The First Person
My sister, my son and my employees all know me well, but each knows me in very different ways. An individual can be known as a brother. a father or a boss. Each of these relationships is, by nature, intrinsically different and each has its own unique benefits. Each of these relationships also has certain limitations.
Charismatics are clear that while one can have a personal relationship with Jesus, this is not synonymous with having a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. There are elements of knowing God as Holy Spirit that are different from knowing God as risen Savior. It is not the same. The gifts of the Holy Spirit come out of relationship, just as salvation comes out of relationship..
What the charismatic church seems to forget is that there is more to God than Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There is Yahweh, the Father. To know both the baptism of the Holy Spirit and salvation through Jesus is not synonymous with having a personal revelation of Yahweh. Jesus was very clear about this. He told us to pray to the Father directly, and Jesus revealed Himself to us as the first born amongst many brethren.
Jesus said He came to declare the name of Yahweh, which is the name of the Father. He did this so that the love of the Father could be in us, and so that Jesus, Himself, might be in us. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that most Christians don’t even know the name of their heavenly Father, the name of Yahweh, the Living God of Israel.
“And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
Because many Christians do not have a revelation of the Father, they do not understand the personality of Yahweh. God in the Old Testament has become inexplicable and distant. Jesus can seem to be some new God, who would not approve of the eccentricities and sternness of Yahweh, His Father. To many in the Christian Church, Jesus seems to have been sent to protect Believers from a wrathful Old Testament God. Many of the teachings of Jesus, Himself, seem inexplicable. The result is that Christians simply skip over those things that they cannot make sense of. For instance:
-Jesus came only for the Jews.
-Jesus spoke in parables so that some people who heard Him would not understand, repent of their sins, and be forgiven.
-Jesus called a Gentile woman, who was only seeking deliverance for her daughter, a dog.
-The Holy Spirit sent an angel to Herod and had him eaten up alive with worms.
In Romans, chapter eleven, Paul says that there are natural branches. These natural branches are the Jews. Paul says that if the falling away of the Jews brought reconciliation to the Gentiles, who were without hope in this world, then the reconciliation of the Jews to God would be nothing less than life from the dead for believing Gentiles. What is it about these Jews that their inclusion in the church could so radically affect their Gentile brothers and sisters? What is it that God has entrusted them with that is so powerful, that is so essential for the church?
There is something eternal in the Jews’ relationship with the heart of the Father. Paul writes that unbelieving Jews are the enemy of the church for the gospel’s sake, but they are beloved for the Father’s sake. The love that the Father has for all of His children is exemplified in the love that Yahweh has for His natural children. It is a consuming, passionate and wildly boundless love that draws Him again and again to His chosen people. It is a revelation of the personhood of Yahweh, Himself, that the Jewish people have to give to the world, including the Christian Church.
“Arise, shine, for thy light has come and the glory of Yahweh has risen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:1.
This is the heritage of the believing Jew. This is the result of Isaiah 53, the death and resurrection of Messiah.
“7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith Yahweh, who has mercy on thee.” Isaiah 54:7-10
The Jewish people, by nature, understand certain things about the personality of the Father. Jewish believers, who have had the veil removed and have been reconciled to their God, are usually quite comfortable with Yahweh as He is, not as many Believers wish Him to be. Yahweh is often inconvenient, but He is eternal and unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. This God, Yahweh, is the same in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. Jesus is not protecting us from the Father, He is trying to introduce us to the Father. What the Jewish people have to give the Christian Church is a revelation of their Father, Yahweh. Jewish believers offer a relationship with Yahweh that is every bit as powerful, unique and personal as Believers’ relationships are with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Of course, there are not three Gods, but one. The Jewish people were taught, from the beginning,
“Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is thy God. Yahweh is One.”
The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jeshua, our Messiah, when he declared,
“Unto us a child is born, a son is given. His name shall be called… the Everlasting Father.”
And yet, Yahweh said, “Let us make man in our image.”
It is, indeed, a mystery.
The Christian Church has something that the Jews want, that the Jewish people long for. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, prophesied by the prophet Joel.
And so it is, as Christmas approaches, that our blended family can give gifts one to another. From the Jew, there are stories to be told to God’s adopted children about the Father. Tales of who Yahweh is and what He has done for His people over the years. Stories of his ferocious love and steadfast faithfulness. From the modern Church, there is a message to be told to the beloved of God’s own heart, to His natural children, about a promise fulfilled. A story of redemption and forgiveness and, most importantly, the good news that the Holy Spirit has been sent to live within the hearts of God’s people.
Yes, the Jews might make their Gentile brothers and sisters a bit jealous. But, at the same time, the adopted kids may well make the natural children jealous for the gift of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. The result, I suspect, will be life from the dead.