A personal prophecy should always confirm what we already know in our hearts. It is dangerous to build one’s life and make important decisions based solely on prophecies. This was dramatically illustrated in the lives of two of the greatest revivalists of all time.
Wesley’s Strange Word to Whitefield
Twenty-six-year-old George Whitefield sat on a ship ready to sail for America from the port of Deal, located approximately 70 miles southeast of London. For some time, he had experienced a compelling call to preach the gospel to colonial America and now the day for his departure had finally arrived. His heart was filled with gratitude, excitement, and expectation.
As he waited for the ship's crew to hoist anchor and sail, a letter was delivered to him from John Wesley who had just returned from Georgia. He opened the letter and was stunned by what he read.
Wesley had written, “When I saw God, by the wind which was carrying you out, brought me in, I asked counsel of God. His answer you have enclosed.” The message Wesley had enclosed was, “Let him return to London.”
Whitefield was shocked and momentarily confused. Wesley was ten years his senior and had been a mentor to him. He held the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, in very high esteem. However, this word from John contradicted everything he believed about his call to America.
He Finds the Answer in God’s Word
As he prayed there came to his mind a story from the Old Testament where a prophet lost his life because he listened to the words of another prophet instead of diligently adhering to what God had told him.
I Kings 13 contains the story of an unnamed prophet to whom God spoke and instructed to go to Bethel and prophesy against the idolatrous altars that had been established there by King Jeroboam. God instructed him not to stop to eat or drink but to return directly home to Judah when he had completed his assignment.
Based on this directive from the Lord, the prophet went to Bethel. As he prophesied against the idolatrous altars as instructed, they miraculously split apart and the ashes were poured out on the ground. As a result of that miracle and a miracle of healing for King Jeroboam, the king invited the prophet to his home. He refused and recounted to the king what the Lord had told him.
But as he departed Bethel, an old prophet, who heard of what had happened, saddled his donkey and caught up with the prophet and invited him to his home to eat and drink. When the first prophet recounted to him what the Lord had instructed him, the old prophet said, I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, “Bring him back with you to your house that he may eat bread and drink water.” The old prophet, however, was lying.
Contrary to the instructions given him by the Lord, the prophet went back with the old prophet. While they were eating, the Spirit of the Lord came upon the old prophet and he prophesied to him that because of his disobedience he would not be buried in the tombs of his ancestors. Sure enough, upon leaving the old prophet’s home, he was met by a lion in the road, which killed him, fulfilling the old lying prophet’s prediction of his demise because of his disobedience.
As Whitefield prayed about Wesley’s letter, this story was powerfully impressed on his mind and heart. He knew that God was highlighting to him the importance of obeying the directions he had received from the Lord and to not listen to this word from another party, even such a respected one as John Wesley.
Three Powerful Lessons From This Story
It turns out that Wesley had “cast a lot” concerning whether Whitefield should go to America. This was something Wesley and others practiced, if after diligent prayer they were unable to discern the will of God.
Exactly how he cast the lot is not clear, but it may have been as simple as putting two sheets of paper in a bowl on which was written, “Proceed to America” and “Let him return to London” and then drawing the one that said, “Let him return to London.”
Hindsight is 20/20 and it is abundantly clear that Whitefield made the right decision in ignoring Wesley’s prophecy and sailing for America. He ignited the Great Awakening that transformed Colonial America and prepared her for statehood. Because of the massive crowds that attended his meetings, he became the most recognizable figure in colonial America and has been called “America’s Spiritual Founding Father.”
There are three powerful lessons to be derived from Whitefield’s experience:
1. We are not to be led by lots, omens, or fleeces, but by the Spirit of God within our own hearts (Romans 8:14).
2. Prophetic utterances are to be tested, even when they come from the most esteemed among us.
3. We must be confident in our own ability to hear God and know His will.
If the cross of Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love, then the resurrection of Christ is the ultimate demonstration of His power. The power of Satan, sin, and death were all broken when Jesus was raised from the dead.
Jesus emerged from the tomb a mighty conqueror and declared, All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18). Many years ago, as a student in Bible school, a guest speaker asked a question that I never forgot. He read the above passage and then asked, “If Jesus has all authority, how much does that leave the devil”?
