1 Thessalonians 5:24
Between the Divine call to salvation and the full accomplishment of salvation, the Christian needs faith to watch and wait, to work and walk through the darkness. The rock on which he must build this faith is God's faithfulness.

I. CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS.

1. God performs what he promises. God promises in his Word. He promises most solemnly, and as it were by oath, in his covenants, e.g. with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses and Israel, and the new covenant sealed by the blood of Christ. God also promises by his actions. Natural instincts, such as the innate thirst for light, the yearning for immortality, etc., are the Creator's promises written on the very being of his creatures. God's faithfulness means that he will not belie these promises.

2. God is true to himself. His consistency and immutability are the grounds of his faithfulness. Because he is true to himself he will be true to us: "The mercy of the Lord endureth for ever." If we are left to "the uncovenanted mercies" of God, these are large and sure enough to dispel all fear.

3. God justifies the confidence of his children. Faithfulness implies trustworthiness. If we commit our souls to God as to a faithful Creator, he accepts our trust, and thereby pledges his honor not to desert us.

II. GROUNDS FOR BELIEVING IN GOD'S FAITHFULNESS.

1. Our knowledge of the nature of God. If we believe in God at all, we must believe in him as moral, good, nay, perfect. A weak and limited being may change and fail. God is too great to be faith less.

2. The testimony of those who can best speak for God. We judge of a person's character largely on the evidence of those who have the most intimate acquaintance. Now we find prophets and saints who are nearest to God in thought and life most positive in asserting his faithfulness. Only they who dwell in the outer courts of his temple, or altogether away from his presence, venture to deny it.

3. The evidence afforded by the life of Christ. Christ was the great Revealer of the character of God; and Christ was faithful even to death.

4. The witness of history to the past faithfulness of God; e.g. the deliverance from Egypt, the return from the captivity, the advent of Christ, the presence of Christ in his Church to guide and strengthen and bless.

5. The confirmation of personal experience. Many have proved God's faithfulness in their own lives. They can say, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his' troubles."

III. TEMPTATIONS TO DOUBT GOD'S FAITHFULNESS.

1. The weary time of waiting. God does not fulfill his promises as soon as he makes them. Long intervals try our faith. So was it with the Jewish expectation of the Messiah; so is it with the Christian expectation of the second advent. The heart is sickened with hope deferred. But this doubt is as foolish as that of one who, seeing the morning to be long in coming, begins to distrust the promise of sunrise.

2. Appearances of unfaithfulness. Nothing tries love so painfully as the necessity of so acting as to provoke doubts of its own constancy. Yet the truest love will not shrink from this necessity when it arises. God seems to desert us, or he visits us in chastisement. It is his greater faithfulness that leads him so to act as to cloud our vision of his love.

3. The unexpected fulfillment of Divine promises. God does not always fulfill his promises in the way expected by us. Then we are disappointed. But the error was in our previous delusion, not in any change on God's part. Moreover, the true Divine fulfillment, though at first less pleasing to us than our expectation of it, always proves in the long run to be far better.

IV. THE RESPONSE WHICH GOD'S FAITHFULNESS SHOULD CALL FORTH FROM US.

1. Adoration. The faithfulness of God is one of the most worthy themes of worship.

2. Trust Faithfulness merits confidence, and it encourages it.

3. Fidelity. If God is faithful to us, he has a right to bid us be faithful. - W.F.A.







Faithful is He that calleth you
1. The highest object of man's existence is to hold communion with God. For this his nature was framed, and in this alone will it find repose.

2. But the vital tie that connected us with heaven is broken. We are as a limb of the body separated by paralysis, or any other internal cause, from the benefits of the general circulation. God is the heart: we have insulated ourselves from God, and deadened the nerve that conducted his influences. We have a name to live but are dead.

3. This is a state of things deeply to be lamented; but no one ever lamented that the brute creation was shut out from the converse of angels — because there are no faculties in brutes that point to a higher destiny; no traces of a fall, nothing about them which makes it a practical contradiction that they should be as they are and yet what they are. But even in the natural man there are faint gleams of a something over and beyond his present state, a perpetual unhappiness, proving his designation for a different state of things originally.

4. Now without some notion of the extent of the loss, you can never estimate the value or nature of the restoration. It is by the length of the dark shadow that you compute the height of the elevation beyond it. It is by summing up the long catalogue of woe that you will be able to conceive the importance of that manifestation of mercy, whose object is, by the descent of God, to bind once more the broken links of communion.

5. The nature of this restoration. Man is separated from God as a criminal, and as unholy; the communion is restored by free pardon on God's part for Christ's sake, and the acceptance of that pardon upon man's, and by the process of sanctification which makes a lost and ruined soul at length "meet for the inheritance of the saints."

