Month 6:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:171 AM|
SHABBAT 6:4, Teshuvah 30/40
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 27 September 2011
Faith and Power
Infallibly Identifying the True Believer
Continued from Part 1
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el!
"Elohim (God) our Deliverer (Saviour), Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever" (Jude 25, NKJV).
I pray Yahweh's blessings upon you all today and that you have received - or will receive - word from Him for yourself and your families. Last night I experienced the same thing I have a number of times now over the past few days, namely, an intensity in the spiritual domain as those whom have given Him permission to do so experience the burning fire of cleansing that comes from judgment and repentance. I find it both a pleasant and an unpleasant thing - pleasant because I know such fire always brings good things, unpleasant because sin is never a beautiful thing to have exposed.
There are basically those who are walking in teshuvah (repentance) and those who are not today. It's the 30th day of this season and anyone may enter into it at any time, and indeed, throughout the year. But since this is the time of the year Yahweh has elected to judge His people and the world for a year, and special spiritual assistance is rendered, by grace, to those who want to 'get in tune', as it were, this is an ideal time to repent since the whole community has elected to do so at this time! We're all focussed on the same thing and can give mutual encouragement and prayer-support. Sadly, there will be those who decide not to repent and who immerse themselves into the dark, murky and impure mayim (waters) of the world instead. This is not a good time for doing that! The flesh would ever draw you there - don't yield to it! Indeed I saw in vision one person who plunged, fully dressed, into such a scene. May our Elohim (God) have mercy on all those who make such costly decisions for themselves and for their immediate families!
Today it is my task to shine a strong beam of light on believers and unbelievers pretending to be believers so that we can clearly tell them apart. This requires a little bit of scriptural and lingusitic digging so that there are absolutely no misunderstandings, so I hope you will bear with me. Yesterday we saw that what principally distinguishes false believers - who may be diligent students of scripture, who may pray and fast, who may tithe and who may even be zealous evangelists - from true believers is the total absense of genuine emunah (faith) and power, of the kind that shammash (deacon) Stephen (Zephanaiah) the martyr possessed (Ac.6:8).
I think most of us know what is meant here by emunah - emunah is the act of trusting, adhering, or clinging to Elohim (God) with with our very lives for everything. It is a total dependency. And if we are exercising true emunah, we will not be leaning on the arm of flesh for anything. Our trusting will be complete. Those who have such faith are declared righteous in Yahweh's eyes (they are said to be 'justified') because this trusting or faith will also lead inevitably and irresistably to faithfulness in practical terms of having a right attitude toward Yahweh and men:
A man's faithfulness is evidence of his faith:
"Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his emunah (faith[fulness])" (Hab.2:4, NKJV).
It may be said, therefore, that walking with integrity - something false believers do not do - is synonymous with trusting in Yahweh...having true emunah (faith). And now, since the work of the Cross, having true emunah (faith) is additionally believing, and totally trusting, in the atoning work of Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus). Emunah (faith) is the attitude whereby a man abandons all reliance on his own efforts to obtain salvation (deliverance from sin), be they deeds of piety, of ethical goodness, or anything else. It is the attitude of complete trust in Messiah, of reliance on His works alone for all that salvation means. It is "whoever believes in [Messiah Yah'shua/Jesus] should not perish but have everlasting chayim (life)" (John 3:16, NKJV). And their walk - their Torah-observant lifestyle, behaviour, attitude, compassion, loving-kindness and general demeanour - will be the evidence that they have this everlasting chayim (life).
"Vindicate me, O Yahweh, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in Yahweh" (Ps.26:1, NKJV).
To make sure there is absolutely no misunderstanding as to what this true emunah (faith) is, the writer of Acts ensured that to emunah (faith) was added POWER.
I think most people, when they see the word 'power' in a religious context, tend to reflexly think of miracles. To do so would not be incorrect, of course, for as we saw yesterday, "Stephen, full of emunah (faith) and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people" (Ac.6:8). The word "power" here renders the Greek word dunamis from which we get the English word 'dynamic'. This can be anything from 'force' in the most general sense to miracles themselves, with a whole range of concepts inbetween: 'ability', 'abundance', 'might', and 'strength', to name but a few. When a true believer has "power" conferred on him by Heaven because of his emunah (faith), he has all of these things too. He literally becomes a spiritual dynamo in whatever his spiritual gifting(s) from Yahweh might be!
Because the word "power" means such a wide range of things, we must be very careful indeed that we do not mistakenly go and guilt young believers in particular (but in principle also any kind of believer) to doubt in his or her salvation simply because he is not doing 'mighty miracles' or speaking in 'tongues' or some other kind of obvious, more outwardly visible and showy, supernatural activity. This divine "power" that every truly born-again talmid (disciple) receives may include doing "great wonders and miracles" but it equally may not, but one thing it definitely will be leading to is the more common power to begin overcoming the sin-nature one small step at a time through constant application of emunah (faith) in being obedient to the mitzvot (commandments) all one's life.
