Thursday, September 8, 2016
HOW I WAS AWAKENED (LITERALLY) TO THE IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING THE EQUALITY OF WOMEN WITH MEN AS PART OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
It was 3 a.m. and I suddenly found myself wide awake. Not wanting to disturb Sue, I went into another room where the only light was that which streamed through a window from the moon and a nearby street light. I sat on a sofa enjoying the quietness and solitude of the early morning and lifted my heart to the Lord.
An Amazing Visitation of the Lord
As I quietly communed with the Lord, I suddenly sensed my insides becoming very still. I then heard the voice of the Lord as clearly as I have ever heard Him. He said, “I want you to be more identified with Sue and what she is doing.” There was a moment of silence and then I heard something that astounded me. I heard Him say, “This message has the power to begin a mass movement from Islam to Christianity, beginning with the women.”
I knew that I was experiencing a visitation from the Lord. I also understood clearly what He was saying to me. Several years before, my wife, Susan, had competed her doctorate in the School of Divinity at Regent University. Her dissertation was on the role of women in the Bible and in Christian history and as a result of her research she had concluded that the New Testament, rightly interpreted, teaches the equality of women with men in all facets of life and ministry.
Her findings were published in her book, In the Spirit We’re Equal, and she had begun teaching this material from a limited platform. I was supportive of her, but not really involved and committed. That morning I knew that God was calling me to get involved because this was not just a “woman issue.” This was a church issue. This was an issue of world evangelism. The eternal destiny of multitudes was at stake.
They Must Hear the True Gospel
As I sat in the darkness pondering what I had just heard, I recalled hearing an African woman—a former Muslim—being interviewed on TV. She told how she had run away from her home in Somalia at a very young age after her Muslim father had arranged for her to be married to a Muslim man in Canada.
She found her way to Europe and the Netherlands where she received an education and was elected to the Dutch Parliament. She also became a very vocal critic of Islam. I recalled the fact that instead of becoming a Christian, she had chosen to become a secularist.
As I thought on this, I realized the probable reason for her not becoming a Christian upon leaving Islam. Why would she exchange a hard form of patriarchy in Islam for a softer form of patriarchy in evangelical Christianity? In both cases she would be required to be under the authority of a male, and after her experience in Islam, that would hold no attraction to her.
If, however, she had heard the message of the woman’s equal acceptance in Christ, and how Jesus was a friend of women and chose a woman to be the first bearer of the good news of His resurrection, it could have been a completely different story. If she had known that Paul, as laid out in my book Paul, Women and Church, had advocated for the freedom of women and their equal acceptance in Christ, it could have made a world of difference in her life.
Also the Key for Revival in Our Day
In her book, In the Spirit We’re Equal, Sue demonstrates how, during times of revival, women seem to always come to the forefront. This happens because in revival the criterion for ministry is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life rather than factors such as education and gender.
In the 18th century Methodist revival, John Wesley was challenged when God began to raise up and anoint uneducated men and women to proclaim the gospel. At first he resisted but finally yielded himself to the fact that God was calling and sending forth both men and women even though they were not graduates of Oxford or ordained with the Church of England as was he.
He came to realize that the authority to minister is rooted in one's possession of a divine call or gift, and that ordination is simply the church's recognition of that gift. When challenged as to why he gave recognition to women preachers, he replied, "Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God."
We Must Open Ourselves to the Spirit
Much of the church still refuses to recognize the gifts of its female members and has, thereby, violated Paul's command in I Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit. As a result of this disobedience, many gifts have lain dormant while millions have perished without Christ and the church has languished in defeat.
If we want to see genuine revival in our generation and "a mass movement from Islam to Christianity," we must dispense with our traditions and interpretations that have served to muzzle and hobble at least half the members of Christ’s body. If we will move from gender-determined roles to an openness to the Spirit that recognizes His work in both men and women, we could well see the greatest Spiritual awakening and missionary movement the church has yet known.
Drs. Eddie & Susan Hyatt have been married for over forty years. They have served as pastors, Bible school directors, professors of theology and have traveled to numerous nations sharing the Good News of what Christ has done for the human race. They presently reside in Grapevine, TX were they are developing the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame and an online college to equip this generation to fulfill its potential purpose. You can check out their vision by going to www.eddiehyatt.com and www.icwhp.org.
This article was derived from Eddie's latest book, Paul, Women and Church, available now from Amazon in the Kindle format and soon to be available in paperback. To read his vision for a great, Spiritual awakening in America and around the world, visit his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.