Month 8:01, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5937:208 AM|
ROSH CHODESH VIII (Shemini haChodesh)
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 3 November 2013
Rosh Chodesh VIII
Make Disciples of All the Nations
"Go therefore and make talmidim (disciples) of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt.28:19-20, NKJV).
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh Kol Beit Yisra'el - a Blessed New Moon day to all of you in our 'moon zone' (tomorrow for East Africa) who love the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and who love His Torah!
Finding Common Ground With Other Believers
The davar (word) I have for you today came a couple of hours ago. It is not about a particular vision or topic so much as a clear sense of the general way forward. We are in a unique position as far as being able to interface with different bodies of believers and find common ground with them. One thing I have been struck very forcefully by over the years is not so much the elements that make up for discipleship but the order in which they are administered and experienced. I'd like to begin by sharing these with you from the perspective of appreciating what believers have in different parts of the Body of Messiah. There a bit of each of them in me.
I appreciate, first of all - and I think this is the first real sign of the Besorah (Gospel) in any people - is the aliveness and people-centeredness of Pentecostals. I love their vitality and rapturous worship - even if I don't agree with their tongues or a lot of the modern worship...I am thinking mostly of classical pentecostalism - and I love their simple, uncomplicated fervour for Messiah and their passion to share their hearts with the unsaved and destitute. Those coming from this kind of background have a huge advantage because they have the basic foundation right.
Secondly, I appreciate the Baptists - their love of the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) and their passion for soul-winning. They are more systematic theologically and more Scripture-based than the Pentecostals and beyond a certain point in the spiritual maturation process you absolutely have to have that, even if their 'system' is, like Pentecostalism, lawless.
Third, I appreciate the Messianics - their love of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Torah (Teaching, Law) which is so essential to implementing the lifestyle of the redeemed. The moedim (appointments) of Yahweh have been a huge blessing to me.
Our People Past and Present
There are others I could mention, like the traditional devotion of the Catholics or the early revivalism of the Methodists, but these are the three main illustrations I feel led to give. I could mention their negative points but that is not what today's message is about. It is interesting as I look back over our history to see that all who came from Mormon and Jehovah's Witness backgrounds have long gone and that those who have been the strongtest are those from these three important bodies of believers - Pentecostal, Baptist and Messianic. Many of our people are from multiple backgrounds, having searched through many groups that include Lutheran and Anglican, but I would say that those with whom we most closely identify with - that is, the elements which I have pointed out - are the Classical Pentecostals, Baptists and Messianics.
Sweden and Africa Compared: Spirituality vs. Secularism
The field of evangelism is very different here in the West than it is in, for example, in East Africa. In Kenya, 75% of the population is Christian and it is considered a 'strange' thing to have a non-Christian worldview. Here in Sweden we face a culture that is the complete reverse, a land of secularists and highly politicised Lutherans few of whom may be said to have even met the resurrected Messiah and been regenerated. Whatever country or culture we find ourselves in, we must approach evangelism somewhat differently. Evangelising in Sweden, for example, where there is an almost zero perception of the spiritual, is completely different to Africa where everything is interpreted in spiritual terms, whether as a Christian, Muslim or Animist. Secularism, though rising in the cities there, is negligible when compared to the whole. Here in Sweden, secularism is the dominant religion with its culture of unreason  and purposelessness.
Ministering in East Africa
That is not to say that evangelism is 'easier' in Africa than it is in Sweden. Africa is awash in demonic forces so deliverance is a vitally important part of ministry there too. African Christianity, like its Western equivalent, is compromised and there is as much a need to witness the emet (truth) to believers as well as to Muslims, Animists and atheists. Different sets of territorial spirits rule and they are deeply entrenched wherever you go. Nevertheless, I think it is true to say that the spiritual climate in African countries with a Christian majority definitely weighs on the side of the evangelist and missioner because of the cultural expectations of the majority. That said, a very different picture exists in a country where Muslims are marginally in the majority or in Somalia and Somaliland where Christians are few and far between. In countries like Eritrea there is terrible persecution of believers with the situation not a lot better in Ethiopia. As we look at Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Djibouti and newly independent South Sudan we see different sets of challenges and problems to overcome. Every country is different.