This overcoming is quite impossible in a man's own strength, for it is an overcoming that brings forth the fruit of repentance that false believers like nearly all the Pharisees of old never could - or would - bring forth. This includes the "power" to share the Besorah (Gospel) in boldness where there might otherwise be crippling fear, the power to endure trials and tribulations in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) where otherwise we would cave in, the power to acquire in small increments the very character of the Messiah, the power to overcome the incessant drive of the the fleshy nature that wants to react angrily and even violently against those driven by demons who oppress and persecute us, the power to really believe Yahweh at His Word and to walk in that supernatural ahavah (love) as Messiah did no matter what our circumstances. This is the "power" that true believers have, and it simply is not present in those who neither truly trust nor obey. These themselves are surely miracles and wonders of the highest order too, miracles and powers mandated on all true believers throughout life.
A man or woman operating in this divine "power" automatically, and without any need of external human attribution such as 'ordination' or 'seminary certification', demonstrates divine toqef or authority, because true power in the scriptural sense is the ability to exercise authority effectively and in a Torah-compliant manner - a toqef (authority) that ultimately belongs to Yahweh alone.
Yahweh demonstrates His 'oz or power in all the wonders and miracles He does in the Cosmos on behalf of man. We see it in the Creation (Ps.148:5), and the sustaining of the world (Ps.65:5-8). Some of this 'oz/toqef (power/authority) is delegated to mankind (Gen.1:26-28; Ps.8:5-8; 115:16) but He also actively intervenes on many occasions, showing His power in miraculous deeds of deliverance. It was "with mighty hand and outstretched arm" that He brought His people out of Egypt (Ex.15:6; Dt.5:15; etc.) and He demonstrated His power in giving them the Promised Land (Ps.111:6) even in the face of nefilim - the same 'oz (power) of emunah (faith) that emboldened David to slay Goliath!
"Elohim (God) has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power ('oz) belongs to Elohim (God)" (Ps.62:11, NKJV).
We must here separate two kinds of power as used in the New Testament. The one - dunamis - we have already considered, but there is a second also, namely exousia which is derived or conferred toqef (authority), the warrant or right to do something (Mt.21:23-27), such as a husband having the warrant or right to preside over his wife and children. Dunamis, by contrast, is ability (2 Cor.8:3) or strength (Eph.3:16), or it may mean a powerful act (Ac.2:22) or a powerful ruach (spirit) (Rom.8:38). Yah'shua (Jesus) had all toqef (authority) and 'oz (power) given Him by His Father (Mt.28:18) and He used it to forgive sins (Mt.9:6) and to cast out evil spirits/demons (Mt.10:1). He gave toqef (authority) and 'oz (power) to His talmidim (disciples) to become sons of Elohim (God) (Jn.1:12) and to share in His work (Mk.3:15). So, yes, we are called to do these things to, but it will be impossible without true emunah (faith) and 'oz (power).
Yah'shua (Jesus) came to His ministry in the power (dunamis) of the Ruach (Spirit) (Lk.4:14), and His power was operative in healing miracles (Lk.5:17) and He did many mighty works (Mt.11:20). This was evidence of the power of the Kingdom of Elohim (God) as a prelude to the new Exodus from the fleshy life to the spiritual one (Lk.11:20; cp. Ex.8:19). But the Kingdom had not yet come in full power which would happen at Shavu'ot or Pentecost (Lk.24:49; Ac.1:8; Mk.9:1) and there would be the consummation at the Second Coming (Mt.24:30; etc.) which we are about to commemorate starting this evening in the first of the autumnal (fall) festivals.
For a clear view of the operation of the power of the Ruach (Spirit) operative in the life of the Messianic Community (Church) we have only to go to the Book of Acts (Ac.4:7,33; 6:8; cp. 10:38). Paul looks back to the resurrection as the chief evidence of Yahweh's power (Rom.1:4; Eph.1:19-20; Phil.3:10) and sees the Besorah (Gospel) as the means by which that power comes to work in men's lives (Rom.1:16; 1 Cor.1:18).
There are, of course, lots of counterfeit powers in evidence in the Body of Messiah today (both in the charismatic movement as well as in messianic groups that dabble in such occultic practices as kaballah) which pass themselves off as being from Yahweh when they are demonic. But this false power does not enable a soul to overcome in the manner I described at the beginning. What makes it particularly dangerous is that it is concealed beneath the language of the Besorah (Gospel). It sounds like the genuine article but it does not bear the fruits of authentic power.
Tomorrow is Yom Teruah, the only time an annual festival or moed combines with the monthly one of Rosh Chodesh. As we prayed for a prophetic word from Yahweh for today, and obtained it, let us also pray for a great and mighty one from Him for tomorrow - a word with the power to transform when received in true emunah (faith)! Amen.