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Posts tagged ‘New Covenant’

The Father’s Heart for Israel and the Church in the Last Days.


 

Jewish Awakening
In these last days, God will show His heart for both the church and Israel.

Nowhere is the relationship between G-d’s family, as Jews and Gentile believers, more clearly seen in Scripture than in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). For a moment, let us reflect upon it, with G-d being the father and the two sons being Jew and Gentile, in order to help us see the changes that we need to make in these times.

Sometimes, when looking at this story, it is hard for us in the church to see ourselves as the older brother, because Israel is the one who came first. However, except for the apostles and many of the first Jewish believers who helped to establish the church in the first century, the rest of the Jewish people have still to come into the New Covenant. This is one of the reasons Jesus said, So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt. 20:16).

We must be clear here to hold onto G-d’s Word, as salvation only comes through faith in Yeshua (Rom. 11:23). That means apart from the Jewish remnant, Israel is still to experience redemption through Messiah alone. As a result, what was once completely Jewish before the New Covenant was given has been handed over to Gentile believers, who now run and operate our Father’s house. So when we read the story of the prodigal son, we can understand how the faithful brother feels. He thought he was being obedient, he did everything he was supposed to do, and part of him was probably happy because he knew he would end up in control. After all, it was his inheritance, and he had worked for it for years.

Now faced with his brother’s return, he does not respond like his father, who is full of compassion and mercy, but rather with anger, hostility and jealousy. How dare he even think about returning here! he thinks to himself. His brother, who went his own way, who squandered everything he had and then realized the error of his ways, being truly humbled by life, returned home in the hope he could become one of his father’s servants.

On the other hand, the father’s response is completely different from that of the elder brother. After all, he was a loving father who stood in the gap for his lost son. He was faithful to love him, despite his rejection. He was grieved and heartbroken that his son walked away from him in the first place, and he never stopped feeling the pain of this separation—he wept and he mourned. But he never lost hope while waiting patiently for his son to return, as he knew it was only a matter of time.

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Time as we know it seems endless, but the father said, “I will never give up. I will never surrender until my lost son is properly restored.” Then all of a sudden, an incredible thing happens and the fullness of joy sweeps over the father’s heart and the love of G-d consumes his soul like a river flowing at springtime. Suddenly, from his rocking chair on his front porch, he can see his lost son at a distance down the path leading up to the front of the house. He immediately knows and understands what has happened, except now his heart is filled with compassion as tears of joy are running down his face as he cries, “My son! My son! My son!”

Full of overwhelming excitement, he runs down the path to greet his son. When they meet, he throws his arms around him and hugs him like a bear, kissing him all over his faceHis son humbles himself and seeks his father’s forgiveness, even asking to become like one of his servants. Yet none of that seemed to matter now, because today, his son who was lost, his son who was dead has been found and is alive again. His son, whom he never stopped waiting for, whom he never stopped praying for, has returned. Immediately, and without question, the father restored him to his rightful place as an heir along with the obedient son.

The son’s loving father is filled with compassion, his heart filled with mercy and grace. He lovingly embraces him and immediately restores him to his place in his family—something the older brother cannot even fathom or understand, as he asks, “How could you do this to me?”

Yet we know our Father in heaven is full of mercy and grace, and His gospel is the same. He is able to wash away all of our sins, even as He has already done, so we could come into the kingdom in the first place, all as a result of His great love for us. Didn’t the veil of sin also blind us before His grace supernaturally lifted it from our souls?

Spoken Prophetically to Gentile Believers

The Father says to the Gentile believers: “For I have promised to restore Israel. I have given My word, I have covenanted with him in the same way I have covenanted with you. And all I have already belongs to you. I am willing to forgive him, the same way I am willing to forgive you. For just as he was unfaithful to Me by rejecting Me, so you have been unfaithful to Me by rejecting them.”

So who should we be like in the church? We should be like our Father in heaven. But in reality we are often not, instead having been like the elder brother in this story. It has been impossible for the church to love the Jews in our own humanity without the supernatural love of G-d. Yet they are elected as a result of the patriarchs (Rom. 11:28), which has been a dichotomy for the church.

But because our Father loves Israel and has chosen them, just like He has chosen His other children, He is able to look on them with compassion. Even in their disobedience and resistance, and even in their blindness and deafness, He still loves them because they are His children. And His Word and covenants must be accomplished through them because of His own integrity as a holy and righteous G-d. Look how they have suffered as a result.

And remember, by the time he came home, the prodigal son had truly learned his lesson. It is only in the Father’s love that we could even come close to moving in this. However, this is exactly what it will take to get this job done and nothing else short of it will work. So what are we to do? And how should we act to move in this direction, if we believe it to be G-d’s Word and call for us?

Search Your Heart

First, we need to be honest with our own hearts and to the Holy Spirit, as well as become honest with the prior actions of our families in past generations that may have affected us without our knowing. Have we felt like the brother in the prodigal story feels toward Israel and the Jews? Have we lacked G-d’s mercy toward them? Have we been anti-Semitic toward them? Have we been indifferent or cold, or are we jealous of them? Does the thought of their restoration make us angry or even insecure?

