For the Love of His People
How Truth Defines Love
One of the things I liked about Enid Blyton's Famous Five books when I was a boy was that you always knew that things would work out for the good in the end. You also knew what moral standards to expect, what sort of behaviour the parents' in the story expected of their children, and how goodness always pays off. There is something cosy and wholesome about those stories that has remained with me even to this day.
That's one thing I like about the Bible books as well. You always know where you stand, you always know what standards of goodness God expects from His people, and you always know that there will be a happy ending for the righteous even if they make mistakes along the way. Illustrating the complete consistency and reliability of God throughout the centuries, the writers of Hebrews declared: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb.13:8, NKJV).
All human beings have an inbuilt need for constancy. There is no worse situation to be in than where there are no rules or where the rules are constantly changing. In my last job the employees always knew where they stood even if we didn't always like some of the rules. Then we got a new boss who kept changing the rules all the time - it made people uneasy, stressed, and finally depressed. One thing we can be absolutely sure about Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, is that He doesn't arbitrarily change His laws. The truth never changes. As He said to the prophet Malachi: "I am Yahweh; I do not change" (Mal.3:6).
We can therefore be absolutely sure that there is one God, one Christ, one Truth, and one Law. True, some regulations are adapted to meet certain situations but the principles behind them remain constant. The one thing that I have always loved about the Bible is that it is absolutely consistent and harmonious in what it teaches from Genesis to Revelation. There is a Master Plan and it has been unfolding slowly and deliberately ever since Yahweh made man and gave him the freedom to go his own way and to choose God's laws.
A few days ago I met a lady on the Internet who was about to get divorced. She was married to a violent and abusive man. Though it was bad enough being attacked and subjected to horrible tortures, what was in many ways worse was that she never knew what was coming next. She lived in fear of the unexpected ... about the only thing she was sure of was that what was coming would not be nice.
Because Yahweh is love, He not only tells the way He expects us to live but in most cases tells us why. Most of His laws are common sense - but others may at times be a little more difficult to understand, especially if we have never been brought up in a home where Yahweh's laws are honoured and lived.
For the last couple of months I have befriended a very nice young man from Canada in his early twenties. He is not a believer in God, perhaps because also he was abused. But he has a gentle disposition, is kind and sensitive. He decided that he would not imitate the bad example of his parents but do all in his power to give to others what he never received. In actual fact, the way he lives is very Christian in many ways. He told me the other day that in Canada by the time your average school boy or girl leaves school in that country, only about one in a thousand won't have experimented with sex in some way or an other. He told me how lonely he felt because he was one of the few who was still a virgin but that he would never give up his virginity until he married. I commended him highly and encouraged him, and we have since struck up a good friendship. He writes to me at least twice a week for advice about living. And although I do not agree with every detail of his life philosophy, I respect him because he is consistent and maintains a high standard. And although he is understandably bitter about religion because of the way his Catholic parents abused him and destroyed his health - the doctors reckon he has only about 10 years to live - nevertheless he always treats me with respect and listens to what I have to say. I believe he has the right heart for the Gospel and that he will eventually come to it.
A few nights ago I met a young woman from America similar to my Canadian friend. She also was of a very sweet disposition. If there was someone hurting on the discussion board, she was the first to sympathise and try to comfort. She turned out to be a Wiccan, an ancient pagan religion that has been revived in the last thirty years and which is now very popular in the West. She knew nothing about what Wiccans actually do because she was one of those rare "solo" religionists who keeps to herself and has never actually met another Wiccan. I was intrigued to know more about her beliefs because I have met several Wiccans in the past, most of whom were quite obnoxious and hostile to Christianity, though I do know a couple of respectful ones with whom I have enjoyed conversing.
We must have talked for at least two hours and at the end she was very close to making a decision for Christ and becoming a Christian. Her one weakness was that she was a bit lazy and didn't like reading books, about which I teased her a little. Most of what she had learned about Christianity, she said, had come from joining chat rooms on the Internet. Curious about where she had learned her Wiccan religion, I asked if she had similarly been taught that on the Internet.
"No," she replied, "I was taught everything I know about Wicca by the goddess." I paused, slightly surprised by her answer. "You mean you've never ever discussed Wicca with anyone, or spoken with a Wiccan?" I asked. "No," she said, "I was taught by the goddess."
She went on to tell me that everything she had learned about Wicca had come through dreams, visions and inner voices. She said that it was quite normal for her to sit quietly for hours and just receive instruction. What was remarkable was that she knew a great deal about the subject, was completely honest, and seemed to think the whole phenomenon was natural.
