1. Oppenness - an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity and a variety of experience. Examples:
- I am full of ideas.
- I am quick to understand things.
- I have a rich vocabulary.
- I have a vivid imagination.
- I have excellent ideas.
- I spend time reflecting on things.
- I use difficult words.
- I am not interested in abstract ideas. (reversed)
- I do not have a good imagination. (reversed)
- I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas. (reversed
2. Conscientiousness - a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement - planned rather than spontaneous behaviour. Examples:
- I am always prepared.
- I am exacting in my work.
- I follow a schedule.
- I get chores done right away. I like order. I
- I pay attention to details.
- I leave my belongings around. (reversed)
- I make a mess of things. (reversed)
- I often forget to put things back in their proper place. (reversed)
- I shirk my duties. (reversed
3. Extraversion - energy, positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation and the company of others. Examples:
- I am the life of the party.
- I don't mind being the center of attention.
- I feel comfortable around people.
- I start conversations.
- I talk to a lot of different people at parties.
- I am quiet around strangers. (reversed)
- I don't like to draw attention to myself. (reversed)
- I don't talk a lot. (reversed)
- I have little to say. (reversed)
4. Agreeableness - a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic toward others. Examples:
- I am interested in people.
- I feel others' emotions.
- I have a soft heart.
- I make people feel at ease.
- I sympathise with others' feelings.
- I take time out for others.
- I am not interested in other people's problems. (reversed)
- I am not really interested in others. (reversed)
- I feel little concern for others. (reversed)
- I insult people. (reversed)
5. Neuroticism - a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression or vulnerability - emotional instability. Examples:
- I am easily disturbed.
- I change my mood a lot.
- I get irritated easily.
- I get stressed out easily.
- I get upset easily.
- I have frequent mood swings.
- I often feel blue.
- I worry about things.
- I am relaxed most of the time. (reversed)
- I seldom feel blue. (reversed)
Studies show, as might be expected, that women naturally figure most highly in the Neuroticism and Agreeableness categories whereas men naturally figure most prominently in the Extraversion and Conscientiousness areas. We can see from this what separates and distinguishes the genders. When the categories get mixed, there is gender confusion.
Types of Personality in Messiah?
Now we can look at these traits and measure most of them against what Scripture says about spiritual and unspiritual people. In most instances we can point to traits that are clearly the fruits of spiritual issues and of a life outside of Yah'shua. The big question in my mind is this: If we were completely surrendered to Yah'shua and were maximalising our full potential, would we all basically have the same kind of personality?
I haven't the slightest doubt that every one of you has opinions about this. Since Yah'shua is the only perfect human being we know of, it's pretty obvious that at the end of the day we're all going to be different in some way or another: We will become what we chose to become, ultimately. This begs another question in my mind: Was it Yahweh's original intent that we all become, through the exercise of our will-power, sons and daughters with different character traits? Was this the inevitable outcome of free will? And will we, at some distant time in the eternities, be different to what we become at the end of this physical life? Will we continue to change and grow - to mature? We we get more and more like one another?
We are What We Choose
We don't have the answers to these questions. At least I don't. All we know is that we were born like blank sheets of paper waiting to be written on, that each person has been given unique gifts by the Creator,that we have become what we are now through our various life choices, and that no two people are identical or probably ever will be.
I know we regret some, if not many, of the choices we have made in life. I am sure we would be much better persons now if we had made better choices back then. And some may even ask - does it really matter what we will become? Do we even need to go into such detail?
Ground Rules of Torah
My answer to that is that Torah lays out the rules as to what sinning is and isn't. If a character trait we have is not clearly a sinful one, does it then mean that there will be plenty of variety in people? And if so, would it not be true to say that Yahweh has designed us, and empowered us through the Ruach, to be able to embrace all kinds of people? Clearly everyone does have sinful traits and clearly Yahweh intends us to live together. This being the inescapable conclusion, would not Yahweh then equip us all to live in peace and harmony with each other even as we continue to work out our individual salvation in fear and trembling?