You may be a lover and supporter of Israel, but you know that something is still not right. You may understand Israel in your mind because of the Word of G-d, but your heart still needs to be cleansed because of the past. We also need to come to terms with how the church has sinned against our Jewish brethren from the past. Ultimately, Israel needs to come to terms with its past as well. As already mentioned, cleansing is needed all around (both Jew and Gentile), but it must start with us first! Does not judgment begin in the house?

The moment we confess, the moment we renounce, the moment we repent, G-d is more than able to purify us so that we can receive His heart. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is waiting eagerly for us to get this right and allow His cleansing healing touch to wash away any past influences. This is so that His unconditional love can pour through us, that He would open our spirits as well as our minds to move into the fullness of His direction and plans in these last days. It would be to fulfill the unique role He has given to us as His other sheep in His spiritual family, to help breathe spiritual life back into them through prayer and intercession. And this is all in order that Israel may fulfill its own unique role in the earth to glorify G-d in fulfilling His Word so that the kingdom can come. For in our Father’s end time sovereign plan we are intricately linked and must begin to see ourselves as such, so the end may actually come.

Receiving the Father’s Heart

As already discussed, it is simply not possible to fully love the Jewish people in our own strength in light of their continued rejection of Jesus. Without a doubt, G-d’s supernatural love is needed to flow through us for this to happen. I call this the Father’s heart, and our receiving it is one of the main reasons for me writing The Ezekiel Generation. I believe His heart for His spiritual family will truly change us and give us what we need to help Him achieve His plans through us in order to redeem Israel and restore His kingdom.

I also believe this calling of the end-time generations of the church have a unique and distinct role to play to assist G-d to rebirth Israel spiritually, which is why we must not be ignorant about this mystery. We have a major part to play in it, which, up to this point, we have not seen too clearly, with corrections needed in our theology, because the ancestral acts of our lineage, most of which has not even been repented of, have blinded us to G-d’s end-time plan. In good conscience how could G-d give the church the fullness of His end-time plans theologically regarding Israel and the church, when our ancestry who was called to love them despite their rejection, fell for some despicable plans of the enemy to help persecute and destroy them. Don’t we need to fully break off the past first, so we can get it right?

And, as discussed in previous articles, while we may actually love Israel, the bloodline still needs to be cleaned to rid it of any current influence the enemy may still have over us. So breaking of Generational anti-Semitism and receiving G-d’s heart are vital to our spiritual health and well being concerning Israel and the church and the last days, and it is time for us to address these areas and reconnect as a spiritual family as Jew and Gentile, to help be the catalyst in G-d end time mercy plan to redeem his first born son and our first born brother, so our L-rd can finally return and take dominion of the earth. That is what is at stake here! What an honor G-d is actually bestowing on His end-time church, to help give life back to Israel spiritually (Ezek. 37:9-11).

For all of the prayers to receive the Father’s heart to help you reconnect spiritually with Israel, please go to pages 146-154 in the Ezekiel Generation.

GRANT BERRY

Grant Berry is a Jewish believer in Yeshua/Jesus and author of The New Covenant Prophecy and The Ezekiel Generation. He has founded Reconnecting Ministries with the specific focus to help the church reconnect spiritually to Israel and considers it vital to the kingdom of G-d in the last days. His message focuses on the unity, love and healing that the Father wants to bring between Jew and Gentile yet clearly points out the differences and misunderstandings between the two groups. Now is the time to look more carefully into this mystery to make way for healing and reconnection in the Spirit. For more information, please visit reconnectingministries.org.

Absolutely Faithful.


And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. —Genesis 17:7

We live in a time when a person’s word means nothing. Marriages are dissolved daily with no regard to the vows of “till death we do part,” and our courts are flooded with lawsuits.

It has not always been this way. In biblical times a covenant, sealed in blood, was a promise of enduring responsibility—never entered into lightly and never disregarded.

This is the kind of relationship we have with God. The entire Bible is a legal contract signed in Jesus’ blood! When God said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5), He did not add “maybe” or “if.” In covenant with Him, we possess His armor, His weapons, His power, and His victory!

This is the unchangeable fact of His absolute faithfulness! Study the promises of God in the light of His blood covenant and learn how sure and secure the Rock is on which you stand.

Almighty God, You are my hope, fortress, and confidence.
Thank You for your blood covenant that seals my
future forever. I will trust You in every decision.
I will listen to and obey Your voice,
for You alone are faithful. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

The Mystery of the Hanukkah Menorah.


Jewish menorah.
Jewish menorah.

The Bible speaks of the menorah, or lampstand, on three levels: one in the Torah, one in the Prophets and one in the New Covenant. Moses was commanded to build a seven-branched golden lampstand and place it in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:31-40).

