Politics and the Kingdom of God in a Year of Change

The political rhetoric has heated up as the politicians try to convince you and me that we should join their party and take their side in the coming election. Daily polls are taken by pollsters and political pundits wanting to know whose side we are on. As Christians, we need to turn the question on the politicians and put them on the defensive by asking, “Whose side are you on?”
There were a number of political and religious parties in Jesus’s day, all jockeying for power and control. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots, and others all sought public support for their agendas. Interestingly, Jesus never identified Himself with any of those parties. Why? He did not come to take sides; He came to take over. He came to establish God’s values and righteousness in the hearts of all people. It was not a question of whose side he would take, but a matter of who would side with Him? This reminds me of the time Ronald Reagan was accused of claiming that God was on his party’s side. He responded by saying, “It is not a matter of whose side God is on; the question is, “Are we on His side?”
That is the question with which we should be challenging the candidates of both political parties. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, “Whose side are you on?” Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”
Mr. President, I Have Grave Concerns about Whose Side You are On
Mr. President, I have grave concerns about where you stand and whose side you are on. I heard you tell a foreign audience in a Muslim country, “America is not a Christian nation?” I also heard you say that the Bible cannot be used as a guide for public policy?” You have recently implemented a policy that forces Christian organizations to provide services that violate their conscience and are against their religious beliefs. Mr. President, “Whose side are you on?” Since you have dispensed with Christianity and the Bible, where are you deriving your values and your guidelines for public policy? Are you getting them from Marxist/socialist friends and think tanks? We have a right to know, “Whose side are you on?”
Mr. President, your dispensing of Christianity and the Bible is a sharp departure from the Founding Fathers of this nation. When George Washington laid his hand on the Bible and was sworn in as our first president, it was no mere formality. By taking his oath of office with his hand on a Bible, Washington was making a statement that the Bible would be the moral compass and guide for his administration. He even said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” The First Continental Congress was opened with an extended time of prayer and the reading of four chapters from the Bible. A recent ten-year study project to determine where the Founding Fathers got their ideas for America’s founding documents found that, by far, the single most cited source of authority was the Bible. Mr. President, “Whose side are you on?”
Candidates; Where Do You Stand on the First Amendment?
Presidential candidates of both parties, where do you stand on the First Amendment, particularly the section that says, “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion, nor hindering the free exercise thereof.” Secularists interpret the first part of this statement to mean “freedom from religion” and seek to remove any Christian influence from the public arena. Based on this misinterpretation, atheists and secularists regularly file lawsuits because they are offended by the presence of a Christian symbol or expression on public property. One such lawsuit, now in process, seeks the removal of a cross from the 911 site—a cross that is actually a naturally occurring cross of steel beams pulled from the wreckage.
Secularists love to use Thomas Jefferson’s phrase “wall of separation” in this regard, but they have wrenched it from its original context and meaning. Anyone who has looked into the matter with an unprejudiced mind knows that Jefferson used the phrase “wall of separation” in a letter to a group of Baptists to assure them that in the new American republic they would be free from the kind of government interference they had known from the state controlled churches of Europe. Jefferson’s “wall of separation” was unidirectional, there to keep the government out of the church. The secularists, however, say “no,” that Jefferson wanted to keep expressions of faith out of government. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan; Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”
Candidates; What Do You Think of “Jesus”
Presidential candidates of both parties, where do you stand on the current trend to remove the name of Jesus from any kind of public expression. For example, when Oprah Winfrey hosted a large prayer gathering in Yankee Stadium after 911, one criterion for those participating was that no one could pray using the name of Jesus. Here in Dallas, Texas, in the heart of the Bible belt, Dr. Tony Evans was asked to pray an opening prayer for the new city council. But, before he prayed, the mayor at that time asked him not to use the name of Jesus in his prayer. In Houston, TX, recently, a government bureaucrat issued an order that memorial services held in the Veterans cemetery could not contain the name of Jesus. Mr. President, your justice department did nothing to rectify the matter and it took a lawsuit filed by the good people of Houston to get the order rescinded. Mr. President, in April of 2009, when speaking at Georgetown University, you ordered that a monogram symbolizing Jesus' name be covered while you were speaking. This all makes us want to ask, “Whose side are you on?”
The excuse is made that, “We don’t want to offend people of other religions.” There is no Constitutional right to not be offended. But there is a Constitutional right of religious expression and free speech for everyone. We are fine with Muslims praying to Allah and Hindus praying to Krishna or one of their other gods, but why the onslaught against the use of the name of Jesus. What are you afraid of? The Founding Fathers were not afraid to speak the name of Jesus. George Washington once publicly prayed, “Bless Oh Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thee and of Thy son, Jesus Christ.” Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, closed all presidential documents with the phrase, “In the year of our Lord Christ.” The famous patriot and Founding Father, Patrick Henry, declared, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Candidates of both parties, “Whose side are you on?
We Must Recover Our Christian Values
A society derives its values from religion. Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iran derive their values from Islam. America was founded and built on Judeo-Christian values that were also the basis of its laws and judicial system. These values of love for God and one’s neighbor, honesty, moral integrity, hard work, and compassion toward those in need are the values that have made America great. These are the values of heaven—what Jesus called the “kingdom of God.” Unless we can recover these values, we are headed for ruin. In his farewell address, George Washington warned the nation, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
This year I will not be taking sides with any political party. I will, however, be carefully observing the statements, actions, and policies of the candidates as to how well they reflect the Judeo-Christian values on which this nation was founded. I want to know Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan. We want to know Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, “Whose side are you on?”



