Jack Hyles

Pentecost vs. Hylescost*

Jack Hyles is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. There has been a recent comparison (by the Hyles' sycophants) between First Baptist of Hammond and the church at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The claim has been made that Hyles' church saw more people saved on May 3, 1998 than were saved and baptized on the day of Pentecost. Hyles estimates that around 15,000 people were saved on their special day on May 3, and 5,112 were baptized. About 500 of the "decisions" occurred in the First Baptist Church auditorium (there were about 2,000 present in the 7,000-seat auditorium on the special day), while the other baptisms occurred at 216 other preaching points which had been set up for the day.

Hyles' "Pentecost" illustrates serious problems which are rampant at First Baptist Hammond, and further substantiates the material documented in our report on Hyles doctrinal heresies.

Hyles has compared himself and his church with Pentecost. He has stated that more people were saved on May 3 at First Baptist in Hammond "than at any church in the history of Christianity." As patently ridiculous as this claim is, it should still be tested by the Word of God. Hyles' report of his "Pentecost Sunday" and the sermon he preached that day are recorded in the June 1998 issue of the Revival Fires paper. When one compares Hylescost with Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter two of the infallible Word of God, five serious differences are readily apparent:

(1) There was a different message at Pentecost than at Hylescost -- The message preached on the day of Pentecost focused on Jesus Christ, the promise of His coming, His preordained death and resurrection, His exaltation to heaven, and His Lordship (Acts 2:22-36). The message preached on Hylescost was very different from this. Hyles preached a message titled "A Place Called Heaven." His text was John 14:1-6, which, of course, is addressed to believers, not unbelievers. He began by giving four reasons why he believes in heaven. First, because he has met three people who claim to have been to heaven in near-death experiences. Second, because his mother saw heaven before she died. Third, because of logic; since all civilizations have a belief in some form of heaven there must be one which God has created to fulfill that desire. Fourth, because the Bible says there is a heaven. (Hyles first three reasons are unnecessary, undependable, and carry no authority whatsoever.) Hyles later told the crowd:

"If you have the least desire to go to heaven, if there's just a little bit of a desire to go to heaven, then this morning, you trust Jesus as your Saviour" (Jack Hyles, "A Place Called Heaven," May 3, 1998).

Hyles told many stories and he mentioned the Gospel and Jesus Christ, but did not plainly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that a sinner could understand exactly Who He is and what He has done. Many Americans today are as ignorant of the Bible and of Jesus Christ and the Gospel as any idolatrous Hindu in South Asia. When we say that Jesus died for their sins, they don't know what sin is. Is it the lack of self-esteem? Is it a psychological problem? Does it refer to the mistakes I have made? Is it racial discrimination? Is it economic inequality? Ignorance of what the Gospel terms mean is certainly rampant in the ghettos of Chicago where large numbers of Hyles' bus riders come from. When most Americans think of "Jesus," they are thinking of a false christ of some sort. When they think of "God," they are thinking of a false god of their own imagination. Without careful preaching, without clear Bible definitions of the facts and terms of the Gospel, people will not understand the Gospel sufficiently to be genuinely saved. They will "trust" a "Jesus" of their own imagination to save them from a false idea of sin.

Heaven is a wonderful subject, but the Gospel is not about heaven. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Heaven is definitely a product of salvation, but why is it that none of the Apostles preached on heaven when they were presenting the Gospel? Why are the sermons recorded in the book of Acts so different from the one Hyles preached? Consider the sermon Paul preached on Mars Hills to the idolatrous pagans (Acts 17). Paul did not preach on heaven; he preached on God and His righteous judgment so that the idolaters would understand their sin and turn to Christ for redemption. The average American today is very much like those idolatrous pagans, and Americans need the same type of preaching. An idolatrous and apostate people need sermons on hell more than sermons on heaven. They need sermons on the law more than sermons on grace, because Biblical grace is only understood by the law. The law was given to prepare the way for grace. The book of Romans begins with the law of God and the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man before it gets to the grace of Jesus Christ. That is the Biblical way to preach the Gospel. This is how Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, but it is not how Jack Hyles preached on Hylescost.

