Over the past several weeks we have mentioned the attributes of God - His character. There are certain attributes of God that we cannot possess - omnipotence and omniscience - and so forth. There are, however, attributes of God that we can and should possess and reflect (Image-bearer)
I recommend A.W. Tozer’s, The Knowledge of the Holy. It’s succinct, accurate practical regarding God’s attributes. Since our topic today is faithfulness, let me share several quotes from Tozer’s book.
“To have a correct understanding of the attributes [of God] it is necessary that we see them all as one.”
I’ve said this many times, we must keep the totality of God in mind. His love is not separate from His justice, from His mercy, from His ….
God is in all ways always all of His attributes.
Tozer gives a warning -
“I think it might be demonstrated that almost every heresy that has afflicted the church through the years has arisen from believing about God things that are not true, or from overemphasizing certain true things so as to obscure other things equally true. To magnify any attribute to the exclusion of another is to head straight for one of the dismal swamps of theology; and yet we are all constantly tempted to do just that.”
Tozer goes on,
“Any failure within the divine character would argue imperfections and, since God is perfect, it could not occur.”
And since God is perfect,
“All of God’s acts are consistent with all of His attributes. God, being who He is, cannot cease to be what He is, and being what He is, He cannot act out of character with Himself.” A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy.
All of that is critical to our understanding of God’s faithfulness - which we’ll see in a moment.
If all that is true, and I believe it is, then how do we navigate God’s faithfulness when what we sometimes experience causes us to question His faithfulness? We know God is faithful, but what we sometimes experience and what we see in our world causes us to wonder, to doubt, to question - is God faithful. “If God is faithful, then why _____________?”
How do we navigate this apparent discrepancy in our lives - and perhaps more importantly, how do we navigate and even communicate God’s faithfulness to our non-Christian friends?
We often hear or say God is faithful. I’m convinced that the majority of people have not taken the time to answer the question, what does it mean that God is faithful. Which means we haven’t paid attention to it in Scripture or we’re not reading Scripture.
Anytime we discuss God’s attributes, we must go to His Word. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. So, what does God say about His faithfulness?
God says God is faithful - period.
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
This is God’s self-proclamation - He’s telling Moses, “This is who I am. I am faithful.” Again, this is where we start - with what God says about Himself.
So, God IS faithful, but we still need answer the question, what does that mean.
God’s faithfulness throughout Scripture can be translated or understood as loyalty. The essence of God’s loyalty in Biblical language is firmness. That refers to a steady and unchanging foundation.
Put all that together and it means that God’s faithfulness is immutable - doesn’t waver, fluctuate or change. God is absolutely and perfectly consistent in loyalty, commitment and faithfulness. Even that falls short ….
God is faithful - but to what or to whom is He faithful? I think this is where we can get into trouble. When people say, “God is faithful,” what do they typically mean? What’s going on in the background? Life is good. Things are falling into place. Which means what? I love it when my plans come together.
And when life is good, God is faithful - but when life is not so good (Taco Bell) - we tend to question His faithfulness. For some reason, we often equate God’s faithfulness with our comfort and our good. We equate God’s faithfulness with how we think life should be.
The OT writers didn’t think of God like that; the NT writers didn’t think of God like and neither should we. We love to quote Lamentations 3 - great is Thy faithfulness. Your mercies are new every morning. But this is where we get into trouble - we quote without knowing the context. Listen to the context - the author is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem and the suffering of God’s people (peruse Lam. 3). In the midst of all the carnage and chaos -
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
This is why we must answer the question - to what or whom is God faithful.
1. God is faithful to Himself
The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
Again, this goes back to His unchanging, immutable nature - God is always God, and God will never violate His nature. He is always faithful to His nature.
2. God is faithful to His covenants
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
God is a covenantal God. Some major biblical covenants - Noah - never destroy the whole earth again; Abraham - you’ll be the father of many nations and through you all the nations will be blessed; Jacob or Israel - you are my portion, my people, always have a remnant; King David - your line will never end, through you a King will reign forever; the Church - no longer need sacrifices - I am The sacrifice once and fall and whoever comes to me ….
What do all those covenants have in common? Purpose? All about salvation, rescue, deliverance, a Savior …. Which leads us to 3.
3. God is faithful to His plan of redemption.
From the beginning to the end - a major theme in God’s Word is the redemption of humanity - restoring, repairing, rescuing, forgiving … undoing the consequences of death - giving life now and life eternal.
Some may say God is not doing a good job. Again, keep the totality of God’s nature in mind. God will not violate His own nature; God will not violate freewill; God works in partnership with people to redeem people and so on.
I beg to differ - God is doing a great all over this world and He’s doing a much better job than we are. Now, We know that God desires all people to be saved - in a restored relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. And
God orchestrates events globally and locally; corporately and individually to redeem souls.
We call that prevenient grace - God is always working to save souls. The question is are we working with Him in that plan.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Similar to His covenants,
4. God is faithful to His promises
When God makes a promise, He keeps the promise. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago - when we’re believing in God for something - is it either a promise found in Scripture (and kept in context) or is it a promise giving directly to me (in alignment with Scripture).
Dwight - praying and believing for a friend’s healing … God said, “Not your job to heal - I do. Your job is to walk by faith, plant the seeds of faith ….”
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
Whether we like it or not, see it or not …. God has a much bigger plan in the works that we know ….
5. God is faithful to our character development
The 10 Commandants, Sermon on the Mount - a prominent concern in Scripture is our character! We’re told to train ourselves to be godly. We’re told to ad to our faith virtue, and self-control, and knowledge and love. (Romans 5:1–5, 1 Timothy 4:7–8, 2 Peter 1:3-11).
God says be holy in the OT and the NT. We know that it is God’s will that we be sanctified - that we live holy lives of purity of heart and purity of mind and purity of action. When we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we call that entire sanctification - being filled or baptized in the Spirit. And we’ve made that all about power - to do big things and powerful things for God!
Jesus said in Acts 1, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be what? Be my witnesses. Being entirely sanctified, being filled with the Spirit is more about character than anything else. Being filled with the Spirit empowers us to love God and to love our neighbor the way God would have us!
Being filled with the Spirit is less about having power to do great things for Christ and more about having power to live like Christ.
God is faithful to our character development. He will do things the easy, and sometimes the hard way to develop our character to better resemble His Son, Jesus.
What do we do with all that? I don’t know where you’re at with this, but this is what I did. I reminded myself that God is faithful to Himself; to covenants and promises; to His plan of redemption and to the development of my character.
Am faithful to what God is faithful to?
I need to compare the truth about His faithfulness with my perception of His faithfulness - keep what’s true; discard what’s false.
Where do I question God’s faithfulness?
Does it fall under these truths? When I question God’s faithfulness, it’s often because I’m not getting what I want when I want and how I want. God is not doing something I want Him to do.
What’s my “take-away” this morning? What is the most significant thing I learned this morning about God or me?