The priests were required to take care of the lampstand, but there was no clear teaching as to the spiritual meaning of the menorah. When there is no clear teaching on something in the Torah—such as the Feast of Trumpets—it is often because it can only be understood in light of the New Covenant.

In the Hanukkah story, the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee and his small army, defeated the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanies. It was considered a miracle that this tiny army of Jews could defeat the massive Syrian force.

Antiochus Epiphanies “devastated Jerusalem in 168 B.C.E., defiled the Temple, offered a pig on its altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship [sacrifices], forbade circumcision on pain of death, sold thousands of Jewish families into slavery, destroyed all copies of Scripture that could be found, and slaughtered everyone discovered in possession of such copies, and resorted to every conceivable torture to force Jews to renounce their religion.”

The Menorah

After the surprising Jewish victory, the temple, including the menorah, was rededicated by the Maccabees as they celebrated the new holiday of Hanukkah. (Hanukkah means “dedication.”) The lampstand at Hanukkah is called in Hebrew a Hanukkiah. It has nine lights that represent the eight days the menorah in the temple remained lit, despite having only enough oil for one day (according to tradition) and an extra candle, called the shamash, that is used to light the others. Though most American Jews call this a menorah, it is not a replica of the tabernacle menorah. Nevertheless, it was clearly meant to represent the temple menorah in Jewish religious tradition, as it commemorates the miracle of the seven-branched menorah during the temple’s rededication.

A Sign of Restoration

On the second level, the prophet Zechariah saw a vision of a mystical menorah with two olive trees—one to each side. This symbolized the Lord restoring Zion and the temple by the power of His grace and Spirit (Zech. 4:1-10). This vision became the basis for the symbol and seal of the modern state of Israel.

The Body of Messiah

The third level is found in the book of Revelation, in which John has a supernatural vision of Yeshua in a glorified form, standing in the midst of seven lampstands. It is more likely, if we are going to be consistent with Scripture, that it was either a menorah that John saw, with seven branches, or seven menorahs with 49 lights in total. The word for lampstand in the Hebrew Scriptures is almost alwaysmenorah, a seven-branched candelabra. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same word is used for menorah as John used for lampstand in Revelation. In the Hebrew New Testament,lampstand is translated as menorah. Furthermore, the menorah(s) in Revelation are made of gold, just as God told Moses (Ex. 25).

Each branch of the menorah (or each menorah) represented the seven churches or congregations of Asia Minor (Rev. 1:12, 20), which are symbolic of all types and streams making up the internationalecclesia, or body of believersAnd let’s not forget—everything in the temple was an earthly shadow of a heavenly reality (Heb. 8:5). The menorah represents the worldwide body of believers.

As the Mosaic lampstand found expression in Jewish religious tradition, Zechariah’s prophetic vision found expression in modern Zionism, and John’s vision pictures people of every tribe, tongue and nation being glorified by the power of God.

Unity Brings God’s Fire

We know that the menorah in the temple had to be built according to the pattern God gave Moses. (“Be sure to make them according to the plans you were shown on the mountain” [Ex. 25:40].) So if John’s vision of a seven-branched menorah was representative of the united body of believers, then fire must also have meaning.

Without the menorah, you cannot have fire—certainly not a contained, managed, focused fire. Once the menorah was built, it could be lit. In the same way, when the believers gathered on Shavuot (Pentecost) in unity—with one purpose and focus, waiting on the Holy Spirit—they became that spiritual menorah that could be lit, and the Spirit came as tongues of fire. In fact, the image of the 120 with flames of fire upon them is an image of one menorah with many branches. Each branch is on fire, doing the will of God.

With the menorah is in place—just as Yeshua instructed (“But stay in [Jerusalem] until you have been clothed with power from on high” [Luke 24:49])—the fire or Holy Spirit could not only fall upon, but also function through each believer. The fruit was that 3,000 men, plus women and children, were born again that day.

The lesson is that like the menorah, the body of Messiah must be built according to the heavenly pattern. Yeshua tells us in John 17 that His deep desire is for unity. Only when the body is in unity can the Spirit flow as He desires (Acts 2). Gossip, backbiting, dissensions, jealousy and the like all work to thwart the authentic fire of God.

Only the Servant Can Light the Candles

It is interesting that in Jewish tradition, it is that one special candle, the shamash, that leaves His special position above the other candles to come down and give light to the other unlit ones. Shamashmeans “servant.” Once the shamash has brought light to the other candles, He then takes His place, once again, above the others. Unbeknownst to most religious Jews, this is played out in Philippians 2:

“Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant [Shamash!], being made in human likeness.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:6-10).

Shine Your Light!

One more thing. According to Jewish tradition, we are to take the lit Hanukkiah and place it in a window to declare the Hanukkah miracle to all who would see it. Was Yeshua thinking of this (even though the tradition came later) when He said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16)?

Or, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12)?

You also might find it interesting to know that Yeshua himself celebrated Hanukkah. In John 10:22, it speaks of Him being in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). What is the lesson?

