Do you feel safe? How often have you or someone else said, “Stay safe” lately? I doubt that many of us adults (in developed countries, at least) thought much about our physical safety before the pandemic, although we frequently think about our children’s safety. The CDC has removed the guideline for self-isolation after travel. But the riskiest activities now still include air travel, going to a bar, getting a haircut, eating inside a restaurant, and visiting with friends inside—which many of us are doing. Some Christians are extra cautious to prevent spreading the virus, motivated by a concern for their friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members, and extended family. Other Christians have decided to resume some of their “normal” routines, confident that God will protect them—or reconciled to whatever he might allow as the sovereign Ruler. We must all take the stand on the virus that seems reasonable to us. However, when it comes to our spiritual safety, believers have nothing to fear. Our faithful God has given us to his loyal Son for all eternity, and his faithful Spirit actively protects us and compels us to draw close to Him.
God’s loving, covenantal faithfulness is the foundation of our preservation. As with all the fruits of the spirit, our faithfulness finds its source in God’s. And, ours will increase with the assurance that God will keep us until we are with Jesus, face-to-face. Today I present two verses from the Old Testament about God’s faithfulness to consider our fruit of faith in Christ. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…” (Deuteronomy 7:9) “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (Psalms 40:11) God’s faithfulness keeps us, not just for safety, but for his glory and our joy with him.
When young children receive a gift, they are more entranced with it than with the giver. As we grow up, we are more aware of and appreciative of the one giving us our gift. Since the fruits of the Spirit are gifts from God, shouldn’t we first be mindful of him, the supplier of all good things? Deuteronomy 7:9 and Exodus 34:6–7 “…are the most frequently cited of all verses” in the Old Testament “…and with good reason since mercy is what we all desperately need. As New Testament believers, we know that we have this mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ,” [who is the greatest gift of our faithful God]. (1) “In [Deuteronomy 7] the Israelites are…urged [to obey God] from the consideration of their being freely chosen of God above all other people, and of their being redeemed out of the house of bondage, and of the Lord’s being a covenant keeping God to them. [He is] “The only true and living God, and not the idols of the Gentiles, who are false and lifeless ones, and therefore not the proper objects of adoration: the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy; as appeared by fulfilling the promise made to their fathers, in bringing them out of Egypt, and now them to the borders of the land of Canaan given them for an inheritance.” (2)
Too often, we take God’s faithfulness for granted, even while praising him for it. In our church confession last week, we admitted that “Instead of telling of your glory to the generations we have been preoccupied with building our own comfort and glory. We confess our neglect of impressing the truths of your word on our own hearts and the hearts of the next generation. Remind us of your gracious faithfulness to a thousand generations.” (3) Since God’s loving, covenantal faithfulness is the foundation of our preservation and source of our fidelity, it deserves more in-depth consideration, especially if we want to grow in faithfulness.
So let’s consider two other passages—2 Timothy 2:11-13 and Romans 3:3. “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself…What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” “Christ is faithful to all his, covenant engagements for them, to bring them to glory…He cannot deny himself; he cannot go contrary to his word; that would be to act contrary to his nature and perfections, and would be a denying of himself, which is not possible.” (4) Louis Berkhof writes, “There is [one] aspect of [God’s] divine perfection…that is always regarded as of the greatest importance. It is generally called His faithfulness, in virtue of which He is ever mindful of His covenant and fulfills all the promises which He has made to His people. This faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God. It is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing. It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and fills their hearts with joyful anticipations…” (5) The more we meditate on and value God’s truthfulness, immutability, steadfastness, and dependability, the more our faithfulness will increase. The assurance that God will preserve us until we are with Jesus, face-to-face, gives us joy even amid our afflictions and trials.
Sometimes, however, we need some practical help right now, fearing that we will not survive or succeed until that relatively future time when God will wipe away all tears, sin, and afflictions. If anyone needed practical help, it was King David who “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” (Psalms 40:11) “David had been in a situation so hopeless that he could only adequately describe it as being in a slimy, muddy pit. He had waited for God, and God had delivered him, lifting him out of the pit and setting his feet on a rock. Yet now, even though he has been delivered from great trouble, as recounted in verses 1–3, Israel’s beloved king and poet still continues to have trouble and needs further help…[David implied] that life is one long trouble. Should we be surprised at this? Hardly! Ours is a sinful, evil world. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble.’ But he added, ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33)…[David had] troubles, yes. Pessimism, no…He is asking God for help, but he is not discouraged. The tone is optimistic because of his former deliverance by God.” (6) David’s troubles partly arise from his sin—“my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me” (v. 12). “The best saints see themselves undone, unless continually preserved by the grace of God.” (7) We need Christ’s help every day of our lives; our faithfulness is grounded in the person of God, personified in Christ. God’s faithfulness is expressed through His immutability, truth, trustworthiness, perfect fidelity, reliability, and infinite sovereignty—that is his incommunicable attributes. Placing ourselves continually in his steadfast care and faithfulness will help us develop the habit of relying on him who emboldens our devotion “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (. Hebrews 10:23)
The 2020 pandemic is a trial that has now lasted over nine months. Those with commitments to others have had their faithfulness tested. Many have had to keep children and the elderly safe, be careful in every detail of their hospitality work, or serve cautiously in a medical or emergency compacity. Faithfulness to do what is required and find creative solutions for otherwise ordinary tasks has become a significant accomplishment. How have you depended upon the Lord’s faithfulness to meet these challenges? Are there some ways in which you might wait on him as David did? “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (Psalms 40:1-2) May we be able to declare with another psalmist, “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalms 117)
Related Scripture: Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9–10; Psalms 57:3; 86:15; 89:33-36; Proverbs 20:28; Nehemiah 9:17; Isaiah 49:8-10; 1 John 8:9.
(1) Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Psalm 119:1, Books, Software version, 1998.
(2) Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” Deuteronomy 7:9, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-7.html
(3) Trinity Presbyterian Church, Confession 8/23/20, http://www.trinityboerne.org
(4) Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible,” 2 Timothy 2:13, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2timothy-2.html
(5) Berkoff, L., Systematic Theology, page 70, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, Reprinted 1993.
(6) Boice Ibid, Psalm 40.
(7) Boice, Ibid.
August 28, 2020