The Faithfulness of God – I Corinthians 10:11-13; 1:4-9

Have you ever felt betrayed?  Perhaps you shared an intimate secret with someone you trusted, but that person then shared it with others, causing you personal shame or harm.  Or perhaps you asked someone to help you in an important matter, and they promised to do so, but when the time came, they didn’t.  From time to time we enter into relationships where faithfulness is expected, but that trust is broken – a business agreement or sharing the expenses of some joint project.  One of the highest of those relationships is marriage.  When someone breaks their wedding vows, we say that he or she has been “unfaithful.”
People handle the unfaithfulness of others in different ways.  And we shouldn’t condemn a person because he deals with betrayal differently than we do.  Maybe you have become hard and cynical, learning to expect others to put themselves first at your expense, so their betrayal is not quite the surprise to you that it is to someone else.  Not you of course, but some might have this cynical outlook, because they themselves aren’t to be trusted.  Then there are some, especially the young and inexperienced, who are surprised by their friends’ unfaithfulness, and they are crushed by it.  They divorce their unfaithful spouse rather than trying to “forgive and forget.”
To both kinds of people, I would like to say, there is someone you can FULLY trust – ALWAYS trust – and you can even put your life in His hands.  “There is a friend who sticketh closer than a brother.”  And to you who understand what I am saying, there is a Brother who sticketh closer than your closest friend.  By that I mean He is absolutely faithful.  Of course, I am speaking of our Lord – the God of the Bible; the God of the saints; the God of salvation.
There are two scriptures, both found in I Corinthians which declare that “God is faithful.”
They are directed toward Christians, because generally speaking, the non-Christian usually doesn’t care to know whether or not God is faithful.  The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  And “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  We will come back to both these scriptures later, because they point more to the EFFECTS of God’s faithfulness than to the faithfulness itself.  In fact, almost every scripture which speaks of God’s faithfulness quickly move to the ways in which that faithfulness touches us.  But I think it’s important to begin with the source – with the fact – “God is faithful.”
If you look up “faithfulness” in the dictionary, you’ll run into synonyns more than you will definitions.  And if you use a thesaurus looking for synonyms, you’ll find expressions or illustrations of “faithfulness” rather than explanations.  You’ll find words like – “loyal,” “devoted,” “conscientious,” “trustworthy.”  These are fine and helpful in their own way, but they don’t define what it is to be “faithful” especially when applied to the Lord.  Can we honestly say that God is “loyal,” devoted” or “conscientious?”
Obviously, in English, but also in both Hebrew and Greek, the word is related to “faith.”  Someone who is “faithful” is worthy of another person’s faith – his absolute trust and confidence.  And of course that would put the Lord at the top of the list of the “faithful.”   In fact it would really make Him the only being worthy of the word, because there has never been any human being who has not let others down at some point.  We are all sinners.
Please turn to II Timothy 2:11 – “It is a FAITHFUL saying;” – Here is something you can trust, something on which you can hang your Christian hat.  “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him (ie. in Christ), we shall also live with (Christ – eternally);  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: (but) if we deny him, he also will deny us: (Yet) if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he CANNOT deny HIMSELF.”  Here perhaps is where we begin to understand the Lord’s faithfulness.  Jehovah is true to His word; He keeps His promises; God saves His people to eternity, because “He cannot deny HIMSELF.”  We will come back to this: but God ISN’T faithful because He keeps His promises.  But God keeps His promises because He is faithful – because “He cannot deny himself.”  As we shall see, God is faithful towards us, but it isn’t because of us, or even because He has promised to do things for us.  God is faithful to Himself – “He cannot deny himself.”  When it comes to Jehovah God, “faithfulness” does not refer to stubborn doggedness.  And it is not that God is loyal or conscientious.    It is that He is true to Himself.    You might say that it is one of God’s attributes.
Incidentally, I have several books examining the attributes of God.  And I have theology books and sets of theology books which have large sections on God’s attributes.  But out of approximately a dozen, less than a third consider “faithfulness” to be one of God’s attributes – or even worthy of more than a passing comment.  But I hope to show you that God’s “faithfulness” is linked to so many aspects of God’s character and works that I think most of those great theologians missed the boat.  Water is wet, among other things; the sky is blue, among other things; snow is cold; the sun is blinding, and God is faithful – among other things.
Why is God faithful?  I’ve already given you the simple answer – “He cannot deny himself.”  But the more complex answer intertwines itself with most of His more recognized attributes.  Because God is HOLY, he is faithful – “He cannot deny himself.”  You can count on the Lord doing nothing but what is just, right, righteous and sinless – ie. holy.  He is even faithful to judge and punish sin, because He is holy.  Because God is all-powerful, you may count on Him doing what is just, right, righteous and sinless, because nothing can divert Him from these – He is omnipotent and “He cannot deny himself.”  The Apostle John declared that God cannot lie because He is the truth – He is not just truthful and therefore trustworthy – He is truth itself.  We could spend another thirty minutes with this line of thought, but I’d prefer to take you down another  path.  It us such a beautiful road that usually we spend all our time looking at the scenery rather than considering our traveling companion.
Let’s look at some of the scriptures which speak of God’s faithfulness.
Revelation 19 in describing events towards the end of the seven year Tribulation, begins with the words,  “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia,. Salvation and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God: for true and right are his judgments….”  Verse 11 – “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called FAITHFUL and TRUE, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”  What are the names of the great Victor with so many crowns? – “his name is called The Word of God,” and He was called “faithful and true.”  Why is Christ called “faithful and true”?   Because He IS faithful, and He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Christ deserves these names and titles because He is characterized by these names and titles.  Faithful is a part of God’s nature – Christ’s nature.
