Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of posts related to the attributes of God. Here are the links to the previous posts (Why Study the Attributes of God, The Holiness of God, The Power of God, The Presence of God, The Knowledge of God, The Fatherhood of God, The Love of God, The Wisdom of God, The Wrath of God).
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 20:6 the following words, “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” We live in a world that proves the truthfulness of this proverb. Friendships, marriages, business dealings, all fall apart because of the unfaithfulness of human beings. Perhaps you too have felt the deep pain of betrayal―from the very same individuals who promised to be faithful to the very end.
In the darkness of such realities, this attribute of God―his faithfulness brings great comfort to the hurting soul. This is what the Bible declares in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” We read later in Deuteronomy 32:4,“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
When the Bible says, God is faithful, it simply means God can be trusted to fulfill all his promises. Unlike fallen human beings, whose faithfulness can waver, God never wavers in his faithfulness. Moses reminds us Numbers 23:19, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
The psalmist Ethan the Ezrahite wrote in Psalm 89:8, “Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” Paul reminds us in Titus 1:2 that “God…does not lie.” The writer of Hebrews says, “it is impossible for God to lie” [Heb 6:18]. Agur reminds us that “every word of God is flawless” [Prov 30:5]. All these verses teach us that God can be fully relied upon to keep his promises. He will never prove unfaithful to those who trust him with their whole heart [Psa 34:22]. Wayne Grudem rightly states, “Essence of true faith is taking God at his word and relying on him to do what he has promised” [Systematic Theology, p. 195]. And because God is faithful to fulfill all his promises, the believer can confidently say, “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him”” [Lam 3:22-24].
The Bible is filled with illustrations of God’s faithfulness in that he fulfills his promises. Let’s look at a few examples.
God promised Noah as recorded Genesis 8:22 these words, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Year after year, we see this being fulfilled. In Genesis 15:13-16, God predicted to Abraham the 400-year slavery that the Jews would undergo with a promise of his deliverance. Exodus 12:41 records the fulfillment of this deliverance, “At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt.” In Isaiah 7:14, we are given the prophecy concerning the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Matthew 1:22-25 records the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Many more examples could be cited in addition to the 3 above. But the point is clear as Hebrews 10:23 states, “he who promised is faithful.” The remainder of this post will focus on the 2 aspects of God’s faithfulness: (1) In the lives of his children; (2) In the lives of his enemies.
1. God’s faithfulness displayed in the lives of his children.
a. In preserving them. We are told in 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, “8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the ultimate sense, the preservation of our salvation is grounded upon the faithfulness of God.
Jesus himself spoke these precious words concerning the security of our salvation, “27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” In addition, Jesus also prayed for our preservation in his high priestly prayer to his father, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” [John 17:11].
b. In disciplining them. Not only is God’s faithfulness displayed in preserving us, but it’s also displayed in disciplining us. The entire Hebrews 12:4-11 is a passage that encourages us to endure as we go through God’s disciplining process. The writer says that being disciplined [or trained] by God is proof positive that we are his true children and a faithful God does it in order to make us resemble more like his Son. Here are portions of this passage that highlight this truth. “7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all…10 …God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
No wonder the psalmist said in the light of him being disciplined these words, “I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” [Psalm 119:75]. A faithful God does what is necessary, even though it may be painful, in order to make us more holy.
c. In glorifying them. Not only is God’s faithfulness displayed in preserving us and in disciplining us, his faithfulness will also be displayed in our ultimate glorification where we would be made like Jesus. We are promised in Romans 8:30, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Notice, “he also glorified” is in the past tense even though it is yet to happen. The point: In God’s sight, our glorification is a done deal. That’s how faithful God is keeping his promises. No wonder Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
All our promises of glorification are grounded in the faithfulness of God as stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” God’s faithfulness to glorify Paul led him to say even in the midst of his great sufferings these confident words, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” [2 Tim 1:12].