What was Preached * Why it was so Effective

"The Declaration of Independence was a direct result of the preaching
of the evangelists of the Great Awakening.” – Perry Miller, Harvard professor

We all want to be more effective in preaching the Gospel and in teaching the Word of God. For some time I have asked the question, “What was the key (or keys) that produced the Great Awakening and led to the transformation of the 13 colonies?” To be more specific, I wanted to know what it was about the preaching of that era that made such an impact.
In considering this question, it became obvious that it was not the act or style of preaching, for there were very diverse styles; from Jonathan Edwards, who wrote out his sermons and read them in a monotone voice without movements or gestures, to George Whitefield who preached extemporaneously with much fire and movement. This also led me to question if, in our day, style has not taken precedence over substance and technique over content?
In researching and considering this, it became clear that it was not the act or style of preaching that made the difference; it was the message itself that brought the results. This is what Paul tells us in I Cor. 1:18; that it is not the mere act of preaching that produces fruit for the kingdom of God, but the message that is preached. Style may stir the emotions, but it can never change the heart. In fact, Paul says that if we go too far in trying to make the message cool, hip, and acceptable to contemporary culture, we run the risk of preaching a Gospel that is emptied of its power.
The Great Awakening, of course, had its problems and excesses as does any revival, and as does any Christian movement. Nonetheless, my research leads me to say that the results of the Great Awakening should be credited to the message that was preached, backed by much prayer, and to messengers who lived like they believed what they preached. Below, I have delineated 7 emphases that made up the message they preached—the message that transformed colonial America and, according to Harvard professor, Perry Miller, led to the Declaration of Independence of 1776.
The Message
1) God is a great, majestic, and holy Being who created all things and to whom all creatures owe their love, honor, and respect. Humanity was the crown of His creation, made in His own image and likeness.
2) The man and woman whom God created rebelled against their Creator and went their own way, dragging their posterity down with them into the abyss of sin and judgment, into what, in historical theology, is known as “the fall.”
3)  The human race in its current state is a rebellious and fallen race, separated from God, under the power of sin, and deserving of hell.
4) God in His sovereign mercy and grace now offers full pardon and forgiveness of sins to all who will put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior whom God, in His sovereign grace, sent to die on the cross for our sins and rise again for our salvation.
5) Get rid of faulty foundations. They emphasized that many professing Christians had built their faith on faulty foundations, such as church membership, good deeds, family pedigree, social status, and cultural refinement. They emphasized that these old foundations must be overturned and faith in Jesus Christ alone must be laid as the only foundation for righteousness and acceptance with God.
6) There must be a new birth. They emphasized that when one truly believes in Christ there is a work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit that occurs in the heart—a new birth—from which springs new desires and aspirations that are godly, producing a whole new tenor of life. They believed that one would be forever changed by this new birth, and the changed behavior they called the fruit of righteousness and faith.
7) They emphasized the eternal bliss in heaven for all who truly trust in Christ and the eternal suffering and damnation of all those who refuse God’s gracious gift of salvation in Christ.