  1. Strive for unity (Phil. 1:7).
  2. Expect the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
  3. Let your light shine (Matt 5:14-16).

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Asher Intrater is the apostolic overseer of two congregations in Israel. He also leads Revival Israel and international prayer ministry in Jerusalem. He is the author of Who Ate Lunch With Abraham? andCovenant Relationships.

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

Why Can’t We See the Church’s End-Times Role?.


Star of David

In my last article on the unique roles between Israel and the church, I spoke of the analogy of a wedding and emphasized the pandemonium that so often can precede the ceremony itself. It is actually this time and during this hour that before Christ is to return to the earth as the bridegroom that He wants His bride to focus upon.

We need to fully address the relationship betweenJew and Gentile to bring forth healing and reconciliation to the many issues that keep us separate, including much of the divide that the enemy himself is also fueling to keep us apart from our roles. Please click here to review part 1 and part 2 to gain a fuller understanding of the roles of Israel and the church in the last days.

The Prodigal Son Through Jew and Gentile Brothers

To continue, let us take a look at the story of prodigal son, reflecting upon the Jew and Gentile sons through the New Covenant thus far. (See Luke 15:11-31.) The Gentile has mostly received it first, who in this analogy is the older son and has been faithful to oversee His Father’s house (the church). However, at this time and the time coming, the Jewish son now returns in full repentance, as is prophesied through the word of G-d, thus fulfilling G-d’s covenants and promises to Israel, as they must come into a spiritual awakening and cleansing, which has been written and foretold despite their resistance. For Yeshua has said that He will not return until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the L-rd.”

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be … great” (Zech. 12:10-11, NIV).

For G-d’s words and covenants must be fulfilled, please also read Ezekiel 36:22-28 to fully understand this context from the Scripture. For while G-d has always planned to restore Israel spiritually so that they actually come in at the end to redeem His Jewish family, the emphasis on these Scriptures makes clear to us that it is not only for their sake, but rather for the sake of His holy name that His words, promises and covenants to restore them must be fulfilled.

This in itself is crucial for us to comprehend at this time, because His plan is to show His glory to the world through their rebirth. Therefore, if we truly want the L-rd to be glorified upon the earth, we must come into agreement with Israel’s spiritual awakening, making it our top priority. Because it is this plan as well as our association to it that will help to usher in the end time outpouring upon the earth along with the L-rd’s return. For what does Scripture tell us that Israel’s reconciliation will be but resurrectionpower! (See Romans 11:15.)

Referring back to the prodigal story, let us reflect upon the different reactions here between the father and the son to fully see this picture between the heart of man through the brother and the heart of G-d through the Father. Because only operating in the Father’s heart will enable us to fulfill our role to love Israel as our own. This must take place first within us through the Spirit in a family reconnection that can only come through faith.

What a dramatic difference here in the way in which the father and the son respond, and we will never be able to love Israel through the heart of the brother, which has so clearly reflected the church’s response to Israel through the ages as well as the weaknesses of our own humanity. I address this issue in its entirety in my new book The Ezekiel Generation (on bookshelves this month), which I would encourage you to read.

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Has Our Bloodline Been Affected From the Past?

I know this is a difficult, delicate and sensitive matter for us to process from our past, for we cannot undo what has been done. While we are not responsible for anybody’s actions other than our own, this does not necessarily remove the influence of our ancestral past if it has not been properly renounced and repented of, as the sins of the fathers travel to the third and fourth generations and can still influence us and our actions (Ex. 20:5).

Sometimes in our own walks, do we not have to overcome or renounce our own ancestral influences (the sins of our fathers or mothers)? I know I have done so with things my parents or grandparents moved in. And so it is the same with anti-Jewish sentiment, which has unfortunately been very strong in the bloodline of the church from the past. Just look at racism, for example, and how it had its effects on all believers.

As a result, I believe the enemy has been using this against us without our knowledge, which I am bringing to light at this time. For the devil can only attach himself or his strongholds to some form of disobedience, which in this case has been keeping us veiled and separate from our own role to love Israel as ourselves and to provoke them to jealousy (Rom. 11:13-15). I believe it is this generational bloodline issue that has been clouding and blinding our spiritual sight regarding Israel to the unity that the Father is looking to bring now amongst His family, so that He may work His will through us so the end may come.

I ask you in all honesty and sincerity and only raise these issues for the sake of G-d’s healing and reconciliation, because there is no condemnation in Christ. However, I believe that our bloodline needs to be cleansed from the past, and it is preventing us from coming into the great role to help G-d release His breath and life back into His first born child (Ezek. 37:9-11).

But how can we honestly expect to have clean and pure revelation and understanding regarding Israel and the church and end-time theology when our own church history has been so dark toward the Jewish people? When our own ancestral actions toward them have been in complete contradiction to our calling to release G-d’s mercy back to them, to draw them to jealousy through our own intimate relationship with their G-d, who is now our G-d? After all, whose vine are we grafted into? And is the family of G-d complete without Israel’s awakening? (See Romans 11.)

