Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics need your help as we enter into 2020, and the third decade of the Twenty-First Century. This new decade is going to see the Messianic movement have theological and spiritual issues thrust upon it that most are not ready for. We have been preparing for this time for the past several years, and now it is time for us to speak out.
Our overarching ministry theme for this next decade is: How do we not lose the next generation?
by Mark Huey
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
During the early stages of the Messiah’s ministry, His cousin John the Immerser/Baptist announced a principle to his disciples, which in many regards, denotes the life long challenge for every dedicated follower of the God of Israel. Simply spoken, John’s conclusion that he must decrease, so that the Messiah would increase, was confirmed by his explanation concerning who Yeshua was, where He came from, what He spoke, and that He would give the Spirit to His followers without measure, in order that they might receive eternal life and avoid the wrath of God:
“He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:31-36, NASU).
John must have concluded from his knowledge of the Holy Writ that the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel were about to become reality through the impending activities of Yeshua. John understood that Yeshua would eventually “give His Spirit without measure” to redeemed hearts of flesh which would have God’s Torah or Law written upon them, in order for His own to walk in His statutes and carefully observe His ordinances, per the promises of the anticipated New Covenant:
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more’” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, NASU).
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28, NASU).
Once the New Covenant was initiated by the sacrificial atonement made by the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah Yeshua, the Holy One of Israel was on schedule to deposit His Spirit into His people during the Feast of Weeks, Shavout/Pentecost, fifty days after the atonement was complete. This outpouring of the Spirit was initiated ten days after the ascension of the Messiah when He returned to the right hand of the Father in order to rule and reign over the created order. In His wake, the Holy One of Israel did exactly what Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied, and some three thousand Torah-obedient souls were filled with the Holy Spirit:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:1-6, NASU).
Providentially, the people who were gathered in Jerusalem received the Holy Spirit into a new heart of flesh with the Law inscribed upon it, is because they were devout people who were simply obeying the command to gather in Jerusalem three times a year to celebrate the feasts of the Lord:
“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD” (Exodus 23:14-17, NASU).
These predominantly Jewish souls traveled from around the Mediterranean basin and beyond to fulfill the commandment to assemble, and were consequently what one might label “Torah observant” followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now empowered by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, they soon returned to their homes with the good news that the Messiah of Israel had come. Needless to say, the Lord had indeed chosen Israel to accomplish a significant destiny and purpose to be a light to the nations and peoples of the Earth (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). The critical component for these newly born again disciples, was the realization that Yeshua was “the Light” of the world, which was categorically stated by Him at the Passover seder He presided over prior to His execution:
“Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12, NASU).
Of course, the reason the first disciples (and every truly born again Messiah follower since) were able to not walk in darkness but instead walk in the light, is because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of truth:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, NASU).
It is my straightforward conclusion that every child of God, who has been born from above and indwelt with the Holy Spirit, is now equipped to be led by the Spirit of God and walk in His Spirit. As a result, if one is truly being led and walking by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, a man or woman will continually be observing and walking in the ways of the Holy One. In contradistinction, if people deviate from the commands of God, they are instead following the dictates of their own will motivated by their fleshly desires. This does not mean in any uncertain terms that a human being can walk exclusively by the Holy Spirit. But on the other hand, through the course of the sanctification process, a person should indeed be constantly rejecting his or her willful wants and desires, and instead, choose to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to rule and reign in a redeemed heart of flesh. Over time, as the Spirit of God reveals sin or inclinations which need to be confessed, forgiven, and repented of, the child of God learns to appeal to the Almighty with a request for deliverance from whatever besetting sin or inconsistency with the Word of God is revealed to them by the urgings of the Holy Spirit. When those thoughts of remembrance regarding indiscretions or transgressions do arise, we are instructed to ask for forgiveness and restoration with the Holy One of Israel:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NASU).
Consequently over time, a saint seeking holiness will frequently (as prompted) confess memories of transgressions, which for the most part were committed because of a general ignorance of God’s statutes and ordinances.
Over the course of years in pursuit of the Holy One, wanting to know Him more and more, faithful disciples of Yeshua should recognize that any righteousness they obtain is solely because of what has been imputed to them by faith, just like father Abraham (Genesis 15:6). Like the Apostle Paul confessed to the saints in Philippi, the urge to know the Messiah and the ways of His Father is a life long process of “dying to self,” in order that a person’s fleshly inclinations would be minimized, and the ability to hear and obey the leadings of the Holy Spirit would increase to the point where Believers are conformed to the death of the Messiah:
“And may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:9-11, NASU).
Furthermore with the goal of resurrection from the dead in view, Paul explains to the Galatians that the Law’s perfect work is to convict a person of sin, resulting in salvation and a passion to live for God. Hence, a born again Believer should understand that his or her sin nature has been crucified with the Messiah, and that the purpose in whatever remaining days of life received, is to live by faith in the Son of God and serve Him because of what He has done for you:
“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, NASU).
Believers should get to the point where they willingly choose to offer themselves up daily as a holy, living sacrifice unto the Lord:
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NASU).
In the process of sanctification, as one sees the soul cleansed with the pure water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26), the Adversary, acting like a prosecuting attorney or accuser of the brethren, will eventually have fewer and fewer unconfessed and unforgiven transgressions which have left literally “open doors” to the soul. No longer will the condemnation of the Evil One have an effect on those pursuing holiness, because the Eternal Judge when approached with an accusation can turn to the individual file He maintains on every person and declare that the enemy has no grounds for accusation! After all, the payment for the sin or transgression was not only covered by the blood of the Messiah, but the open door was slammed shut by the confession and acknowledgement of the individual, when their confession was made. Forgiveness for sin was appropriately given and freely received.
So with all of this being said, my conclusion is elementary. It is impossible for the Holy Spirit of God to disobey the Word of God. After all, because He is part of a plural Godhead in complete agreement, there is no way that He can oppose or do anything contrary to God’s infallible Word. Therefore, if a presumed “saint,” who is supposedly indwelt with the Spirit of truth, does anything that abrogates God’s Word, then he or she is simply following the inclinations of the flesh, or worse, has been beguiled by the machinations of the world system and the Evil One.
To summarize without becoming formulaic, the perfect law of liberty found in the salvation provided by the atonement of Yeshua the Messiah, has liberated redeemed saints from the law of sin and death:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2, NASU).
If a child of God is truly born from above, being led by the Holy Spirit, continually dying to self, choosing the will of the Holy One in lieu of the desires of the flesh—then there is a distinct possibility that one can become an effectual “doer” of the Word, rather than a deluded “hearer” of the Word, whose faith is evidenced by walking in the good works which were prepared by God from eternity past for them to perform (Ephesians 2:10). James the Just makes this astute exhortation, which is designed to communicate the simple fact that through crucified and Spirit-led Believers, the Holy One of Israel is trying to accomplish His purposes for the created order:
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:21-27, NASU).
Let me conclude with some simple explanations from the beloved Apostle John, who above all else makes it abundantly clear that the walk of the Spirit-led saint is to keep the Word of the Lord, and obey the law of liberty exemplified in love for others, as led by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit:
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard” (1 John 2:3-7, NASU).
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith” (1 John 5:2-4, NASU).
“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it” (2 John 1:6, NASU).
What more needs to be said? Not only does the Holy Spirit obey the Word of God—but so should we—as we are being directed by His Spirit to advance God’s Kingdom on Earth, until the Messianic restoration of all things…