“Taking Back America” by Teaching the True Origins of Our Nation
While we have been asleep, the enemy has been in the process of robbing us of our identity as a nation. Millions of children and adults in schools and colleges throughout our land are being taught that America’s Founders were a collection of rich slave owners, mostly Deists and agnostics, who created a secular state and put up a “wall of separation” to keep out any input or influence from people of faith. This is dangerous and deadly because a people derive their identity from their history. When conquering nations have wanted to assimilate the conquered into their own society, they have begun by cutting them off from their past. Within 2 or 3 generations the people with no history have no sense of who they are and are then easily assimilated into a new and different culture. This is what Karl Marx was referring to when he said, “People without a heritage are easily persuaded.” This is happening in America today!
It is not too late to “Take America Back” by teaching the true history and heritage of America, and I believe America’s Revival Heritage can play a key role in this. I envision pastors and preachers preaching from it in pulpits across America. I envision Christian schools and colleges incorporating it into their curriculum. AND I ENVISION HOME STUDY GROUPS THROUGHOUT AMERICA USING IT TO STUDY THE TRUE ORIGINS OF AMERICA, AND PRAYING FOR ANOTHER GREAT AWAKENING IN OUR LAND.
If you would like to begin a group study using America’s Revival Heritage, I have posted a free Study Guide on my website just underneath where the book is posted. This Study Guide was designed to accompany the book and help facilitate a group study. You are welcome to copy it and share it with members of your study group. There are 7 chapters in the book and 7 in the Study Guide. I would suggest at least 10 sessions because you will certainly want to give more time to some chapters, especially chapter 6 which is the longest chapter and covers the actual founding of the nation. Check it out at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776,
which at the very beginning, acknowledges that our rights
come from God, not from government. 




I remember reading a poetic piece of prose in the newspaper about an old bridge that had been torn down to make way for a new highway. The writer ascribed personal virtues to this bridge, speaking of how faithful it had been for so many years, and how it had remained steadfast in the face of wind, rain, snow, cold, and heat. As I read this I thought about how there really were no virtues in this bridge, for it was just a heap of metal and concrete. Virtue is found in personhood and personhood is distinguished by the ability and freedom to think and choose.  

Not only is virtue not to be found in inanimate materials such as wood, stone, concrete, and steel, neither is it to be found in feeling. Virtue is ultimately tied, not to our feelings, but to our choices. We are responsible, not for how we feel, but for how we choose.

Love also is tied to the freedom to choose. Where there is no choice, there is no love. Can you imagine being married to a robot—even a sophisticated one like Data? Anytime you want to hear words of affirmation and love, all you have to do is push the right buttons. Somehow I don’t think that would be satisfying. Love is real because the people involved have chosen to love.

When God created Adam and Eve He did not create robots or creatures that were programmed to love and serve Him. Creating them in His own image and likeness meant that they would have the ability and the freedom to think, to choose, and to decide if they were going to trust Him and love Him. In this sense, it was a risky move on God’s part to create such beings, for they might choose to rebel against Him. But if there was going to be real love in the relationship, there had to be real freedom to choose.

Yes, God knew beforehand that our first parents would turn from Him. He also knew that countless numbers of their offspring would reject His love and truth. Nonetheless, He considered that the benefits and blessings of creating them outweighed the pain and suffering that He knew would come. 