Resurrection Power for You
The overwhelming victory of Christ over Satan, and its significance for the believer, is delineated by Paul in Ephesians 1:15-23. In verse 19 Paul says the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand is “toward” those who believe (NKJV).
The word “toward” is a translation of the Greek preposition eis, which literally means "into.” The NIV, NRSV, and NLT all translate eis as “for” those who believe. The obvious point is that the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand is directed into us and is for us who believe
The “right hand” in Scripture is symbolic of authority and power. Psalm 98:1, for example, says of God, His right hand and His holy arm have gotten Him the victory. When Paul says that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God, he is saying that Jesus is seated at the pinnacle of the universe, in the place of ultimate authority and power.
This place where Christ is seated is far above all principality and power and might and dominion. (Eph. 1:21). It doesn’t matter what kind of principality or power it may be–even Satan himself–the place where Christ is seated is far above them all.
And here is what is incredible! Paul says that the same resurrection power that did all this in Christ is now directed into and for those who believe. No wonder Satan trembles at the child of God who knows his/her position and authority in Christ.
A Cosmic Shift Has Occurred
Some years ago I listened to the late T.L. Osborn, the father of modern miracle evangelism, tell of preaching in a large outdoor crusade in Africa. Among the many thousands in attendance were hundreds of witch doctors who had come there to work their fetishes and cast their spells on the foreign preacher.
Before going on the platform, a group of pastors wanted to lay hands on him and pray that God would protect him from the devil. T.L. said, "I would not allow them. I would would not dishonor my Lord that way."
T.L. preached the Good News of Jesus and His resurrection that day and thousands came to Christ and many testified of being miraculously healed. And some preachers realized in a new way that they did not have to be afraid of the devil.
T.L had what I call a post-resurrection paradigm of spiritual warfare. Too many today are operating out of a spiritual warfare paradigm that is rooted in the Old Testament where a demonic prince was able to hinder even Gabriel from delivering a message to Daniel (Daniel 10:12-13). That story, however, is from a former era and should never be applied to this post-resurrection era in which we now live.
We must understand that an incredible cosmic shift occurred when Jesus arose from the dead and then ascended to the right hand of God. Satan was not annihilated but his defeat was absolute, complete, and final. Let us today walk in that victory that is ours through His glorious resurrection.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, historian, and Bible teacher with a God-given vision for another Great Awakening in America. His book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, documents how the First Great Awakening had a direct bearing on the founding of America and unleashed the moral and spiritual forces that brought about the end of slavery on this continent. His many books are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.
The rejection of America’s Christian roots was on full display recently when, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chariman of the House Judiciary Committee, sternly rebuked Greg Steube (R-FL) for daring to read from the Bible during a debate on transgender issues. “Mr. Steube," he pointedly said, "What any religious tradition describes as God's will is no concern of this Congress."
Nadler’s attitude is typical of a cultural shift in America wherein the Bible, once revered, is now dismissed and demeaned. It is a sharp departure from America’s founding generation where the Bible was read and revered by all classes whether rich or poor, slave or free, aristocrat or peasant.
The Most Read Book in Early America
The Bible was, in fact, the most popular book in America at the time of its founding. America’s founding generation found in the pages of the Bible its moral compass, its guide for ethics, and its Christian worldview.
A 1982 article in Newsweek magazine, entitled “How the Bible Made America,” made this point in vivid fashion. The authors wrote,
For centuries, the Bible has exerted an unrivaled influence on American culture, politics, and social life. Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of the powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model of society, a beacon to the world (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 7).
Andrew Jackson, America’s 7th president, understood this. He once gestured toward a Bible and declared, “That book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
The Bible and America’s Origins
The first immigrants to these shores held the Bible in high esteem. The Pilgrims, and the Puritans who followed them, would be the first to admit that they often fell short of the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, but at least they acknowledged that this was the standard toward which all should strive.
In the Great Awakening (1726-70), the American populace was reawakened to the Bible as the ultimate guide for faith, morals, and life. Awakening preachers, such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Richard Allen used the Bible to call the masses to absolute faith in Jesus Christ and a lifestyle patterned on His teachings.
It is, therefore, no surprise that when the First Continental Congress met on September 5, 1774, they opened with an extended time of Bible reading and prayer. Rev. Jacob Dusche, who became their chaplain, began by reading the entire 35th Psalm to the assembled delegates, which included George Washington, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and others.
