Month 9:08, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:244 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 21 November 2012
Becoming One & Finding Others
Continued from Part 1
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el! May you all reap bounteous spiritual fruits as we honour the sabbath and assemble in worship today. Today's message took a little time to distill out as I was not given a clear-cut word as I usually am but it is no less important than messages of the other kind.
Modern-Day Trends in the Christian Community
Those of you who are evangelists, missionaries or witnesses of the Besorah (Gospel) in general (which is all of us at some time or another) I am sure have been frustrated by a complete indifference to emet (truth) you have met from both believers and unbelievers alike. This is a frustrating day and age to be living in for sure with its own unique package of apostacies and challenges.
An interesting study made by the Barna Group which, according to its website, serves "the information needs of the church by offering statistics, resources, seminars and custom research on current cultural and spiritual trends", concluded after doing some intensive research:
Closed to Being Proven Wrong, Fear of Growing in a New Direction
Most Believers Do Not Care About Truth
"The problem facing the Christian Church is not that people lack a complete set of beliefs; the problem is that they have a full slate of beliefs in mind, which they think are consistent with biblical teachings, and they are neither open to being proven wrong nor to learning new insights. It may well be that spiritual evaluation is so uncommon because people fear that the results might suggest the need for different growth strategies or for more aggressive engagement in the growth process. No matter what the underlying reason is, the bottom line among both the clergy and laity was indifference toward their acknowledged lack of evaluation."
This is an astounding conclusion because what it is basically saying is that most contemporary believers don't really care what the emet (truth) is. And it really doesn't matter how much you witness or share with someone who is indifferent to emet (truth), does it? Indeed, this lack of interest in the emet (truth) could well be said to be a symptom indicating whether a believer is regenerated or not for the pure and simple reason that a soul which is regenerated cares deeply about the emet (truth), cares to seek out the emet (truth) with a view to not simply understanding but to obeying that emet (truth) in order to please Elohim (God).
Hungry for Truth
One who seeks, guards and implements emet demonstrates that he or she loves Yahweh. And I believe that is true both of those who claim to be believers as well as those who do not! Those who are hungry for truth, whether believers or unbelievers, are all pointing towards Him and are therefore repenting! The fact that one (the regenerated believer) knows His Name, His Torah and His Besorah (Gospel) and the other knows little or none of these is ultimately immaterial because both are seeking the same thing and are therefore heading for the same goal. I therefore personally have a greater interest in, and hope for, the heathen who is seeking emet (truth) than for one who claims to be a believer who is partly or wholly indifferent to it.
A Common Underlying Purpose
One of the principles you learn early on as you become acquainted with the underlying purposes of Yahweh's moedim or appointments, whether the weekly sabbath, the monthly new moon, or the annual festivals, is the importance of cycles of growth and self-evaluation. The person who knows Yah'shua (Jesus) because He has been born-again, who keeps pointing and moving toward Him, and who seeks to draw closer through his hunger for emet (truth), may be said to in such a cycle of spiritual growth.
My Own Journey
I remember well my own search for emet (truth) and how I was propelled by a deep-seated need to find it. Even before I discovered who Yah'shua (Jesus) was, or before I even became a theist (one who believes in the existence of God), I was hungry to know what the emet (truth) and reality of our world and universe was. And, yes, I went down some false pseudo-scientific, occultic and religious trails in the beginning, but with each one that proved a dead-end, I back-tracked and resumed the journey. (See, A Glimpse into Heaven: My Life Story and How I Came to Know Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)).
The Truth-Seeker Dynamic
There is a common dynamic that steers both those who have found Yah'shua (Jesus) and those who have not yet found Him and that is a heaven-breathed power, desire and will, if you like, to find the emet (truth), no matter what. Such people step on other peoples' toes a lot, upsetting cherished beliefs, and unfortunately make enemies along the way who would rather not have the boat of their belief system disturbed. But they also step on their own as they make mistakes and are forced to change direction. Such people always find Yah'shua (Jesus) in the end and are characterised by one of the greatest of virtues, HONESTY. You cannot possibly find the emet (truth) if you are dishonest, ignore facts, to try to make facts fit into a preconceived belief system. Of course (and I mention this for my atheist readers), not all 'facts' recessarily are emet (truth) - 'facts' have to be checked and double-checked to make sure they're not lies. Such may not become apparent until you have seen a particular problem from different angles. And sometimes things are much more complex than they seem - a red flower is a completely different colour when viewed through ultraviolet lenses. In other words, there are often multiple layers to reality.