Want to know why there is pain and suffering in the world? It cannot be blamed on God. It is because human beings have misused and abused their freedom to choose and have chosen to rebel against God and do their own thing, create their own morals, and erect their own standards of truth and right and wrong. But through those that have chosen to love Him and believe Him, God is sending His message of salvation through Jesus Christ into this world that human beings have mucked up by their bad choices. 

The freedom to choose makes necessary a judgment wherein every person will be held accountable for the choices they have made. In II Corinthians 5:10-11, Paul speaks of a future judgement, saying, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. The great American statesman, Daniel Webster, when asked what was the most sobering thought to ever enter his mind, immediately replied, "My personal accountability to God."

The ability and freedom to choose is a powerful force in our lives that also affects others. I recall hearing a Christian man who is the co-founder and president of one of the most successful private companies in America, say, “I did not get here by making a really big decision, but by making a lot of small decisions.” Those daily decisions to trust God and do the right thing are so important in getting us to where we want to be in life.

Is God pro-choice? In the sense that He created us with the ability and freedom to choose, yes He is. He will, however, hold us accountable for the choices that we make. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God through Moses urged the people of Israel to make the right decisions and choose life.

I call heaven and earth today as witnesses against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live.



Throughout history Jesus has been used to justify everything from the crusades to the Inquisition to the suppression of women. Today, many on the social and political left, including President Obama, seek to use Jesus to justify their support of same-sex marriage. This should not be surprising for Jesus is the greatest single moral authority of human history and if He can be seen as being on the side of same-sex marriage, then the proponents will likely win the day.
Proponents of same-sex marriage cannot, of course, point to any specific statement of Jesus advocating or even tolerating their position, so they focus on his emphases on love and tolerance. For example, I listened to a guest commentator on Fox News trying very hard to convince her audience that Jesus would not have opposed same-sex marriage. She kept saying, “Jesus was all about love.” She then stated, “His final words were all about love.” I thought to myself, “She has never read the gospels, for her concept of love as a sugar-coated niceness that never challenges anyone’s behavior is foreign to Jesus and the New Testament.”
Yes, Jesus emphasized the necessity of love for God and one’s fellow human beings, but He also warned that our choices and actions have consequences. To the woman caught in the act of adultery he spoke words of kindness and forgiveness, but his final words to her were, Go and sin no more (John 8:11). To the paralytic whom He healed at the Pool of Bethesda, He spoke words of caring and compassion, but concluded by saying, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you (John 5:14). And let’s not forget that it was Jesus who made a whip and drove the moneychangers, who were using religion to pad their pockets, out of the temple area (John 2:13-16).
On the matter of same-sex marriage, Jesus did make His position very clear, but one has to get beyond the superficial, political posturing to see it. Once we understand His position, it is then up to us to decide if we are going to be on His side or the side of popular, contemporary culture. We are free to choose, but our choice will have consequences.
Jesus Affirms the Original Genesis Model of Marriage
Jesus clearly affirmed that marriage is between one man and one woman in a discussion with the Pharisees about divorce (Matt. 19:3-8). The Pharisees wanted to know if it was okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus answered by pointing them back to how it was at the beginning when God created humanity. According to Jesus, the Genesis account of the creation of the man and woman is to be the ongoing model for marriage since it reflects God’s original intent.
