The Loving-Kindness of God
Miscellaneous Sermons & Articles, September 2002
Since the rebirth of the New Covenant work a year ago I and my fellow labourers in the Patriarchate have been extraordinarily blessed by Yahweh in being sent co-labourers in the Vineyard of His Kingdom in Africa, Asia and the United States who have that rare and treasured quality called loyalty. This article is in part a tribute to them but also a tribute to those who have loyally remained with this work through all its dark days when we were faced on an almost continual basis by betrayal, faithlessness, hatred and disloyalty from within. We want to also pay tribute to our wives who stood by us in these dark times, in spite of the very high cost to them too, to ensure the survival and progress of NCCG.
Loyalty. What person in a position of responsibility does not treasure this above all else? I remember, with some surprise, receiving a greetings card from a Pastor in our local church in Oxford in which he said something that shook me. He wrote simply: "Thank you, Chris, for your steadfastness." I had never before looked upon myself as "steadfast" - I had been raised in the classical belief that an Englishman's word was his bond and it was a matter of honour to stand by it. I took this for granted. It always seemed inconceivable to me that anyone would even consider not being bound by his commitments. I was taught the Christian ethic, even though I did not become a Christian until my mid-20s, that the "team" was more important than the individual - that with mutual caring and support, great things could happen. Loyalty to country, traditions and family were burned into me at an early age. Of course, with a greater understanding of Yahweh's Word, I have had to make a number of adjustments to my loyalties - traditions, especially man-made ones, have had to give way to those of the Creator who has given quite detailed instructions on the way we are supposed to live our lives as His servants. And sometimes one's country can pursue a course of action contrary to Yahweh's will, in which case other loyalties must take supercedence. As we mature our loyalties change, particularly if we have had a secular upbringing or, for instance, been brought up in a religion in disharmony with the truth. And yet, if we do change loyalties, we should be very careful in making sure that we have a biblical right to do so. Someone who constantly chops and changes in his loyalties is described in the Bible as "unstable". So the thing to do is to make sure we build our loyalties on the right foundations.
No doubt the word "loyalty" conjures up many pictures in your mind. We can be loyal to the good and the bad. The Bible, however, has a very clear cut definition of what loyalty is, and in many ways our English word is inadequate, conveying only as it does the sense of "faithfulness" in one's allegiance to a person, country, or cause. For the biblical word chasidh combines both the concept of "loyalty" with "loving-kindness". Thus King David could say:
"Yahweh has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight, To the faithful (loyal) you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure ..." (Ps.18:24-26, NIV adapted).
Holy loyalty is kindness but is more than tender regard stemming from love - it is kindness that lovingly attaches itself to an object until its purpose in connection with that object is realised. It is the sort of kindness that that Yahweh expresses towards His servants and that they in turn express towards Him. It therefore enters the field of loyalty - a righteous, devoted, holy loyalty, that is rendered in His Word as "loving-kindness" and "loyal love".
What a precious thing this "loyal love" is! It is the most precious thing in this universe. Love which lacks loyalty is not holy love, but some other kind of love that is more centred in self, for loyal love does not consider the welfare of self but that of its object. God so loved the world - us - that He send His Son to die for us, and suffered the agony of that separation in order to reconcile Himself with us. We have only to look to Him - our gracious and kindly Heavenly Father - to know what loyal love is and what it is we have been called to imitate.
To what is our Father devoted? What is the prime moving force of His Being? He is unquestionably devoted to righteousness and to a loving-kindness that can never be broken. Not only does He deal justly with His servants, moreover, but He employs the same standards with His enemies. Thus those of His servants who stand before His throne are able to declare with one accord:
"Great and marvellous are your deeds, Almighty Yahweh-Elohim. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Yahweh, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed" (Rev.15:3-4, NIV adapted).
For now, people are temporarily blinded to His goodness and have believed the lies of men and devils. But when they see, as all one day will, that our Father's loyalty and righteousness and justice, as well as His love for people, prompts Him to take needed judicial action, and an angel can say, "You are just in these judgements, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged" (Rev.16:5, NIV), they will unhesitatingly worship Him.
Above all we discover that Yahweh is loyal to His covenants (Dt.7:9) and makes the same demand of His servants. Because of His covenant with His friend Abraham, He exercised long-suffering and mercy for centuries toward the nation of Israel (2 Ki.13:23). Through His prophet Jeremiah He appealed to Israel:
"'Return, faithless Israel', declares Yahweh, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful (loyal),' declares Yahweh, 'I will not be angry for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt - you have rebelled against Yahweh your Elohim ..." (Jer.3:12-13a, NIV adapted).
Those who are loyal to Him rely on Him. David, in prayer, asked for Yahweh's help and said: "To the faithful (loyal) you show yourself faithful (loyal), to the blameless you show yourself blameless" (2 Sam.22:26-27). In an appeal to the people, David asked them to turn away from what is wrong and to do what is good: "For Yahweh loves the just, and will not forsake His faithful (loyal) ones. They will be protected for ever ..." (Ps.37:27-28, NIV adapted).
Those who are loyal to Yahweh can count on His closeness and His help to the very end of their faithful course, and they can rest in full security, knowing that He will remember them no matter what situation arises. He guards their way (Prov.2:8) and guards their souls (Ps.97:10).
As Christians we are to imitate the incarnate God in Christ in all things. He is our human and divine example rolled into one. In that wonderful Messianic Psalm (16:10) the Messiah is promised that as Yahweh's chief Loyal One, His soul would not be left in hell, to which he descended for three days. And therefore if we will likewise show ourselves approved as His loyal followers, we too have the promise that our souls will not be left in the hell of suffering when hard times come upon us, but in time be lifted up and justified.
This prophecy in Psalm 16:10 was applied by the apostle Peter to Yah'shua (Jesus) at Shavuot (Pentecost) and declared that Yahweh would not forsake His Son in Hades, but resurrected Him to eternal life (Ac.2:25-28,31-32; cp. 13:32-37). The Expositor's Greek Testament, in a comment on Acts 2:27, says that the Hebrew word chasidh (used on Psalm 16:10) "denotes not only one who is godly and pious, but one who is also the object of Yahweh's loving kindness".
Yahweh uncompromisingly requires such loyalty of His servants. We must copy Him (Eph.5:1). And unless we are willing to lay down our lives for this loyalty, what then is our loyalty worth? But considering how faithless our fallen, fleshy nature is, how on earth shall we accomplish this, then? Paul has the answer:
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (loyalty)" (Eph.4:22-24, NIV).
In the Christian's threefold life as (a) son (or daughter) of Yahweh, (b) husband (or wife) or one's spouse, and (c) servant of the local congregation and to the Pastor of it set there by Yahweh to be its head, we are to show unswerving loyalty. To show disloyalty is considered by Yahweh to be spiritual adultery, a reprehensible act of betrayal.
People will break our hearts in their disloyalty towards us and to our Heavenly Father. It has happened many times in my life as a minister and a husband, and its effects are crushingly debilitating. Over the years we have has apostles, pastors, members and spouses defect, and is has broken our hearts. To this say we still pray for them all and for their return. We are all part of the Bride of Christ, so let us be like that perfect wife depicted at the end of the Book of Proverbs:
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her ..." (Prov.31:10, NIV).
Can our Heavenly Father depend on you? Can your husband or wife depend on you? Can your Pastor depend on you? Please be faithful to them, give them your loyal love, and let it be said of you: "you(r love/nobility/loyalty) surpass(es) them all" (v.29b). Amen.
This page was created on 2 October 2002
Last updated on 2 October 2002
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