We have been on a bunny trail the past few days. It started because a Hebrew Roots (Messianic, Torah observant) teacher sent out a warning about the recent olive branch Pope Francis extended to “charismatics” through Kenneth Copeland Ministries. The warning went farther than warning against the doctrinal errors of either Rome or the faith and prosperity camp. It carried a warning against the entire charismatic branch of believers, as he explained some in the Torah camp have already succumbed to that deception.
For several generations at least it seems as if believers have divided into either “word” people, or “Spirit” people. The word people say the gifts of the Spirit passed away with the generation of the apostles, and anyone practicing “charisma” today, is doing so under the influence of the devil. I was raised as one of those, and remember being taught that very thing. Imagine my surprise then, when I started meeting people in my same denomination, who had received gifts of charisma while in deep worship of God. Imagine my surprise when I became one of those people (in 1979). For the past 30 years or so, I have been looking for the place in Scripture where it is said the gifts of the Spirit will pass away with the first generation of apostles, but have not found it yet. (If someone knows, can they send me the references?) But what I have found, is the operation of gifts and the miraculous, in both Old and New Testaments, from beginning to end. Not only that, but prophecies that such things will be common place in the last days (Joe 2:28-29). In fact, Moses, who received the Torah from the mouth of God, was the first to do wonders! So I do not understand the Torah camp’s opposition to the things of the Spirit.
Now I do understand the Torah camp’s opposition to kooks and crazies, who abuse sound doctrine in the supposed exercise of the things of the Spirit. Does anyone remember Oral Roberts’ son? There was a scandal some years back, where he was removed as head of his father’s ministry. The only specific thing I remember about it, was how lavish a lifestyle his family lived on the ministry’s dime. It was about the same time I was learning that there were health benefits to abstaining from pork, and I remember thinking that perhaps there was real value in God’s commandments after all (Do not covet came to mind).
For the past seven years, I have been primarily engaged in this Bible study, not only to understand the Torah and its relation to the rest of Scripture, but to explain the objections my charismatic circle had to commandments. I understood the Spirit camp’s objection to commandments, it was the culture I was from. But several years in to my new Hebrew Roots culture, I realized that there were Torah folks who also had objections to the gifts and operation of the Spirit.
As I had been explaining to my charismatic friends, the word of God, even expressed as commandments, is not in opposition to the Spirit. God is Spirit, and it is His word. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat 12:34) is a universal principle and is true of God too. The word He spoke, yes, even from the midst of fire on the summit of Sinai, came from the abundance of His heart. The Spirit, in other words, is the author of the Word, of the Torah and of commandments, and it is the Spirit’s words that we have in all of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16).
Now I feel compelled to say to my Torah friends, “The Spirit of God, and His gifts and operations, are not in opposition to the word and commandments of God.” Far be it from us, who have had our eyes opened to the truth of God’s word, to deny the truth of God’s word! The Father is seeking worshipers who will worship Him in SPIRIT and TRUTH. Did you see that “and” there? It is not, the Spirit OR the word, but, the Spirit AND the word.
Torah friends! Do not oppose the Spirit or the things of the Spirit, and the move of the Spirit which is from God in these last days. With the Spirit, God is opening eyes to His valuable word, including Torah. Charismatic friends! Do not oppose the word or obedience to commandments, and the move to righteousness and holiness which is from God in these last days. It is the Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness (Joh 16:8)! With the word, God is opening eyes to His valuable Spirit, including His gifts and operations. For both Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the prophetic and the charismatic) appear with Jesus when His glory became visible to the world (Mat 17:1-13).