In the Genesis account of creation, God creates a man and a woman and brings them together in a wonderful partnership of mutuality. They are blessed by the Creator and told to bear children and fill the earth. Both are given the same blessing, authority, and mandate as is indicated by the use of the plural pronoun “them” throughout the creation account (Gen. 1:26-31). The man is created first and then the Creator takes a “side” from the man and fashions it into a woman. He then brings the two together and when the man sees the woman he breaks forth into what Hebrew scholars say is song or poetic verse.
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called woman
For she was taken out of man
The Genesis writer then sums up the creation narrative in Gen. 2:24 with the words, Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh
In this discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus keeps pointing them back to how it was in the beginning, showing that He saw the Genesis account of creation as the Divine model for all marriages. The Greek scholar, Marvin A Vincent, points out that the perfect tense of the verb used in this passage indicates that “the original ordinance has never been abrogated or superseded but continues in force” (Vincent, vol. 1, Word Studies in the New Testament, 108).
Jesus sums up His argument by quoting Gen. 2:24 (see above) and saying, Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate or, as the KJV reads, "put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The modern supporters of same-sex marriage are seeking to “put asunder” the form of marriage that was instituted and blessed by the Creator at the very beginning of the human race, and affirmed by Jesus Christ.
We Must Follow the Creator’s Plan
This “putting asunder” of the Creator’s plan for marriage will only lead to much pain for individuals and for society. For example, most manufacturers provide instructions with their product so that the purchaser can maintain the item and get the best use from it. An expensive garment may say on the label, “Wash by hand in cold water.” If the purchaser of that garment ignores the instructions and throws the garment into a washer and washes it in hot water, he should not be surprised if the garment is ruined. In the same way, we should not be surprised to see lives ruined and society negatively affected when we ignore the clear instructions of the Creator concerning how marriage should work. God gave instructions and principles, not to “rain on our parade” and make us miserable, but so that we could derive the maximum joy and fulfillment from the life he has given us.
Even if one rejects the Bible and Jesus as authoritative guides, it is obvious from nature itself that same-sex marriage is unnatural and out of harmony with the natural order. Even if you believe in evolution and the “survival of the fittest,” you must admit that it is heterosexual marriage that has survived and sustained the human race. In other words, what we see in the Genesis account of creation is in harmony with what can be observed in nature. This is what Cardinal Francis George and six bishops of the Chicago diocese were referring to when they spoke of the dire consequences of legally redefining marriage to include same-sex marriages, and warned, “When the ways of nature and nature’s God conflict with civil law, society is in danger. It is to that danger that we direct your attention.”
Because same-sex marriage is so out of sync with nature and common sense, all major religions have condemned the practice as have societies in general throughout history. Only in our modern Western society where all transcendent authority has been rejected and morality is relativized to whatever “I” want it to be, has there been such a push to make the abnormal the normal.
Speak the Truth in Love
In Ephesians 4:15, Paul said that we, as believers, should be about the business of speaking the truth in love. The arrogant and angry verbal attacks on homosexuals by some who call themselves Christians is not the Spirit of Christ and should be rejected. On the other hand, a superficial niceness that flinches from telling the truth must also be rejected. If the surgeon pulls back the knife and does not plunge it in and remove the cancer because the patient flinches and cries out, he has not acted in love. Leaders, both religious and civic, who are unwilling to tell the truth for fear of criticism and loss of popularity are like the leaders of Israel in Jeremiah’s day of whom God said, They have also healed the hurt of my people slightly (superficially), saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).  