As he read, a tangible sense of God’s presence seemed to fill the room. John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, of the impact of the Bible reading. He said,
It was enough to melt a heart of stone. I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seems as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read that day. I saw tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave pacific Quakers of Philadelphia. I must beg you to read that Psalm (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 108).
The Bible Provided the Moral Basis for the Abolition of Slavery
At a time when slavery was accepted and practiced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and throughout the world, it was the Bible that provided the moral arguments that brought slavery to an end in America.
For example, one of America’s most prominent founding fathers, Benjamin Rush, exhorted the pastors and ministers of America to take a bold stand against slavery, saying, “Slavery is a Hydra sin that includes in it every violation of the precepts of the Law and the Gospels” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 101).
George Washington was an avid reader of the Bible and considered it his ultimate guide for life. It was arguments from the Bible that turned him against slavery and caused him to set up a compassionate program to completely disentangle Mt. Vernon from the institution. It was the Bible that caused him to say concerning the abolition of slavery,
Not only do I pray for it on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly see that nothing by the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our nation by consolidating it in a common bond of principle (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 147).
Washington’s love for the Bible was affirmed by his nephew, Robert Lewis, who served as his secretary and lived with him while he was president. Lewis said that he had accidentally witnessed Washington’s private devotions in his library both morning and evening and that on those occasions he had seen him in a kneeling posture with a Bible open before him, and that he believed such to have been his daily practice.
It was, therefore, no mere formality when Washington insisted on taking the first presidential oath of office with his hand on a Bible. It was a declaration on his part that the Bible would be the ultimate source of wisdom and guidance for his administration. It is reported that he once said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
Founders Respect for the Bible
The founders respect for the Bible was verified in a ten-year project to discover where they got their ideas for America’s founding documents. Although they quoted ancient writers of Greece and Rome and contemporary writers of the Enlightenment, the study found that, by far, the single most cited authority in their writings was the Bible.
The Bible was the lens through which they interpreted everything they read and studied. The well-known Catholic scholar, William Novak, has said,
Everywhere that reason led, Americans found the Bible. If they read Francis Bacon, they found the Bible. If they read Isaac Newton or John Milton, they found the Bible. In Shakespeare, they found the Bible. In the world of the founders, the Bible was an unavoidable and useful rod of measurement, a stimulus to intellectual innovation (Hyatt, 5 Pillars of the American Republic, 16).
The Founders’ respect for the Bible was also highlighted by their endorsement of the first English Bible printed in America in 1782. The producer of the Bible, Robert Aitken, had written a letter to Congress in which he asked for that government body’s sanction of his work. In the letter, Aitken called this Bible, “a neat Edition of the Scriptures for the use in schools.”
Congress enthusiastically responded to his request and offered the following recommendation to be included in this first English Bible printed in America.
Resolved: That the United States in Congress assembled, highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion as well as an instance of the progress of the arts in this country, and being satisfied from the above report, of his care and accuracy in the execution of the work they recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.
Contemporary America’s Rejection of the Bible
We cannot imagine the Congress of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, AOC, and Jerry Nadler expressing such sentiments for the Bible. But this animosity toward the Bible is not surprising in light of a bombshell resolution passed by the Democrat National Committee (DNC) in 2019. In this resolution the DNC unanimously affirmed atheism and declared that neither Christianity nor any religion is necessary for morality. In other words, “We don’t need the Bible.”
America’s educational system and the entertainment industry long ago dismissed the Bible as a legitimate guide for life and morals. Sadly, many churches have also rejected the Bible as a reliable guide to morality, especially when it comes to marriage and sexuality.
This has left the nation adrift on a sea of moral uncertainty where decisions are made based on personal feelings and subjective reasoning. With no transcendent moral guide or authority, the nation is plummeting into a cauldron of moral chaos.
With no moral North Star to guide their actions and decisions, politicians are now willing to stoop, it seems, to any low in order to gain power. They seem willing to do this even if it means destroying the Constitutional Republic of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln.
The Answer for America
We must have a “Back to the Bible” revival in the American church. Feel-good sermons will not meet the need of the hour. Good Christian entertainment will not suffice. A new order or structure will not meet the need. Pastors, preachers, and all ministers must reawaken to the power of the Gospel.
