Wednesday, February 17, 2021

THE PROPHETHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS


Robert Morris, Senior Pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, told of an individual approaching him and saying, “You have lots of good leaders around you but you don’t have a prophet.” Morris said he replied, “I don’t need a prophet; I have the Holy Spirit.”

Morris obvisouly understands that there is a great difference between the Old Testament era, when the masses were dependent on prophets to hear from God, and the New Testament era wherein the Holy Spirit is given to every believer and all have the potential to hear from God.

Shifting from Old Testament to New Testament Thinking

In the Old Testament, the work of the Holy Spirit was confined and limited. He came only upon certain prophets, judges, and kings such as Moses, Deborah, Gideon, Samuel, David, and Elijah. He came only at certain times and for special occasions, such as the dedication of Moses’ tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. The masses were not privileged to have the Spirit of God and had to enquire of a prophet in order to hear from God.

This all changed, however, with the coming of the Messiah and the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. With the coming of Messiah Jesus and His redemptive work, a new era dawned. The ministry of the prophet was not discontinued; it was expanded to include the entire believing community. This is what Dr. Roger Stronstad has called “the prophethood of all believers.”

Predicted by Old Testament Prophets

Old Testament prophets spoke of this wonderful time when prophetic ministry would be expanded to include all of God’s people. This was the prediction of the Old Testament prophet Joel who declared,

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days (Joel 2:28-29).

In Jewish/rabbinic tradition, this passage 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, unlike the era in which they lived, the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all of God’s people. Gender would not be an issue as both sons and daughters would prophesy. Age would not matter and even the very lowest of society—the menservants and maidservants—would experience this outpouring of the Holy Spirit and would prophesy.

On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was being poured out and the disciples were speaking in other tongues, Peter explained to the questioning onlookers what was happening by quoting Joel’s prophecy. Peter made it clear that the messianic blessing for which they were looking had arrived. He did this by pointing out that this is that; in other words, this that you see happening here today is that which Joel prophesied would come to pass.

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 prophecy was now being made available to all who would receive Jesus, the risen Savior and Lord (Acts 2:14-18).

Moses also spoke of this wonderful era when God’s Spirit would be made available to all of God’s people. When a young Joshua wanted him to stop two elders from prophesying in the camp, Moses passionately replied, Are you jealous for my sake? He then earnestly declared his heart’s desire,

Oh, that all the LORD'S people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them (Num. 11:29).

Moses was, no doubt, expressing God’s heart when he expressed his desire that all of God’s people were prophets. This earnest desire began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost with the outpouring of God’s Spirit on all flesh. Stronstad says that Luke, in recording these events on the Day of Pentecost,

Has thus reported the actual historical fulfillment of Moses’s earnest desire: Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 105)!

A Nation of Prophets

What a change from former times when the masses would have to seek out a “prophet” to hear from God. Now the prophetic Spirit is resting on all of God’s people, and the gift of prophecy is potentially available to all. Prophecy is no longer the province of certain individuals, but now belongs to the entire community. Stronstad says,

Here in Luke’s narrative, for the first time ever in the redemptive history of God’s people, those people truly function as a nation of prophets—the prophethood of all believers (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 106).

This is the context for understanding the words of John in John 7:39 where he says that the Holy Spirit was not yet given. John spoke this when quoting the words of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem when He cried out, Whoever is thirsty let him come to Me and drink; as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.

John explains that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit whom those who believe on Him should receive for the Holy Spirit was not yet given. At that time, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given in the universal sense as predicted by Joel and anticipated by Moses.

At that point in history (before Pentecost) the Holy Spirit had only been given to certain prophets and kings, to John the Baptist in the womb, and to Jesus at His baptism. The time when all of God’s people would have the Spirit of God was still future. That time arrived on the Day of Pentecost when they all were filled with the Holy Spirit and all began to speak prophetically as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).

