Month 5:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5941:119 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 24 July 2017
Rosh Chodesh V
Reaching the Hearts of Lost Souls
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah - may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us all today at the beginning of this new month as we head toward the end of summer.
An Irritated Zionist
The other day I got a Messianic Jew really angry because I did not believe that the Israeli Republic was Biblical Israel restored. I pointed him to a series of articles which explained why our ministry takes this position but he refused to read it and said that the 'truth' (as he saw it) was so glaringly obvious that by implication only a fool could miss it, namely, that Yahweh's hand was on the little Republic. He ended with the quip that all those who cannot see this write materials that twist the truth.
Most People Don't Want to Study Out the Truth
Unfortunately there are a lot of people like this who passionately subscribe to various historical narratives without having any kind of sound knowledge of historical processes. This got me thinking and further brought to my mind that the realisation vast majority of people who are investigating or are committed to the Besorah (Gospel) - the statistic I saw said about 80-90 per cent either aren't interested in studying things out or are otherwiwse incapable because of illiteracy or other issues.
Mind and Heart
By carnal instinct people are tribal and they tend to go with the ebb and flow of their 'tribe', 'denomination' or 'upbringing' no matter what the emet (truth) may be, and you are unlikely to change that any time in the near future by theology or mere intellectual appeal. For the vast majority it is the heart that must be converted first and it is unrealistic to think that it will ever be otherwise. The head and the heart are different species that operate somewhat differently.
Today I want to talk a little about that though it's by no means a new subject in my sermon repertoire. The problem with the heart, as nearly everyone in this assembly knows only too well, is that it is corrupt and easily persuaded to to believe in lies. A clever orator, or someone who preaches with passion - however erroreous their doctrine may be - can sway a crowd through mass psychology as Wilhelm Reich established back in the 1930's. And as we also all know only too well, there are many wicked people skilled in the occult art of hypnotism who by mere suggestion can get others to follow them down roads to spiritual, and sometimes even physical, self-destruction. The charismatic movement is saturated with such charlatans and their hypnotised dupes hungry for any kind of supernatural experience. And not just them - all branches of Christendom and Messianism have their quacks. There are reasons that religious movements, some of which have been around for centuries, seem to carry on unperturbed in spite of the overwhelming evidence that they are corrupt.
The Hebrew View
In reading the Bible it is important to understand that the Hebrews thought more in terms of subjective experience rather than objective, scientific observance, and therefore avoided the modern error of over-departmentalisation. It was essentially the whole person, with all his or her attributes - physical, intellectual and psychological - of which the Hebrew thought and spoke, and the heart was conceived of as the governing centre for all of these. It is the heart which makes a man or a beast what he is (Prov.15:23; 23:7; Dan.4:16) and governs all his actions (Prov.4:23). Character, personality, will and mind are all modern terms which all reflect something of the meaning of 'heart' in its biblical usage.
The Five Heart Departments
As witnesses and ministers of the Besorah (Gospel) we have to reach the whole soul - the whole being - and to accomplish that we are forced to employ the only agent actually able to do the task, namely, the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Anyone who has tried to reach someone by intellect alone, or emotion alone, will know how futile both of these can be. So when I talk about 'heart', as I shall be today, I am not doing so in the biological or modern cultural sense but the biblical. And so that we are quite clear exactly what the heart is biblically-speaking, I am first of all going to 'departmentalise' it the Western way since that's who most people have been trained and raised to 'be'. So here are the various aspects of 'heart':
The New Testament View
- 1. The physical;
- 2. The personality or inner life, or character in general (Ex.19:14; 1 Sam.26:7; Gen.20:5);
- 3. Various emotional states of consciousness, that include intoxication (1 Sam.25:36), joy or sorrow (Judg.18:20; 1 Sam.1:8), anxiety (1 Sam.4:13), courage and fear (Gen.42:28) and love (2 Sam.14:1);
- 4. Intellectual activities, such as attention (Ex.7:23), reflection (Dt.17:17), memory (Dt.4:9), understanding (1 Ki.3:9) and technical skill (Ex.28:3); and
- 5. Volition or purpose (1 Sam.2:35), one of the most characteristic usages in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
As you might expect, the New Testament is much the same in its useage of the word 'heart'. The heart does not altogether lose its physical reference because it is made of "flesh" (2 Cor.3:3) but it is most certainly viewed as the seat of the will (e.g. Mk.3:5), of the intellect (e.g. Mk.2:6,8) and of feeling (e.g. Lk.24:32). In a word, the 'heart' is the whole person.
