This morning we looked at the somewhat unusual idea of the faithfulness of God. It is unusual only in that we have almost always skipped over those Biblical statements which declare it. It is strange to our ears, only because it is so much a part of the nature of God that it seems silly to think of God as any less than absolutely faithful in every respect. This evening let’s think about a corollary to the faithfulness of God – our faithfulness to Him.
Bro. E.L. Bynum was preaching for us in Deming, N.M., years ago, just after a trip to England and Wales. He spoke about visiting Old Grey Friars church in Edinburgh and seeing the grave of “Bobby.” In 1864 an elder widower died, and the chief mourner that followed the hearse was a dog named “Bobby.” After the funeral the few mourners went home, all except for Bobby – He refused to leave. In fact he stayed at that grave site day and night for months, then years; in fact, for over 14 years. Some of the locals knew the deceased and his dog; so instead of bringing flowers they brought dog food. When the dog died in 1878, a noble lady saw to it that he was buried next to his master with a marker which read: “Bobby, the faithful dog.” Some dogs make excellent illustrations of the word “faithfulness.” Some are faithful even though starved, beaten, or completely neglected. I’ve known some Christians who were real “dogs.”
That God expects us to be faithful to Him is obvious from the scripture. “Well done thou good and FAITHFUL servant, thou hast been FAITHFUL over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou FAITHFUL unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Luke 19:17 – “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been FAITHFUL in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.”
Some of God’s greatest servants have been described as being faithful to the Lord. “And Moses verily was FAITHFUL in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” That was the testimony of Paul in the Book of Hebrews. It was God’s own testimony that Moses was faithful in all the Lord’s house. And then there was Abraham. Galatians 3 – “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with FAITHFUL Abraham.” Nehemiah 9:8 – “Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; and foundest his heart FAITHFUL before thee.” When Saul was looking for David among the priests, “Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so FAITHFUL among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?” And how about Daniel? “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was FAITHFUL, neither was there any error or fault found in him.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be named along with Abraham, David, Moses or Daniel? Even some of the lesser known men of the Bible are described with only one word – “faithful.” Antipas, Silvanus, Onisemus, Tychicus (twice), Ephaphras, and Hananiah. And by the way there are several Biblical ladies who are described as faithful as well.
Did you know that there is a sense in which we shouldn’t read Ephesians or Colossians if we aren’t truly faithful to God? “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and FAITHFUL brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” If faithfulness to the Lord was a prerequisite to reading God’s Word, should any of us be given access?
Turn to Psalm 101 and let’s read it together. See if you agree with me that this Psalm begins with the words of David and then they seem to morph into the words of the Lord. “I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the FAITHFUL of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.” Whose eye will it be that follows the faithful of the land? The King’s or the Lord’s?
As we said this morning: God is faithful.
The Lord expects us to be faithful to Him, because He is the epitome of faithfulness – to Himself and to us. Christ Jesus expects us to be consistent and constant, dedicated and devoted, loyal and loving toward Him, just as He is toward us – who have been called according to His purpose.
When we remember that it is the very nature of God to be faithful, it should give impetus to our faithfulness. As Moses was beginning his ministry, he asked the Lord: “Who shall I tell Israel has sent me?” Exodus 3:14 – “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name FOR EVER, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”
This describes the Lord as consistent and faithful – and that is exactly how Moses interpreted it in Deuteronomy 7:9 – “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the FAITHFUL God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.” As you can see, this morning I didn’t exhaust all the scriptures which speak about God’s faithfulness.
God’s faithfulness is so prominent that it is easy to confuse with His righteousness. “In thee O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.” The Son of God is called “the Faithful and True” as a clear statement of His deity. In contrast to our wishy-washy humanity, Christ is absolutely dependable. So are we surprised when God, being who He is, calls us, His children, to be like Him?
Let’s ask three questions here this evening: What, Why and How?
What is faithfulness when it comes to our relationship with our God?
For us, it is basically a loyalty, steadfastness and reliability. And like God’s faithfulness, these are just the beginning, because faithfulness does not stand alone. It is like a kite – a kite is heavier than air and must get some kind of support to stay aloft. We may say, “Armitage has written a faithful account of Baptist history,” or ”Sam is faithful to God.” What does it mean when we say “Bro. Samuel is faithful to God?” It means that God can trust Sam – the Lord can depend on him as far as He can any human being.