No Elite Company of Prophets
In the New Testament Church

There is a popular contemporary teaching that God began restoring the “office” of the prophet to the church in the 1980s. The problem with this idea is that neither Jesus nor the Twelve instituted church “offices.” In fact, the word “office” is not found in the Greek New Testament.

Although the English word “office’ is found in I Timothy 3:1, it has been added by the translators and is not found in the Greek. The passage literally reads, If anyone desires oversight, he desires a good work. The language is functional, not official.

Words used to describe leaders in the New Testament, such as apostle, prophet, pastor, bishop, etc., are functional in nature describing the leaders’ task, rather than official describing their authority and status. They are never used as titles.

In Acts, for example, Luke mentions Paul by name more than 120 times and not once does he say, “Apostle Paul,” but merely “Paul.” In 2 Peter 3:14, Peter refers to our beloved brother Paul. In Rev. 1:9, John the apostle, in his letter to the churches, refers to himself as your brother and companion in tribulation.

Their obvious avoidance of titles is understandable in light of the words of Jesus in Matt. 23:6-12 where He warned His disciples about adopting titles that would set themselves apart from others. He obviously saw His disciples as a band of brothers and sisters. He said,

But you, do not be called “Rabbi”; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

The early church obviously took this admonition of Jesus seriously, which is why Rudolph Bultman, a liberal theologian, but an astute historian, said,

Neither in the earliest Palestinian congregation nor in earliest Hellenistic Christianity was there originally any thought of establishing church regulations and offices (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 108).

Functional Language

Some will surely ask, “But what about certain individuals like Agabus and Silas who are referred to as prophets in the book of Acts?” First of all, note that they are never called “Prophet Agabus” or “Prophet Silas.” The word is never used as a title. 

Fee is, no doubt, correct when he says that those who are referred to as “prophets” in the New Testament are merely those who prophesy more than the other members of the prophetic community. In other words, the designation is functional, not official.

For example, it is obvious that in Paul’s use of the noun “prophet” in I Corinthians 14:29-32, he is using functional language meaning “the one prophesying.” Although some think he is referring to a special group of “prophets,” it is obvious that the whole community is being addressed.

This is confirmed by the fact that inclusive language is used throughout, such as in 14:32, where he says, For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. Fee comments on this passage, saying,

This does not mean, of course, that all will or do prophesy. It is simply to note that Paul’s concern here is not with a group of prophets, but with the functioning of prophecy in the assembly. The noun “prophets,” therefore, is to be understood as functional language similar to the use of interpreter in v. 28 (Hyatt, Prophets and Prophecy, 109).

In the Old Testament era, when the masses did not possess the Holy Spirit, individuals would seek out a prophet to hear the mind and heart of the Lord.  In the New Testament, however, there is not a single example of someone seeking out a “prophet” to hear from God. Neither is there a single example of Paul, or any New Testament writer, instructing their readers to seek out the “prophets” in their midst to hear what they have to say.

To tell New Testament believers to seek out a prophet would be a reversion to a former and less desirable time. Instead, the obvious assumption is that they all have the Spirit of God. The emphasis is on everyone living in the Spirit, adhering to the Scriptures, loving one another, listening to one another, and keeping Christ central.

A Truth Whose Time Has Come

Martin Luther brought to the church the truth of the “priesthood of all believers.” It is time that we also understand the truth of the “prophethood of all believers.” In the same way that we do not need a special priest to go to God on our behalf, we do not need a special prophet to act as God’s mouthpiece for us.

Let us remember the words of Paul in in I Tim. 2:5. He wrote, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. The prophethood of all believers is a truth whose time has come.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Prophets and Prophecy, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

RESPONDING TO THE IDOLOTROUS PRAYER OF THE 117TH CONGRESS

Every American should be startled and deeply concerned by the idolatrous, un-American prayer that opened the current session of the U.S. Congress. Democrat representative, Emmanuel Cleaver, a Methodist minister, closed his politically correct prayer by invoking the names of foreign gods, saying,

"We ask these things in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and Awoman.”