Different Psychological Focii
One thing is clear from the Bible and it is that the brain is not the centre of human consciousness, thought or will. The 'heart' is the centre of these as well as the emotions, though the lower organs or 'bowels' where the seat of the emotions are said to have their locus. So, interestingly, the Bible places psychological focus of the soul one step lower in the anatomy than in popular modern speech which uses 'mind' for consciousness, thought and will, and 'heart' for emotions. So it would not be wrong to rephrase the first great mitzvah (commandment) to read, as C.Ryder Smith did, to read:
A Mandated Change of Heart
"Thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim (God) with all thy heart - that is [to say], with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30, KJV - Ryder Smith).
Unfortunately - and this should be obvious from experience - the heart of man does not always do this, does it? This is why the navi (prophet) Jeremiah takes this one stage further with the qualification that a change of heart is required too:
An Undivided Heart and a New Spirit
"I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Yahweh. They will be My people, and I will be their Elohim (God), for they will return to Me with all their heart" (Jer.24:7, NIV).
Ezekiel too is given the same message more-or-less:
The Prophetic Fulfillment in Messiah
"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow My decrees and be careful to keep my torot (laws). They will be My people, and I will be their Elohim (God)" (Ezek.11:19-20, NIV).
Where does this revelation to the two nevi'im (prophets) find fulfillment? In the New Covenant, as Paul testifies:
"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Ruach (Spirit) in your inner being, so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through emunah (faith). And I pray that you, being rooted and established in ahavah (love), may have power, together with all the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones), to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the ahavah (love) of Messiah, and to know this ahavah (love) that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of Elohim (God)" (Eph.3:16-19, NIV).
Now as we know there are exceptional people in the Bible of whom it is said that their hearts are right with Elohim (God) (e.g. 1 Ki.15:14; Ps.37:30-31; Ac.13:22) though it is obvious from what we know of David that this is not true in the absolute sense (since he committed adultery and murder, amongst other things) but that repentance and conversion are still necessary (2 Ki.25:23-25 for Josiah).
Broken and Crushed First
Before we look at the rôle of the one bearing witness of Messiah and the Besorah (Gospel), we must consider how Yahweh prepares the hearts of those who are ready to receive that witness. Always it begins with a heart being broken or crushed (Ps.51:17), which is a picture of humility and penitence, being synonymous with "a broken spirit (ruach)".
The Problem of the Hard, Stoney, Fat and Uncircumcised Heart
Contrary to what huge swathes of Christendom teach, this brokeneess is necessary because it is the hard or stony heart which does not submit to the will of Elohim (God) (Ezek.11:19). Alternatively, as Isaiah and Ezekiel describe it, it is the "fat" or "uncircumcised" heart which fails to respond to Yahweh's will (Is.6:10; Ezek.44:7).
The Worthy Prayer
Yahweh knows the heart of each man and woman, of each boy and girl, and is not deceived by outward appearance (1 Sam.16:7) but a worthy prayer is, nonetheless, of the sentiment offered by David:
Pure and Steadfast
"Search me, O Elohim (God), and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps.139:23-24, NIV).
Only One Acceptable Goal
"Create in me a pure heart, O Elohim (God),
and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Ps.51:10, NIV).