(2) There was a different requirement at Pentecost than at Hylescost -- The requirement for salvation at Pentecost was "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the Biblical requirement for salvation. "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). This is what Peter preached (see also 2 Peter 3:9). It is what John the Baptist preached (Matthew 3:8). It is what Jesus Christ preached (Matt. 9:13; Lk. 17:3,5). It is what the Apostle Paul preached (Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20).

Therefore, in analyzing the requirement for salvation on the day of Pentecost, we note plainly that it involved repentance. Repentance is mentioned 66 times in the New Testament, ten times in the book of Acts alone. Hyles, though, did not preach repentance on his big day which he compares with Pentecost. In fact, he did not even mention repentance. He did not even hint at repentance. He merely said that if his hearers had even the slightest desire to go to heaven, they should pray to receive Christ as their Savior. They were encouraged to pray a prayer as a ticket to heaven. No repentance whatsoever.

Actually, Jack Hyles redefines repentance to mean turning from unbelief to belief. (His sermon "Misunderstood Repentance: An Enemy of Soul Winning" is posted to one of the Hyles unofficial websites.) He builds his doctrine of repentance largely on human reasoning: since unbelief is the only sin which sends men to hell (so he claims), unbelief is the only sin which must be repented of. At first glance, that sounds reasonable, but the bottom line is that it is contrary to the clear example and teaching of the Word of God. Biblical repentance as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles, involved a change of mind TOWARD GOD AND SIN. Note the following summary of Paul's message: "But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE" (Acts 26:20). The Gospel message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and by Paul after Pentecost required repentance and defined that as a turning to God from evil works. Biblical repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. To say that it has nothing to do with one's attitude toward sin is to throw away nineteen centuries of Christian preaching.

In attempting to justify his teaching on repentance, Hyles' raises many smoke screens. He says, "If a person has to clean up his own life before he gets saved, we are back to Arminianism or salvation by works." That is pure human reasoning and is an attempt to darken the issue. Hyles also says: "If turning from sins would get you saved, then turning back to sins would get you lost." Repentance does have something to do with one's attitude toward and relationship with sin, but repentance alone does not save anyone. It is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that saves a soul, and the Bible says that salvation is eternal. Hyles further says: "If a person must repent of his sins to be saved, of what sins must he repent?" The repentance is toward God and sin in general and in specific as God convicts the soul about his life. The prodigal son's repentance had to do with the way he was living. Christ dealt with the rich young ruler about his covetousness. He dealt with the woman at the well about her adultery. The conviction of specific sin is the Holy Spirit's job: "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" (John 16:8). As the Concise Bible Dictionary defines it: "Repentance is a change of mind Godward that leads to a judgment of self and one's acts." Biblical repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin, but it is not works salvation as Hyles would have us believe. (See "The Doctrine of Repentance In Salvation.")

(3) There was a different doctrine of the church at Pentecost than at Hylescost -- The Bible informs us that those who were saved on the day of Pentecost were baptized and added to the church. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:41,47). This is not what happened at Hylescost, though. In his message "A Place Called Heaven," Hyles told his hearers:

"Don't join this church if you don't want to. Don't ever come back if you don't want to. ... I'm closing the doors of our membership today. You cannot join First Baptist Church of Hammond today" (Jack Hyles, "A Place Called Heaven," May 3, 1998).

This, also, is not scriptural evangelism. The Bible is our example, and those who were saved in the days of the Apostles were baptized and added to the assembly immediately. The Bible does not disassociate salvation completely from baptism and church membership as Hyles did on his special day.

(4) There was a different method at Pentecost than at Hylescost -- The only method used at Pentecost was prayer, the preaching of the Word of God, personal testimony, and the miracle power of the Holy Spirit. This is not the only method that Hylescost employed. Hyles uses a multiplicity of man-made promotions to attract people to his meetings. He claims that there have been four times that First Baptist has seen more than 3,000 people saved in one day. One of those was in 1989, and recently interviewed was one of the men who worked on the buses that year. This man is a pastor today, but in 1989 he was a student at Hyles-Anderson College. Anyone familiar with the bus ministry at First Baptist Church in Hammond will know that the things this pastor testifies are true.