One of the things I’d like you to notice throughout the rest of this message, is that God’s faithfulness is almost always tied to something else.  Only twice are we told that “God is faithful,” but several dozen times we are told that He is “faithful and ……” something else.  Here Christ is called “faithful and true” – God’s truth and faithfulness go hand in hand.  Why did your friend lie about you?  Because people are only sometimes faithful, and they are liars.  Jehovah is always faithful and true.
Obviously, God is trustworthy; He is trustworthy because He is faithful to His nature – “He cannot deny himself.”  Hebrews 11 is Paul’s great exposition on the subject of personal faith.  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham placed their faith in God, and they were blessed for it.  Others “subdued kingdom, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword” and so on.  Like them was Sara, Abraham’s wife, who “through faith … received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him FAITHFUL who had PROMISED” – Hebrews 11:11.  The promises of God are guaranteed because they are rooted in Him who is faithful.  Your father has broken promises to you because he is a sinner, like all the rest of us.  But our God is worthy of our trust, because He is faithful to Himself and thus to His promises.  Hebrews 10:19 – “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that PROMISED).”
Revelation 1:5 speaks of Jesus Christ as “the faithful witness” to everything which He has spoken.
Please turn to Ethan’s great exposition on Jehovah’s faithfulness – Psalm 89.  “I will sing of the MERCIES of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy FAITHFULNESS to all generations.  For I have said, MERCY shall be built up for ever: thy FAITHFULNESS shalt thou establish in the very heavens.”  Please notice that twice in these verses God’s mercy is tied to His faithfulness.  When God bestows His gracious mercy on a sinner, saving him from the penalty of his sins, that mercy goes on forever – flowing out of the heart of the faithful God.  It is heresy to teach that God will withdraw His mercy from someone He has chosen to save.  Ethan goes on in verse 5 – “And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.”  Perhaps the connection isn’t really tight, but in one breath we have reference to the wonders of God – the miracles of the Lord – and then to His faithfulness.  “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.”  “O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?”  This verse ties together the Lord’s strength – His omnipotence – and His faithful use of that strength.  The natural world is governed by the God who is faithful.
David also ties together God’s mercy and His faithfulness in Psalm 36:5.  “Thy MERCY, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy FAITHFULNESS reacheth unto the clouds.  Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.  How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.  For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.  O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.”
We see this again in JEREMIAH’S great statement in Lamentations 3: 22 –  “It is of the Lord’s MERCIES that we are not consumed, because his COMPASSIONS fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy FAITHFULNESS.”  The Lord’s mercies and compassions fail not, because God is faithful.  So, Christian, you have sinned again, disappointing yourself and others; bringing shame to your Saviour.  Repent, yes, but despair not, because God is faithful.  “If we confess our sins, he is FAITHFUL and JUST to FORGIVE us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – I John 1:9.
Going back to the 89th Psalm, God even addresses this with Ethan.  Verse 28 – “My MERCY will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.  His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.  If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;  If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;  Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.  Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer MY FAITHFULNESS to fail.  My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
Another poet ties God’s love to His faithfulness in Psalm 92 –  “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High;To show forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”
The pinnacle of God’s faithfulness is seen in salvation from sin.
When our first Father, Adam, chose to disobey God, he poisoned the blood stream which finally ended up in you and me.  We were born spiritually dead and alienated from our Creator – the Lord God.  Just as God is trustworthy because He is faithful – it is His nature – we sin, and sin, and sin because we are sinners – it is our nature.  And because we are sinners, we deserve the judgment of God which culminates in the Lake of Fire.  No one deserve anything less than eternal Hell.
But God chose to rescue millions of souls from the judgment they deserve.  There was a covenant made between God the Father and God the Son to save a large company of unworthies.  And every one of those chosen people will eventually be brought to their knees in repentance before God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Every one of those elect people – future redeemed people, children of God, citizens of His Kingdom will be brought into His glorious presence – cleansed, righteous – glorified – because God is faithful.
Paul, in I Thessalonians 5, after saying,  “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” added,   ”FAITHFUL is he that calleth you, who also WILL DO IT.”  What is this “calling” to which Paul referred?  It comes up throughout his epistles – sometimes in the word “call” and at other times in “election.”  But it’s “call” in Romans 8 – “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”  Romans 8 takes us right back to our theme – ”FAITHFUL is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
Later in that same chapter Paul says, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
And in II Thessalonians 3 he again takes us back to our subject – “The Lord is FAITHFUL, who shall STABLISH you, and KEEP you from evil.”
There will be a number of things for which people in Heaven will praise the Lord.  The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross will likely be the first point.  But from there we will praise Him for His love, for His choice to save any of us, and the salvation of ourselves in particular.  We will praise the Lord for each aspect of our redemption – our justification, adoption, new birth and so on.  And amongst them all, like the Psalmists we will praise the Lord for His faithfulness.  Despite our on-going sinfulness and spiritual stupidity, the Saviour remained true to Himself.  He chose to save us, and that is exactly what He has done.  And that is what He will do when He takes His saved people to glory.
In this world there is a great deal of disappointment – the people we trust the most, often fail us.  But the Lord never has, and He never will.  Because it is contrary to His nature, He cannot betray His promises to us.  “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy FAITHFULNESS to all generations.”
You need a true friend, a faithful friend.  I am not asking whether or not you need a friend; I am telling you that you do.  And you cannot find the friend you need among the rest of us earthbound sinners.  You need the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Won’t you come to Him?    Acknowledge your sinfulness which He sees in you; ask Him for a broken heart about your sin.  And then trust Christ to apply His blood to cleanse you; to forgive you; to receive you.  You need this “friend who sticketh closer than a brother.”  He will faithfully stay with the humble believer like the faithful Saviour that He is until we are in Heaven – glorified and filled with praise.