[The following was written by Craig Redmond, a fellow brother at Providence church, for the Confession of Faith. Providence will be looking at the attributes of God during this part of the service.]
According to A. W. Pink, "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... we cannot 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."
Paul Washer, whose teaching and preaching I strongly urge you to look into if you aren't familiar with him, describes God's faithfulness this way: "When the word faithful is used with regard to God, it means that He is worthy of absolute trust, and that His people can depend upon Him without doubt or reservation. It is important to understand that God is faithful, not because He does everything that His people desire, but because He does everything that He has promised. Not one word of all the words that the Lord has spoken has failed. God is faithful to fulfill every promise and to carry out every decree."
Fortunately, we do indeed have a God who is faithful in all things, but let's not just take man's word on that matter, though. Let's look at what just a small sample of verses say about God's faithfulness.
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Just as it is incomplete, but necessary to learn about how the human body functions one organ at a time, so it is incomplete but necessary to focus on God's attributes one at a time. Just as one organ system depends upon the others to exist, God's attributes are interdependent. God's faithfulness also depends upon His omnipotence, His omniscience, and His immutability. God has the power to make His promises come true and since God does not change, we know He will fulfill those promises that have not yet been accomplished. In fact, Hebrews 11:1 defines faith itself as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." How can one have assurance and conviction in the promises of the Lord? Because of His faithfulness.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
All of the great promises in Scripture depend upon God's Faithfulness. Without that, they are as worthless as the promises of a presidential candidate on the campaign trail.
What are some applications of this attribute of God?
1. To doubt God's faithfulness is one of the oldest temptations around. When Satan asked Eve, "Indeed, has God said?" and then said "You surely will not die!" he was trying to put doubt into her mind and heart about whether God would be faithful to His word. James 1:5-8 describes one who doubts that God will fulfill His promise as being like the "surf of the sea, tossed by the wind, a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
2. We need not fear man.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
3. Sometimes we must wait on God.
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.
When we are in times of darkness and feel we have no light, we are to wait on God, trusting in His name and relying on Him. Isaiah goes on to warn of what is to come for those who fail to wait on God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.
This you will have from My hand:
You will lie down in torment.
4. Sometimes God's faithfulness results in our own affliction or discipline.
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
5. Our worries and complaining should be replaced with confidence in God. A. W. Pink phrased this as "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."
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
6. Sometimes God's faithfulness is clear. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego would not bow their knee to the false idol and God rescued them from the fiery furnace.
7. Sometimes God's faithfulness is much harder to see. William Tyndale joined many other martyrs in the history of the church by giving up his life. His crime? Translating the Bible into English so the common man in England could understand it and read it for themselves. Unlike Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, William Tyndale was not rescued from the fire as he was burned at the stake. Was God any less faithful to William Tyndale? No. We may not understand all of the ways of God, but we can have confidence that even in allowing his death, God remained faithful.
I am going to go deviate some from the normal Confession of Faith at this point by interjecting my own recent personal history with the faithfulness of God. A little over two years ago I was leading family devotions through the book of Luke. I had recently been struck in my own personal study time of just how faithful God was. I began to point out night after night how just about every single passage either pointed to God’s faithfulness or depended upon His future faithfulness. I was asked to preach for two weeks at the church we were attending at the time. One of the sermons I gave was on the faithfulness of God. Then sometime around early March of this year, I had a conversation with Mark where I shared my passion for God's faithfulness. During the conversation he asked if I had any suggestions for the church and I mentioned a possible series of Confessions of Faith about the attributes of God (so be careful what you suggest... you might wind up being here in front of everyone next time).
Then on March 21st, the day of my heart attack, God’s faithfulness was my rock. His Providence was so clear through everything. I was originally supposed to stay in Canada an additional two days on a trip with my boss. At Amy’s urging I decided to ask my boss if I could cut my trip short by two days before we even made reservations. He agreed without any conflict. Had I stayed those additional two days, I would have been on a 5-1/2 hour drive through northern Alberta, surrounded by villages of roughly 200 people each when I had my heart attack.
Because Amy and the kids wanted to pick me up at the airport, I chose to come home as early in the day as possible and fly into Columbus as she is a little more familiar with that airport – which meant I had to catch a cab from the hotel before 5:00 AM. While waiting for my connecting flight from Chicago to Columbus the airline was overbooked and was offering $500 to anyone willing to wait 3 hours for the next flight. Because I knew Amy and the kids were already on their way to pick me up in Columbus, I refused to take the money. Had I waited for a more convenient flight time – and believe me, getting up at 4:00 AM to leave the hotel on time didn’t feel convenient at the time – or had I taken the money offered, I would most likely have been hospitalized in Chicago instead of Columbus.
As the plane took off, I began to notice some chest pain. I have had some in the past and did not think too much about it at first. However, by the time the plane reached its cruising altitude I knew I was having a heart attack. I was short of breath, sweating, and had pain in my jaw and both hands – all the classic signs of a heart attack. I did not tell anyone on the plane about my condition because I had one goal: to get to Amy and the kids at the Columbus airport. I spent the flight focused on God's attributes (especially His faithfulness). The plane landed, I found Amy and the kids. We called security who sent for an ambulance and I was taken directly from the airport to the hospital in Columbus.
This is where God’s faithfulness was demonstrated in additional ways. Amy had no idea where to go, but just this past December we decided to purchase a GPS for the car instead of buying Christmas presents for each other. That was the first year we had ever done anything like that. We had also just a month or so before my heart attack signed up for a new cell phone as our previous one had limited minutes and coverage. This enabled Amy to keep in touch with our relatives and tell them where to go... which was especially important since they changed which hospital I was going to while on the way there when they realized I was actively having a heart attack.
As many of you may know, I had a 100% blockage of one artery and received a stent that afternoon. I was only in the hospital a few days, but by the time I got around to shaving at home, I decided to leave my mustache and goatee as a symbol and reminder for me and my family of God’s faithfulness. But don’t worry, if I ever shave them off, it won’t have anything to do with doubting the faithfulness of God.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.