6. Of this union with God the first great characteristic must be one which concerns both intellect and heart. It must behold God's holiness, justice, and mercy, and must love the holiness, dread the justice, desire the mercy. This complex act of knowledge and affection is faith.

7. But in every perfect union there must be mutual confidence, and a strict fulfilment of enjoyments on both sides. If man be trustful, God must be "faithful." This is the affirmation of the apostle. Thus faith in man and faithfulness in God are the two members of our spiritual harmony.

I. THE DIVINE FAITHFULNESS IS GLORIOUSLY CHARACTERISTIC OF THE SPIRITUAL SYSTEM TO WHICH WE BELONG. No words can go beyond the confidence of David in the faithfulness of God, and no doubt high and spiritual meanings belong to his expressions of such confidence. Holiness was to be the foundation of all, but yet a holiness triumphant in visible majesty and regal pomp. But the faithfulness of our text has exclusive reference to sanctification. It was no relief from temporal evils that Paul promised; the mercy of God might send them to the lions; it was still His mercy, if it but kept them unspotted from the world. How many are content with such faithfulness as this? Is this the tenor of your prayers? Is your heart busy in pleading with God His own eternal faithfulness in behalf of your sanctification and spiritual safety?

II. THE DIVINE FAITHFULNESS EXTENDS TO THE WHOLE MAN. The entire, if feeble humanity, is sheltered under this canopy of Divine protection. The body is subdued into its place as minister to the soul; the soul is guarded from its own special corruptions; and the spirit is preserved undecayed amid an hostile world. Of a surety the sacred Trinity that occupies the throne of heaven will not forget this humble image of Their ineffable mystery. Surely the soul will be pre served by that creative Deity who first infused it into the frame; the body by that Eternal Son who was pleased to assume it; and the spirit, by that ever blessed Spirit who bestows it and may well guard His own inestimable gift.

III. THIS FAITHFULNESS IS OF HIM "THAT CALLETH YOU." It is a fidelity to His own gracious engagement. He without destroying human freedom or responsibility, of His free grace commences, continues and ends the whole Christian work. Yet so faithful is His compassion that He represents Himself as bound and tied to the impulses of His own unconstrained mercy. There is no bond but His own love, yet that bond is stronger than iron; and He, whom the universe cannot compel, commands Him self.

IV. WITH SUCH A GOD, SUCH PROMISES AND FAITHFULNESS, WHY IS THERE A DELAY IN APPROPRIATING SO GREAT SALVATION? If we believe that these things are true where is the earnest active faith, and where the life that answers to it?

(W. Archer Butler, M. A.)

Grandly did the old Scottish believer, of whom Dr. Brown tells us in his "Horae Subsecivae," respond to the challenge of her pastor regarding the ground of her confidence. "Janet," said the minister, "what would you say, if after all He has done for you, God should let you drop into hell?" E'en's (even as) He likes," answered Janet. "If He does, He'll lose mair than I'll do." At first sight Janet's reply looks irreverent, if not something worse. As we contemplate it, however, its sublimity grows upon us. Like the Psalmist she could say, "I on Thy Word rely" (Psalm 119:114, metrical version). If His Word were broken, if His faithfulness should fail, if that foundation could be destroyed, truly He would lose more than His trusting child. But that could never be. "Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations." Well then might Janet encourage herself in the Lord her God, and say, "God hath spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice." Assurance of victory — I can never conceive that it dispirits the soldier, when he is fighting, to tell him that he must win the victory. This is what Cromwell's ironsides said when they saw the great general riding along the ranks, "'Tis he!" they said, "'tis he!" they felt the victory was sure where Cromwell was, and like thunderbolts they dashed upon their enemies, until as thin clouds before the tempest the foemen flew apace. The certainty of victory gives strength to the arm that wields the sword. To say to the Christian you shall persevere till you get to the journey's end — will that make him sit down on the next milestone? No; he will climb the mountain, wiping the sweat from his brow; and as he looks upon the plain, he will descend with surer and more cautious footsteps, because he knows he shall reach the journey's end. God Will speed the ship over the waves into the desired haven; will the conviction of that on the part of the captain make him neglect the vessel? Yes, if he be a fool; but if he be a man in his wits, the very certainty that he shall cross the deep will only strengthen him in time of storm to do what he would not have dreamt of doing if he had been afraid the vessel would be cast away. Brethren, let this doctrine impel us to a holy ardency of watchfulness, and may the Lord bless us and enable us to persevere to the end.

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