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Dr. Richard L. Strauss
March 23, 1980


When God predicts that He will cause a son to be born to a husband and wife in their nineties, more than just His power is in question. God's credibility is likewise at stake. Is He reliable? Is He trustworthy? Can we expect God to do what He says He will do?

When that promise was made to Abraham, he literally fell on his face and laughed (Genesis 17:17). It wasn't one of the more remarkable expressions of faith recorded in the Bible! Yet many of us would probably do the same thing. Abraham had not yet fully come to believe that God can be trusted. And neither had his wife, Sarah. When the same promise was made in her hearing, she too laughed (Genesis 18:12). She didn't fall on her face and laugh, but she laughed inside her. Sarah's faith had not grown beyond the example she observed in her husband.

The narrative in Genesis doesn't tell us specifically when it happened, but at some point in their walk with God, both Abraham and Sarah became convinced that God would do what He promised to do. The Apostle Paul told us about Abraham.

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised" (Romans 4:20-21).

The writer to the Hebrews tells us the story from Sarah's perspective.

"And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11).

She not only believed that God could do it, she also believed that He would do it, because He is a faithful God. His Word is reliable; His promises are trustworthy.

The faith of Abraham and Sarah was not misplaced.

"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him" (Genesis 21:1-2).

It happened just exactly as God said it would. And that should be no surprise to anyone who truly knows God, for He is faithful. God did exactly what He said He would do, because that's what faithfulness is.

1. The Explanation of God's Faithfulness

The Old Testament word for faithfulness comes from the same root as the word for truth. We studied truth last week, so we're studying faithfulness this week. The root means "firmness or stability," and faithfulness actually grows out of truth. What is true must also be trustworthy.

The Old Testament word for faithfulness comes from the same root as the word for truth. We studied truth last week, so we're studying faithfulness this week. The root means "firmness or stability," and faithfulness actually grows out of truth. What is true must also be trustworthy.

"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?" (Numbers 23:19).

Because God always speaks the truth, then we can count on Him to do exactly what He promised, to be perfectly reliable, always steady and stable, never fickle or vacillating. That is His faithfulness. Because He is faithful, He must always be true to His Word. His Word is infallible and unfailing.

It is interesting to see how often faithfulness and truth are used together in the Bible. Isaiah said, "...Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth" (Isaiah 25:1). The Apostle John agreed that God's words are "faithful and true" (Revelation 21:5; 22:6). He also told us that Jesus Christ, the living Word in flesh, is "the faithful and true witness" (Revelation 3:14), and that He actually bears the title "Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11).

As we have seen, all God's attributes operate in conjunction with one another, never in isolation. If God is who He says He is, then He has no alternative but to be faithful. Let me illustrate:

We sometimes go back on our word because we are unable to do what we promised—we thought we could do it and we intended to do it, but when it came right down to it, we couldn't do it. But God is omnipotent; He can do anything He pleases.
We may be unfaithful because we are influenced by others. But God is totally self-sufficient. He does not need anyone else's approval to meet His needs; He is His own reason for everything He does.
We may fail to keep our word because we lose interest. We thought we wanted to do it but then we lost interest in it. But God is immutable; He never changes His mind.
We may not follow through because it no longer suits our selfish purposes. But God is love; He acts for the good of others.

Because of who God is, He has no reason to be anything but faithful. His other attributes require God's faithfulness.

The Bible extols God's faithfulness. The Psalmist said it surrounds Him (Psalm 89:8, NASB). It is part of His being and it affects everything He does. Moses said:

"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" (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Because God is faithful, He can be expected to keep His covenant and carry out His promises. He did just that for His people Israel. He gave them the land He promised them. Then He gave them victory over their enemies and rest from their conflicts just as He said He would.

"Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass" (Joshua 21:45, NASB).

All came to pass. God said it, then did it. That is the essence of faithfulness: What God says, He will do.

Just as we saw God's truth reaching to the clouds, so does His faithfulness (Psalm 36:5). Its scope is unlimited. The Psalmist went on to say:

"Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 119:89-90a).

Because God has spoken in truth and His Word is sure, every generation in human history can count on what He has said. He will never permit His faithfulness to fail (Psalm 89:33). No wonder Jeremiah exclaimed with joy, "Great is Thy faithfulness!" (Lamentations 3:23).

That's part of our memory verses this week; we're going to learn verses 22 and 23. They are worth memorizing, worth thinking about.

2. The Extent of God's Faithfulness

Now, since God's faithfulness is part of His essence, it affects everything He says and everything He does. But several specific applications of His faithfulness are made in the New Testament that should prove to be encouraging to us. Let's look at four definite areas in which God is faithful. These are things you can count on.

a. God Is Faithful in Assuring Our Salvation (1 Corinthians 1:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

The spiritual life of the Corinthians left much to be desired but Paul commends them for their anticipation of Christ's return. He says:

"[Jesus] will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:8-9, NASB).

