being pulled towards it by the example and words of Jesus Himself. In contrast, Muslims have no such example to follow, unless they too turn to Jesus!
A Jesus Reformation in Islam?
In the Bible school where I once served on faculty, a student from Ethiopia brought a video of a mosque in Cairo showing that the crescent on top had been replaced with a cross. The imam had experienced a supernatural encounter with Jesus, but instead of becoming a Baptist, Methodist or Catholic, he remained where he was and began preaching Jesus and the meaning of the cross to his Muslim congregation.
He could do this because there is an opening, be it a slight one, in that the Quran recognizes Jesus as a prophet. Yes, Christians know Jesus is much more than a prophet, but this could be the opening needed to preach Jesus within Islam. 
Christians recognize Jesus as God incarnate. The New Testament, however, also presents Jesus as the human archetype—the universal human being. This is what Paul was referring to when he referred to Jesus as the second man and the last Adam (I Corinthians 15:45-47). God has set Jesus as the universal example of what a human being ought to be. This is clearly stated in Romans 8:29 where Paul says that God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Jesus is the Answer
Presenting Jesus as the ultimate role model seems to offer the best hope for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Dr. Jasser and others seeing the “revolution” or “reformation” they are calling for. If Muslim leaders will encourage their followers to learn all they can about Jesus, even by going to the New Testament, and then call on them to follow His words and example, I see every reason to believe that a powerful Jesus reformation would emerge in Islam that would root out the extremists and bring Muslim nations into the modern world.
As I write, I am reminded of the words of the song written by Andre Crouch who went home to be with Jesus a few days ago. He wrote;
Jesus is the answer, for the world today.
Above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.
Yes, Jesus is the answer, for the world today,
Above Him there’s no other Jesus is the way.

Will you pray for a Jesus Reformation in Islam?


Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher. He is also the founder of the "Revive America" Project whose goal is to see Spiritual awakening and reformation in America by revisiting the nation's Christian past. His latest  book, Pursing Power: How the Quest for Apostolic Authority & Control Has Damaged and Divided the Church, is available from Amazon and his website at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.