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Faithfulness

Faithfulness

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
May, 1999


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Last updated:
April 30, 1999.

The apostle Peter wrote: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).  Jesus is our example in many ways, one of which is in faithfulness.  Depending on the cause to which one is devoted and the circumstances, many times genuine faithfulness is costly.  Being faithful means being dependable, trustworthy, loyal; it means being true to one's duty.  To possess this character often costs one's life in the military service of a nation.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of men, was willing to pay whatever the price might be to be faithful to his Father and to accomplish his mission on the earth.

CHRIST WAS FAITHFUL TO THE TRUTH

First, we see Jesus was faithful to the Truth.  He held steadfastly to the word of God in his encounter with the Devil. In Matt. 4:10 we read, "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."  This was at Jesus' third temptation, but in every one Jesus used the Scriptures to combat the appeal to sin.  Throughout his life Jesus sought to accomplish God's will.  We find the majestic statement of prophecy about the Christ, "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7).  The manifestation of the will of God was displayed to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ; He came bringing grace and truth (John 1:17).  He claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Faithfulness sometimes demands a surrendering of one's own comfort and personal ambition; and so it was with Christ.  He set aside his own will to do the Father's will (John 6:38).  Jesus asked the Father, if it be possible to accomplish God's plan for mankind in some other way, please spare him from death.  However, He concluded his prayer by stating, "...Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).  Yes, Jesus was faithful to God's truth no matter what the cost.  He prayed for it, suffered for it, lived for it, and died for it.  What about you?

Brother, have you been faithful to God's truth?  Jesus told the woman of Samaria in John 4:23, 24, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."  He also prayed for his disciples to God, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).  If you would be one of God's "true worshipers," you will totally devote yourself in worship to God as He designed it and carried it out according in the way the word of God directs.

Paul begged young man, Timothy, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust..."   Then he charged him, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 4:2).

FAITHFUL TO THE DISCIPLES

Those who follow Jesus are considered his friends.  He told those assembled in the upper room, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14).  His disciples became more important to him than Jesus' own family.  On one occasion he demonstrated this.  In Matthew 12:47-50 it is said, "Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Christ was accused of being a friend of the wrong people.  But in this He showed his faithfulness to those who sought his help.  "And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:11,12).  Jesus loved the disciples and taught them to love one another (John 13:35).  Later Paul prayed for the brethren that the Lord make them ". . . to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

Even after having in his darkest hour to pray alone, after being denied and betrayed, Jesus showed faithful to his disciples by asking the authorities who came to capture him to let them go (John 18:8).  You see, Jesus "loved them to the end" (John 13:1).  In order to be faithful to the cause of Christ you must have love.

FAITHFUL TO THE CHURCH

Closely akin is the fact that Jesus is faithful to the church.  It is his church.  He said in Matthew 16:18, "Upon this rock I will build my church."  He is the head over the church (Ephesians 1:22); He directs its conduct and activities.  John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  Even as his Father manifested such love, so did the Son. We are told, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).  He laid down his life for the church (John 15:13).  Those who comprise the church of Christ are more important to him than Jesus' own earthly body.

The apostle Paul loved the Lord and was so faithful to the church that he was willing to suffer tremendous distress and persecution for the gospel.  At one point, because others voiced doubt about his devotion to the cause of the Lord, he recounted, "three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches" (2 Cor. 11:25-28 NKJV).  One of his converts, Timothy, became so devoted to the same cause, that eventually Paul said he was like a son to him (2 Timothy 1:2).  The apostle further said he was a true child in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2), and wrote to the brethren about Timothy's faithfulness, saying, "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state" (Phil. 2:20).

Do you work to win your friends and family with the truth of God without changing or compromising it (Revelation 22:18,19)?  If they will not receive a love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10), are you willing to turn in total faithfulness to the church of Christ finding your place of work and service in this world and "care for their state"? Uncompromising faithfulness helps to beget faith in others.  Paul offered some encouraging words to the church in Corinth -- "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men" (2 Corinthians 3:2 NKJV).

FAITHFUL TO GOD

As we said earlier, Jesus was faithful to his mission on earth.  He came from God, from the splendors of heaven, to live in a sinful world so that he could return in glory to God.  Hebrews 1:3 tells us, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."  He represented the eternal purpose of God in the redemption of man.

GOD IS FAITHFUL

God was faithful in the past.  Noah could depend on the covenant that God made with him saying all who were in the ark would be saved (Genesis 6:18).  Down through the years man has been able to depend on God's promise that He will never destroy the earth again by a flood of waters (Genesis 9:15-16).  Man is willingly ignorant of the flood that, by the word of God, destroyed the world in Noah's day and that the same word of God will finally destroy the world by fire (2 Peter 3:5-7).  In Abraham's old age God promised him a son and Sarah, his wife, bore a son (Genesis 17:16, 19; 21:2, 7).  There are many other examples of God's fulfilling his promises.

