JEWS, CATHOLICS, EVANGELICALS—MEET THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT
In the beginning of my ministry, the late 1940's, two things did not happen: Catholics did not become evangelical and Jews did not become Christian. Suddenly, that changed. And it has changed radically. Church historians will someday look upon this period as revolutionary. What happened? Why has the scene changed? In 1967, in the Six Days War, Israel regained control of Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years. Soon after that, Jesus-believing Jewish Synagogues began springing up around the world. Today, hundreds are scattered across the U.S. and other nations, with some located in Jerusalem. Numerous Russian Jews are accepting Jesus as Messiah.
Why this sudden upheaval in the Jewish camp? The Six Days War fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that Jerusalem would be "trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." Luke 21:24. That prophetic earthquake has taken place, Jerusalem has been returned to the Jews, and around the world we are feeling spiritual after-shocks. Messianic Judaism is now the fastest growing religious movement among Jews; significantly, the "Jews For Jesus" organization is more militantly evangelical than its centuries-old Christian counter-parts. Once when I asked a Jewish Rabbi what he thought about Jews For Jesus, he said, "I think they are more Jewish than the rest of us."
According to the Council of Jewish Federations, in1990, 14% of the 8.2 million American Jews had some kind of positive faith in Y’shua. Today, the number is far greater. More than 1,000,000 Jews in the U.S. are quasi-believers in Jesus as Messiah. Like Nicodemus, many are "disciples in secret." Before his death, Albert Einstein, a Jew, and the greatest genus of the past 1,000 years, boldly acknowledged his belief in Jesus. Though many did not realize it, the two spiritual "awakenings," one among Jews, and the other among Christians, were related. The Holy Spirit has simultaneously returned in greater power to people of the "Book"--Christians and Jews.
A few years after the Six Days War, in the early 1970's, the Charismatic Renewal hit mainline Protestants and Catholics like a bomb. The Holy Spirit began moving in power in both areas. There has been a dam-burst of Charismatic Catholics turning to Bible-preaching churches seeking the new birth and baptism in the Spirit. At the beginning of this century some 140,000 Latin American Catholics joined evangelical churches every week. That is 400 converts an hour or 41,000,000, in a ten year period. Several of these full-gospel congregations in Argentina have close to half a million members. Another church in Bogota, Columbia, recently held a prayer meeting in the City’s Bolivar Square with more than 1,000,000 people in attendance all former Roman Catholic. Recently, I had lunch with Christian ministers, Paul and Nuala O’Higgins, he, a former Irish Catholic Priest, and she a former Irish Nun, whose lives were dramatically changed by the Charismatic Renewal in Ireland, and who today are in an exciting evangelical ministry. They are typical of many others. When I was pastor of Grace Fellowship here in Boynton Beach, 65 percent of our congregation was former Roman Catholic and we were never without Jews.
Of the 500 fastest growing churches in North America, 450 are not mainline denominational congregations. Some who were once "denominational" have abandoned that restrictive identity. The wind of change is blowing in every Christian and Jewish quarter worldwide and there is no holding it back.
In an accelerating way, we will see significant conversions taking place world wide--even in Arab nations. If I am right, in the next few years we will see mass conversions of Jews with high-ranking Israeli officials openly acknowledging Y’shua as Messiah. God will give them no other choice. One of Leif Hetland’s crusades in Pakistan saw thousands of Moslems saved and 96,799 asking for Bible School material. When Heidi Baker spoke in Mozambique, and the meeting was surrounded by shouting, jeering Moslems, the Holy Spirit fell simultaneously on everyone--those inside the service and those outside--paralyzing all of them to the ground. When the power finally lifted and the people struggled to their feet, all came up saved. Not one was missed. Everyone, including those who had been harassing the worship, was born again. At a Reinhard Bonnke preaching-event in Africa more than 1,000,000 Moslems, animists, and other unbelievers, were saved in a single crusade. These landmark-events compose the big picture. For the moment, I want you to look at the little picture: A close-up of significant Jews who have been saved. Their testimonies about encountering Jesus and the changes He brought will continue. Hear them speak:
DR. DAVID BLOCK is Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Besides two Bachelor degrees, Dr. Block holds a Master of Science in relativistic astrophysics and a Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy. Dr. Block is a world-renowned scientist, a consultant at the European Southern Observatory near Munich, West Germany, and the Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii.
"Both of my parents’ Orthodox Jewish families have their roots in Lithuania. And we certainly kept to all the traditions as well: My mother would light the Shabbos candles and we would have a traditional Shabbos meal together. I went to schul both on Friday night and Saturday. We kept Pesach. I fasted on Yom Kippur. I was bar mitzvah. We were practicing Jews. And I did all the things expected of a good Jewish boy. Actually, I felt that I was doing the best that I knew how to live out my Jewish faith ... While a student, I also became quite friendly with Lewis Hurst, then Professor of genetics and of medicine. He had a great interest in astronomy, if only from an amateur point of view, and he asked if I would give him individual lessons.
