In a culture characterized by conflict, chaos, conspiracy theories, coronavirus, and more, what happens if we lose sight of the faithfulness of God? Jerry Bridges answers this as he writes:
“For most of us, life is filled with frustrations, anxieties, and disappointments that tempt us to fret, fume, and worry. One author has aptly captured the flavor of this in a devotional book for high schoolers titled If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open? We may smile a little at that, but the fact is, this is the plane of adversity on which many of us live each day. And it’s in the crucible of even this minor level of adversity that we’re tempted to wonder, Can I trust God?”1
God is altogether good, wise, sovereign, and powerful; therefore, we can indeed trust Him because He is faithful in all things, at all times!
Despite how we may feel at times and how we may perceive circumstances through our limited understanding and self-focused tendencies, the Bible repeatedly shows God’s faithfulness. As stated by Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley, “God’s faithfulness is his reliability in doing what he has promised in his covenant… Therefore, God’s faithfulness means that he is completely worthy of our faith.”2
Because God is faithful and as He fulfills all of His promises to His people, our response should be that of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Yet as the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to distrust the very word of God in Genesis 3, so he continues to use the things of this world to lead us away from an acknowledgement of our absolute and utter dependence upon God in all things.
In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned, God sets forth His amazing, eternal plan of redemption. Speaking to the serpent, God says of the descendent of the woman in Genesis 3:15, “… He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Yet did Jesus appear in Genesis 4 or in Genesis 5? No! God’s promise is fulfilled in the Gospels thousands of years later upon a Cross, where the very Son of God would die—taking the curse of our sin upon Himself! Yet that is not all, for one day our resurrected Savior will be faithful to return and forever end all sin and suffering experienced by God’s people. But until then, we need to keep in front of us God’s faithfulness as we live in a fallen world. That’s why the Bible repeatedly reminds us of God’s faithfulness.
God’s Word shines forth the faithfulness of God as most clearly manifested in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we see God’s faithfulness put on full display. All the promises in the Old Testament are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. Second Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
With this great truth in mind, A.W. Pink writes: “God has given us many ‘exceeding 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 that promised’ (Heb. 10:23)?”3 Likewise, Richard Baxter writes: “The Truth of God is the ground of faith, and the stay of our souls and the rock of all our confidence and comfort…”4 Yet when plagued by chronic illness, relational hardships, or a tragic death, are we not tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness? To that end, A.W. Pink writes,
“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, yea, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize his frowning providence with his gracious promises.”5
When our faith in God is tested by sadness, difficulties, and dark seasons, we do well to consider verses like Isaiah 50:10: “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” In times of suffering and trials, we must hold firm to the faithfulness of God, trusting in the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” What “good” is our faithful God bringing about in “all” things? Consider this three-fold answer from Health Lambert:
1. Suffering is good for us.6 Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” On these verses, Lambert writes: “One way that suffering benefits us is by bringing about spiritual fruit in our lives… Suffering pushes us toward the joy of the eternal things of Christ rather than the fading comforts of earth.”7
2. Suffering is good for others. Do you remember the man in John 9 that was born blind? The assumption of the disciples was that this man was blind because of his sin or the sins of others. Yet Jesus said in John 9:3, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus healed this blind man to show His glory. Lambert writes of the blind man, “There is no chance that he is anything other than absolutely grateful for those years of suffering leading to his healing that has caused countless millions to give glory to God through his story.”8 In Philippians 1:12-13, Paul says his suffering only served to advance the Gospel, bringing about the greatest good of others—salvation!
3. Suffering glorifies God. Suffering reveals our need for God, and He is glorified in being the only One who can truly provide what is truly needed in this life, even as He prepares us for the life to come. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Concerning God’s faithfulness in our suffering and unfaithfulness, A.W. Pink says, “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.”9 As Romans 8:29-30 says, God is faithful to use all things to bring about the greatest good, namely conformity to Christ and our eventual glorification.
God is always faithful! A.W. Pink says God’s faithfulness is manifested to His children in these three ways.
1. God is faithful in preserving His people.10 Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Though we fail in our faithfulness to follow Christ and love God wholeheartedly, God remains faithful in His love and preservation of His children. Accordingly, A.W. Pink writes:
“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 that 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.”11
2. God is faithful in disciplining His people. If you are a parent, why do you discipline your children? Is it because you hate them? No, in love you discipline them for their good. How much more so is God’s discipline of us? Hebrews 12:4 says, “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Consider Psalm 119:75: “I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Commenting on this verse, Thomas Manton writes:
“The psalmist says that God afflicts us ‘in faithfulness.’ His point is that affliction is necessary precisely because God is faithful. He has engaged Himself to use all means that contribute to our eternal welfare… God is faithful in all His dealings with us, even though we are often unable to comprehend His reasoning. Therefore, we confess our ignorance and fix our eyes on Him.”12
3. God is faithful in glorifying His people. In encouraging the early church, Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
God is indeed altogether faithful! Therefore, God expects His children to be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2; Philippians 2:12-13; 3:12-16). Thus, Richard Baxter wrote, “Let the truth and faithfulness of God engage you to be true and faithful to him, and to each other. You have promised him to be his servants; be faithful in your promises…”13
So what difference does resting in the faithfulness of God make in our lives? Here are but three of the most common blessings of trusting in the Lord with all our being in accordance to His Word.
1. Trusting God displaces anxiety with peace and piety. Because God is at hand in the entirety of His essence, Philippians 4:4-9 tells us that through prayer, right thinking, and right living, the God of peace grants us a peace that surpasses all understanding.
2. Trusting God displaces doubt with persuasion. First Peter 4:19 says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” With the Gospel as our persuasion, Milton Vincent writes,
“The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me. I never have to do a moment’s labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God! Freed from the burden of such a task, I now can put my energies into enjoying God, pursuing holiness, and ministering God’s amazing grace to others.”14
Confidence in Christ’s faithfulness on our behalf frees us from doubt and frees us to faithfully serve Him and His church.
3. Trusting God displaces temptation with perseverance. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Christ, who has overcome all temptations, upholds us to the very end. Commenting on Hebrews 2:17 regarding Christ, Mark Jones writes, “As a faithful high priest, he remains more concerned than we are about maintaining us in a state of grace. His faithfulness, not ours, guarantees our inheritance in the heavenly places with him.”15
What difference does knowing the faithfulness of God make? Ponder these words of the famous poet and hymn writer, William Cowper. Cowper was preserved by God in the midst of a lifelong struggle with despair.
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.”16
1 Jerry Bridges, 31 Days Toward Trusting God (Navpress, 2013) 9.
2 Beeke & Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God (Crossway, 2019), 806.
3 Pink, 68.
4 Richard Baxter, The Divine Life: Knowing and Walking with God (Lexham Press, 2017), 128.
5 Pink, 68-69.
6 Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling (Zondervan, 2016), 263-70.
7 Lambert, 263.
8 Lambert, 267.
9 Pink, 66.
10 Pink, three point outline from pp. 70-71.
11 Pink, 70.
12 J. Stephen Yuille, Great Spoil: Thomas Manton’s Spirituality of the Word (Reformation Heritage Books, 2019), 144-145.
13 Richard Baxter, The Divine Life: Knowing and Walking with God (Lexham Press, 2017), 130.
14 Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians (Focus Publishing, 2008), 20.
15 Mark Jones, God is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Crossway, 2017), 175.
16 Judge Not the Lord by Feeble Sense, but Trust Him for His Grace: The Faith of William Cowper article, Deeply Rooted Magazine.