I learned an interesting concept about salvation a few years ago. It made sense in light of Jesus, always calling people to follow him. This concept is believing loyalty.
I learned about it in Michael Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm. The first passage answers a question I asked my pastor years ago when I was a kid. How were people in the Old Testament saved?
“But did this salvation come by obeying rules? To ask the question is to miss the point. Salvation in the Old Testament meant love for Yahweh alone. One had to believe that Yahweh was the God of all gods, trusting that this Most High God had chosen covenant relationship with Israel to the detriment of all other nations. The law was how one demonstrated that love—that loyalty. Salvation was not merited. Yahweh alone had initiated the relationship. Yahweh’s choice and covenant promise had to be believed. An Israelite’s believing loyalty was shown by faithfulness to the law.”
This makes sense since Abraham and the patriarchs predate the Mosaic covenant. They only followed Yahweh. The same as Noah.
The faithfulness to the law reminds me of what Jesus said to his disciples the night he was arrested. Recorded in John 14:15, he said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
“The core of the law was fidelity to Yahweh alone, above all gods. To worship other gods was to demonstrate the absence of belief, love, and loyalty. Doing the works of the law without having the heart aligned only to Yahweh was inadequate. This is why the promise of the possession of the promised land is repeatedly and inextricably linked in the Torah to the first two commandments (i.e., staying clear of idolatry and apostasy).”
I’m teaching through Isaiah in my Sunday School class, and one of the charges God had against Israel was that their offerings were just going through the motions.
This brings up two convicting questions. Is Jesus the center of our life or an addition? Is our worship only going through the motions?
“The history of Israel’s kings illustrates the point. King David was guilty of the worst of crimes against humanity in the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam 11). He was clearly in violation of the law and deserving of death. Nevertheless, his belief in who Yahweh was among all gods never wavered. God was merciful to him, sparing him from death, though his sin had consequences the rest of his life. But there was no doubt that David was ever a believer in Yahweh and never worshiped another. Yet other kings of Israel and Judah were tossed aside and both kingdoms sent into exile—because they worshiped other gods. Personal failure, even of the worst kind, did not send the nation into exile. Choosing other gods did.”
That’s a relief because we all fail every day. It’s deliberately walking away. Fortunately, until you die, then you can come back. God called Israel to return to Him repeatedly.
“The same is true in the New Testament. Believing the gospel means believing that Yahweh, the God of Israel, came to earth incarnated as a man, voluntarily died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin, and rose again on the third day. That is the content of our faith this side of the cross. Our believing loyalty is demonstrated by our obedience to “the law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2). We cannot worship another. Salvation means believing loyalty to Christ, who was and is the visible Yahweh. There is no salvation in any other name (Acts 4:12), and faith must remain intact (Rom 11:17–24; Heb 3:19; 10:22, 38–39). Personal failure is not the same as trading Jesus for another god—and God knows that. Believing loyalty was therefore not just academic. By definition it must be conscious and active.”
We believe there is no one greater than Jesus and trust in his work on the cross. It’s demonstrated by obeying him as Lord, giving our loyalty to him alone.
Who are you loyal to?
For more information, Michael Heiser did a recent podcast on it here.