Month 11:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5937:325 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 26 February 2014
The Way Has Many Interesting Twists
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with you all. I must apologise in advance for the brevity of my address today but this is owing to the fact that I have been quite ill now for a number of weeks and have fallen behind somewhat in my various committments. So what I have to share with you was actually written on 28 April of last year (2013), the day before my mother died, while I was whiling the long hours away watching by her bedside. I had quite forgotten that I had written this short piece until I accidentally came across it on my Thinkpad last night, a computer which I use when I am on the move. I can't recall now why the subject of regeneration had entered my mind other than of course I was very concerned about my mother's spiritual state. We knew that her death could have happened at any moment and this left me in a very sober frame of mind. Little did I know that it was a little over 24 hours away.
Qualifications for Spiritual Regeneration
It does not matter, of course, what anyone's background is as far as qualifying for regeneration is concerned. You can be an ex-devil worshipper engaging in every imaginable perversion and evil under the sun and later be born again or you can be a nominal Christian half you life and be born again. I myself was an unregenerated Anglican, 'naturally' and effortlessly became an agnostic/atheist, dabbled on the fringes of the occult (astral projection for the most part), and then Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, was converted supernaturally by the grace of Yahweh to the absolute conviction that Yah'shua (Jesus) was Elohim (God) whilst in a Buddhist meeting (I wasn't investigating, let alone interested, in Christianity at the time), and was later, after much prayer and fasting, supernaturally born again before I became associated with any church or assembly.
My Religious Journey
I went off course when I presented Yahweh with three 'alternative' churches I should join, none of which was evangelical or messianic, misinterpreted a vision (and I would again later do the same) and headed off down a wrong path into first conservative (LDS) and then liberal (RLDS) Mormonism before finally breaking out and becoming non-denominational. I associated with the Baptists for a while thereafter. Though I had a number of things from my past to be 'cleaned out', my New Birth mercifully led me back into Evangelical Christianity, thence to Messianism and finally to what I am now - walking a path mid-way between the two, as it were, and beyond. Had I not been born again before I headed off into Mormonism I most certainly would have been lost for a very much longer time.
Diverse and Colourful Backgrounds
I know a good many leaders and founders of ministries who are Messianics and all come from diverse and colourful backgrounds. A good many have come out of Judaism, many have been born again but some have not. Others have come out of Catholicism with one who progressed thereafter through the Worldwide Church of God and thence into a breakoff before embracing Messianism. Another was a Jehovah's Witness and became Evangelical before embracing Messianism. They are all very interesting characters but some have produced some very strange doctrines indeed. And whilst becoming theologically 'evangelical' is no guarantee of being authentically born-again, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a great advantage to having been with people in congregations where a good many - if not the vast majority - have been actually regenerated. For those coming out of Catholicism, Mormonism, Armstrongism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and Judaism (to name but a few), there is a definite and absolute need to be careful and to make sure that they have subsequently become recipients of the New Birth. If they have not, they themselves will be led astray and as leaders they will lead many others astray too
Theologically Evangelical or Messianic and the New Birth
It is sometimes argued by Messianics themselves that because Messianics are, ideally, Torah-obedient, that this is evidence of the New Birth. It can be but of itself it is usually not, otherwise Torah-observant Jews would be born again, which they are not. Whilst those born-again certainly have the desire to be obedient to Messiah (and vaguely or more concretely to the mitzvot/commandments) it is possible, however imperfectly, to obey them in an unregenerated state and give the appearance of having been born again...both to onesself and to others. There are many biblical signs which identify those who are regenerated and as we have seen in this Passover Season  already, this does not necessarily mean they are Torah-obedient. Most aren't who have been authentically born again.