The Relationship Between Grace and Works
We become what we are through our works - our choices - but in the end the empowering we receive to choose, abide, and prosper in the right must ultimately stem from grace, particularly when it comes to our ability to positively live with, and love, other sinners like ourselves. We would never be able to fulfil our callings in this life if first we had to go and isolate ourselves to achieve perfection and only then come together. The paradox is we can't grow without being around fellow sinners. Yahweh has with deliberation thrust us together, disturbing our comfort zones and tendency to want to isolate ourselves or form cliques of mutual limitation, precisely so we can grow with each other and in Him.
Rewards and Unmerited Favour: The Pauline Example
There are many who view grace as a 'reward' for good works. I was only having a discussion on this very subject this last week. I am not sure I would see grace as a 'reward' because it is by definition Yahweh's unmerited favour - His undeserved loving kindness which is bestowed not as a response to anything we do but as an initiatory action all on its own. Thus Yahweh's intervention on behalf of Paul on the road to Damascus, which was not because of an iota of faith on Sha'uls part, is properly seen as grace - Paul had no part of it.
Hesed and Gnade
However, grace is also intimately involved other subjects like forgiveness, regeneration. repentance and Yahweh's own love, with which they are, in a very real sense, inseparably connected. My own view is that grace evolved into a two-way word (Yahweh's and man's mutual initiatives) viâ Martin Luther who rendered the Hebrew hesed (mercy/grace) into the German Gnade which is definitely bidirectional. I don't think Luther was strictly accurate, introducing a sense which isn't there. And the German sense has since passed into English (a Germanic language).
However there is, I think, a second legitimate sense of hesed which might better fit the notion that grace is, in some way, a 'reward' for works, though it still isn't exactly 'grace'. In referring to Yahweh it certainly implies grace - undeserved loving-kindness - but when used of man there is a definite association with b'rit or covenant and denotes an attitude of faithfulness which, of course, both parties of a covenant should observe. Examples of the two types of hesed would be Lamentations 3:22 (for Yahweh) and Hosea 6:1 (for man). As far as the latter is concerned, covenant-love best expresses the idea of hesed.
The other 'grace' word in Hebrew is hen which is definitely not a covenant word and not two-way. This completely fits the traditionally-understood grace model of Protestantism - of the total unmerited favour of YHWH toward man. Examples would be Genesis 33:8,10,15; 39:4 and Ruth 2:2,10. Yahweh's hen is also found in Jeremiah 31:2. No-one can therefore show hen to YHWH, because no one can do Him a favour.
Protestant and Messianic Confusion
The reason why I am using some time on this is because Yochanan/John 1:17 puts Torah into sharp antithesis with grace. This has led to major misunderstandings and an unnecessary split between evangelicals and messianics. Also see Titus 2:11 which states that grace came into the world with Yah'shua. What tends to happen is that the Protestant-Evangelicals unconsciously rush to hen to define their grace and the Messianics to hesed when it comes to intepreting the New Testament. But both propositions are true. There is no distinction between hesed and hen in Greek just as English fails to makes distinctions between different kinds of love in Greek (charis, agapé, philia, eros, etc.). And so all the doctrinal misunderstandings and controversies arise. Martin Luther admitted that he did not know Hebrew, only Greek, so little wonder the Great Reformer had a lopsided view of some critical issues:
"The Hebrew language is the best language of all, with the richest vocabulary... If I were younger I would want to learn this language, because no one can really understand the Scriptures without it. For although the New Testament is written in Greek, it is full of hebraisms and Hebrew expressions. It has therefore been aptly said that the Hebrews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream puddle."
Grace and Law are Not Antithetical
From Lutheran misunderstandings come the idea that grace and law are somehow antithetical, and that is then reflected in their New Testament translations into German and English. They aren't. Grace was very definitely present in the Old Testament but the difference between the Old and the New is that grace is in the foreground in the New whereas it is in the background in the Old. That doesn't mean there are two different 'graces' - it simple means that grace is the object of focus in the New precisely because it has its most concrete expression and revelation in the voluntary sacrifice of our Messiah Yah'shua. Hallelu-Yah!