This is why I believe the church has not yet gotten the full download from G-d regarding Israel and theend times, because the enemy has been using the bloodline to keep us apart. He has been using the actions of our ancestry against us. I call this generational anti-Semitism, and one does not necessarily have to be anti-Semitic to still be affected by it—although when this is in our bloodline, it is much easier for us to be anti-Semitic.

Alternatively, when generational anti-Semitism is in the bloodline, I believe it allows the enemy to cloud and confuse, so much so that we can even love Israel and yet still be confused regarding our theology. This so easily explains why in our modern day, amongst many of our evangelical groups as well as many other believers, there is almost a romantic association to the land and yet still no real connection to our unique role, which is to help give them life. We seem to be more concerned about the land than we are to reach the people, which is of much greater significance.

If the enemy can keep us separate from this calling, which I believe starts in prayer and repentance, it enables him to keep dominion. He knows when Israel comes in, he is finished, because the L-rd is coming back! Just think for a moment of those churches located in more heavily populated Jewish areas. How can they not have a special focus and burden in wanting to somehow reach the Jewish people? And yet this is so often not the case. Could there be something wrong with this picture?

Up to this point in our theological positions, we have not yet seen any personal connection between the church and Israel in the end times, that G-d is going to redeem them all by Himself. However, as I have already pointed out in earlier articles on this subject, I believe this is in great need of correction, as both the Father and the Son are waiting for our earnest intercession that can only come through a spiritual reconnection in His family—through us receiving the Father’s heart for Israel.

I believe now is the time for us to address these delicate issues and to allow the Holy Spirit to break off any ungodly influences from the past that this generational bloodline issue is still causing. For certain, this is a most sensitive subject but one that we must be willing to face, because judgment always begins in the house first (1 Pet. 4:17). Please earnestly take this matter to prayer, whether you agree with it or not.

To be continued …

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Grant Berry is a Jewish believer in Yeshua/Jesus and author of The New Covenant Prophecy and The Ezekiel Generation. He has founded Reconnecting Ministries with the specific focus to help the church reconnect spiritually to Israel and considers it vital to the kingdom of G-d in the last days. His message focuses on the unity, love and healing that the Father wants to bring between Jew and Gentile yet clearly points out the differences and misunderstandings between the two groups. Now is the time to look more carefully into this mystery to make way for healing and reconnection in the Spirit. For more information, please visit reconnectingministries.org.