The absolute and uncompromisable goal of the wicked must always be a "new heart" (Ezek.18:31) and that will have to mean - here all Christians must pay careful attention! - that means that Yahweh's Torah has to become no longer mostly external but must, as I pointed out last sabbath, be "written on the heart" (Jer.31:33). It has to be in and of our very being, our very essence, so that anything contrary to it is revolting, disgusting and obscene to us. We have to be not just literally tuned into the Torah but completely echad (one with it). It must become our fixed identity, the same identity which defines Yahweh's own heart and character.
Guard the Wellspring
It is for this reason that the Scriptures teach us that the heart, which is the spring of all desires, must be carefully guarded:
Give Me Your Heart
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of chayim (life)" (Prov.4:23, NIV).
And so the the parent, the teacher, the evangelist, the pastor aims to win his pupil's or convert's heart to the Derech - the right way of Elohim (God) that leads to salvation and to spiritual prosperity:
The Sacred Instrument, the Blessed Reward
"My son, give me your heart
and let your eyes keep to my ways" (Prov.23:26, NIV).
Clearly purity of heart is essential for it then becomes the sacred instrument of the fulfillment of our deepest righteous desires. Did not Yah'shua (Jesus) promise:
"Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see Elohim (God)" (Matt.5:8, NIV).
The 'seeing' here means 'knowing'. It is through Messiah's dwelling in the heart by emunah (faith) that believers can comprehend the ahavah (love) of Yahweh and so become intimately acquainted with it (Eph.3:7).
The Nature of True Love
It's all about ahavah (love) - everything that is qodesh (holy, set-apart) steadfastly points to it, and everything that steadfastly points to it becomes it and remains it. How impoverished we would be without Paul's vision of it! Pity the anti-Paulists, driven by some unfathomable rage that nothing but ahavah (love) can assuage. I am speaking of the incomparible passage about ahavah (love) in the 13th chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. In 1989 Hal Hopson took the first verses and turned into it into a masterful piece of poetry. I'm going to read it to you now:
The Narcissism of False Tongues
"Though I may speak with bravest fire,
And have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain,
And sounding brass, and hopeless gain.
Though I may give all I possess,
And striving so my love profess,
But not be given to love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.
Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control,
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide every deed;
By this we worship, and are freed."
For the better part of 30 years I have written thousands of articles both in bringing forth new revelation and understanding as well as exposing heresies. Some topics I have been especially passionate about. One, which you know I have written and preached uncompromisingly on all this time - at least 30 major articles and sermons - is tongues. It's also one I have struggled hard with, knowing that so many millions of believers have been deceived by a counterfeit one which amount to nothing more than narcissistic self-titillation and idolatry.
Selfish and Carnal
My insistence and persistence has lost me a lot of friends because this is one mightly large golden calf and the source of so much spiritual mischief in and to the Body of Messiah. The counterfeit has nothing whatsoever to do with genuine, self-sacrifice ahavah- or agapé-love. It is utterly selfish and carnal. So today I want to tell you a true story about the real item - about genuine tongues. I have heard many such stories, this just happens to be the latest.
A True Story of Authentic Tongues in Haïti
This is the story of a young American missionary visiting Port au Prince, the capital of the island republic of Haïti. He had been invited to preach in a slum area where the spoken language is a variety of French Creole. This man did not know creole and so the ministry agency that hired him promised to provide him with a native translator.
The Troas Incident
He arrived late at the meeting hall to find it crammed full - so full, in fact, that some of the conregants were hanging in the windows and from the rafters. Some of you may recall a similar scene back in the Book of Acts. Paul was on his circuit preaching wherever he went and he preached at a jam-packed assembly in Troas. Paul must have preached for many hours because a young man named Eutychus fell asleep in one of the windows, fell from a great height and was killed. Paul brought him back from the dead (Ac.20:7-12). I mention that only because conditions were similar in Haïti.
The Translator Doesn't Turn Up
Now this place in Port au Prince was seldom visited by foreigners so the visit by this young green American was something of a novelty. So lots of unbelievers came who might otherwise never have turned up to an evangelical church in a country saturated (and curded by) Voodoo and Roman Catholicism. So there he was. The local pastor had met him...but no translator. These people didn't speak English. There's a heightened sense of expectancy, the people are expecting a special word. The young American missionary is taken to the front of this large throng and the old pastor shouts into his ear, 'Alé!' He was expected to preach.