The Example of the True Sabbath
I think, to give an example, of all the confusion over what the true sabbath was. Until about a year ago, I really thought I had the 'facts' immovably nailed down. I thought I had a cast-iron case. When I think of the long struggle I had over the 'Sunday Sabbath' and my conversion by the 'facts' that led me to a 'Saturday Sabbath' I have to laugh because I was viewing the whole question of 'which day' from an entirely wrong perspective - I was looking at the question through Roman instead of Hebrew eyes. What I once though were the incontrovertible 'facts' about the 'Saturday Sabbath' turned out to be totally in error when I finally learned about the Creation Calendar. And I freely admit I resisted the emet (truth) for a whole year because I had the "fear that the results might suggest the need for different growth strategies or for more aggressive engagement in the growth process"...it meant changing (and disrupting) my life far more than the compartively easy switch from Sunday to Saturday had. It was ten times harder because I had to ditch so many other things too: the idea of a 'weekend', regular uninterrupted seven day cycles, and much more. But in the end I could no longer deny it, I yielded to the emet (truth) and just did it. But the fruits have been awesome! Peace of mind, new emet (truth) opening up in abundance, and greater closeness to Elohim (God).
Refusing to Be Corrected
So I maintain affirmatively that one who is sincerely seeking the emet (truth), but who may not be acknowledging Elohim (God) yet, is in a much better place than one who claims to know or acknowledge Elohim (God) and the emet (truth) but who will not in fact seek for more emet (truth). I think of Jehovah's Witnesses who are totally closed to the possiblity being wrong or to correction, who claim they are "in the truth" or others like the Mormons who believe everyone else is wrong, because there is no possibility of growth for them except within a very small theological box that is riddled with life-limiting error. Indeed, it is more dangerous to believe that you 'know' Yahweh or the Besorah (Gospel) and yet actually not do so, or only know it as a very weak shadow of the reality. Such are using this vain confidence (which is also the spirit of laziness and of unaccountability) as an excuse and as a barrier against seeking Yahweh and His emet (truth).
Hiding Behind the 'Cult' Excuse
Furthermore, not only those whom others self-righteously call 'cults' are necessarily to blame. There are plenty of Evangelical Christians and Messianics who just 'don't want to know' either - evangelicals who don't want to know what the Torah really is or the connection of some of their beliefs to paganism, and messianics who don't want to admit that Judaism may actually be a form of Moloch-worship. And perhaps the most shocking for atheists, if they dare pursue the rabbit trail, is the discovery that they're actually very religious indeed, especially those involved in politics and in Marxism. I think of all the believers in denial over the UFO phenomenon, the existence of demons, the fact that our 'democratic' governements are almost completely taken over and controlled by a shadowly totalitarian Úlite, and so many other things and then I cease to be surprised at their ignorance and inability to handle certain aspects of life. The real tragedy occurs when they abandon Yah'shua (Jesus) thinking that other religions (or atheism) have 'better explanations' because they won't let the Davar Elohim (Word of God) speak for itself but instead blame false tradition for the lack of answers.
Courage and Fear
To pursue emet (truth) does require courage because lies and falsehood - backed as they are by demonic powers - never yield without a fight or without threats. Many, therefore, refuse to search because they are just plain scared. Their dynamic - or at least part of it - is steered by fear rather than by ahavah (love).
To Please Yahweh
Our calling is, and always has been, to adjust to Yahweh's emet (truth) not because we necessarily like it at first (quite typically we don't) but because it pleases Him. The objective of every true believer is to give glory to Yahweh and to adjust our thoughts, feelings and actions until we are walking in His spiritual stream, learning to accept and like it. The emet (truth) is always liberating once you are free from the captivity of lies. However, sometimes the two must co-exist for a little time while we try to figure out what the lies really are and why the emet (truth) is in fact desirable. We have to learn to let go of our fear of the unknown that new emet (truth) brings by walking in the derech (way) that was always ordained, and which demonstrates our ahavah (love) of Elohim (God), namely, emunah (faith/trusting).
Bad Investments and Paybacks
Look upon believing and living lies as a bad investment even if there is an apparent short-term gain. It's like taking out a bank loan, having a great time spending it, and then facing the problems of the payback - returning the money with interest. And there is always a payback - usually painful - for signing the dotted line on Satan's contracts.
For believers doing this, it's a bit like being a double agent, working for Yahweh sometimes and then for the Adversary at others. As a lover of the 7th Day Sabbath I had no idea, until I was forced to face the emet (truth) that I was worshipping Saturn (or Satan) by following the Roman Saturday, that I was worshipping Yahweh on one of Satan's days, and thus honouring both, just as I once honoured Yah'shua (Jesus) and Nimrod (Satan) by once celebrating Christmas (albeit only half-heartedly). And as you know, a man cannot serve two masters (Mt.6:24; Lk.16:13).