Paul is confident that the Lord will confirm them to the end—that is, make them steadfast, preserve them from falling away—right up to the moment they enter His presence. His confidence does not rest in the strength and ability of the Corinthians; the Corinthians did not have much of that because they were weak spiritually. Rather, Paul's confidence is in the faithfulness of God. If God promised eternal life to those who would receive His Son, then He will deliver what He promised. He will never allow them to perish.

A similar assurance is expressed about the Thessalonians.

"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. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Paul longs to see everyone of them standing before the throne of God, wholly set apart unto the Lord, perfectly pure and blameless. And he is confident that He shall, not because they have the innate power to make themselves holy, but because the One who called them is faithful. You see, God promised to glorify every person He called and justified—everyone without exception, 100 percent.

God promises to glorify us, and that means to bring us into His presence and make us perfect, like the Lord Jesus. He has promised to glorify every person who has trusted in the Savior. Every one; He's not going to lose one.

"For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified" (Romans 8:29-30).

I can't find in that verse where God lost a single one through that whole process. God says that every single person He foreknew will be ushered into His presence and be glorified like Jesus. And God does what He says He's going to do.

What an exciting assurance! Once we have truly acknowledged our sin and trusted Christ as Savior, there is no need to worry and fret over our eternal destiny ever again. Our faithful God confirms it forever, and with that issue eternally settled and that burden permanently lifted, we can give our attention to growing in our knowledge of Him.

On occasion I have talked to folks who have been struggling with the assurance of their salvation for years. They are perpetually preoccupied with whether or not they really are saved, and the result of their preoccupation has usually been spiritual stagnation. They will never move on from that plateau and grow in God's grace until they take God at His Word and realize that their salvation is settled.

He said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Have you trusted Him? Have you put your confidence in Jesus for paying the penalty for your sin? That's it, folks! If you've done that, God says He's saved you. Believe Him. A faithful God will do what He promised to do. He will save you when you trust His Son. You can count on that, because God is faithful.

Some might say, "Well if that was really true, then I'd just go out and sin since God has forgiven me." Really? I question whether you've really understood what God has done, saving you from your vile, reprehensible state. Why would you ever do that after what He's done for you? Our gratitude for Him saving us should motivate us to want to please Him and get to know Him better.

When you come to know Christ and realize that your salvation is settled and assured, you'll have a desire to grow. And the reason it is settled and assured is that God is faithful.

b. God Is Faithful in Providing for Our Victory (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3)

God wants us to enjoy victory over sin and triumph through trials, but He has not left us to our own resources to achieve it. He offers us help.

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB).

The word temptation may refer either to a trial from God who seeks to purify and strengthen us, or to a solicitation to sin from Satan, who seeks to destroy us. The word can mean either one. Maybe Paul chose the word to show that God makes a provision for both. In either case, God promises to protect us from anything more than we can bear, and to provide with every temptation a way of escape. His faithfulness guarantees it.

The phrase "way of escape" was sometimes used in Ancient Greek literature of a narrow mountain pass through which a trapped army might get out of an impossible situation. God always has an escape hatch available when temptation strikes. When we yield to it, it is because we have ignored His provision and refused to take His way out. In the case of trials, the way of escape my simply be the strength to bear it, but the escape will be there. We can count on it. A God who never fails to keep His Word has promised it.

A similar promise, particularly regarding the sin issue, was made again to the Thessalonians.

"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NASB).

They, like us, needed protection against the attacks of Satan. God promises to guard them by strengthening them, that is, by buttressing their faith and providing the support they needed. As they grew strong in every good word and work (see 1 Thessalonians 2:17), they would be less vulnerable to Satan's assaults.

God has been faithful to His promise:

He invites us to use these resources which He faithfully provides, and enjoy victory over sin and triumph through trials.

c. God Is Faithful in Forgiving Our Sins (1 John 1:9)

Unfortunately, most of us only use God's resources intermittently, and as a result, we sin. We all sin. But God's faithfulness reaches us even there.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

In that verse, our sins are viewed as two things: a debt that needs to be forgiven, and a stain that needs to be cleansed. We can enjoy both of these blessings when we acknowledge our sins to God, and agree with Him that they are a vile and repulsive offense to His holy nature.

He forgives on the basis of two aspects of His character: He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse. We've studied God's justice. We know God has already punished His Son in our place, so justice has been served. He has no reason to withhold forgiveness.

Secondly—and what we're studying now—is that He forgives us because He is faithful. He promised He would forgive us:

"...I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins to more" (Jeremiah 31:34b).