Witnessing in Sweden and the West
In a country like Sweden where the secularists have power, we must build common ground with those we witness to in differnt ways. The culture still contains strong Lutheran Christian elements and appeal can be made to those and what it is that makes for the many admirable qualities of the Swedish people. In modern Africa,n countries like Kenya as in Europe and North America a century ago, you can gain access to the majority of people with Bible in hand which they in principle accept, but you cannot do that here. But there are still remnants of culture where Elohim (God) is in control, if not in name then in substance. The Edenic Mandate to be gardeners and take care of the enviornment is strong here along with a sense of social justice even if it is administered crookedly by the powers-that-be. Though there are many broken people here who have either fallen between the cracks of the denominations or who have been rejected by the system whom one can reach directly with Bible in hand, most need other doors to be opened first, whether it be conversion to Theism through an understanding of the bankruptcy of evolutionary 'science', so-called, or by means of philosophy.
Specialist Ministries and the Essentials
This kind of ministry is a little specialised for most but it is essential in the knocking down of major strongholds of unbelief. And if ever there was someone who might be said to be a contemporary 'apostle to the secularists' it would be Indian-born Ravi Zacharias, whose online lectures and books are as essential reading as the Oxonian C.S.Lewis was in the latter half of the last century. Many of today's and tomorrow's missionaries in the West are going to have to have good scientific and philosophical training. But whether you are in Africa or the West, several things remain essential: sound Torah-training and expertese in deliverance, for no matter what culture you go to, you still need a solid knowledge of the Davar Elohim (Word of God) and you need to know how to deal with and master the invisible realm of hostile spirits too.
The Rise of the New Age
That is not all we need to become experts in, though. Forty years ago the New Age may have been 'fringe' but in the West it is now mainstream and is set, in my opinion, to both replace Christianity and secularism as the dominant system before it mutates into what lies behind it. The bankruptcy of the latter is causing millions to turn to New Ageism, which is basically old paganism in a new guise. Last but not least, given the huge immigrant populations in the West, is the need to know how to witness to Muslims and Hindus.
Regeneration and Deliverance Ministry Essential
Now obviously we're not all going to ever be experts in all of these areas. We do, however, need to be regenerated, we need to know how to deal with the demonic, and we need to know the sacred tavnith (pattern) of the Torah well and live it. That's as much for our own spiritual and temporal safety and well-being as it is for discipling in general. Amongst the goals we must have in this ministry in the immediate years is developing extensive Bible studies to disciple the Body properly. We must have that foundation so teachers everywhere are essential. It is not an accident that the two areas of ministry where Yahweh has been working intensely amongst us over the past years has been in deliverance and in Torah-discipling.
Baptism of the Ruach
None of this is possible without the work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and one of the earliest jobs we have is to teach the importance of the BAPTISM OF THE RUACH (SPIRIT). And, no, this is not where our Pentecostal brethren come into the picture for there are ever so many false spirits operating amongst charismatics and their ilk today, all of which have to be urgently exposed and expelled. No, it is to the Baptists we must in part go to here and I would like to give as an illustration the experience of Dwight L. Moody. I don't want to get into the wider subject of the spiritual gifts but keep matters simple.
Yah'shua Told the Disciples to Tarry for an Endowment
The early talmidim (disciples) were given strict instructions by the resurrected Master not to go and preach until heavenly esh (fire) had been implanted in their hearts:
They, like us and every believer, must learn to wait and not race ahead until that promise is fulfilled in whatever 'Jerusalem' we may find ourselves in:
"...He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised..." (Acts 1:4, Amp.V.)
The First New Covenant Shavu'ot and Tongues
"It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:7-8, NKJV).
The initial endowment or baptism of the Ruach (Spirit) was given at the first Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') after the Resurrection at which time tongues of fire came upon the heads of those early talmidim (disciples) and they were given the supernatural gift to speak in the foreign languages and dialects of the visitors who had come up to the Festival in Jerusalem from around the Roman Empire. Though the spectacle of tongues of fire has not been repeated since, the gift of supernaturally speaking known foreign languages is still manifested when it is needed. It is not the gibebrish spoken by Pentecostals and Charismatics.
The Essence of the Ruach Baptism
The essence of that outpouring was not in the signs given but the supernatural ability to communicate emet (truth) to unbelievers, the in-depth perception of the needs of others, messages to convict listeners of sin leading to repentance and salvation, and the power of disciple the infant community of believers. In short, the purpose of the Baptism of the Ruach (Spirit), or the Baptism of Fire, or the Gift of the Ruach (Spirit) was, still is, and ever will be, to equip the saved for service.