10 Ways the Word of Faith Movement Went Wrong.


Joseph Mattera
Joseph Mattera
As a product of the Word of Faith movement in the early 1980s, I will forever be indebted to the books and teachings of Kenneth Hagin Sr., Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, T.L. Osborn and the like. These were holy men of integrity who turned the world upside down with their faith and teaching.
I learned how to pray for the sick by reading Osborn’s book Healing the Sick, and I learned how to resist the devil by reading Hagin’s The Believer’s Authority. In reading many biographies of Smith Wigglesworth, I have always been challenged by his utter consecration to Christ and to walk in the light of His Word whether in or out of the pulpit. I shudder to think where I would be right now if not for being influenced by these men and this movement.
That being said, as I continued to grow in the Lord and His Word, I saw several flaws in the teaching and in the movement in general. This article is not meant to dampen anyone’s faith but to bring a more balanced picture of the ways of God—especially since many have been discouraged in this movement because they did not understand the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and did not have a theology that included certain things that challenged their faith.
I have found that whenever we preach or emphasize one truth of God’s Word to the exclusion of the others, it becomes a mixture and produces both good and bad fruit. For example, this has happened with the hypergrace movement, as well as the view of hyperfaith. From an overemphasis on outward holiness, we get legalism. And we come into a form of fatalism when we emphasize God’s sovereignty at the expense of human responsibility.
However, I will go on record saying that I would much rather be with people attempting to walk in faith and victory than be hanging out with depressed saints filled with unbelief and doubt. Also, like most other movements, the Word of Faith movement restored to the body of Christ a biblical truth that was neglected by the church—and in doing so, overemphasized it. But after several years, more balance comes as folks like myself “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Also, I believe that Brother Hagin never approved of some of the excesses that came out of the faith camp—especially regarding the unbalanced teachings on prosperity that came from some of his more radical followers.
The following are some of the flaws of the Word of Faith movement from my perspective (and I realize these are generalizations that don’t fit exactly every person classified as “Word of Faith”):
1. They preach a “rights centered” gospel rather then a “stewardship centered” gospel.
Perhaps influenced by our Jeffersonian heritage of individual rights in America, the way the gospel is applied to individuals in the Word of Faith movement is based on personal rights in Christ. Although this is partially true, the New Testament balances our rights in Christ with our responsibility that goes along with these rights.
For example, in Deuteronomy 8:18, we learn that God gave believers “power to get wealth, that His may establish His covenant.” This passage clearly teaches us the primary purpose of prosperity is for the kingdom—not only for our individual comfort and pleasure. Many in the faith movement used to “claim” houses and cars and attempt to use their faith merely for their own individual needs, which, in and of itself, goes against our call to seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33) as a prerequisite for our individual needs and wants being fulfilled.
2. Their dispensational belief precludes the role and importance of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant age.
I heard Brother Hagin brag several times in his teaching sessions that he did not read the Old Covenant because we have a new and better covenant now in Christ. The challenge with that teaching is that he did not understand the relevance and role of the moral and civic law of God found from Exodus to Deuteronomy—especially the Ten Commandments that were repeated over and over again either exactly or in principle by the New Testament writers. Without the moral law of God, we have no standard for holiness and will lack the conviction of sin the moral law gives as our standard of holiness and ethics.
Furthermore, Hagin and others like him would only quote the Old Testament when convenient—when it comported to his view of faith. For example, he would quote Exodus 23:25, where God told the Jews He would take sickness from them, but he neglected to also teach that in order to walk in health, they had to follow the strict dietary code as found in Leviticus 11. Thus, healing for the Jews included not only claiming a promise of God but also staying away from unclean food. (In my opinion, walking in physical health also involves having a healthy diet and lifestyle—or else we are tempting God by intentionally violating His natural laws and then expecting Him to heal us.)
3. They have a semi-gnostic dualism regarding their view of God.
Word of Faith preachers have a simple view of God: Everything that is good is of God, and everything bad is from the devil.
While I totally agree God is a good God, sometimes He has to bring judgment or allow things to take place that in our natural minds may be interpreted as bad. What do Word of Faith preachers do with passages like Isaiah 45:7, in which God says He not only brings prosperity but also disaster? Or 2 Samuel 24:13, where God told King David to choose one of three calamities He would bring upon the land of Israel as punishment for his sin? Or Amos 3:6, which clearly says God sometimes brings disaster to a city? What about the book of Job, where God allows Satan to afflict Job physically with boils as well as bring disaster to other areas of his life?
I remember Brother Hagin teaching that Job doesn’t count in the New Testament because Job 42:10 says God turned the captivity of Job and that Luke 4:18 says Jesus set the captives free. That would all be fine, except for the fact that the book of James carries the life and story of Job into the New Testament for the church age—specifically, James 5:11 offers a lesson for us regarding God’s ways and dealings. (Also, without the book of Job, we have nothing to say to Christians who unexpectedly lose a loved one or experience great personal challenges and loss. Job is comforting to me as a pastor because it shows me that God is sovereign over all things—in both the good and the bad—even when it is hard to explain and understand in the natural. Furthermore, God never gave Job an explanation for why He allowed disaster to strike.)
Finally, what do Word of Faith teachers say about Revelation 2:22-23, where Jesus says that He will cast people on a bed of sickness and even strike people dead? This does not go along with the simple dualism they teach.
Now, I will be the first to say that God’s general will, as revealed in the Gospels, is for divine health (see also 3 John 2) and that, in general, He always wants us healthy in spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23) and that Jesus came for us to have an abundant life (John 10:10). But those in the Word of Faith movement have such a narrow view of the Word of God that they do not have any explanations for mysterious things that happen to us that challenge our faith. It is not always true that something bad happened to a person because they had sin (John 9:1-3) or that they didn’t get healed or calamity came to them because they lacked faith. Of course, the instance where Jesus brought sickness and death in Revelation 2:22-23 had to do with disobedience, which took people out from under the covering of the Lord (Ps. 91:1).