Orders of Grace
There is one other important consideration in this discussion on grace which is something we like to emphasise in our ministry because it tends to get lost in Messianic discussions, and it is a principle taught emphatically in Ephesians and Hebrews, namely, that hen-grace came before hesed-grace which came before Torah. This is so vital to understand if we are to be in right relationship with Yahweh and with each other that it deserves to be thoroughly underlined and repeated until we understand it and have everything in correct perspective:
- 1. Undeserved loving-kindness, unmerited favour from Yahweh to man (hen);
- 2. Covenant love (man) leading to kindness and mercy from Yahweh (hesed);
- 3. Torah-obedience by man as an expression of love for Yahweh's hen and hesed and a natural fruit of being saved by Yah'shua.
Thus the Torah was never primary .- and when it becomes so, it becomes idolatrous and legalistic. That is one reason I do not like the RSTNE rendition of Yochanan/John 1:1 which makes a tertiary aspect into something primary:
"Beersheeth (In the beginning) was the Torah and the Torah was with YHWH, and the Torah was YHWH" (Yoch.1:1, RSTNE).
This makes Torah out to be God or Elohim. Not only is this without textual warranty (if John had meant Torah he would have used the word Torah - but he didn't - he used davar/logos meaning 'word'). This reminds me of the shocking translation by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith in his 'Inspired' version of the Bible (he used no original manuscripts - just claimed revelation from the 'Holy Ghost') - in which he interposes his own interpretation:
"In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and thr word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God" (John 1:1, 'IV').
An appalling 'translation', which is why the RSTNE sent red lights off in my head. Certainly the Torah is an aspect of davar but it is not the davar. We know davar is correct because the Aramaic (Old Syriac and Peshitta) does not use the word 'tôra'.
I mention this to illustrate how we can insert out own biases into scripture translation if we are not rigorous. Enthusiasm is not enough - there has to be impartial scholarship. Evangelical and Messianic translators have their in-built biases - evangelicals have hen-grace on the brain and messianics are obsessed with Torah. They're both there but they are neither competing with each other nor are they mutually exclusive. We must have the correct sense and proper balance or we will end up with a lopsided gospel resulting in never-ending schism.
No Cause for Israel Boasting
Finally, another nuance which must not be missed - grace is in Torah itself. How? The election of Israel to be Yahweh's people is always atrributed in Torah to Yahweh's free choice, not to Israel's righteousness! (see Dt.7:7-8; cp. 8:18) There is NO CAUSE FOR ISRAEL BOASTING. She isn't 'teacher's pet' because of doning anything good of herself. She hasn't. She's as miserable and wicked as the gentiles. She has what she has only because of hen-grace - YHWH's undeserved loving kindness, His unmerited favour.
Don't Elevate Judah
Sadly, Judah has not paid attention and adopted a lot of this mentality of superiority. We take grave risks and can easily slip into idolatry if we start elevating Judah in any way, something which Judah herself encourages and which Ephraim falls for time and time again because he senses his lack of knowledge of Torah which Judah has. But Ephtaim is learning Torah now and discovering that Judah is not what she makes herself out to be necessarily. Let us remind ourselves of the true position and spiritual status of both tribes:
Yahweh Divorced Both Houses
"Yahweh said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: 'Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, 'Return to Me.' But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,' says Yahweh. Then YahwehH said to me, "Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah" (Jer 3:6-11, NKJV).
Who has taught us the lie that only Israel (Ephraim) committed adultery and was divorced? That Judah is still Yahweh's metaphorical wife? The Scripture is very plain - BOTH committed adultery, BOTH were divorced and yet backsliding Israel showed herself to be what? MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN JUDAH because Judah made a PRETENSE at being righteous! Israel (Ephraim) was at least honest about her wickedness and didn't try to pretend to be 'religious' as Judah did, and still does.