Conviction is Not Necessarily True Faith
John Calvin once said:
"Just as I Am"?
"Is it faith (emunah) to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the [Roman Catholic] Church?"
Indeed, should we do the same thing to the Protestant Church, the Orthodox Church or to Judaism? There is no way we will ever understand why we believe and behave the way we do by uncritically accepting what was passed down to us by the institutions of men, whether religious or secular, and we will never learn the emet (truth) or grow. Purity and sincerity, though definitely a step in the right direction, are not enough if we refuse to find out the emet (truth) for ourselves. No, it is not enough to come to Elohim (God) "just as I am" if we don't, as John Bevere points out, do so repenting, because if we don't come with a lev (heart) willing to change direction upon discovery that it is in error, then we are not honouring the Elohim (God) we are supposedly coming to. "Just as I am" is not supposed to be a static condition - we are supposed to desire and submit to change until we are completely in His image, conformed and obedient to His perfect Davar (Word) in Torah. If we believe otherwise, then we are really signing up to Aaron's lie, when he declared that worshipping a Golden Calf was acceptable so long as it was 'understood' that what was really being worshipped was Yahweh. No, this is not acceptable, and we know it isn't because of what happened to those 'sincere' Israelies, who, coming "just as I am", paid for their blasphemy and apostacy with their lives.
Time Does Not Make Sin Respectable
That being indisputably so, dare we continue celebrating the Birthday of Nimrod at Christmas or Satan's Day of Rest on Saturday? Dare we continue to follow any compromise with heathenism and suppose that Yahweh won't mind? It doesn't matter that millions of Christians and Jews do these things, and have been doing them for a very long time, because time does not make sin respectable or acceptable.
The Consequences of Following Truth
Now I could have mentioned any number of doctrines where the emet (truth) and lies of the enemy have been mixed to effect a deadly compromise but I leave it to you to search through this website. If you think you're better able to face my hot potatoes you might want to start digging again and not fear the disapproval your Christian and Messianic peers. I might as well warn you, you will be scorned, riddiculed and persecuted if you start this journey. You will not escape these. The question is: how important is the emet (truth) to you? How important is pleasing and worshipping Yahweh with purity of lev (heart) to you?
In What Are You Investing?
Our faith, or lack of it, is an investment. Whatever you do, you are backing one of two horses. One will take you to heaven and the other to hell. Those who invest in hell's army - supernatural or human - against the children of heaven cannot expect a dividend that will benefit them in the minutest degree. What they can expect, and what they will receive without the slightest doubt, is a cursing and loss that will bring them nothing but regret and grief.
I don't think the world has ever been as deceived by lies as much as it is being deceived today. But because the emet (truth) is available, and people refuse to search for it or acknowledge it when it is presented to them, they are sent a "strong delusion" by Yahweh in return (2 Thess.2:11, NKJV) for their lack of emunah (faith) and obedience. And if Yahweh has sent it, there is nothing you or I can do to penetrate it, since who can opose Elohim (God)? We are not called to waste our time beating our heads against the doors of those who don't want to know the emet (truth) - we are only to go to those who are seeking, whether they are professing Christians or Messianics, or whether they are atheists or adherents of other religions. Discerning this division of peoples therefore becomes very important and means we should not follow the trail of labels that people wear but in the condition of their levim (relative) to the emet (truth) dynamic. We cannot violate the free will of those who choose to remain blind not can we seek to deliver them of the delusion that Yahweh Himself has sent them. They have to make their own choices first and choose to become seekers first. Only then are we sent to them.
May you be blessed in your own continuing search for emet (truth) and in your witness of the same to other emet (truth)-seekers. Amen.
This is a worldwide experience of all ministries, churches, and congregations, and it is going to get worse. I keep telling people in third world countries not count on financial support from the West for much longer as the economic meltdown accelerates, and I advise pastors and other ministers who have relied on the support of their congregations to get regular jobs themselves because it simply won't be possible to support them. In my own congregations ministers have had to be self-supporting which has had the positive effect of spreading the load of ministry to others too. I have also counselled people to turn the lawns into fruit and vegetable gardens because we are going to have to be self-sufficient in the days ahead - there's just no way it can be avoided. The days of paid ministry are, I believe, soon to be a thing of the past, not necessarily because the Scriptures don't say that congregations cannot support their ministers (because they absolutely can and should when they are able) but because it is wrong to take food out of the mouths of children in times of great want. When Shaul needed to support himself, either because of stingy members or because they had nothing, he reverted back to his saddle-making business (or tents, or whatever you believe it was).
Yes, it is out duty to tithe but it is also our duty to to be honest and to make things right with those we have wronged.