Since most Americans profess to be Christian, you would think Jesus Christ would have earned at least a mention, but it was not to be. Cleaver, no doubt, would insist that He is included in the “god known by many names by many different faiths.”

In other words, for the Democrat Party, and many Republicans as well, Jesus Christ is no longer the unique Son of God and Savior of the world. In their secularist, postmodern worldview, all religions worship the same God and call him by different names such as Brahma, Allah, Krishna, Shiva Yahweh, and Jesus Christ.

This prayer serves to highlight how far our culture has drifted from a Christian worldview and the original American vision.

This is Unbiblical and Un-American

Cleaver’s prayer was such a contrast to the prayer that opened the very first session of the U.S. Congress on September 5, 1774. The delegates had met to discuss how to respond to the British invasion of the colonies, their lockdown of the city of Boston, and their closure of the Boston seaport.

Before beginning their discussions, they agreed to have a time of Bible reading and prayer. They invited Rev. Jacob Dusche, an Anglican minister from Philadelphia, to lead them in the time of prayer. After reading the entire 35th Psalm, Dusche began praying, saying,

O Lord, our high and mighty Father, heavenly king of kings, and Lord of Lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers of the earth, and reignest with power supreme over all kingdoms, empires, and governments.  Look down in mercy we beseech thee on these our American states who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor . . . desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. Shower down upon them and the millions they represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting joy in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, and our Savior. Amen (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 113).

As Dusche prayed, many of the delegates, particularly the Anglicans such as George Washington and Richard Henry Lee, knelt in prayer. The Puritans and Quakers, according to their custom, sat with bowed heads and prayed. So powerful was the Bible reading and prayer that Dusche was invited to be the chaplain for the Congress and to open every session with prayer.

Members of this First Continental Congress were a “Who’s Who” of America’s founding generation. They included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and others. Every day they lifted prayers to God in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thirteen years later, at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin recalled the power of those daily prayers that were offered in the name of Christ. Recognizing the need for prayer at the Convention, he addressed the Convention president, George Washington, saying, 

In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 141-42).

Jesus Christ Was at the Center of Their Faith

There is no question that the faith of the founding generation was centered in Jesus Christ. In fact, a British-appointed governor wrote to his superiors in England, “If you ask an American who is his master, he will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that DefinedAmerica, 81).

This Christ-centered faith was a fruit of the Great Awakening that transformed colonial America. Every founder was affected to one degree or another. This explains a prayer recorded in a prayer journal kept by George Washington in his twenties. It reads, “Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 132).

It also explains the Prayer Proclamation of John Hancock while serving as governor of Massachusetts. Hancock, who also served as president of the Continental Congress, called on the constituents of his state, and all Americans, to ask forgiveness for their sins “through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ,” and,

To overrule all the commotion in the world, to the spreading of the true religion of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, in its purity and power, among all the people of the earth (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 171).

This is What Made America Great

Deuteronomy 6:13 directly confronts Cleaver’s idolatrous prayer. It reads, Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

We gain understanding of this passage by considering the Old Testament Hebrew words for “LORD” and “God.” “LORD” is a translation of Yahweh and this was the personal name of God as revealed to Abraham, Moses, and the Jewish people. “God” is a translation of Elohim, which was a generic name for deity in the ancient near East.

Yahweh revealed Himself to Israel as a personal God with self-consciousness, and will, capable of feeling, choosing, and having a reciprocal relationship with other personal and social beings. Yahweh was the personal name of the God of Israel. The nations surrounding Israel had their Elohim, but Yahweh was their Elohim

The Deuteronomy 6:13 command reads in Hebrew, Fear Yahweh your Elohim and serve him only . . .. Jesus quoted this passage to Satan in Luke 4:8 in response to Satan offering Him all the kingdoms of this world if he would bow down and worship him. Jesus vehemently replied, Get behind Me Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”

There is no room for religious pluralism here. God our Creator has made Himself known and He alone is worthy of our honor, worship, and service.

