God’s faithfulness has been revealed to us in the Scriptures so that we might live in hope (confident expectation). If God made eyes and colors and yet did not make light to see with, then we might properly ask, “Why did he make eyes and colors?” However, God has given us eternal encouragement and good hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16), and he has revealed that he is faithful in order that our faith would have an object to rely on and that our hope would have sufficient reason to confidently anticipate eternal glory in and with Christ.
God’s faithfulness is the ground of hope. All the expectations of good are built on “this is what the Lord says….” Therefore, we need to know the Bible. This does not mean to know the Bible as a collection of facts, but as a way of life. We interpret all events according to the story of God’s glory in Christ and God’s explanation of his story. We make holy choices in the same way. For example, in God’s story he reveals his great patience with his people (Israel in the wilderness). He then expects us to display his patience to people, although we might feel very impatient. To return to the point, if a person could confidently anticipate as firmly and build as strongly on God’s promises as he should, they might do great things. Some years ago, someone invented a new pole to use in the pole vault, instead of the standard wooden pole that was used for years. One man quickly set increasingly higher records because of his strong confidence in what the new pole could do.
God’s faithfulness is the source of hope. That is to say, confident expectation first rises in the soul by some revelation of God’s promises, and then it continues to flow from that same source. One may hear many sermons on the hope of salvation, but a person never hopes until by gospel light he or she sees that God is faithful in saving people through the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is there such variation in true believers from one time to another? One time we look on God’s promise as a steel I-beam and another time as an old, rotten wooden board. Isn’t this true of you? Doesn’t your hope vary? The explanation is that though at all times we have the same word of promise, we do not at all times see the same glory and faithfulness of the God who made the promises. Our hope does not function independently of our whole relationship with God. This is the reason we need the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:17-18).
Some have a problem with God’s faithfulness to his promises, because they do not now see the fullness of blessing that the Scriptures present. The wrong way is to think that God’s faithfulness can be measured by our conception of time. We measure time according to our expected lifespan on this planet, but the eternal God does not measure time that way! Consider an “adult’s” versus a “child’s” concept of time while driving on vacation. This is heard in the expression, “Are we there yet?” To a child a long trip can seem interminable. “Will the rest of my life be spent in the back seat of this car?” Now adults can smile at the limited concepts of their children—they probably don’t amid the whining—but they can understand the child’s point of view. But what if your children begin to question your truthfulness during the long trip? What if their impatience makes them a little nasty? Do we do this to God in our impatience? God’s performance does not usually come soon after the promise is made. Usually we must wait for God’s time to come (Galatians 4:4). The right method is to think about the reality of God’s faithfulness. For example, God promised the resurrection of Christ, and his promise was fulfilled, as Peter capably demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:24-32). Now what God did for Christ, he will do for us as well. We, too, will be raised and changed to be like the Lord. The faithfulness of God is not only the sure foundation of our hope, but it also challenges us to be faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 4:19; 1 John 1:9).
Here are some points to ponder:
- If you want more hope, then strive to know the faithful God better.
- Failure in an unswerving confession of hope is linked to failure of comprehending the faithfulness of God.
- Are you convinced of God’s faithfulness? Spiritual commands and exhortations draw their strength from spiritual motives. Don’t try to do this in your own strength. Have faith in God. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
Grace and peace, David