Twelve Pillars (2): Kingdom Power and Apostolic Order
Given By: "Glenn D. Blank" On Saturday, May 28, 2011

Two weeks ago I reviewed some of these core values, which Dan Juster has described in his paper, "The Twelve Pillars." You can find this paper on the web site, TikkunAmerica.org. Last time I covered the first three pillars: Kingdom, worship & community. This morning I will cover two more: power and apostolic order.

Pillar Four: The Kingdom is Expressed in a Life of Power
While congregations in North American and Europe debate the reality and importance of the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit, congregations in China, India, Africa and South America are moving! Their pattern of life is supernatural and looks remarkably like the Gospels and Acts.

There is a teaching that the gifts of the Spirit were only for the transitional age of apostolic leadership. How many of you think that sounds like a rationalization for the lack of power? In a Jewish first century context, where the Holy Spirit is significantly present, "stuff happens." In Mark 16:17-18, Yeshua says, "These signs will accompany those who have believed, in My name they shall cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; . they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Messiah Yeshua proclaimed the Kingdom supernatural power. He gave "those who believe" a charge to continue doing the same to His disciples until He returns. V'eemru? (And let us say?)

So Simon Peter proclaimed in Acts 2 when he explained the marvelous miracle of tongues on Shavuot: "And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon My servants, both men and women, I will in those days, pour forth of my Spirit, and they shall prophecy."

The presence and power of the Holy Spirit was not only for the first disciples of Yeshua. Immersion in the Spirit is a definite experience to be sought until received by faith. V'eemru?  That's what I look forward to experiencing anew at the Tikkun conference and on Shavuot. The immersion is accompanied by supernatural joy, love and special manifestations of the Spirit. God is good! (All the time!)

The power of the Spirit builds up holy faith, spurs transformation, and is crucial to proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of Messiah. So in John 14:12, Yeshua says, "Amen, amen I tell you, he who puts his trust in Me, the works that I do he will do; and greater than these he will do, because I am going to the Father." In other words, the Body of the Messiah will do much more than even Yeshua could do as one man, for the gift of the Spirit makes the presence and power unlimited in time and space.

Some have said that the greater work is preaching the full gospel after his resurrection. However, the greatest proclaimers of the Good News did so with signs and wonders God has promised. So in 1Thessalonians 1:5, Paul says, "our Good News did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Ruach ha-Kodesh and with complete certainty." Yeshua and Paul were confident about the supernatural power that would accompany ministry.

Key to understanding the power of the Holy Spirit is Paul's teaching in I Corinthians 12-14. Paul assumes that the Corinthians were already experiencing the manifestations of supernatural gifts. When he gives a list of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, he doesn't explain what they are. Instead, he gives guidelines on the exercise of these gifts of the Spirit in gatherings. There must be right motivation and order so all can benefit to the maximum: both unbelievers and believers. Love is to be the motive; that's why 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter read at many weddings, is found in this passage. But we're not talking about amorous love, but the agape of God. The gifts or charismata are for the building up of the body. V'eemru?

Love causes us to seek power, not to exalt ourselves, but to express God's love for people. Thus in 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul commands us, "Pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." There is no neutrality here. Does he say, "Eagerly desire spiritual gifts as long as I am alive?" Does he say, spiritual gifts are optional, if we don't mind them? Let no one mistake it, "pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts" are commands, not options.

These powerful, spiritual gifts should be on the cutting edge of evangelism. When Chris and Michael want to pursue love and power, our zakenim supported them, providing some finances to send them to Power and Love conferences. They want to encourage and equip oethers in this ministry--I urge you all to check out the P.A.L. havurah group.

Indeed, God's presence and power are crucial to all of our havurah groups. Last week, I went to the Hamburg havurah, which Paul and Sue lead. We prayed for two people--Tim and Kathy--and they each received supernatural healing accompanied by many prophetic words of encouragement and strengthening. Would either Kathy or Tim be willing to share? God is good! Let us pursue the power and presence of God's Spirit in all of our havurot. The havurah groups and intercessory prayer group will be effective when we come together with faith, desiring to build up the body and expand the kingdom of God. V'eemru?

The leadership team also wants me to remind all the members of the congregation that you have made a covenant or vow before the Lord to participate regularly in at least one havurah group or intercessors. We also encourage those who regulars or who intend to become members to participate as well.

The key to successful cell groups is the presence and moving of the Spirit. If havurah or intercessory prayer meetings become boring, let all confess it and intercede for a return of the manifest presence of the Spirit of God. If people are holding back, then repentance is needed. Maybe some of you have been struggling with fear or unbelief. Ask yourself, does God want me to have fear or unbelief? 2 Timothy 1:6-7 says, "I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind."

