posted on Oct, 12 2018 @ 05:01 PM
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians ch1 v9).
The message of the New Testament centres upon what God achieved in Christ, through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection.
It rests, therefore, on the certainty of what was achieved. In other words, it depends on God’s “faithfulness”.
God and man are both described as “faithful” [PISTOS], but the word is used in two different ways. It may mean that someone is believing and
trusting, or it may mean that he is reliable, the worthy object of trust.
A man can be faithful in the sense of being reliable in the service of God.
Jesus asks “Who, then, is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household?” (Matthew ch24 v45).
In the parable of the talents, the men who have used their talents productively are addressed as “good and faithful servant” (Matthew ch25
The question of being “faithful” in what has been entrusted to you comes up again in the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke ch16 vv10-12).
Paul has a similar usage, sometimes describing one of his colleagues as being “faithful” in his ministry.
But when Jesus tells Thomas that he must be PISTOS rather than APISTOS, the appeal is rightly translated as “Be not faithless, but
believing” (John ch20 v27).
And again, when Paul says that the men of faith are blessed “along with faithful Abraham”, the word is obviously a reference to the fact that
Abraham was trusting in God.
So Christian brethren may be called PISTOS, as frequently in Paul’s letters.
Then it carries both meanings at the same time. It describes them as “believing”, and it also implies that they are constant and reliable in their
When God is called “faithful”, the meaning is always that he can be trusted.
That is the message of the verse quoted at the top of the page. In other words, God will keep the promise implied in the act of calling, that he will
“sustain you to the end”.
We find the same assurance in “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength” (1 Corinthians ch10 v13).
“May the God of peace sanctify you wholly… He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians ch5 vv23-4).
“But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from evil” (2 Thessalonians ch3 v3).
Similar statements are found in the other New Testament writers;
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews ch10 v23).
Believers may “entrust their souls to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter ch4 v19).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John ch1 v9).
All these claims are offering the assurance that God will be faithful to the promise made in Christ, that forgiveness and salvation will be available
to those who believe in Christ.
By extension, the words of the promise itself may be called “faithful”; “The saying is sure” (Titus ch3 v8).
The best-known version of that claim is probably the one found among the “comfortable words” of Cranmer’s liturgy;
“This is a true [PISTOS] saying, and worthy of all men to be believed, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy ch1
So assured is this promise that Paul may use it as the model for his own straight-forwardness; “As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has
not been Yes and No” (2 Corinthians ch1 v18).
On the other hand, God is never described as “believing” men.
John helps to explain why, in one of his comments about Jesus.
“Many believed in his name, when they saw the signs which he did”. That is the state of trust, on the human side.
“But Jesus did not trust himself to [“believe”] them…” The trust is not reciprocal.
“Because he knew all men, and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man” (ch2 vv23-25)
This explanation can be taken in two ways.
In the first place, trust is a substitute for knowledge. Men have to trust, because we cannot completely know. But if anyone has the absolute
knowledge that John describes here, there is no call for trust. Jesus “knows” men to the point that “belief” in them becomes redundant.
There is also the more poignant possibility, that Jesus does not trust himself to men because he knows them too well. That is, he knows them
well enough to be aware that men (and women) are not worthy objects of absolute trust.
That is why the relationship of trust between God and man is asymmetrical; man’s role is to trust, and God’s role is to be trusted.
“The saying is sure…
If we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy ch2 v13).
This is the guarantee of our salvation.
Man comes to God in a faith which relies upon God’s faithfulness.