Jesus is God Incarnate

In the New Testament, Jesus identified Himself with Yahweh of the Old Testament. For example, in talking to a Jewish audience, Jesus said, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it and was glad. They answered, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? Jesus replied, Before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58).

Jesus is here alluding to God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush where He revealed Himself by the Hebrew name Yahweh (Exodus 3:14). The Hebrew name Yahweh is normally translated as “LORD,” but here, in Exodus 3:14, it is translated as “I Am.”

At this point, the Jews took up stones to stone Him because, in their minds, He had blasphemed by identifying Himself with the God of Israel. He had not blasphemed, however, for he was God incarnate. He was Yahweh made flesh, the ultimate revelation of God to humanity.

The early church understood this, which is why they referred to Him by the Greek title kurios, translated as “Lord” in our English Bibles. He is called the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus, and Christ Jesus the Lord.

This is significant for the Hebrew name Yahweh was translated as kurios by the Septuagint, a widely used Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced around 275 B.C. This meant that all Greek-speaking Jews would understand the confession of Jesus as kurios, or Lord, to be a confession of His deity.

The Only Path to National Blessing

Psalm 33:12 says, Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, or literally, Blessed is the nation whose Elohim is Yahweh. America has been blessed like no other nation because her founders honored Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They were not perfect but they acknowledge their need for Him and unashamedly prayed in His name.

The idolatrous prayer of the 117th Congress should be a wake-up call for the American church. This is no time for indifference and compromise. We must take a stand for our Christ-centered faith.

We must also be serious about praying for another Jesus revival to sweep across the land. For only that nation whose God is the LORD has any solid hope of being protected and blessed.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He is also the founder of the "1726 Project" dedicated to educating Americans about the Christian origins of their nation out of a great, spiritual awakening. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

HOW GOD USED A GIFT OF PROPHECY TO INTRODUCE ME TO AN INDIAN AUDIENCE

This true story opens the 1st chapter of my latest book, Prophets and Prophecy,
availalable from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

It was April of 1983 and I had arrived in Shillong, Meghalaya in northeast India to minister for 10 days among the Khasi people of that region. I was staying in the home of my host, Dr. R. Joseph Skinner.

The night before our first service, God gave me a word of prophecy to speak forth in that service. Interestingly, I knew that the message I had been given was an interpretation to a tongue. I Corinthians 14:5 tells us that tongues with interpretation is equal to prophecy, and I knew that I was to wait for a message in tongues before speaking the prophetic message I had been given.

This raised the question in my own mind as to how I would know when somebody gave a message in tongues, since I knew nothing of the Khasi language. In addition, I did not know if they even practiced messages in tongues and interpretations in their services.

I went to the church service the next morning in faith and with a determination to be spiritually alert and see how things would unfold. The small building was packed with every seat filled and people standing shoulder to shoulder, filling every nook and cranny.

I stood alongside several other leaders on the platform and someone began to lead in singing and praise in the Khasi tongue. At the close of the singing there was a long, extended time of fervent, corporate prayer. The crescendo of prayer eventually descended until everything became still and quiet. No one moved or spoke, including the leaders on the platform.

Suddenly, from out in the congregation, the silence was broken by someone speaking in a beautiful, melodious tone.  I was alert and thought to myself, “That sounds like a message in tongues.”

I then stepped to the microphone and gave the interpretation I had been given the night before, which was a word of encouragement to that congregation. I finished speaking and one of the Khasi pastors stepped forward and interpreted to the people in their language what I had said. Shortly thereafter, the service was turned to me and preached my first sermon in India.

After the service, I asked my host, Dr. Skinner, if that was a message in tongues to which I had responded. He said, “Yes, that person spoke in an unknown tongue.” Wow!  God had worked the prophetic gift through two people of different languages and cultures who had never met! And it flowed so seamlessly.