When, in later life, Martin Luther was asked how he, an insignificant monk and professor of theology, was able to have such an impact, he replied,
I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. The Word so weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all (Hyatt, Revival Fire, 83).
I challenge you to read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, the two most prominent preachers of the Great Awakening. Their sermons were Bible based and sometimes scorching as they challenged their audiences to put their faith completely in Christ and turn away from their sins.
Let us also remember the words of Paul to Timothy in his final letter before his martyrdom in Rome. Knowing he would soon depart this life, he solemnly exhorted his young protégé, saying,
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. Preach the word!
This article was derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Eddie is also the founder of the "1726 Project" whose purpsoe is to inform America of its Christian roots in a great, spiritual awakening.
Winston Churchill once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This is true of the church, which seems to repeat the same mistakes generation after generation, especially in area of the prophetic.
Much of the turmoil surrounding the failed Trump prophecies could have been avoided if the modern charismatic church had learned, not only from Scripture, but also from history. There have been numerous prophetic movements in history whose experiences offer invaluable lessons for the church today.
One of those movements is Mormonism, which emerged out of the Second Great Awakening. This is made clear by Peter Cartwright (1785-1872), a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and one of the most remarkable revivalists of that era. He tells of Mormons attending his campmeetings and speaking tongues and falling under the power.
He also tells of conversations he had with Joseph Smith and Smith’s claims of prophetic gifts and experiences.
The Mormons Speak in Tongues and Prophesy
Cartwright tells about a large interdenominational campmeeting he was conducting with hundreds in attendance, including Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and others. On Saturday morning, he said, “There came some twenty or thirty Mormons to the meeting.”
He tells how, at the end of the service, the Mormons remained behind, singing and praising God. They were excellent singers and many began coming back under the tabernacle to hear them. As people finished their noon meal they returned to the tabernacle and there was soon a large crowd gathered around them.
Eventually one of the Mormon women in this group began to shout and then swooned away and fell into the arms of her husband. Her husband then announced that she was in a trance and that when she came out of it she would speak in an unknown tongue and he would interpret. This was obviously not something new for them.
Cartwright, by this time, decided to break up their meeting, as he believed they were purposely seeking to draw attention to themselves. As he walked into the midst of the group, the woman in the trance began speaking in tongues. When Cartwright told her to “hush,” she opened her eyes, laid her hand on his arm, and said, “Dear friend, I have a message directly from God to you.”
Cartwright, who was a gruff sort of personality, said, “I stopped her short and said, ‘I will have none of your message.’” The woman’s husband, who was to interpret the message in tongues, angrily replied, “Sir this is my wife, and I will defend her at the risk of my life.” Cartwright retorted, “Sir, this is my campmeeting and I will maintain the good order of it at the risk of my life” (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 89-90).
After an exchange of emotionally charged words, the group finally left. Cartwright identified them as Mormons, followers of a “Joe Smith” with whom he had had several conversations.
Cartwright Meets “Joe” Smith
Cartwright had several meetings with the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, whom he called “Joe Smith.” Smith shared with him his vision for the restoration of the church of the New Testament.
According to Smith, during a time of revival in upper state New York he had prayed about which church was the right one. Smith said that during this time of prayer,
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 90).
According to Smith, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit appeared in this vision and told him not to join any of the churches, for none was the true church. Those of the modern prophetic movement, if there, would probably have designated Smith to be a seer or prophet.
Cartwright says that Smith told him that, of all the churches then in existence, the Methodist church was the closest to the church of the New Testament. According to Smith, however, the Methodists had stopped short by not claiming the gift of tongues, of prophecy, and of miracles. He went on to tell Cartwright,
If you will go with me to Nauvoo (a Mormon community), I will show you many living witnesses that will testify that they were, by the saints, cured of blindness, lameness, deafness, dumbness, and all the diseases that human flesh is heir to. And I will show you that we have the gift of tongues, and can speak in unknown languages, and that the saints can drink any deadly poison and it will not hurt them (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 91).
Smith Proves to be Angry and Unteachable
Cartwright began questioning Smith about his doctrine and it soon became obvious that Smith had left behind Biblical truth and was following sensational teachings based on prophecies, visions, and supposed angelic visitations.