So, in the light of these 3 areas—in preserving us, in disciplining us and finally in glorifying us—we see God’s faithfulness displayed toward us his children. These truths should cause us to trust God even in life’s dark moments and never grumble or give up. We are to keep persevering in faith and be free from anxiety. This is what the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 did and they were not disappointed. We won’t be disappointed in the end either because God is faithful to keep ALL his promises to us.
Even when we are battling sin and going through severe temptations, we don’t have to give up. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” When Paul says, God will “provide a way out” it does not mean that we will necessarily escape trials. Rather, it means that we can trust in this faithful God to give us the strength to endure trials and not give in to temptation.
Let’s not forget this faithful God has promised us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” [Heb 13:5]. Jesus has promised to be with us to the very end, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” [Matt 28:20]. Trust is taking God at his word and relying on him to do what he has promised because he is a faithful God who will keep all his promises—even when the situation seems very bleak. Habakkuk did that very thing, “17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Dear Christian: Are you going through a very hard time? Finding it very hard to get through just another day? Don’t give up. Even if things seem hopeless, like Habakkuk, trust in this faithful God who will carry you till the end. Press on in faith without giving up!
2. God’s faithfulness displayed in the lives of his enemies.
Just as God is faithful to keep his promises to his children, he is equally faithful to keep his promises to judge those who reject him and thus remain his enemies. In other words, he is faithful—as a Saviour and as a Judge. Past judgments of God clearly prove his faithfulness in judging those who rebel against him.
He judged the world that did not repent during Noah’s time through the world-wide flood that destroyed them all [Gen 6-8]. Not one of them survived except Noah and his family who found grace in God’s sight. He judged the unbelievers during the wilderness journey because they failed to trust him to bring them to the promised land [Num 14:26-34; Heb 3:15-19]. Since God displayed his faithfulness in keeping his word of judgment in the past, we can be certain, he will be faithful to do the same in the future as well!
God has promised a future judgment of fire in a place called the lake of fire or hell for those who fail to turn from their sins and put their trust in Jesus Christ. Revelation 20:15 says, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” This will happen “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” [2 Thess 1:7-9].
In the light of God’s faithfulness in keeping his judgment promises, what should be your response, if you are not his child and thus his enemy? First of all, ask God to open your eyes to clearly see that you have sinned against your Creator. Then acknowledge to him that you have sinned and are guilty of punishment. Don’t give any excuses. Just a straight acknowledgment, “I have sinned against you and I’m guilty Lord.” Tell him you are sorry for your sins and that you want to turn from a sinful lifestyle. That’s what the Bible calls as repentance. That’s not enough though. Then you need to turn to Christ in faith believing that he paid the full price for sins by living a perfect life and dying on the cross and rising again in your place. Call out to him to save you. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Rom 10:13] is the promise given in Scriptures. Embrace Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. That’s how you are saved from your sins. That’s how you become his child.
Follow your repentance and faith by publicly testifying in the waters of baptism. Baptism is the first step of obedience after becoming a child of God. [Read this post titled “Water Baptism – 6 Questions Asked & Answered” if you have questions about baptism].
Jesus invites all who are burdened by their sins and guilt to come to him, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” [Matt 11:28]. And for those who are willing to come, he gives this promise, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away” [John 6:37]. Jesus is faithful to keep his promises. He can be trusted. Come and experience his forgiveness. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from coming to Christ. Cost of staying away from Jesus is far worse than the cost of coming to Jesus. It’s okay if you have to give up everything—even your life— if that gets you Christ. In the end, you will find Jesus—the real and lasting treasure is more than worthy of all that you give up.
Please understand friend, this faithful God is also a forgiving God. Have your sins washed away by the blood of his Son Jesus. I make this appeal to you my friend with a sincere heart. Come to Jesus. Meet his as a Saviour than as a Judge. Flee from the judgment to come. No matter how much you have sinned and messed up, you can find true peace and rest in Jesus. And then after you come to Christ, you too, along with other children of God say like David, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” [Psa 36:5].