If it can be said that someone is faithful, it means that they measure up to God’s standard. This, of course, involves salvation by grace through faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” This is due, in part, to the fact that without faith in Christ we are enemies of the Lord. But faithfulness doesn’t stop at salvation – it includes the commands and instructions of Lord. “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” “I command you to love one another” – John 13:34. Baptism is a command (Acts 2:3) and those who have not been baptized are unfaithful to God. Evangelism is one of our Christian responsibilities. Separation from sin is the command of II Corinthians 6:14. Prayer is a privilege, responsibility and command – “Pray without ceasing.” Doctrinal wariness is another command: Romans 16:17 – “Mark them which cause divisions and offences among you, and avoid them.”
If a person is faithful, it means that they are consistent – dependable. A great many years ago the Oldfields spent a night sleeping in our van under the shadow of Old Faithful. Old Faithful is not world’s greatest geyser – not in height, not in volume, sound, color, or anything else. But what sets it apart – or use to set it apart – from most others was its regularity and dependability. Before some earthquakes a few years ago it used to send up a great quantity water as regularly as if a clock governed its flow – every 65 minutes. If someone is not regular and consistent in the things of the Lord they cannot be called “faithful.”
And another thing – it is necessary to be faithful in many areas to be truly faithful. If a husband is basically good, but he there are periodic and unexplained nights when he doesn’t come home. Or if he spends his paychecks at the race track or casino. If he is more friendly towards coworkers or strangers than he is to his family. Then he shouldn’t be called a “faithful husband.” And no one, who is not loyal to the Word of God is loyal to the God of the Word. Same thing is true of doctrine – compromise is the rapid transit out of the camp of Lord. Faithfulness in attendance, tithing, prayer, witness, and such things all add up to faithfulness to God.
And then another characteristic of faithfulness is progress. We should get better – we should improve – in various areas of our Christian lives as time progresses. Some think that the greatest horse race ever run was when Secretariat ran in the 1973 Kentucky Derby. Now, I am opposed to gambling and believe that it is a sin to be shunned by the saint of God. I have never been to a horse race, or track, and don’t plan on ever going. But I have to admit that a horse running at full speed is a thing of beauty. When Secretariat won the Derby, after being trained by a Canadian, and while being ridden by a Canadian, it did something no horse had ever done before. The first quarter of the race was fast, but the second quarter was ever faster. In the third quarter of the race, Secretariat just kept speeding up and then again in the fourth quarter. The longer the race went, the faster the horse ran. The way that Secretariat ran that race is an illustration of faithfulness – progress – steady growth. By the way, Sham, the horse which came in second, would have won any Kentucky Derby prior to that day. Those two horses later met in the Belmont, and Secretariat won by 31 lengths.
Are you really as faithful to God as a Christian should be?
Why does God ask us for this faithfulness?
Because as children of God, its not too much for the Father to ask us to be like Him. There is not one characteristic of the Lord that is disgusting or embarrassing. And the more a person displays the graces of the Lord the better that person is. So when God asks us to be faithful, it is like us trying train children to be honest. When one of our children mimics Dad in one his few good points – Dad is made proud. And God, too, wants us as children and ambassadors to faithfully represent Him.
He also asks for our faithfulness because we are stewards of His creation and blessings. The Bible says that the primary requirement in stewards that “they must be faithful” – I Corinthians 4:2. As a child did you ever receive one of the family treasures? A book? An heirloom? A picture? Were you told to take good care of it because of its importance? Is that any greater than the Lord giving to his child one of His great treasurers? We should be faithful stewards of Word God, the gospel, His name, His shared attributes.
Paul said, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” We ought to be faithful in prayer, in comfort, in praise, in encouragement.
But another incentive for our faithfulness is that God commands us to be faithful. In the wisdom the Lord, He has made Christian “success” contingent on the work of His people. Can the heathen be saved without knowledge of the gospel? Can the Gospel be heard in the wind, the crashing of the seas or the grunting of witch doctor? Then it means that the sinner cannot be saved unless we take him the message of Christ. “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Why didn’t God commission angels to do that sort of work? It doesn’t matter. The fact is we are the Lord’s ambassadors, joint saviours, not keys, but cogs in the machinery of the Lord.
In Revelation 17 John was given a vision of the Great Whore, and the Lord’s war with the Whore. Revelation 17:7 – “And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and FAITHFUL.”If verse 14 was talking about our salvation and it was the only statement of its kind in the Bible, would you be able to say that when the Lord comes you will be with him because you are called, chosen and faithful?
Turn to Psalm 31:19-24 – “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the FAITHFUL, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
If the Lord’s preservation was only given to the faithful, would we ever be united to the Lord in Glory? Fortunately for us, our eternal salvation is not based on our faithful service to God, but rather on the Lord’s faithfulness to Himself. Nevertheless, our faithfulness is important in other ways. One of which is the glorification of Christ. And that raises the question: “Are you as faithful to God as you ought to be?”