Week by week, Lewis and I would sit around the table and I would discuss the complexities of the cosmos with him and also explain fundamental terms in astronomy such as "black holes" and "quasars." It was a full but private course I was giving him. The friendship grew and I started sharing my feelings about the cosmos with him--that it is so beautiful, that God is so creative, that he’s made this stunning world. I even shared my doubts with him. ‘Are we,’ as Shakespeare said, ‘just a fleeting shadow to appear and then disappear’" What’s the raison d’etre for being here? Is there a Designer out there?’ Lewis listened thoughtfully and then spoke, "David, there is an answer to all your questions ... Would you be willing to meet with a dear friend of mine, the Reverend Mr. John Spyker?
"My parents had taught me to seek answers where they may be found and so I consented to meet with this Christian minister. Of course, in my heart, when I had put my telescope on Saturn, and saw it in all its majesty and splendor--its rings simply encircling that globe--I just knew that there was a Great Designer. In fact, I knew there must be a personal God. The Reverend Mr. Spyker read to me from the New Testament ...
"Suddenly it all became very clear to me: Y’shua had fulfilled the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as where the Messiah would be born and how he was to die. While my people were still waiting for the Messiah, I suddenly knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus was the Messiah and is the Messiah. And I surrendered my heart and my soul to him that day. That was in October of 1976 ...
"It might seem strange to some that a scientist and a Jew could come to faith in Jesus. But faith is never a leap into the dark. It is always based on evidence ... As a scientist, I always think logically and I reason things out. That was how my whole search for God began. I looked through my telescope at Saturn and said to myself, Isn’t there a great God out there? And when I studied relativity, relativistic astrophysics, cosmology and all these beautiful areas of mathematics, they pointed me to the fact that this whole universe is masterfully made, finely-tuned and controlled by the Great Designer. The logical next step was to want to meet this Designer face-to-face ... The "Big Bang" was not a cosmological firecracker. As the physicist Freeman Dyson put it, the universe seemed to be acting in anticipation for the appearance of mankind (italics added) ... In fact, leading evolutionists, such as Dobzhansky and others have agreed that there has not been enough time for mankind to have assembled spontaneously within the time span of our universe ... (Italics added)
"We’ve astronomical evidence that demands a verdict. And I’ve examined this evidence, not from an emotional point of view, but from a logical point of view. "We’ve got historical evidence that Jesus, the Jew, lived and died and rose again from the dead.
When Albert Einstein was asked by a reporter if he accepted the historical existence of Jesus, he responded, ‘Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.’
"To the person who is seriously seeking today I would say, read the gospels from an objective pont of view, as Albert Einstein did. As Isaac Newton did. Don’t let your emotions override or cloud your decision. Seek after truth and don’t let anyone make up your mind for you. It is far too important. It does matter what you believe." --- Dr. David Block
DR. LESLIE BERMAN is an outstanding South African physician who has made numerous contributions to the field of medicine. He explains: "I was born in Pretoria and our family moved to Johannesburg when I was four years old. Both my parents are Jewish, and from my earliest years I had a sense of pride regarding my Jewish heritage. I can remember a keen fascination with the figures that emerged from the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures--Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Joshua. What impressed me most about these men was that they had a vital and dynamic relationship with God. He communed with them, and they communed with Him, the King and Creator of the universe ...
"Since I could not see the same presence in my life, I reasoned that the possibility existed that I was not ‘religious’ enough, that I was not observing the laws of Judaism closely enough. I endeavored to do this more sincerely and became more actively involved in the life of our religious community in Johannesburg. However, the God of the patriarchs still remained distant and seemingly unreachable. "As time passed, my religious involvement was maintained, but the deep yearning of my soul persisted. Like the majority of Jewish people, I was antagonistic to anyone who suggested that there might be another facet to the God of the Jews. I was especially resistant when people expounded other faiths to me.
"But I surprised myself the day I accepted an invitation to attend a Gospel service one weekend in 1973 at Edenvale Baptist Church. I attended the pre-service Bible class on Ezekiel 38 and 39. To my astonishment, I could not fault what the teacher had to say! To make matters worse, he quoted from Jewish sources and challenged the class to check the validity of his teaching by looking into the texts themselves.
"We then went on to the worship service ... It was also interesting that both teachings that morning centered around the Old Testament. Had the teaching been from other sources I might not have been as willing to hear and listen. Although I was certainly unsettled, I had to admit to myself that both the Bible class teacher and Pastor Stone seemed to have the type of relationship with God for which my heart yearned. But I was unnerved by the fact that they believed that Jesus was the Messiah for whom my Jewish people were so patiently waiting.
"I remained troubled afterwards for some days. I went so far as to obtain a copy of the tape from that Sunday’s messages and, after listening to the tape, I knew without a doubt that the Jesus spoken about was the One who could bring me into a relationship with God. I didn’t need to look any further or strive any harder, because Y’shua the Messiah had come to me. He was no longer unreachable." --- Dr. Les Berman