He is a God of His Word. Our sins may seem so horrible that we cannot ever expect God to forgive them. But He says He will, and He is always faithful to His Word. Confess your sins to Him, then take Him at His Word. Believe that He has forgiven you and cleansed you of all unrighteousness.

d. God Is Faithful in Sustaining Us through Suffering (1 Peter 4:19)

One of the times we are tempted to doubt God's faithfulness is when suffering invades our lives. It makes no sense to us. We see no reason for it. We search our lives and although we find some sins there we may previously have overlooked, we still cannot believe we deserve what God has allowed to happen to us. Maybe He's forgotten us. Maybe He doesn't really care.

The people of Jerusalem in Isaiah's day were beginning to have thoughts like that. Israel was a tiny nation surrounded by giant powers which were continually menacing her. Listen to her complaint:

"But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me'" (Isaiah 49:14).

But the Lord was right there with words of encouragement:

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me" (Isaiah 49:15-16).

He had allowed them to suffer, but He had not forgotten them in their sufferings. In fact, the suffering itself was an evidence of His faithfulness and love. He cared enough to allow circumstances that would turn their thoughts to Him, strengthen their trust in Him, and refine the dross from their lives. As the Psalmist put it, "I know...that You in faithfulness have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75).

There is only one way to handle suffering with calmness and contentment, and that is to do what Peter suggested:

"So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good" (1 Peter 4:19).

As Creator, He has the power to carry out His perfect plan for our lives. And as the faithful Creator, He can be counted on to do it. So we can entrust ourselves to His care with complete confidence that He will do what is best. And then we will have peace in the midst of adversity, as we see His purposes begin to unfold. And we shall exclaim with enthusiasm, "Great is Thy faithfulness!"

3. The Encouragement of God's Faithfulness

God will not only be faithful in assuring our salvation, in providing for our victory, in forgiving our sins, and in sustaining us through suffering, He will also be faithful in keeping every promise He has ever made, and that is the greatest encouragement of all.

The Bible contains thousands of precious promises from God. At least one of them will have application and relevance to every conceivable situation we could possible encounter, whether it's a financial reversal, the loss of a loved one, a terminal illness, tension in our family that we just can't seem to resolve. God has promises that affects those situations and a faithful God can be trusted to keep them all, "...for He is faithful that promised" (Hebrews 10:23).

After assuring the Corinthians of God's faithfulness (2 Corinthians 1:18, NASB and NIV), Paul makes this astounding statement:

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The words "in Him" refer to Christ. Jesus Christ is the absolute certainty that all God's promises will be fulfilled. A God who loves us enough to give us His Son will certainly keep all His other promises as well. Christ's coming was as if God had written beside every promise in the Bible, "Yes, so be it, I will keep My Word." And when we believe His promises, our lives bring glory to Him, as Paul said, "...unto the glory of God by us."

The masses of people in the world today are fed up with empty religious claims. They want to see something that does what it says it will do. Few things will give evidence to the reality of life in Christ any more powerfully than a believer who exhibits genuine peace in upsetting circumstances. And that is the by-product of knowing a faithful God and believing His promises.

When we are assured that He cares (love), when we are convinced that He is in control (sovereign) and has the power to do what He wants (omnipotent), when we believe He is with us (omnipresent), when we believe that He is working everything together for good (wise and good), then we will have peace when everything around us is falling to pieces. And that will have a powerful impact on the world.

I must point out that some of God's promises are conditional. If we fail to keep the conditions, and as a result God fails to keep the promise, His faithfulness obviously cannot be impugned. We need to study the context to see if there are any conditions stated or implied.

But other promises are absolute and unconditional. God is going to keep them whether we believe it or not. He will fulfill His Word whether we are faithful to Him or not.

As Paul put it, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13, NASB).

To be faithless may also mean to be unbelieving (see Romans 3:3). When God's promises are unconditional, neither our faithlessness nor our unbelief will affect God's faithfulness.

What a wonderful God! He does what He says He will do. Great is Thy faithfulness!

Trusting Jesus as Your Savior

I must warn you that God's faithfulness also requires Him to make good on His threats. He has said concerning His Son:

"Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:18).

You're condemned already. And condemnation as we see when we read the Bible means eternal punishment. That's a terrible prospect. But God will keep His Word. He promises eternal condemnation unless you're saved by His Son.

Deliverance is available if you believe Jesus paid the penalty for your sin.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:16-17).

His purposes are not to condemn; they are to save. But if you reject His purposes and reject His Son, then you can count on condemnation. Why not accept God's provision and God's offer of deliverance? That is, eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.


Memory Verse

God Is Faithful

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.

Lamentations 3:22-23


Continue to AT-21: God Is So Good