Brothers and sisters, as both a college professor and Rabbi, I can confidently say, there is no contradiction or conflict between a spirit of power and a sound mind. Indeed, a spirit of power brings much clarity to my mind! You don't have to live in fear or unbelief! Our Rebbitzin was raised as a conservative Lutheran. But rather than resist the Spirit, she decided to study the Word of God, and concluded that the Holy Spirit really does who the Bible says He does. So she humbly prayed that she might receive the Holy Spirit. And she did! When she went to the hall, a friend saw her and said, "You're glowing! You've received the baptism of the Spirit, haven't you?"  As Jacob (James) 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." V'eemru?

Our focus statement is "Bringing our people into the Kingdom of Messiah Yeshua." Our witness to those who don't know Yeshua will be much more effective when it comes with power. Dan recommends that you look at what John Wimber wrote about Power Evangelism and Ed Silvoso has written about Prayer Evangelism. These teachings are foundational for what Michael and Chris are learning about Power and Love, as well as for Nancy's vision for prayer stations, which I've asked her to present at each of our havurot.

Of course, the model for power or prayer evangelism is in the pattern of ministry in the Gospels. In Luke 9, Yeshua sends out the twelve disciples and then in Luke 10, the seventy. His instructions in both chapters are the same. They are to go into the towns of Israel and heal the sick and announce that the Kingdom of God had come near (become available). Healing and deliverance shows the reality of the Kingdom in power. Both confirm the Good News of the Kingdom. They show that the powers of darkness are overcome by the power of the Kingdom. They show God restoring right order through healing and deliverance, Kingdom order.

1 Corinthians 14 has much practical instruction about the balance between supernatural gifts and order, which we practice here. For example, after two or three prophetic words, as presiding elder I will give a summary to help the congregation understand and evaluate them. True, we must have wisdom to govern the manifestation of the Spirit. But it's worth it! As Dan says, "Messiness with life is better than order with death." If you love babies, you love diapers.

The power that comes with the Kingdom of God is a non-negotiable principle or pillar with Tikkun. Like Dan, I have too many experiences of the reality of His supernatural in accurate prophecy, healing and deliverance to ever turn back. That's why, as your Messianic Rabbi, I urge you to trust for healing and come forward for prayer during our Shulkhan Adonai service. That's also why, as Tikkun conference chair, I made sure we will have a special time of impartation for youth on Friday afternoon, and a special time of impartation for everyone on Shavuot. Please pray. And that's why I have been counting the omer in expectation of a fresh outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh on the festival of Shavuot. V'eemru?

Pillar Six: The Kingdom is expressed in Apostolic Order
The Greek word apostolos means "sent one." The Hebrew equivalent is shaliach. Yeshua and the Ruach HaKodesh sent shlichim to proclaim the Good News with power. As the Kingdom of God expanded, the shlichim had to plant congregations, train and appoint people to lead them, and equip members to continue the mission of kingdom expansion.

The modern Messianic movement is blessed to have similar challenges! We recognize Dan as our shaliach. What does Dan mean by apostolic order? It has two meanings. The first is that we seek to order congregational life according to the teaching of the original Apostles in the first century. The second is that we order our congregations under apostolic leaders or shlichim who are chosen by God today and supernaturally confirmed as the overseers of networks of congregations.

In Tikkun, our view of congregational order is first of all that elders in plurality govern congregations. So in Acts and the letters to Timothy and Titus show that Paul, Timothy and Titus appointed elders. They were following a Jewish pattern. In the Torah, Jethro urged Moses to appoint elders to judges of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. Elders or zakenim governed first century synagogues. Scripture puts relatively little emphasis on a senior pastor or rabbi. The Epistles themselves were written to congregations, and senior pastors are not mentioned. Yet we recognize a first among equals who is more responsible for the vision and unity of leadership. So we see Moses leading the elders of Israel, and in Acts 15, we see Jacob (James) making a ruling as the leader among the zakenim gather in Jerusalem.

Secondly, congregations are not independent. As congregations grew they were part of one congregation of the city numbering many thousands overseen by elders of the whole city.  Shlichim oversaw the New Covenant congregations. Paul led a team that established, strengthened and linked congregations throughout the Roman Empire.

So Dan leads a team that seeks to establish, strengthen and link the Tikkun America network of congregations. I am a member of this team; we will meet again before the Tikkun conference begins. The team plans to send yours truly, among others to equip other leaders, just as Paul sent Timothy, Titus, Onesimus, and others.