In summary, it is still generally God’s will to bring us health and prosperity in the context of obedience to His Word.
4. Positive confession sometimes leads to dishonesty and superficial Christianity.
I have been around many believers who are afraid to be honest and admit they are struggling with their faith. This brings people into bondage and even a form of superficial religion. Some believers are like robots—when you ask them how they are doing, they routinely say, “I am blessed and highly favored!” However, I know some of these people, and they are merely trying to keep a positive confession even though their world is falling apart.
Now, I do believe in speaking the Word of God to our challenging circumstances and not giving in to negative talk, but that is different from what James 5:16 tells us when he exhorts believers to confess their faults one to another. Positive confession is good and biblical (Prov. 18:21) as long as it doesn’t stop a person from getting pastoral counsel and being honest with fellow believers when they need prayer.
5. Their view on prosperity is only based on giving.
While it is true that the Bible teaches we reap what we sow and that if we give, it will be given back to us (Luke 6:38), one of the flaws of the Word of Faith movement is that it only teaches people one side of prosperity. I believe the church needs to equip the saints not only to give but also to get, as well as how to manage what they get  while investing and saving for the future.
When we only teach the saints how to give, we limit the amount of creativity and blessing some people can experience—because without combining giving with hard work, education and an understanding of how to manage and create a budget, many folks will continue in cycles of poverty even though they may experience elements of God’s provision based on their giving. God can only bless in proportion to our ability to manage what He gives us!
In poor countries, I have found that when the only solution presented to the people for breaking poverty is “giving to the church,” the only person who becomes prosperous is the preacher. In the kingdom of God, the church is called to have a more empowering and holistic approach in regard to prosperity and breaking cycles of poverty.
6. They have faith in their faith as a principle rather than it emanating out of the person of Christ.
I have found in many instances where this movement presented faith almost as an impersonal force, like the law of gravity. This led to teachings like “having faith in your faith.” When this is taught, it can disconnect faith from intimacy with the Lord. The more I get to know a person, the more I can trust them. Faith is not a force. It is a result of growing in simple trust based on growing in an experiential knowledge of the Lord. Faith is relational. It is not an impersonal force.
7. Some pastors have modeled their church preaching after these “specialists” in the body. 
Brother Hagin, T.L. Osborn, Smith Wigglesworth and the like were not typical pastors called to oversee a flock. Thus, they were able to preach based on their primary assignment, which was faith and healing.
The challenge is, many pastors who don’t understand this began to mimic these great men of God and attempted to build congregations only around those three themes—faith, prosperity and healing. That is OK if you are a traveling teacher or evangelist, but a congregation needs to have a balanced diet of the Word that includes the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). A pastor needs to preach on healing but also holiness; faith but also tests and trials; moving mountains but also marriage; giving financially but also stewardship and hard work. I love preaching on faith and healing, but as a pastor I often had to preach subjects I really did not have a great passion for but knew others needed to hear to fully mature in the Lord.
8. It can put guilt and bondage on believers.
I have heard of many people who walk around in guilt because they are not healed or because they are struggling financially. In some cases, I have even heard of famous faith preachers who checked into a hospital under a different name so word would not get out that they were sick and under a doctor’s care!
We need to have a culture of faith in our churches, but we also have to engender a culture of humility, honesty and brokenness—admitting that we don’t always walk in victory over sin and sickness as well as making allowances for mystery The fact is, we don’t always understand why certain things happen to believers. (See again the book of Job.)
9. It can produce independent, narcissistic believers.
When the Word of Faith movement went from a stewardship-centered gospel to a rights-centered gospel, it also attracted many self-focused people—people who used God as an excuse for their lavish lifestyles and who frowned upon those living in simplicity. Unfortunately, this teaching often appealed to the narcissistic tendencies in all of us, and many large ministries were built more upon the American Dream of having a nice house and a nice car than upon taking up our cross and following Jesus. Jesus said in Luke 14:33 that we have to lose everything in order to be His disciple, but many in this movement only focus on what we gain. Truly, you can’t be resurrected until you first go to the cross!
10. It is not connected to the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28.
Last but not least, the Word of Faith movement did not go far enough. Instead of limiting faith to merely believing for individual healing and health, the Word of God teaches that our faith should also transform whole cities and subdue kingdoms! (See Isaiah 61:4 and Hebrews 11:33.) The gospel is a blueprint to disciple and baptize whole people groups, not just individuals (Matt. 28:19-20). It not only deals with individual sinners but systemic evil. The Word of Faith movement, though, brings faith for individual victory but doesn’t say much about corporate victory. However, regarding the community of believers, faith is also based on the corporate culture and anointing of a congregation. (First Corinthians 11:27-32 and Hebrews 3-4 teach that whole congregations can be negatively affected by a culture of unbelief or disobedience.)
The Word of Faith movement in general separated the gospel from the kingdom and, in doing so, made it more about individual prosperity then societal transformation. When you separate the gospel from the kingdom, you tend to become more self-focused because the Good News gets disconnected from our responsibility to steward the earth. With the gospel of the kingdom, we believe in individual, congregational and societal transformation!
Finally, I believe with all of my heart that there was more good than bad in the Word of Faith movement and that it was God’s intention that  biblical faith for the supernatural be restored back to the church. All of us only know in part and see through a glass darkly—even the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 13:9,12). Consequently, it often takes years for the body of Christ to discern how to have balance when old truths are restored. One of the keys to life is balance—and biblical balance cannot come until we attempt to embrace the whole counsel of God!
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church, Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can read more on josephmattera.org or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