Exposing the 'Renewed Covenant' Myth
This is one myth we have been called to expose. Judah does not have some exalted position. Both she and Ephraim have what they have because of grace alone. It is because of this lie that Judah is insisting that she's still married and that her covenant of old is now a renewed covenant. It isn't. Yahweh put her away just like He did Ephraim. To be restored requires a new marriage, not a 'renewed' one.
Let's dismantle the myths and expose all pretentiousness, get on our knees and acknowledge that both tribes only have what they have because of Yahweh's undeserved loving kindness. We're all ultimately dust.
It should be obvious, therefore, that grace comes before Torah - every time.
'Types' of Person
The consequences of this truth are that it is wrong to try to gather a certain 'type' of person which matches the traits we personally like or feel most comfortable with. We are to allow Yahweh to send whom He may to us and minister to them. Judah and Ephraim, for all their mutual fleshy animosity, have got to swallow their pride and come together and work things our in grace.In fact, there are twelve tribes, each with personality traits - each with strengths to leaven the other tribes with, each with weaknesses to overcome. This will not be accomplished by boasting of works - of Torah-knowledge, for example - but by acknowledging that nothing can be accomplished except through grace.
In an episode of the TV series, Little House on the Prairie, the obnoxious Mrs.Oleson and another equally prejudiced parishoner veto the membership of a man into their church because he is black. She has the racist idea that his 'type' doesn't belong and that they have traits which are 'dangerous'. Through a series of circumstantial rebukes and life-lessons in which Mrs.Oleson overhears a blind black boy sharing his heart-break with the newly admitted Afro-American parishoner at not being accepted because of the colour of his skin, she at length has a change of heart. Love breaks down the barriers of intolerance.
Differences with Purpose
I believe that Yahweh has made us different in appearance and in certain traits and throws us together with them precisely so that we will overcome our prejudices and artificial self-comfort zones - He wants us to rely on grace, not works, in order to get on together.
It is not our business to veto any of Yahweh's children who have made a real choice for Yah'shua in their lives, nor to pick and find fault with them in order to remould them into what we want them to be. Yahweh does His own moulding in His own time and way.
The same is true of siblings - brothers and sisters are different, sometime radically different in a family but that is how Yahweh made it to be. Parents can't control who is born into families - that is Yahweh's sovereign will. We must presume that the first family can a murderous Cain and a righteous Abel and Seth for a reason. We must presume that the four wives of Jacob were very different too but Yahweh brought them together under circumstances which we often find hard to understand, but which He had perfect control over, in order to raise the Twelve Tribes of Israel of which we are all a part. Read their Patriarchal Blessings to see how different they all were, even sons from the same mother! Why didn't He make them all alike? Why not just one mother instead of four?
There is purpose in everything and in every way of Yahweh which we are not required to understand. We are not to veto Him in any way. Just as we can't vote people in or out of the Kingdom, so the plural Bride of Yah'shua cannot tell Him who or who is, isn't, should be or shouldn't be saved. Yahweh looks with a heavy heart when we judge in that way. He sends, we are to receive and labour together with them.
The Limits of Psychology
Though I am interested in psychology and have studied a lot of psychology, I am not a psychologist and try to mix psychology with the Gospel as little as possible. If you do, you end up with a purpose-driven Gospel instead of a Ruach-driven one.
None of us understands who we are completely. Only Yahweh can possibly understand our whole make-up with its complicated network of experiences, unhealed shadowy dispositions, and perfected character traits. Clearly without Yah'shua we're going to mess relationships up one way or another. About the only promise Yahweh gives to us in regard to others is this: if we surrender out lives to Yah'shua, dying to self-sovereignty and self-will - and if we will seek to obey the 1,000 or so basic rules that He has revealed to us in the Bible, we will have everything we need to live in peace and love with Him and with each other. And if those 1,000+ rules intimidate you, don't let them - Yahweh has divided them into three categories so that we can easily understand them: (1) The Two Great Commandments; (2) The Ten Commandments; and (3) All of the rest. Each set summarises the one beneath it. And they all distill into two: love Yahweh with everything you have, and love people the way you want to be loved yourself.