Breaking the Institutional Cycle that Quenches the Life of the Spirit
While doing research for my book, 2000 years of Charismatic Christianity, and looking for evidence of Spiritual gifts in church history, I found something in church history I was not looking for. I discovered what I call an “institutional cycle” in church history. In this cycle there comes a spiritual awakening with emphases on life in the Spirit, freedom, relationship, issues of the heart, etc. The revival lasts for a while and then inevitably comes the institutional trend where the emphasis shifts to things like authority, order, governmental structure, etc., and out of the revival emerges another denomination. I discovered that this institutional cycle has been occurring since the first century.
“Institutionalism” is defined as “an emphasis on organization at the expense of other factors.” Something is always lost in an over-emphasis on organization; and in the church this loss is always in the area of the freedom and dynamism of the Holy Spirit. In other words, institutionalism quenches the Spirit and replaces it with ritual, formality, and a hierarchical leadership that claims to speak for God. What I discovered was that, throughout history, institutionalism has been the greatest enemy of revival, and it seems to me that we are seeing this same institutional process at work in our day.
During the 1990s there was a powerful move of the Holy Spirit throughout the earth. I remember hearing the Holy Spirit clearly speak to me in August of 1993 during my daily prayer walk. He said, “A new wave of Holy Spirit outpouring is coming and will continue to the end of the century.” It was such a clear word that when I returned home I opened my calendar and wrote down those words on August 23, 1993. Shortly thereafter, revival broke out at Oral Roberts University, where I was connected at the time. We saw students praying into the wee hours of the morning and many being slain in the Spirit across the campus grounds. Praying, singing, and shouts of praise could be heard, ringing forth from the dorms and the cafeteria. There were classes in which I was not able to teach because of the students being overwhelmed by the presence of God. It was an incredible moment in time. Soon afterwards, we began hearing reports of revival springing up in other parts of the world.
No, the revival was not perfect—revival never is. There was much flesh and probably even some demonic stuff that intruded at times. I am sure God would like to use perfect people, but the only problem is that he can’t find any. So he uses what is available; and I would say He has done quite well considering the material He has had to work with.  Nonetheless, in spite of the problems and defects, this revival impacted many lives around the world and brought a new sense of liberty and freedom to many.
But since the year 2000 (it was in the works before that) I have been seeing in real life what I had already seen in church history—an institutionalizing of revival. The emphasis now, in many quarters, has shifted and is now on authority, structure, and governmental order. Although expressed in a variety of ways, the most popular approach seems to be the current emphasis on the restoration of the office of the apostle along with apostolic order and structure. My basic issue with this approach is two-fold: (1) ministry and leadership in the New Testament is functional in nature and not official and (2) there is no prescribed order in the New Testament laid down by either Jesus or the apostles.[1]
Now, we know that organization is needed to carry out the work of the ministry. No church or ministry can carry out the work to which God has called them without some element of organization. The question is, “How do we know when we have crossed the line and are institutionalizing a work of God?” Below are five indicators that indicate that church and ministry are becoming institutionalized. These have been drawn from a wonderful article by Findley B. Edge entitled “Experiential of Institutionalized Religion?” Findley, who served for many years as the Professor of Religious Education at Southern Baptist Seminary, said the Church is becoming institutionalized . . .
(1)        When its adherents are related primarily to the church as an institution or to the organizations of the church rather than to the living God.
(2)        When the church turns its concern inward upon itself and is more concerned with its own existence and progress than it is with the mission for which it was founded.
(3)        When the multitudinous activities required to build up and enlarge the organization becomes identified with “doing the will of God.”
(4)        When means becomes ends and ends becomes means. Institutions and organizations which were designed and intended to be used as a means of serving people may become ends and the loyalty of the people is determined by their service to the institution.
(5)        When the spirit of religion is lost and only the form remains.
Another way of saying it would be, “When the spirit of freedom (revival) is lost, being replaced by outward forms and authoritarian offices and structures.”
Some years ago, Sue and I heard Dr. Harvey Cox, of the Harvard Divinity School, speak shortly after he had completed a two year sabbatical during which he had been studying the history of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. He had also been visiting Pentecostal-Charismatic churches and ministries around the world, out of which had come a just completed book entitled Fire from Heaven.  He said one thing that I never forgot. He said the early Pentecostal revival exploded in growth because it was “quasi-chaotic.” He meant this as a compliment and was referring to the fact that at that early stage, the movement/revival had not yet institutionalized and was being borne along on the dynamism, freedom, and power of the Holy Spirit.
My prayer is that, as we move forward in doing His will and advancing His cause, we will walk carefully; and not be guilty of quenching His Spirit with organizational offices and structures. Let’s stand fast in the freedom of the Gospel and be the generation that breaks that “institutional cycle.” As we do, times of refreshing will surely come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

[1] If you would like to read more of my thoughts on this topic, see my article entitled, “Why I Have Not Aligned Myself with the Modern Apostolic Movement” which is posted at http://www.biblicalawakening.blogspot.com/2012/06/why-i-have-not-aligned-myself-with_05.html.