The Law and the Heart.


For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Hebrews 8:10

Recommended Reading
Ezekiel 36:26-27 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2036:26-27&version=NKJV )

Twelve years ago today, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. The record of the lives lost and damage done is being recorded in an underground museum in what was the foundation of the World Trade Center‘s “Twin Towers.” But the records are written even more indelibly in another place — in the hearts of those who lost loved ones on that day.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

God first wrote His laws for Israel on tablets of stone. When man proved incapable of obeying those laws, He promised to write them in a more accessible place — in the hearts and minds of His people. That is how the New Covenant was portrayed by God through the prophet Jeremiah. The internalization of God’s law is made possible by the permanent presence of the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Give thanks to God today for His Holy Spirit who empowers you to walk in a manner pleasing to God. Then be sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings as He calls God’s will to mind.

Sinners cannot obey the Gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart.
J. I. Packer

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Daniel 4-5

By David Jeremiah.

Should Gentiles Keep Torah?.


Jewish Torah
Jewish Torah

“Are you telling me that as a Gentile believer, I don’t have to keep the Sabbath or eat Kosher in order to be saved?” That was the question that a precious young believer asked me at the end of my message a few weeks ago.

I taught all week at Blue Mountain Christian Retreat through my book Identity Theft, taking a hard look at the early communities of 1st-century believers and how they lived.

This woman had been taught in a Messianic congregation—I don’t know where—that God calls Gentiles to keep the Torah, just as Jews. Before I go further, let me make two points:

1. I do believe that Jewish believers are called to live a Jewish life according to Scripture as a matter of calling (Romans 11:29).

2. It has no bearing whatsoever on our salvation, which is obtained solely through faith in Yeshua alone.

Having said that, there are some congregations that teach that God’s perfect plan is that the Gentiles also keep Torah. While I do believe there is freedom for any believer to keep the entire Torah, it is not required. Let’s take a look at the word of God.

1. The Jerusalem Council. The very first theological council was over this very issue. In Acts 15, Messianic leaders that has been preaching the good news to the Gentiles gathered together. The issue at hand: Do Gentiles have to convert to Judaism in order to be saved?

After hearing impassioned testimony from Shimon Kefa (Peter), Jacob (James) ruled:

It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.  For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath. (Acts 15:19-21)

Some have claimed that the last part “Moses … is read in the synagogues” meant that the Gentiles could grow in their Jewishness over time. It is more likely that Jacob’s intention was to show that the four things that they were forbidden to do, were universally immoral ways to worship the one true God, and Torah would back that up.

First, it is important to understand that the four prohibitions addressed how the former pagans, now believers, could worship. Obviously they would adhere to other universal laws found in the Old Covenant (Thou shalt not lie, Thou shalt not steal, etc.), but in their liturgical life—how they worshiped—they had to forsake certain pagan practices, such as the drinking blood or lying with temple prostitutes, as these were clearly universally immoral worship practices to both Jew and Gentile. The Torah, which was read weekly, would affirm this, hence v. 21.

Biblical scholar Richard Bauckham has argued that each of the four prohibitions can be found in Leviticus 18-19. He claims that these practices are moral issues (even though the context is liturgical) and that they were abominations by which God cast the Canaanites out of the Land. Jacob is merely saying, “Torah backs up this decision.”

2. God has called Israel to be a separate nation. Israel was chosen from among nations to be a light to the rest of the world (Ex. 19:5-6, Is. 42:6, Gen. 12:3). This calling is not voided by the New Covenant. Paul says referring to nature Israel, “God’s gifts and call are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29) But nowhere does the New Covenant command Gentiles to live as Jews.

As the Jews embraced God’s Law, His anointing would attract the Gentiles.

May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. (Ps. 67:1-2)

3. Paul’s Words to Gentiles. When Gentiles were being taught that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved, Paul blew a gasket! Paul who taught us that it is “faith alone, through grace” that we are saved (Eph. 2:8), could not have been clearer regarding the Gentiles being required to keep the law of Moses:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Yeshua the Messiah was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?  So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?(Gal. 3:1-3, 5)

And then: For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”  (Gal. 3:10-11)

While it is clear that the new believing communities sprouting up in Gentile nations were aware of the Jewish roots of the faith (1 Cor. 5:7), where does Paul or any other New Testament writer encourage Gentile believers to live as Jews?

Why Then Are Jewish Believers Commanded to keep the Torah? Good question. First of all, let me repeat it, no one will be saved through works of the law—Jew or Gentile. However Jews are called to live as Jews as a matter of eternal calling (not to obtain eternal salvation). I can eat a lobster tail today and it will not affect my salvation, but I would not be staying true to my calling as a Jew. In the Acts revival the new Jewish believers were portrayed as being “Zealous for the Torah” (Acts 21:20). And this was a good thing!

However, while Gentiles are certainly free to keep the Torah, it is not their calling. Gentile believers should not be made to feel guilty for not worshiping on Saturday or keeping kosher. They certainly can, but they are not compelled. Ronin Parry says it well: “Gentiles were granted the status of full membership of the end-time community of God’s people without having to convert to Judaism.

One of the greatest examples of this in the New Covenant can be seen in the lives of Titus and Timothy. After coming to faith Timothy, who was Jewish through his mother, was circumcised. Whereas Titus, a Greek, was not. “Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised” (Gal. 2:3). In fact, Paul circumcises Timothy just before going on a journey to tell the Gentiles that they are not compelled to keep the whole Torah. “As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.” (Acts 16:4).

Imagine locking yourself in a room having never read the New Covenant. Then, without commentary from me or anyone else you read the New Covenant. I am confident that you would come away with these two New Covenant truths:

1. Of course Jews who find the Jewish Messiah are still Jews.

2. Gentiles believers become one with Israel, but are not required to live as Jews.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RON CANTOR/MESSIAH’S MANDATE

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

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