Salvation, Trust and Knowledge
At the end of the day I still don't know the answers to many questions because, as I have learned over the years, salvation is a function of trust, not knowledge. This means that I have got to trust Yahweh (which is 100% safe) and trust people (which is full of potential risks and hurts). As far as the latter are concerned, I have to allow Yahweh to wisely construct boundaries in my life and not try to do that myself and end up placing a barrier up to love. No boundary will, moreover, be full-proof if it's our own welfare and comfort we're thinking about. Whoever I trust will result in us hurting each other at some point - we all hurt one another, without exception. Yah'shua wants us to risk being hurt by walking life with the only workable maximum security policy: Yah'shua IN us. That way we can be hurt - to suffer - constructively rather than destructively. We can know we will survive and won't be able to invent excuses for hiding away.
As we look at the apostles we find quite a mixed bunch of people, especially the ones we know a lot about. Paul and Peter were both strong-willed, stubborn men who made huge mistakes but when they repented became powerful, effective men of Yahweh. They even fought against each other over the Judaising heresy that rocked the early messianic community. We 'see' and notice them because they are noisy, the noisy tend to be 'seen' more than the quiet. Ask any school teacher.
Appearances Can be Deceptive
Now John was a different kind of man altogether. He had will-power but was of a much more quiet nature. He's a different kind of personality. And yet he and Peter have a common background as fishermen - Paul was from the educated class. Paul is bubbling with passion the moment he puts pen to paper. John is very different - though he becomes the chief apostle eventually, he does not 'stick out' like the extrovert Peter and Paul. And yet the funny thing is Paul and Peter are different in another way - Paul, we learn from his writings, is very different on paper to what he is in real life. On paper he is bold and comes across as very domineering, yet in the flesh he was a very unimposing and mild man.
When I think of Peter and Paul I see roadbuilders noisily tearing up rock and soil. When I think of John I see a roadbuilder who quietly lays down the cobbles methodically and with precision. Peter and Paul deal with what comes up at the moment and they do so with tremendous outbursts of passion. John has a bigger picture and he is building within a framework that most can't see, so he baffles them. Paul loves complicated intellectual concepts expressed in hugely long sentences. Peter is more straight forward, down to earth. John seems to have a bit of both. They're different men with similar and yet different callings. They approach things differently. And none of them are 'wrong'.
The University of Jena
A couple of nights ago I had what I at first thought was a very strange dream. I dreamed I was enrolling at the University of Jena in Thuringia, in Germany. Up until yesterday I only knew of the city by name. I remember collecting my library card and being given a self-adhesive sticker that looked like a postage stamp from about 100 years ago to be placed in the card allowing me to take books out. It seemed somehow out of place because the campus was very modern. As an Oxford man I have an intense dislike of modern campuses, perhaps because I love the old classical architecture and open college system of Oxford University, but in the dream I seemed unbothered by this. To cut a longish dream short, I met a very intelligent and smart female professor who was clearly a libertine and who enjoyed seducing male students. I found her spirit revolting and left the moment I felt her defiled spirit. There was also a very strange 'race' around the block in which I was carrying someone on my back and racing two others. I only just won, my legs growing weaker near the end.
The German Philosophers
Yesterday I determined to find out why I dreamed I was in Jena particularly and was surprised to learn that this university town had been the home of some of Germany's greatest secular philosophers: Fichte, Hegel, Schiller and Schelling.