Shlichim acted as part of the governmental authority of the congregations of their oversight. Again and again Paul brings his corrections to whole congregations. Sometimes this was embarrassing to the elders. Where were the elders of Corinth when things got so disordered, that a man was in an immoral relationship with his stepmother, and believers were going to Roman courts against one another? Oy gevolt! So in 1 Corinthians 4:21, Paul wrote to the elders, "What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?" Baruch Hashem, those zakenim repented, and got things in their congregation back in order! That's how godly authority is supposed to work! V'eemru?

Paul devoted much of his letters to the Corinthians trying to persuade them of his apostolic authority. What if Corinth under its elders had said no to Paul? He could not rely on Roman soldiers or courts. He could only trust supernatural power of the Spirit to enforce his authority. It works so long as the zakenim are godly, recognizing they must give an account of themselves. Back in the 90's I sought and joined Tikkun because I saw the need for accountability. Accountability brings protection; it also brings equipping and strengthening. Soon after our congregation joined Tikkun, in 1999, we began to grow, doubling from 30 to 60 people within a year, then to nearly 80 in another year.

In Tikkun, the principle of accountability leads us to follow the pattern found in the New Covenant. The shaliach does not have a veto over the local elders. The zakenim and shaliach seek unity. However, if after fully hearing the shaliach the zakenim still desire to go in a different direction, they are free to do so, with one qualification. The shaliach will only intrude in situations of gross moral or doctrinal error or gross incompetence. In such cases it is well for the shaliach to make appeal to senior leaders to weigh the issues with him and to involve the members of the flock very judiciously.

The shaliach himself should be accountable to other senior leaders. Dan is accountable both to the Tikkun America team, as well as the Tikkun International team.

In Ephesians 2:20 we read that "we are built upon the foundations of apostles and prophets." In Ephesians 4:11-12: "He Himself gave some to be shlichim, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers-to equip the kedoshim [saints] or the work of service, for building up the body of Messiah."

Congregations need training from all of these five-fold ministries, in order that we might attain maturity, and not be "carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men" (Ephesians 4:14). The shaliach maintains foundations, overseeing and equipping a network of congregations. The prophet encourages and exhorts the members of the community so they may walk in the Spirit. The evangelist proclaims the Good News witt effectiveness and motivates others to witness. The pastor imparts a vision for community in such a way that the whole community is pastoral, caring for one another. The teacher produces a community that knows the Word of God and can teach others.

A five-fold network provides equipping resources to all the congregations; the congregations should invite those who can train in areas where there is need of strengthening. So because Beit Simcha was very weak in evangelism, we invited several five-fold evangelists, such as Jeffrey Bernstein, Stewart Winograd and Ron Cantor. They helped fan into flame a desire to reach our people with the Good News.

In such a structure, how do we see the role of members? Members are also part of the accountability structure of the congregation. In Matthew 18:15, Yeshua teaches, "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother." So every member can be a part of the process of correction for those in sin.

Furthermore, Galatians 6:1-2 speaks of members correcting one another: "Brothers, suppose someone is caught doing something wrong. You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won't be tempted too. Bear one another's burdens--in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds."

Any spiritual believer is to correct one overtaken in sin. On the one hand, 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." So we should not correct every little thing, let alone gossip about them. Yet on the other hand, significant sin should be dealt with.

Some of us are skittish about confrontation, but the prophets, shlichim and Yeshua himself were masters of godly confrontation. Biblical confrontation seeks to bring people into righteousness, by "speaking the truth in love." V'eemru?

Zakenim
are not above biblical confrontation. 1 Timothy 5:19 says, "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses." So proceed with caution and respect. Nevertheless, an elder can be corrected by the testimony of two or three members. Therefore members can appeal to the shaliach when leaders are in sin and do not repent or when the sin is such that they need to repent.

Good leadership involves the members receiving input and confirmation for major decisions. While we do not believe that anyone can write Scripture today, indeed the Canon is closed, the function of shlichim in government and in fostering a vision for growth and Kingdom extension beyond the local congregation is crucial. Congregational members should therefore seek to participate in a shaliach's training programs, conferences and mission opportunities. That's why I encourage members to come to the Tikkun conference and/or the Tikkun training institutes-the next institute will be on August 7, after Dan and Patty visit us. The topic is "Effective Jewish Evangelism." I also encourage you all to be on the Tikkun mailing list.

The shaliach imparts vision and direction to multiple congregations together. Just as individual believers should seek to serve in a body, so congregations should from a larger body, in order to further extend the kingdom of God. V'eemru?