God used this manifestation of prophecy to introduce me to the Khasi people. It brought an immediate acceptance and respect that I could not have earned on my own. We then had a wonderful 10 days of teaching, preaching, and powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It was also the beginning of a life-long friendship with the late Dr. Joseph Skinner, his brother, Kitbok Ryntathiang, and the Khasi people of northeast India.


This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Prophets and Prophecy, with the subtitle, Timely Insights from the Bible, History, and My Experience. It is availalable from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST

 The Teleological Argument 
for the Existence of God
(Excerpted from the manual "Think Biblically" available at this link. 
http://www.eddiehyatt.com/think_biblically.html#BOOK)

DEFINITION:  Teleological is derived from the Greek word teleos meaning “goal or purpose.” The teleological argument for God’s existence says that the orderliness and complexity of the Creation indicates that it was created for a purpose. This approach is also known as the argument from “Intelligent Design.” Consider the few examples below.

I.                The Earth Is Precisely the Right Size
for Sustaining Life.

A.              If the size of the earth varied by as much as 10%, life could not exist.

B.              Isaiah 40:12b says that God Calculated the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales. In other words, He chose just the right amount.

II.             EARTH IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE WATER IS FOUND IN ABUNDANCE AND IT IS FOUND IN PRECISELY THE RIGHT AMOUNT.

A.              If the ratio of water to land varied by a small percentage, life could not exist.

B.              Isaiah 40:12 says that God, Measured the waters in the palm of His hand. In other words, He used precisely the right amount.

III.      THE SIZE OF THE SUN AND ITS DISTANCE FROM EARTH
IS EXACTLY RIGHT FOR SUSTAINING LIFE.

A.              If either the size of the sun or its distance from the earth varied by a very small degree, life could not exist.

B.              Isaiah 40:12 says that God Measured heaven with a span. In other words, He put exactly the right distances between the heavenly bodies.

IV.       THE SIZE AND POSITION OF THE MOON IS JUST RIGHT
FOR SUSTAINING LIFE ON EARTH.

A.              The moon creates the tides that clean the harbors and shores.

B.              The oceans and tides, in turn, provide oxygen for plankton that is the foundation of the food chain.

V.              EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE IS JUST RIGHT FOR SUSTAINING LIFE, BEING COMPOSED OF 78% NITROGEN, 21% OXYGEN AND 1% OF VARIOUS OTHER ELEMENTS.

A.              This is precisely the right mix of the right elements
for life to exist on earth

B.                      These elements are not chemically combined, but instead they are continually being mixed mechanically by the tidal effect of the moon upon the atmosphere.

VI.       THE VERY COMPLEX OZONE LAYER MAKES LIFE POSSIBLE ON EARTH.

A.        The ozone layer screens out eight deadly long rays, which would burn earth’s inhabitants, and the shorter rays, which are necessary for life, are admitted.

B.        The deadliest of the long rays are allowed through in a very limited amount—just enough to kill the green algae, which otherwise would grow to fill all the lakes, rivers and oceans of the world and destroy all human life.

C.        Isaiah 40:22 describes graphically this atmospheric canopy as being like a tent that God has stretched out for people to live in.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in (NIV).



Friday, June 19, 2020

GOD'S LOVE AND THE DOCTRINE OF HELL

I received an email from a person in another state asking my thoughts on hell. She went on to explain that many of her Christian friends have dispensed with the idea of hell and have chided her for being “stuck in religion” for believing in such “an old-fashioned doctrine.”
Indeed, many Evangelicals are giving up the doctrine of hell as a place of eternal punishment, in spite of the fact that it is mentioned numerous times by Jesus and NT writers who urge their readers to avoid it at all costs. One of the starkest examples is in Matthew 18:8 where Jesus said, If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
The argument commonly presented against hell is that it is inconsistent with a God whose chief characteristic is love. This argument, however, reveals a serious misunderstanding of love and the place of God’s justice in the matter. In the following essay, I present 3 reasons I still believe in hell: (1) God’s love made hell necessary; (2) Mankind’s freedom to choose made hell necessary; and (3) the Holy Spirit has confirmed the doctrine of hell throughout history.