Luckily, whilst talking to her, I had in my chat room a Christian couple, the husband of which had once been a Wiccan himself. He was as surprised as I was by the method this young lady had been taught. And yet I was not surprised. I spent about an hour explaining to her how demons are able to impersonate not only the true God but false ones as well. We explained to her how she has been deceived. This, of course, disturbed her. "But how could it be false," she said to me, "the goddess is always so kind and nice to me. She always gives me peace."
We explained to her that the peace was an illusion. She insisted that she was ready accept Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as her Saviour but wasn't prepared to give up the goddess, because the latter had been so nice to her. We told her that the "niceness" was just a ploy and that the moment she tried to receive Christ into her heart without dislodging the so-called "goddess" that there would be a great inner struggle ... that the "goddess" wouldn't want her to receive Christ. I said to her: "Why don't you challenge the "goddess" to reveal her true nature to you in the Name of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)?" Then something started happening inside her - she began to panic. The peace she had felt with her demon-guide disappeared and she became very confused. We explained to her that Christ and the so-called 'goddess' were incompatible because the 'goddess', was in truth, a demon masquerading as a benevolent deity. The experience shocked her because she had always seen her spiritual guide as something positive, even to encouraging her to make friends with Christians so long as she didn't become one. I told her the story of the spiritualist woman in the Book of Acts who, under demonic control, advised Paul's audience to listen to him.
This young lady was an extremely interesting case. I am still talking with her, helping her make the transition to Christ. She knows that God is love and is attracted by the love in Christians she knows ... She senses they have something that she doesn't have and would like to possess. But she is afraid to lose what she already has.
The reason I share this incident is to point out to you that you can pick and choose the truth or your reality. This young woman, who was about 18, was very intelligent and very sweet natured. She genuinely wanted only nice things for people. But she became confused when the artificial reality her spirit guide gave to her clashed with the reality of the Spirit of Christ. It didn't make sense. "Can't one just be nice and believe what one wants to?" she asked me, and I had to explain to her that one couldn't. I hear the same arguments again and again from people who are indoctrinated with existentialist teachings, who rely more on what is happening inside them than on any objective truth.
The couple I was witnessing together with that evening were Methodists. Even though our teachings differed in many areas, we were able to come together for the sake of this young woman and minister in the Spirit of Christ for her salvation, putting our differences aside. Most Christians are at least able to minister together, and find unity, in the first and most important steps of the Christian life, and that is why Yahweh uses all kinds of different Christians still. I meet them all the time. We are told that a complete unity of the faith will only come when there is complete obedience to the Truth and repentance from dead works.
Love and truth are consistent. Truth is the vessel that defines what love is. Someone once asked me what I thought the most important thing in the world was, and I said that it was Truth. "Surely love is more important?!" came the objection. "Yes," I said, "love is the most important thing, but not until you know what Truth is. Truth defines what love is, not the other way round." He was stunned.
"What if you met someone who was in great pain and believed they would never be free of it? What if that person asked you to put him out of his misery by killing him? There are many who feel that way. What if that person said: 'If you truly love me, put me out of my misery!'"
There are many who argue that deformed foetuses should be aborted because it is unloving to bring them into the world. "How cruel and unloving can you be," one hears, "to allow a deformed foetus like a Mongoloid come into existence by being born - think how it will suffer!"
But both these people are not being loving at all. The problem is that they are defining what love is. We can never truly love unless we allow the God who is love to define it for us. Killing another human being is just not permitted, because only the One who gave life has the right to take life. What if the person in great pain could be healed and could live a normal life afterwards? What if the deformed foetus became an Einstein or a Mozart? Do we, as mortals, know or understand God's plan for each individual? If we claim the right to take God's Laws into our own hands, we are, in fact, blasphemously claiming to be God ourselves.
The three most important Gospel principles after Truth are Faith, Hope and Love. Love belongs very much to the present since it is a "now force", but faith and hope extend in both directions of past and future. Our faith is built on Christ's eternal and unchanging laws, and on the examples history gives us to imitate, and not to imitate. It is based on the historical event of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. But it is also based on the future, on what God has promised us.