Zeal and Knowledge vs. Evidence of True Regeneration
Zeal is not an infallible sign of the rebirth either, neither is exceptional Torah-knowledge. We are well able to mimimic many spiritual 'traits' in the psychic realm, 'acting' the part of one supposedly regenerated, as one with autism acts out social skills by imitation without actually interacting. Ultimately the one born again is spiritutally discerned by others who have been regenerated too but the biblical signs are pretty clear:
Difficult to Falsify True Signs of the New Birth
"But the fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) is ahavah (love), simchah (joy), shalom (peace), patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Ruach (Spirit), let us keep in step with the Ruach (Spirit)" (Gal.5:22-25, NIV).
It's not easy to falsify any of these, let alone of all them, so they constitute pretty good evidence of regeneration. Yet as I have myself discovered over the years as a believer it's not always easy to know who qualifies for heaven and who doesn't for ultimately only Yahweh knows. So I am wary about passing judgment on anyone.
The New Birth is the sign of the True Believer and those who have not thus been born anew have not, as it were, received the spiritual ratification of their Pesach (Passover) choice to be a believer. They have certainly not obtained the spiritual endowment of Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) which means that any Torah-obedience, whilst by no means a bad thing even for unregenerated people, is not within its true B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant context. Such Torah-obedience is without any sort of spiritul merit and can be nothing more than a willfull restraining influence to stop us doing evil in the surrounding environment. But so long as the fleshy nature remains uncrucified and the spirit unregenerated, Torah-obedience is of no eternal value - it's value is simply in day to day personal functioning and social relationships. If you die in this condition you're in big trouble still because your 'works' at being righteous cannot earn you a salvation. In that case, you might just as well be an unregenerated Jew who has a deep respect for Yah'shua (Jesus), like Harvey Falk who wrote the book, Jesus the Pharisee (1985).
Unfortunately I have met a lot of unregenerated Messianics who, whilst they speak of the new birth, only valguely understand the teaching about it intellectually. It's a theological concept and no more. The whole spirit ousing out of them is very little different to that of the heathen, even if they are doing their best to check their flesh through self-will and self-discipline in accordance with the mitzvah (commandments). They have the 'talk' but are unempowered for the 'walk'. In fact, they are incapable of walking that Derech (Way) that is linked to the Emet (Truth) and the Chayim (Life). They are spiritually dead, like so many atheistic intellectuals save their thoughts and talk are spiced with Torah. They are sometimes very religious but by no means spiritual. Their behaviour gives them away.
Yahweh Walks in Mysterious Ways
Having said that, Yahweh certainly does walk in many mysterious ways and does amazing things through people whom in the past I have prematurely judged as unsaved which is why I hesitate to absolutely label anyone now. The bottom line is that we just don't know since we are not Elohim (God). Having said that, we must be vigilent when it comes to those teaching the Besorah (Gospel) but even that isn't easy because there are many evangelical teachers who are authentically born again but who are not wise in the deeper aspects of the Besorah (Gospel) because they reject Torah. We must accept them as teachers of what they know to be true (as is true of every believer - we should not be teaching what we don't know), acknowledging them as teachers of the Milk Besorah (Gospel) whilst resolutely standing up to them when they attack the Meat Besorah (Gospel), for spiritual children cannot expect not to be chided and brought down a peg for telling untruths.
So I am concerned - very concerned, actually - when it comes to certain ministries and whether or not their leaders have been born again. You might say I have my ECR ('Evangelical Christian Radar') switched on when I read the works of ministers who display signs that they have not experienced the regeneration of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), but equally I must have my Torah Manual at the ready when lawless evangelical ministers, who walk only in the milk, profess to own the meat when very clearly they do not. Worse, what they suppose is the meat is very often a counterfeit spirit which leads them down dangerous avenues.
Returning to Anglicanism
I have, in my spiritual journey, been zealous for many things that were not quite right, taking the word of the priests and ministers who professed to be right and were my mentors. It is perhaps ironic that having been a nominal Anglican, to come to reject and despise that Church for a good while, first as a Mormon and then as a Messianic, that I should find myself (as one aspiring to Torah-obedience) who now finds such a fascination with, and obtains such blessings from, a number of Anglican Evangelicals today.