The Miracle of Genuine Tongues
I'll let the young man tell his own story - he's speaking in the third person:
Worthless if Not Rooted in Love
"The young preacher is fearful, but he trusts the Holy Spirit. He remembers the promise: whenever a disciple steps out in faith, Jesus promises to be there. The preacher picks up a guitar and plays a little then starts feeling more comfortable as the people in this crude place clap their hands in time with the music. Now it is time to preach.
"The young preacher prays - fervently - as he lays aside the guitar. Realising that he is in one whale's belly of a fix, he begins to speak a few words in a language he had studied in high school years earlier:
"The pastor and congregation must settle on a rudimentary attempt at a sermon in half-remembered high school French - unless the Holy Spirit speaks through for the young preacher. But after these few introductory words, the supernatural is there. The Holy Spirit takes control of the young preacher's tongue and vocal cords - and then for his senses, time stands still.
"Forty minutes passed before the word is complete. The congregation is suddenly ecstatic. Many jumped up and down, hands raised in the air, crying, 'Alleluia!' and 'Lwanj pou Seyè!' The young preacher comes to his senses hardly aware that time had passed. He did not yet understand the impact of his words, nor did he even know what transpired in that lost time.
"No, he had not known the meaning of the words he's been speaking for the last forty minutes - he did not know enough French to go on five minutes. French was not the language that he heard coming from his mouth anyway. He had been preaching his heart out in Haïtian Creole, a language he had never learned, studied, understood. Yet it was obvious that the mass of people packed into this rude little building understood; yes, they knew exactly what the Holy Spirit was saying to them through the facilities of the young preacher!
"The elderly pastor was surely surprised, and shouted the same word to the preacher as he did before the preacher started, 'Alé!' - 'Go on!' The pastor wound up the meeting with a few words then both the elderly pastor and the young preacher began ministering to the people..." .
That was true tongues. I've actually met this man online, he's messianic now. He's even made his own Hebrew translation of the Gospel of Matthew . As I've said, I have heard many true stories like this one and have consistently believed and taught for 30 years that this is the only authentic form of tongues. It is the only tongues rooted in ahavah (love) and anything that is not rooted in ahavah (love) is "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor.13:1b, NRSV). It's worthless. It is nothing and the one propagating it is worthless as an instrument of Yahweh too. We "gain nothing" (v.3, NRSV).
When Tongues, Prophecy and Knowledge Come to an End
Tongues will one day cease - "come to an end" (v.8, NRSV). When that happens, all that is left is either ahavah (love) (if the tongues were authentic) or the flesh (if they weren't). Tongues, knowledge and prophecy all come to an end. All that survives is emunah (faith), tiqveh (hope) and ahavah (love), of which ahavah (love) is the greatest. If these are the greatest, then everything else is of secondary importance. And when what is of secondary importance is stripped away, if faith, hope and love are not there, all the secondary items, depicted in hyperbolic language to the Corinthians, will have been in vain - all the theological knowledge, all the prophesying and even the authentic tongue-speaking.
A Selfless Concern for Others
Ahavah (love) is a selfless concern for the welfare of others that is not called forth by any quality of lovableness in the person loved, but is the product of the will to love in obedience to Yahweh's mitzvah (commandment). In that respect it is exactly like Yah'shua's (Jesus') ahavah (love) manifested on the cross (Jn.13:34; 1 Jn.3:16)
Stirring Up the Gifts
Whatever our gifts, Yahweh now wants to stir them up, and when they are fully stirred up, we will - both as individuals and a Messianic Community - start changing direction. That cannot be avoided when you operate in the supernatural - everything changes when that happens. It can't be 'worked up' psychically by the will of man but has to be empowered by the Ruach (Spirit) by the will of Yahweh. Our job is quite simply to yield control to Him by dying to all that is fleshly - letting go of everything that weighs us down and keeps us on the bottom of the sea - not as a mental exercise but as an operation of the whole soul and person.