The Scriptures teach us that where two or three are gathered in Christ's Name that the Saviour will be among them (Mt.18:20). That is not, of course, to say that a single Christian cannot have a personal relationship with Christ, because that is how everyone starts their faith journey. But it is to say that if there isn't more than one Christian walking side by side with you in your discipleship, the risk of delusion is great. That is why the New Testament says that "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established" (2 Cor 13:1-2, NKJV). Everybody that has the gift of prophecy knows that without other witnesses that that prophecy is invalid to the Church because that is the way God ensures His Word is kept pure and not corrupted by our fallen consciences, thoughts, feelings and imaginations.
Our first witness is always God's Word, the Bible. The second must be another human being who has had a similar revelation. The third witness must be acceptance by increasing numbers of other believers until, eventually, the whole Church accepts it. Throughout the New Testament we are taught to carefully test everything which claims to be a revelation from God.
The other day I was on the Internet chatting in one of my rooms when a Canadian called Joshua asked if he could share a vision he had had with me. "By all means," I said, as he proceeded to relate one of the most interesting visions I had come across in many years. He only shared a little of it at a time, possibly to "test the waters", to see how I would react. As he related each element of his experience, I was able to point tot similar things that I had seen and point to confirming scriptures in the Bible. By the time he had shared all of it with me, we were both praising the Lord because it was exactly what the Lord had revealed to us independently over the years. Even more exciting, it matched what other Christians had been experiencing too.
When it comes to supernatural phenomena, the New Testament gives very clear instructions on how to test prophecy, visions and revelations. If someone comes with a doctrine or a teaching, we are to carefully test it against the Scriptures as the Bereans did. When Satan challenged Christ, Yah'shua (Jesus) always cited the Old Testament in response because it was His Father's Word. He even taught His disciples that not one single letter of the Law would pass away until everything has been completed. Consistently, He affirmed the Bible's truthfulness. And why did He do this? Because He knew that the only way one could ever bring genuine love to pass in the world was by defining it in terms of revealed, written Truth.
So important is God's Word to the believer that it is referred to 733 times in the Bible, with the word "scripture" or "scriptures" mentioned 53 times! Yahweh knew beforehand the tendency that man, bent on following his own unredeemed imagination, would need a clear-cut statement of truth.
The Truth does not chop and change like we do. Yahweh said:
"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
The difference between the words that God speaks in the Bible and our words is that His words always come to pass and are never contradicted, whereas ours our constantly failing us. That is why we must build on the complete Bible revelation That is why it is such a sure rail on which to hold. And that is why Satan devotes so much effort to attacking the Word, trying to prove it is not reliable. Yah'shua (Jesus) taught a very important parable about the scriptures in His Parable of the Sower, describing the four kinds of people who hear the Word and how they respond to it. It is worth studying carefully.
Throughout my life I hear people attacking this principle or that, claiming that God has revealed something different to them. Because they will not submit to God's Word, they continually try to fault it and those who defend it. They prefer, instead, to defend their own personal thoughts and the imaginations of their hearts, or the whisperings of devils who try to impersonate God. But you cannot defeat it. God says that His truth will outlive puny man, no matter how clever he may think he is, no matter how inspired he may think he is, no matter how much he may believe he has an open channel to heaven.
Let me give you an example. There are still many people who think interracial marriages are wrong or that polygamy is a sin. They point out all the problems that can occur when people of different skin colour marry, or the problems that beset polygamous marriages. And they're right - there are problems. However, this doesn't make either wrong - by the same token, we could say that marrying those of the same race and marrying monogamously was wrong because they basically have exactly the same kinds of problems. I only learned the other day that amongst white South Africans, two-thirds of all marriages fail! That's even worse than us here in Scandinavia where there is a 50:50 survival rate.
Once God has spoken on a matter, though, the issue is settled. If the Creator, Yahweh-Elohim, declares one way or the other on a matter, we have no right to argue any longer. I am sure you will remember the great prophet Moses. He had two wives, a black Ethiopian lady and a brown Midianite called Zipporah. His brother Aaron and sister Miriam didn't like that and thought he should get rid of the Ethiopian and live monogamously with only the Midianite woman. Listen to what they arrogantly said:
"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?" (Num.12:1-2, NKJV).
Now note that well. Because they trusted in God, and because God had spoken to them in the past, they suddenly supposed they were as important as their prophet-brother Moses through whom Yahweh revealed the Torah (Law). You can almost hear them saying: "Hey, we're as good Believers as you are, if not better! And we say that interracial marriage and polygamy are wrong!"
Yahweh's answer to their arrogance was swift. We read:
"So the anger of Yahweh was aroused against them, and He departed. And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper" (Num.12:9-11, NKJV).