As Cartwright continued pointing out his error from Scripture, he said that Smith’s anger boiled over and “he cursed me in the name of his God.” Smith angrily retorted,
I will show you, sir, that I will raise up a government in these United States which will overturn the present government, and I will raise up a new religion that will overturn every other form of religion in this country (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 92).
Visions & Angelic Visitations
Joseph Smith and his early followers based their beliefs almost solely on their subjective experiences with prophecies, visions, and angels. On one occasion an angel named Moroni supposedly appeared to Smith and told him where to find the plates on which were inscribed the Book of Mormon, written in an ancient Egyptian text.
Smith claimed that while he and an associate, Oliver Cowdery, were translating the book, John the Baptist as well as Peter, James, and John appeared to them and ordained them to the priesthood of Melchizedek.
How impressive! Demons will always play on human credulity and pride, telling one how important they will be if they accept this revelation.
In 1831, based on a supposed revelation from God, Smith and many of his followers migrated to Kirkland, Ohio. There they built, and in 1836, dedicated the first Mormon temple. According to one Mormon historian, there was a spiritual outpouring almost unmatched in ecclesiastical history. Smith himself wrote a detailed description, saying,
A noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting on the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven P.M. (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 92-93).
What We Can Learn from Mormonism
Out of this group that based its beliefs on prophecies, visions, and angelic visitations, has grown a movement that today claims millions of followers around the world. While many of their beliefs are obviously Christian in origin, they also hold to many beliefs that have no basis in Scripture and are at odds with Biblical Christianity.
For example, Mormons teach a form of polytheism, claiming that the planets of the universe are ruled by different gods and that Elohim—the God of the Old Testament—is the god of this planet. They also teach that Elohim had a wife who, as the Eternal Mother, bore his offspring. According to Mormon doctrine, Jesus is merely the oldest of the offspring produced by the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and we are all his spirit brothers and sisters (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 93).
Their strange doctrines, and practices such as baptizing for the dead and polygamous marriage, came forth because they exalted their spiritual experiences to equal status with, and even above, the Bible. This happened because they failed to “test the spirits” and “judge” the prophecies and visions in their midst as Scripture commands. Cartwright, regarded the Mormons as a living example of Satan’s ability to transform himself into an “angel of light.”
Here are some suggestions that can help us avoid repeating the same mistakes as this movement.
1. Measure everything by the Word of God. Let the Bereans of Acts 17:11 be our guide. They were commended because, instead of naively accepting what Paul and Silas preached, they searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether those things were so. When strange prophecies and unusual manifestations began to appear in the early Methodist revival, John Wesley exhorted the people, “Try all things by the written word and let all bow down before it. You’re in danger of enthusiasm every hour, if you depart ever so little from the Scripture: yea; from that plain, literal meaning of any text, taken with the context” (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 45).
2. Keep Christ Front and Center. Many prophetic movements have gone awry because of losing their focus on Jesus and becoming preoccupied with their own spirituality and exotic experiences. In the January 1907 issue of the Apostolic Faith, the leaders of the Azusa Street revival wrote, “We do not have time to preach anything else but Christ. The Holy Spirit has not time to magnify anything but the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are simply a voice shouting, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ When we commence shouting something else, then Christ will die in us.”
3. Avoid pride. Walk in humility. Peter Cartwright said that Smith told him that if he [Cartwright] would join him [Smith], “We could sweep, not only the Methodist church, but all the churches, and you would be looked up to as one of the Lord’s greatest prophets.” Do you hear the pride in that statement? Remember that, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5b).
4. Avoid an elitist mindset. Smith claimed that he and his followers were the true restored church of the New Testament and that all other churches were false churches (the Mormons still believe this). This too was based in pride and an unhealthy lust for importance and power.
5. Stop chasing the sensational. Let the supernatural happen; do not try to make it happen. We are not to follow signs; signs are to follow us as we follow the Lord and proclaim His word. We open ourselves to deception when we become enamored with the supernatural and began chasing everything sensational.
This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Prophets and Prophecy: Timely Insights from the Bible, History, and Personal Experience, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.
This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, Prophets and Prophecy: Timely Insights from the Bible, History, and Personal Experience, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.