On the big day in 1989, Chicago ghetto kids were drawn to the meetings by the promise of winning a Camero and by being taken to a carnival. The church of Jesus Christ was turned into a worldly carnival for the sake of getting big numbers. This pastor said that he believes very, very few of the kids who were counted as saved that day had any abiding interest in Jesus Christ. He was there for the months before and after the meeting and had opportunity to observe firsthand the results. He personally questioned many of the kids who were baptized on that day and most of them did not even understand what they were doing. They had been instructed to get baptized and they did, but they had no idea what was happening. This is typical of the Hyles method of "soul-winning." If a person can be manipulated into praying a prayer, that person is counted as "saved," regardless of whether or not the person shows evidence of having repented of his sin and trusted Jesus Christ for salvation. The aforementioned pastor said that his bus captain counted salvations even if the kids who were "saved" laughed and cursed and mocked during the salvation prayer. One day the bus captain claimed that 25 people were saved; those 25 included a group of kids who mocked and cursed as the bus captain led them in a "salvation prayer." It was all a big joke to these kids, yet they were listed as part of the salvation statistics at First Baptist. This is the kind of thing which goes on regularly at First Baptist Hammond. The pressure put upon the evangelistic workers produces this type of thing. Whatever you want to call it, it certainly is not Pentecost.

(5) There was a different result at Pentecost than at Hylescost -- What was the result of the preaching on the day of Pentecost? The Bible leaves no doubt as to the long-term result of Pentecost: "And they CONTINUED STEADFASTLY in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer. ... And all that believed were together, and had all things common ... And they, CONTINUING daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart" (Acts 2:42-46). Those who were saved and baptized on the day of Pentecost showed every evidence of supernatural salvation. They did not have to be begged and coerced to come back to the next church service. They did not go home after their baptism and continue to live as if nothing had happened.

What is the result of Hylescost? Only a very, very small percentage of the 5,000 who were baptized at Hylescost will continue in the things of God. Hyles proponents have argued heatedly that we cannot judge who is saved and who is lost. True, I cannot know for sure who is saved or lost, but the Bible plainly says that salvation will make a difference in a person's life and it warns about false professions. Consider some Scriptures:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

"They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS THEY DENY HIM, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16).

"But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, THE DOG IS TURNED TO HIS OWN VOMIT AGAIN; AND THE SOW THAT WAS WASHED TO HER WALLOWING IN THE MIRE" (2 Peter 2:22).

"HE THAT SAITH, I KNOW HIM, AND KEEPETH NOT HIS COMMANDMENTS, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).

"HE THAT IS OF GOD HEARETH GOD'S WORDS: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (John 8:47).

"My sheep HEAR MY VOICE, and I know them, AND THEY FOLLOW ME" (John 10:27).

There are no examples in the New Testament of people being "saved" who cared nothing about the assembly and Christian fellowship and the Word of God. That is not Scriptural salvation. Scriptural salvation is a miracle of God whereby a sinner is converted and is passed from death to life and is born again by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as a truly born again Christian who gives no evidence of his salvation.

What was the result on Hylescost? It was this: 5,000 people prayed a prayer, went through a religious ritual (baptism), and then a large percentage of them went home unchanged to go about their daily lives basically as if nothing had happened. In a "no-repentance, quick-prayerism, easy-believism" environment, massive numbers of people become almost inoculated to the Gospel by their repentantless profession of faith and by the false assurance which is given to them by pseudo soul-winners. When someone later confronts this person with his spiritual need, he replies, "Yea, I've done that." He means he has prayed a prayer and been baptized. He means he has been given assurance of salvation by a soul-winner. It had no affect on his life, but he "has done that" and refuses to listen to anything further from the Bible. This unscriptural method of evangelism, the same method taught and practiced by Jack Hyles at First Baptist Hammond, has done great harm to the cause of Jesus Christ.

* Adapted and/or excerpted from an 8/7/98 Fundamental Baptist Information Service; David Cloud, editor; 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 8/98