Fichte was one of the founding fathers of German idealism, bridging the works of Kant and Hegel, and developped ideas of self-consciousness and self-awareness. He gained a reputation for being barely intelligible, like so many modern theologians and Torah-teachers I should mention. Hegel was the father of dialecticism which plays such a prominent rôle in the thinking behind Marxism. Schiller was the poet-philosopher who believed that reason educates the emotions, and finally Schelling, was another German Idealist. All of these men were set on courses independent of Gospel truth in which they sought to understand the world through rationalism. They epitomise what I call the 'intellectual masturbation of the West' and represent Greek-based systems of thought diamatrically opposed to the revelation of Yahweh. Coming from a Greek and Latin Classical background myself, I have had to unlearn their ways of thinking, with which we are indoctrinated from the day we enter school and in the movies we watch, and acquire a radically different Hebrew mindset.
The Hebrew Mindset
I was immediately reminded of something a Messianic pointed out the other day which epitomises the essential difference between West and East, between Humanistic Rationalism and the Revelation of Yahweh:
"The Greek mind says, 'Tell me why and then I'll do it.' The Hebrew mind says, 'I'll do it, and then I'll know why.'
Proof Before Faith?
Do you see the fundamental difference between these two world views? The Western mind wants proof before faith - it wants to test everything. Is it so unreasonable? Well, yes and no. It is reasonable to want to test some things but when it comes to wanting to test the Torah before doing it, then there will never be any understanding. Only a fool tests murder, adultery or theft.
The Greek thinking comes from a lack of trust in authority - and understandably so, for who can trust authority not grounded in pure truth? But Yahweh has given us the truth in both the written (Bible) and Living Torah (Yah'shua the Messiah).
Yahweh wants us to launch in and work with people, loving and serving them before we understand them. He wants a practical religion. This kind of religion surprises and either converts friends of Yah'shua or makes you an enemy. And I think it's the risk of making enemies that cowers so many people who want to 'pave the way' first ... and only witness to those they're sure will be 'saved and be friendly'. That is not, I assert, faith but something else. Faith trusts in Yahweh. The 'something else' wants first to be liked and accepted by cultivating an 'image' of acceptability to everyone. But what results is that all these 'images' interact in an unreal world where the real people never actually interact. Ella Oakman observes:
"When competition is used as a means of creating a self-image relative to others, the worst in a person comes out; then the ordinary fears and frustrations become greatly exaggerated. It is as if some believe that only by being the best, only by being the winner, will they be eligible for the love and respect they seek. Children who have been taught to measure themselves in this way often become adults driven by a compulsion to succeed which overshadows all else".
Grace Requires No Competition
You do not need to compete for grace. It is freely given. But befroe we can learn to dispense it, we must first obtain it from Yah'shua. Society has become one grand illusion which is why cyberspace is so 'successful' and popular as a hiding place. It is the ultimate zone of human-made fantasy where everyone is trying to compete to be the 'best' and 'most seen' without actually being seen. It is a desperate quest for love the fleshy way.
Remove Your Shoes
True interaction between people can only take place as we learn to walk in others' shoes. An unknown writer once said:
"Before I can walk in another's shoes, I must first remove my own."
Yah'shua has walked in our shoes as a human being. He was tempted in every point in His humanity but remained true and obedient to Torah. Dying on our behalf for our sins and rising as a Conquereor of Death and Sin, He now stands ready to be admitted into every heart and is willing to impart the same free grace that He wants us to share with others who are lost as we once were. Without it we are condemned to the jungle of fantasy and a world of competition that yields only frustration and defeat. Indeed this morning Yahweh showed me a vision of this type of person, digging furiously away in a forest for iron, with which to make a suit of armour to defend himself in a hostile world. But how a suit of armour impedes movement! It ultimately shuts down the heart and substitutes in a pretense at loving.
The world's way never leads to satisfaction for, as C.S.Lewis observed:
"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only having more of it than the next man."
The Good News of Yah'shua is that He is enough, and because He is enough, we no longer need to strive to be on top or to be better than the next man. He calls us to end the futility and unhappiness of self-rule and to take up His offer of a complete life IN Him. I heartily invite you to take Him up on His offer. Amen.
See Old Things Are Passing Away: The Two Heart Chambers
From, Big Five Personality Traits