Reason #1

God’s Love Made Hell Necessary
Suppose a serial child molester is released from prison by a progressive, liberal judge. He immediately kidnaps an innocent child whom he abuses, rapes, and murders. The murderer/rapist is arrested, tried before the same judge, and is found guilty. The judge then sentences him to six months of community service, a $1,000.00 fine, and lets him go free.
Would we say, “Oh, what a loving and kind man is that judge?” No! We would be rightfully outraged because justice, you see, is a necessary component of love. Love without justice is an empty, sugary-sweet niceness that refuses to protect the righteous and do what is right and just in every situation. Such “love” is worthless and dangerous.
A parent who does not protect his/her children does not love them. Most parents will fight tooth and nail to protect their children, and that is an expression of their love. In a similar way, God will not allow the evil intentions of men and devils to mar the eternal happiness of those who have put their trust in Him.
What we are talking about here is the Biblical concept of love that is expressed by the New Testament Greek word agape. Agape is not flaky or shallow but is infinitely just and wise. Agape is not a fleeting feeling or emotion but is sensible and rational. It was this agape love that brought our Creator down from heaven to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, and the very nature of this love made hell necessary for those who would reject such infinite love.
This is made clear in John 3:16, the love verse of the Bible. It reads, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This verse says that those who reject this infinite love of our Creator, revealed in Jesus Christ, will “perish.” The Greek word translated “perish” is apolumi. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines this word as meaning “to destroy,” “to abolish,” and “to devote or give over to eternal misery.”
Those who reject God’s infinite love justly deserve infinite punishment, for they have chosen their own selfish, temporal goals and rejected God’s eternal, infinite plan for them and all mankind.
This is the point Charles Finney made in his preaching on hell and eternal punishment. In his Autobiography, he tells of a great revival in Rochester, New York in which many lawyers and judges were coming to Christ. Finney, who was a converted lawyer, tells of a conversation he had with Judge Addison Gardiner, who was a Supreme Court Justice for the State of New York.
The judge told Finney that he had answered his questions thus far and cleared the way for him to become a Christian. “But,” he said, “When you come to the question of the endless punishment of the wicked you will slip up—you will fail to convince us on that question.”
When the night came that Finney preached on the endless punishment of the wicked in hell, he was careful to thoroughly present the Biblical and reasonable arguments. He showed how those who reject the infinite good of God and His salvation in Christ for their own selfish ends, justly deserve infinite, or endless, punishment.