Two Anglican Worthies
Two stand out in particular - one, an amazing scholar and author of over 70 books, and arguably the leading expert on Paul in this 21st century, retired Bishop N.T.Wright - and the other with the same surname, Canon Andrew White, a man of the people, a peacemaker in one of the most dangerous places in the world, Baghdad, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and arguably the Church of England's 'Mother Teresa' who has rescued so many orphan children from that terrible civil war between Muslims and their Christian victims. Both of them inspire me tremendously in their different ways. Neither do I think it a coincidence that last summer I befriended another man with the surname White, who was my gracious host during my stay in England to organise my mother's funeral, who is a retired surgeon and an Anglican himself.
Making Peace With My Anglican Heritage
You might say that I have been on a journey of Anglican re-discovery as I have refound my English roots after decades of displacement abroad in Malaysia, Norway and Sweden. Though as a Torah-obedient Evangelical Christian I could never, obviously, become an Anglican again, a Church which in our day has most certainly seriously lost its way, I can at least appreciate how Yahweh continues to work in it through those men and women who have been spiritually reborn and who are lights in the Kingdom. I have made peace with my heritage without compromising my very firm beliefs. And whilst I realise there may be some Messianics amongst my friends who would regard me as somewhat of a 'liberal' in this respect, I do have to remind them what whilst it is kosher and necessary to be theologically and morally conservative, we are to nevertheless be exceedingly liberal in the way that we love and appreciate others for who and where they are.
All are at Different Places Along the Way
And this is the final point that I want to make today. Though the 34,000 or so denominations in Christendom hardly reflect the unity to which we have been called, they do at least exist by the grace of Elohim (God) to provide homes for His children while they fumble their way along the very dark corridors of mortality in search of the fullness. And He blesses every one of them to the extent that they desire emet (truth), show forth ahavah (love) and genuinely know Yah'shua (Jesus) through spiritual rebirth. He leaves none homeless. There's a congregation for you no matter where you are in your journey. The fact that they may be at different stages of their spiritual journey and yet carry a lot of false doctrinal and spiritual baggage does not invalidate them as people or as true believers, for have we not all - and are we not all still - carrying some excess baggage along the Derech (Way)? Dare any of us be so arrogant as to claim that we have it all correct?
Having said that, I have to say that I am not an ecumenical and never will be. The Ecumenical Movement is awash with atheists, Marxists, Freemasons, occultists, perverts of every stripe, and those who serve the world system and its doomed master. I know which side the heavenly bread is buttered on so I seek out my companions in the emunah (faith) judiciously, I hope. I am not, though, of that rapacious messianic band who views all evangelicals, or that rapacious evangelical band who views all messianics, as unsaved, of the devil, or hell-bound, or is in habit of throwing unsavoury epithets around. I regard such as cocky and foolish spiritual youths who ought to have been 'brought up' better by their equally blinkered, cocky and foolish ministers. I do not tolerate their lip and send them packing when they try to verbally malhandle me, praying that life will teach them a lesson in hunmility.
I still love Anglican hymns, church architecture and the history of my counrty. Part of me will always be of that warmth and cosiness that has made what is best amongst the English. Call it sentimental if you wish, but there are good things there that have nourished me along the way for which I am eternally grateful, and more so now as I remember and smile. Though that lawless institution will sink further and further into darkness thanks to dark forces that are presently steering it, there will always be good Anglicans, regenerated Anglicans, those who are of the Kingdom of Heaven. And I am certainly most happy to count them as my brethren and as fellow believers . With them I can sing with rapturous delight those immortal words of William Blake which my mother requested sung at her funeral:
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
 Passover 2013
 For a fuller discussion as to why I consider myself an evangelical (along with being a messianic), please see my article, The Six and the Missing One: The Rise and Fall of Evangelical Consumerism which discusses the seven Messianic Evangelical distinctives, six of which are evangelical.