Everyone is in Need of the Same Ruach Anointing
We in the West are no less needly than those in Africa or Asia or than the first Israelite, Greek and Roman talmidim (disciples). For us to attempt any sort of ministry or work, for us to attempt to witness through man's devices, talents and organisational machinery alone is as effective as trying to drive a car with water in the petrol (gasoline) tank. I know how that works because as a boy I thought I would do my parents a service by filling the petrol tank of my mother's car with water from a garden watering can.
The Story of Dwight L. Moody's Baptism of the Ruach
In 1871 the baptism Dwight L. Moody was apparently a successful evangelist. His tabernacle drew the largest congregations in Chicago but according to Moody's own estimate, he was a 'great hustler'. He confessed that his preaching was done "largely in the energy of the flesh". It was psychic energy driving him, not the Ruach (Spirit). You need to know the difference both in yourself and to discern the charlatans out there. There is a huge difference.
The Intervention of Two Methodists
Two Methodist women, who attended his meetings and sat in the front row, would pray for the duration of most of his preaching, something Moody could not fail to notice. Moody was indignant, claiming they should be prayinng for the unsaved and not for himself when he learned that he was the object of their prayers. Their reply was simple: he needed what he lacked, the power of the Ruach (Spirit). This went on for some weeks until finally a more humble Moody asked to speak with them in his office and to enquire what the ladies meant.
A Sober Discussion
They spent their time explaining what the Baptism of the Ruach (Spirit) was - and you may recall that a tremendous anointing of the Ruach (Spirit) had accompanied the Methodist Awakening in England. Finally, all three prayed together and the women left.
An Immense Hunger
From that very hour, Moody testified, "there came a great hunger in my soul. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."
One late autumn day in 1871 Dwight L. Moody was in New York on his way to England and was walking along Wall Street. Quite sudddenly, in the midst of the bustling crowds, his prayer was answered: the power of Elohim (God) fell upon him so overwhelmingly that he knew he had to get off the street. Retiring to a room in the house of someone he knew locally, alone with Yahweh, such simcha (joy) came over him that "at last [he] had to ask Elohim (God) to withhold His hand, lest he die on the spot from very simcha (joy)". And from that very hour Moody's ministry was never the same again. He went on to England for the fist of many evangelistic campaigns there. People thronged to hear him.
The Power to Convert
He related later: "The sermons were not different. I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world."
A Million Souls Saved
Moody lived another 28 years "to reduce the population of hell by a million souls". He may not have preached the fullness of the Besorah (Gospel) but he did preach the basic truths of the Spring Festivals that lead to genuine salvation.
The Ruach's New Beginning
Now when I say we need a new beginning, I speak of this Baptism of the Ruach (Spirit) that is one of the two facets of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') - what we call the 'Shavu'ot Anointing (the other part is taking covenants to obey Torah which Baptists deny). We none of us can proceed beyond the New Birth and into faithful witnessing with power without it. If your desire is to have this gift, you will receive it provided it is with the same earnestness that Moody sought for it. Claim the promise made in Scripture:
Faith Also Requires Empowering
"Behold, I (Yahweh) am doing a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it and know it, and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isa.43:19, Amp.V).
The call now is to witness and to evangelism but believing in Messiah is not enough: you also need the power, and the power comes in the form of the overwhelming sense of simcha (joy) that is the Baptism of the Ruach (Spirit). It's not babbling in some unknown tongue (the gift of speaking supernatually in languages you don't know naturally is in any case only for a few, not all - 1 Cor.12:30) but it is the upwelling of the Ruach (Spirit) from within: "out of his heart will flow rivers of living mayim (water)" (John 7:38, NKJV) - not the psychic zeal and enthusiasm that is of the flesh, but the eternal simcha (joy) of the redeemed that sends evangelists and missioners into the world no matter the cost of witness of the Supreme Ahavah (Love).
If you have not received this anointing, earnestly entreat Heaven for it, remain where you are and wait patiently for it. Don't be anxious. Continue to serve until you receive it. It will come when you least expect it. And when it does, you'll know it, and nothing will stop you. Amen.
 See in particular, Ravi Zacharias, The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists (Zondervan,Grand Rapids, Michigan: 2008
 Catherine Marshall, The Helper (Hodder & Stoughton, London: 1978)