As he neared the end of the sermon, Judge Gardiner could not wait for him to finish, but came to the front and with great emotion made known his desire to commit his life to Christ. This had a powerful impact on all present and many bowed their heads and wept. Finney said, "The lawyers arose almost en masse, and crowded into the aisles, and crowded around the open space in front, wherever they could get a place to kneel." Incredible revival swept over the city.
Finney told what happened when he met Judge Gardiner the next day. He said,
The next day I met him, and he volunteered the remark at once, “Mr. Finney, I am convinced. Your dealing with that subject was a success; nothing can be said against it” (Owen, The Eternal Fires: Why I Believe in Hell, 128).
Yes, infinite Divine Love came down from heaven and provided an infinite sacrifice for our sins. The just punishment for rejecting such infinite love is also infinite, or eternal, in nature.
Finney considered hell to be God’s eternal prison house where incorrigible rebels against God and his kingdom will be confined and not allowed to spoil the eternal bliss and happiness of those who have accepted the free mercy and grace God has shown to us in Jesus Christ. This too is love!
Yes, hell is a necessary expression of God’s amazing grace and love.
Reason #2
Mankind’s Freedom to Choose Made Hell Necessary
I once read a romantic piece in a newspaper about an old bridge that had been torn down to make way for a new highway. The author 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 very sophisticated one? Anytime you want to hear words of affirmation and love, all you have to do is load the right software and push the right buttons.
We know that would not 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 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.
Do you 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 God-given freedom to choose. Instead of choosing God and His ways, they have chosen to rebel against God and do their own thing, create their own morals, and erect their own standards of truth and righteousness.
It is self-evident that creatures with such freedom to choose, must be held accountable for their choices, and the Bible is clear in this regard. Throughout Scripture there are warnings and exhortations concerning a Day of Judgment.
In Matthew 12:36, for example, Jesus said, But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. And in In II Corinthians 5:10-11, Paul speaks of the judgment of the righteous at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is not a judgment concerning our worthiness for heaven, but a judgment concerning our motives and how we have lived our lives. Paul says,
For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others (NLT).
The great American statesman, Daniel Webster (1782 –1852), when asked what the most sobering thought was to ever enter his mind, replied, “My personal accountability to God.”
In Revelation 20:11-12 John describes his vision of the great and final judgment, saying,
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Yes, mankind’s freedom to choose made hell necessary. That is why, 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.
Have you chosen to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?
Reason #3
Hell is Confirmed by the Holy Spirit
There has never been any significant work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of universalism. I do not know of any example, past or present, in which the preaching of universalism inspired men and women to a greater love for God and a new determination to walk in His truth. On the other hand, preaching on eternal punishment has been a part—even if a small part—of the great revivals of Christian history.
In the First Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God, captivated the minds and hearts of the masses. The Holy Spirit fell like rain when he read this message from the pulpit. In the Second Great Awakening sermons on hell and Divine retribution were preached along with messages on God’s redeeming love and grace, and the masses were awakened. Finney’s pointed preaching about the Divine justice of eternal punishment turned the hearts and minds of many to Christ and lifted the Church to a new level of commitment and effectiveness. Numerous such examples could be cited from the annals of Christian history and revivalism.
One of the most somber examples comes from the pen of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pastor of the Congregational Church in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was one of the most prominent leaders in the First Great Awakening. He tells of a wicked and intemperate man coming to him one day in a very solemn state of mind. This man related to Edwards an alarming dream he had experienced the previous night. In this dream, he had descended into hell and observed the horrors of that place.
He was told, however, that he was being allowed to return to earth on a one-year probation, the condition being that he must change his manner of life during this time or he would have to return at the end of the year. Edwards was solemnly impressed with the man’s dream and assured him that it was a warning from God. Before retiring for the night, Edwards opened his journal and recorded the details of the dream and the date.
Edwards said the man seemed to be serious in his new commitment, leaving off the bottle and faithfully attending church. However, before the year had ended the man returned to his former manner of life. One evening, in a drunken state, he turned to descend a set of stairs when he stumbled and pitched headlong down the stairs breaking his neck and dying instantly.
When Edwards was informed of the tragic news, he opened his journal and somberly noted that that very evening was exactly one year from the time the man had experienced the dream of his one-year probation from hell.
Yes, the Holy Spirit has confirmed the doctrine of hell throughout the history of the church, especially in those Spiritual Awakenings that have revitalized Christendom again and again during times of spiritual malaise and indifference.
How to Avoid Hell
Jesus and the NT writers treated hell as a very serious matter, and so should we. You can avoid hell by praying this prayer with sincerity of heart. “Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner in need of your mercy and grace. I turn to you now with all my heart. I believe that you died and rose again for my salvation and from this day forth I confess you to be my Lord and Savior."
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

This article by Dr. Eddie Hyatt was derived from Chapter 10 of the book, The Eternal Fires: Why I Believe in Hell by Valarie Owen and is available from Amazon. Dr. Hyatt contributed Chapter 10 to the book. His books are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.