The Attributes of God

by Arthur W. Pink

The Faithfulness of God
 

Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man's word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this fearful sin. In how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful—faithful in all things, faithful at all times.

"Know therefore that the Lord Your God, He is God, the faithful God" (Deut 7:9). This quality is essential to His being; without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which is impossible: "If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Tim 2:13). Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His being. He is as it were clothed with it: "O Lord God Almighty! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, Lord? Faithfulness is your very character" (Psalm 89:8). So too when God became incarnate it was said, "Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist" (Isa 11:5).

What a word is that in Psalm 36:5, "Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and Your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds." Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God. Everything about God is great, vast, incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word. To every declaration of promise or prophecy the Lord has exactly adhered, every engagement of covenant or threatening He will make good, for "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Num 23:19). Therefore does the believer exclaim, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lam 3:22,23).

Scripture abounds in illustrations of God's faithfulness. More than four thousand years ago He said, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen 8:22). Every year that comes furnishes a fresh witness to God's fulfillment of this promise. In Genesis 15 we find that Jehovah declared unto Abraham, "Your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them ... But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again" (vv.13-16). Centuries ran their weary course. Abraham's descendants groaned amid the brick-kilns of Egypt. Had God forgotten His promise? No, indeed. Read Exodus 12:41, "At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD's divisions left Egypt." Through Isaiah the Lord declared, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (7:14). Again centuries passed, but "When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman" (Gal 4:4).

God is true. His Word of promise is sure. In all His relations with His people, God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many "exceeding great and precious promises," but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Are we actually expecting Him to do for us all that He has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words, "He is faithful who promised" (Heb 10:23)?

There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworkings of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends on whom we relied have failed us, a professed brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yes, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely tried fellow pilgrim, seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10, "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."

When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, "Get you hence, Satan." Though you cannot now harmonize God's mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you. "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand" (John 13:7). The sequel will yet demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived His child. "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isa 30:18).

"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds you so much dread,
Are rich with mercy, and shall break
In blessing o'er your head."

"The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy" (Psalm 119:138). God has not only told us the best, but also He has told us the worst. He has faithfully described the ruin which the Fall has effected. He has faithfully diagnosed the terrible state which sin has produced. He has faithfully made known his inveterate hatred of evil, and that He must punish the same. He has faithfully warned us that He is "a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). Not only does His Word abound in illustrations of His fidelity in fulfilling His promises, but it also records numerous examples of His faithfulness in making good His threatenings. Every stage of Israel's history exemplifies that solemn fact. So it was with individuals: Pharaoh, Korah, Achan and a multitude of others are so many proofs. And thus it will be with you, my reader—unless you have fled or do flee to Christ for refuge, the everlasting burning of the Lake of Fire will be your sure and certain portion! God who threatens, is faithful.

God is faithful in preserving His people. "God is faithful, by Whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son" (1 Cor 1:9). In the previous verse promise was made that God would confirm unto the end His own people. The Apostle's confidence in the absolute security of believers was founded not on the strength of their resolutions or ability to persevere, but on the veracity of Him who cannot lie. Since God has promised to His Son a certain people for His inheritance, to deliver them from sin and condemnation, and to make them participants of eternal life in glory, it is certain that He will not allow any of them to perish.

God is faithful in disciplining His people. He is faithful in what He withholds—no less than in what He gives. He is faithful in sending sorrow as well—as in giving joy. The faithfulness of God is a truth to be confessed by us not only when we are at ease—but also when we are smarting under the sharpest rebuke. Nor must this confession be merely of our mouths, but of our hearts, too. When God smites us with the rod of chastisement, it is faithfulness which wields it. To acknowledge this means that we humble ourselves before Him, own that we fully deserve His correction, and instead of murmuring, thank Him for it. God never afflicts without a reason. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you" (1 Cor 11:30), says Paul, illustrating this principle. When His rod falls upon us let us say with Daniel, "O Lord, righteousness belongs unto You, but unto us confusion of faces" (9:7).

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that You in faithfulness have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75). Trouble and affliction are not only consistent with God's love pledged in the everlasting covenant, but they are parts of the administration of the same. God is not only faithful notwithstanding afflictions, but faithful in sending them. "Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail" (Psalm 89:32,33). Chastening is not only reconcilable with God's loving-kindness, but it is the effect and expression of it. It would much quiet the minds of God's people if they would remember that His covenant love binds Him to lay on them seasonable correction. Afflictions are necessary for us: "In their affliction they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:15).

God is faithful in glorifying His people. "Faithful is He who calls you, Who also will do it" (1 Thess 5:24). The immediate reference here is to the saints being "preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." God deals with us not on the ground of our merits (for we have none), but for His own great name's sake. God is constant to Himself and to His own purpose of grace: "whom He called ... them He also glorified" (Rom 8:30). God gives a full demonstration of the constancy of His everlasting goodness toward His elect by effectually calling them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and this should fully assure them of the certain continuance of it. "The foundation of God stands sure' (2 Tim 2:19). Paul was resting on the faithfulness of God when he said, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Tim 1:12).

The apprehension of this blessed truth will preserve us from worry. To be full of care, to view our situation with dark forebodings, to anticipate the morrow with sad anxiety—is to reflect poorly upon the faithfulness of God. He who has cared for His child through all the years will not forsake him in old age. He who has heard your prayers in the past will not refuse to supply your need in the present emergency. Rest on Job 5:19, "He shall deliver you in six troubles: yes, in seven there shall no evil touch you."

The apprehension of this blessed truth will check our murmurings. The Lord knows what is best for each one of us, and one effect of resting on this truth will be the silencing of our petulant complainings. God is greatly honored when, under trial and chastening, we have good thoughts of Him, vindicate His wisdom and justice, and recognize His love in His very rebukes.

The apprehension of this blessed truth will beget increasing confidence in God. "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19). When we trustfully resign ourselves, and all our affairs into God's hands, fully persuaded of His love and faithfulness, the sooner shall we be satisfied with His providences and realize that "He does all things well."




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