Please take the time to read the following Scriptures that tell us that God the Father is faithful--(Rom. 3:3,4) (Titus 1:2) (1 Cor. 1:9) (2 Cor. 1:20)  (1 Thess. 5:23,24) (2 Tim. 2:13) (2 Tim. 2:19) (Heb. 10:22,23)  (Heb. 10:35-39) (1 Pet. 4:35-39) (1 John 1:8).

WE CAN DEPEND ON GOD

If we can depend on God to be faithful in these matters of forgiveness of sin and eternal life, can we not depend on his being faithful in matters that pertain to our living here on earth?

For example:  God will not allow us to be tempted above that we can bear.  We are told, "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" (1 Cor. 10:13).  Do you believe it?  We dare say there are some among us who don't!

Again: God's word tells us, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).  As difficult to accept as it is for some that's what God's word says.  We may not understand the total import of the passage, but that's what God's word says. Personal experience cannot nullify the word of God.  Some would lead us to believe that after the establishment of the church and miracles ceased, everything was put on "automatic pilot".  That is, the rules are set, all mechanisms are in place, and as brother Billy Orten might have put it, "Some people look at it like the sky if full of the balloons of God's blessings.  You just punch the one you want and out pops the proper blessing."

THE WORD IS COMPLETE

We believe all you will ever know about the will of God is found in the Bible.  We are not going to get any more messages.  The last message, the New Testament, is complete and it has been confirmed by signs and wonders.  There will be no miracles to cause belief today.  But we do have His word with us and God is faithful to his word.  If you don't see how God can accomplish something he has promised don't dismiss it as belonging to another time and another place.

When you make plans into the future do you say, "God willing, or the Lord willing"?  The Bible  tells Christians that they should always make their plans under the condition that they are pleasing to God.  We read, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil" (James 4:13-16).  Well, is God interested or not in your going into another city to trade and make money next year?  The answer is emphatic -- YES.

Now, friend, if you serve a god that does not care about your activities here on earth, he's not the God we read about in the Scriptures, who notes the sparrow's fall and numbers the hairs on your head.  Of course, the Christian should always live, as best he can, according to the teaching of the New Testament, but, even in matters that seem to be in harmony with all Christian principles, there is still the possibility that the plans he makes may not be the best for him, or the best for his family.  On the other hand, if a person doesn't believe that God answers prayers in any practical way -- maybe to him prayer is just some personal exercise of the mind which accomplishes nothing outside of keeping oneself in spiritual tune -- if that's the idea then it's easy to see why such a passage as this in James 4 is nothing to be concerned with.

In this same passage we are reminded of the brevity of life.  Our plans may need more time than we have allotted us.  Yes, God is in control of our days on this earth.  Death is an appointment which every man and woman, boy and girl must meet.  That appointment is set by God.  God sent the death angel over Egypt in the Book of Exodus.  God's message to king Hezekiah was, "Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live."  Then the king begged for his life and God granted him fifteen more years (2 Kings 20:1,6).  Who was in control of king Hezekiah's life and death -- God!  "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7).  When one dies, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecc. 12:7).

On the cross, ". . .When Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Luke 23:46).  Job knew who was in command; he said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:21,22).  There are many other passages that indicate that God controls life, substance, and death.  So the Christian speaks with the language of the Scriptures when they say that "it is God's will" that someone either lived or died.  The materialist, the sceptic, and the cynic may believe that their days on earth are left to chance.  But the true child of God knows who is in control.

Furthermore, heaven is moved by what you and I do.  Jesus said, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).  When a soul believes and obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ forgiveness takes place.  Where?  Is it forgiveness by the members of the church or society?  Is the forgiveness in the mind of the sinner?  Why, no!  Our faithful God says, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb. 8:12).

When you pray do you say, "Not my will but thine be done"?  When Jesus uttered those words, he meant them.  He always did the will of the Father.  Jesus was triumphant over death, hell, and the grave; being resurrected King of Kings and Lord of Lords He established his kingdom among men.  In the throne room of heaven we see the victory celebration -- "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints" (Revelation 15:3).

CAN GOD DEPEND ON YOU?

As a disciple of Christ, doesn't the example of Jesus inspire you to be faithful to the Truth?  Even among those who have taken a clear stand on the principles of Christianity, there is an alarming number who are willing to compromise God's truth in the fray of battle.  When Satan's hoards wax bold, some abandon their faith and flee to the hills of concession and modification.  A soldier is proven valiant only on the battlefield.

Do not the examples of faithful service in Paul and Timothy encourage you?  What a disappointment it must have been to Paul when Demas forsook him and the cause of Christ, and how disheartening it must have been to know that Alexander the coppersmith was speaking out against him, and how lonely it must have been for Paul when no one stood with him at his first trial in Rome (2 Timothy 4:10, 14, 16).  But we certainly are heartened to see how Paul remained faithful through it all, and to hear him say, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:   Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-9).

Can you not see why your faithfulness is demanded of the Lord?  He promises, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life"(Rev. 2:10).


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