How is God faithful?


Several passages in the Bible indicate that God is faithful. Knowing of the limitless power of God, this raises the fundamental question–what does it mean for Him to be faithful? Normally, we consider faith in the context of believing in something that we cannot empirically know, yet trusting that belief as truth (compare Hebrews 11:1). To ascribe this kind of belief to God does not fit, because God has the power to know everything. In fact, as we will see, the word “faithful,” when applied to God, could be misunderstood as referring to God’s “faith,” which it does not. So then, what does it mean for Him to be faithful?

Answering this question requires carefully reviewing the context of the passages in which the Bible declares that God is faithful. What we will see is that the characteristic of God being faithful expresses his reliability and trustworthiness. Throughout the Bible, the description of God being faithful describes His dependability and fidelity in keeping His promises; which includes bringing as many as will submit to Him into His Family.

Early in the history of Israel, we see how God chose the people to have a physical relationship with Him. He did not choose them for their physical prowess, but because of their relative insignificance on the Earth. “‘For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD  has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…’” (Deuteronomy 7:6-9). This statement, explaining the rationale for choosing these people to be His own, ends with a description of God being faithful.

That God is faithful explains the character with which God keeps His covenant with His chosen people. God being faithful reinforces the commitment and reliability of His covenant. Even though Israel would eventually fail to uphold their part of the covenant to obey God and keep His commandments (compare Jeremiah 3:8, Hebrews 8:9), God’s commandments are enduring and steadfast because He is reliable. God is faithful to keep His covenant with His people as long as they live by their commitment.

Bible commentaries support this interpretation of God being faithful as a description of His steadfast reliability. Commenting on Deuteronomy 7:9, Matthew Poole’s Commentary says, “The faithful God; true to his word, and constant in performing all his promises”. The commentary from the Cambridge Bible explains God being faithful as…”[One] who shows Himself One to be trusted, i.e. by His deeds.” This way of explaining God being faithful makes perfect sense in the context about the covenant He makes with Israel. In this agreement with them, He is perfectly trustworthy in keeping it, as long as the people obey and fulfill their part of the contract.

In the following prophecy in the book of Isaiah about the Messiah, we again see God described as faithful: “Thus says the LORD, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him whom man despises, To Him whom the nation abhors, To the Servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the LORD who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You’” (Isaiah 49:7). In contrast to the unreliability of man, who rejects God, we can see that God is the One whom we can trust and rely on.

Commentaries on Isaiah 49:7 are consistent as well. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains what it means for God to be faithful: “Because of the Lord that is faithful – It is because Yahweh is faithful in the fulfillment of his promises, and will certainly bring this to pass… God is true, and constant, and will adhere to his promises. He will not deceive. He will not promise, and then fail to perform; he will not commence anything which he will not perfect and finish.” On the same passage, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown expands upon the meaning of the word saying, “faithful—namely, to His promises.”

The characteristic of God being faithful or reliable involves us personally as well. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he states that Jesus Christ gives converted Christians grace and forgiveness (compare 1 Corinthians 1:4-8). Paul concludes with a declaration of God’s faithful character in the matter: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). When God calls us to conversion, He does not revoke that opportunity. He is faithful to keep His promise of salvation to us. The only way to forfeit the opportunity to inherit salvation is by willingly and irrevocably rejecting Him.

When God chooses people, He does it with a faithful commitment to uphold His promise of salvation and He proves it by His actions. He offered His Son as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (compare John 3:16). He provides His Holy Spirit that lives and works in our lives to help us overcome sin by living according to the Spirit (compare John 14:15-17). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God the Father and Jesus Christ will not give up on us, and with Christ being our most reliable advocate, They invest earnestly to our success.

Our role is to overcome the world, Satan, and our carnal nature, which is at enmity with God (compare Romans 8:7). It is that carnal nature, allured by sinful desire and the temptations of Satan and this evil world, which can lead one to deny God and reject His plan of salvation. Fighting against temptation is our job. Fortunately, God knows this and He is right there, waiting to help us. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Again, we see that even in the most difficult of our tests, God demonstrates His reliability by providing us with a way to overcome. We can trust in Him.

Our Christian conversion requires that we have faith as well (compare Hebrews 11:6). We have faith in the promises of God because He is faithful to keep them—we can trust Him. “[L]et us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23). We have a tremendous opportunity in our lives to overcome sin, receive the gift of salvation, and find our fulfillment as glorified members in God’s Family. God is absolutely reliable in fulfilling His promise. He demonstrates His reliability by providing everything we need to succeed in our calling. Our job is to put our faith to work, trusting Him.

Lead Writer: Eric Rank

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