Not until Aaron and Miriam repented, begging for forgiveness for their arrogance, was the leprosy removed from her and she was healed.
We are reminded of Ananias and Saphira in New Testament times who thought they could do the same thing with their tithes, withholding part of them and then lying about it. God answered their presumptuousness in a dramatic way by taking their lives.
God defines what love is, not man. God defines how we may, or may not, live - not man. Love is not just a good feeling in your heart. Love is far, far more - love is always defined by Christ in terms of action.
Moses, we are told by God, was "very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth" (Num.12:9-11, NKJV). This lovely man, whom almost everyone thinks of as some macho male thundering God's commandments and cursing people to death, was one of Yahweh's friends. He was blessed in all that he did. And when it came to his two wives, Yahweh gave His decisive answer. The matter was settled by a supernatural display of Yahweh's displeasure with Miriam and Aaron. Throughout the Bible there are incidences of interracial marriage - Yah'shua's ancestors were from different races with different skin colours, like Rahab the Canaanite prostitute. Yes, this immoral Canaanite woman was an ancestor of Christ, not because she was immoral but because she believed and repented; and because she had faith and changed her life, not returning to her old sinful ways, Yahweh accepted her, and forgave her, and she became one of the foremothers of Christ. As you look through the genealogy of the Messiah you will find both non-Israelites and polygamists, both those who had lived clean lives all their lives as well as those who had lived impure lives, but who had repented and were declared righteous by God. And what God declares to be righteous is righteous, no matter what imperfect man may feel about these people.
I mention these two merely by way of illustration since at different times in sacred history they have been controversial. Whether we agree with interracial marriage or polygamy is irrelevant - all that matters is whether God agrees with us. And if He doesn't, we're in big trouble!
Let's take another example of how it is so easy to wrongly define love. I remember when I was young a new theory was circulating amongst social scientists. They said that correcting a naughty child was not only wrong but harmful to them psychologically. The result of such stupid thinking was that tens of thousands of rude and disobedient children were raised, making hell for everyone. Now these undisciplined children are adults, and you can guess what they attitude is to being corrected.
How many view correction as a blessed thing? How many people actually thank those who correct them? This is what Yahweh has to say:
"Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by Me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you will bear it"
Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Of course he will! To be corrected is to be saved from humiliation and a fall. Rebuking a man or woman out of the way is therefore an act of kindness and love. But if you correct a scoffer - one who speaks contemptuously of things holy - one who mocks - you know what to expect. The scoffer is the one who ultimately suffers ... like those who mocked Noah when he told them to repent and save themselves from the coming deluge.
You have to have the right truth-vessel before you can contain and build upon love. That is why the truth is much, much more important. If you go and lovingly embrace a cobra, what will your reward be? Since the 1960's the word "love" has been redefined by our secular society and the result is gross immorality everywhere.
I have, throughout my life, heard love defined a thousand different ways, but the most common and surely the most inaccurate is that love is any kind of warm feeling you have in your heart about anything or anyone. Love is defined by God's righteousness. God's righteousness is defined by His Law - His commandments. A loving person is obedient to His Word, who exalts what Christ has said, and who does His words. As Yah'shua reminds us when he said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Mt.7:21, NKJV). And what is Christ's will? Yah'shua (Jesus) answers that one for us too: ""Father, ... not My will, but Yours, be done"" (Lk.22:42-43, NKJV). The will of Yah'shua is always the will of Yahweh. Christ is the obedient Servant of the Father.
Yes, the issue is one of obedience. Did you know that the Bible describes Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Master many times? And did you know that Christ calls Yahweh, our Father in Heaven, His Master? We don't hear the word "master" used very often these days - it's not a popular word because it implies obedience, and modern man doesn't like to be obedient. And yet, as Paul says to the Ephesians and the Colossians, we Christians have a "Master in heaven" (Eph.6:9; Col.4:1), whose Name is Yah'shua (Jesus), the Servant of our Master Yahweh. Did you know that the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek kurios can be translated as either 'master' or 'lord'? They mean the same thing. When we call Yahweh or Christ "Lord" we are calling them "Master". Needless to say, Satan does not like that - he would rather you saw them as your buddies.
People don't want to be subject to masters because they do not want to be subject to authority any longer. They would rather bring God down to their own level as their 'pal'. He isn't - He's our Father, to whom is owe all our respect, loyalty and obedience. That is the God of the Bible, that is the God of Truth, and that is the God of Love. Amen.
This page was created on 15 July 2001
Last updated on 15 July 2001
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