A Forty Year Journey
Brethren and sisters, we have been 'at this' Messianic Evangelical work now for 30 years. This work began in the city of Oxford, England where I was at university and today it now finds itself headquartered in Sweden. One interesting thing about the coat of arms of Oxford University and the simplified version of the Kingdom of Sweden is both contain three gold crowns on a blue background. The Latin motto of Oxford University is, appropriately, Dominus Illuminatio Mea which means 'The Lord (Yahweh) is My Light'. It is taken from the first verse of the 27th Psalm:
From Oxford to Sweden
"Yahweh is my light and my salvation -
whom shall I fear?
Yahweh is the stronghold of my life -
of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps.27:1, NIV).
Oxford was the place where my journey started - I was born into His Light 40 years ago there. It began with a prophetic dream in my home village of Cranleigh, Surrey, England, then became a unilateral covenant entered into with Yahweh by myself in St.Mary's Church, Oxford, to seek His emet (truth) and not rest until I had found it, and culminated there with my rebirth on 30 March 1977 and the organisation of this work ten years later. I come from a country consisting of three nations - England-Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - and I have ended in a country of three nations, represented by three crowns - the Kingdom of the Sveas (Swedes), Goths and Wends.
The Three Crowns
Where did Oxford get it's three crowns from? They were the arms of Thomas Cranley, Warden of New College between 1389 and 1396, whose name Cranley was also the old name of my home village in Surrey which today is called Cranleigh. In the area of Värmland where we live, we have cranes too. Coincidences? The three crowns appear on one or two other coats of arms including the old Austrian Province of Galicia, today divided between Poland and Ukraine, whose capital L'viv (Lwów, L'vov, Lemberg) was my very first Eastern European mission assignment, an area that has held a fascination for me since I was a teen as it was one of the crossroads of Europe that has been contested over by armies for centuries. The three crowns are also to be found as the ancient Coat of Arms of the Lordship of Ireland (one of my ancestral homelands) before the harp was adopted and still remains the Coat of Arms of the Province of Munster in south-west Ireland. It is also the Coat of Arms of East Anglia, England.
My last Sermon?
Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is, in a way, an ending for me personally - the end of a journey that began 40 years ago - and I don't know how much longer I will be able to write or preach. Just preparing this sermon has cost me dearly as it is very painful to type it up and I am rapidly losing the use of my right arm to chronic fibromyalgia with my left showing similar signs. It is consuming pretty much every other muscle of my body now so it is very hard to sit or lie down, to lift or carry anything, with my strength nearly all but gone as I now sleep very little. Once my arms go, then I don't know quite what will happen as far as ministering online is concerned. I am trusting Yahweh for a miracle and pray that you will lift me up in prayer to that end. It may well be that the real adventure is about to begin. Who knows.
A Final Word
Accordingly, I wanted - if this turns out to be my last, or one of my last - sermon(s), that I end on a suitable note, and preferably the heart of the Besorah (Gospel) which is the Ahavah (Love) of Elohim (God), as that is what everything is about and what everything worthwhile mounts to. So it seems approriate to end today with a Scripture that encapsules this message:
"If I speak in the tongues (languages) of men and of malakim (angels), but have not ahavah (love), I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have an emunah (faith) that can move mountains, but have not ahavah (love), I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not ahavah (love), I gain nothing.
"Ahavah (love) is patient, ahavah (love) is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Ahavah (love) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the emet (truth). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
"Ahavah (love) never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues (languages, speech), they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
"And now these three remain: emunah (faith), tiqveh (hope) and ahavah (love). But the greatest of these is ahavah (love)" (1 Cor 13, NIV).
May the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with you all over this coming month, that you may bear fruit to Him and find His shalom (peace). Amen.
 Jackson H.Snyder II, Spiritual Gifts Revelation 2: Miracles by the Book, 7.0 (2008), pp.15-16
 Jackson H.Snyder, Katya Mattyah: The Good News According to Matthew (2009)