I had a message ready to preach last Sunday in a world missions supporting congregation near our nation’s capital. A few hours before heading to the airport, I learned from my pastor friend that their public gathering would be canceled. He and I agreed together that he should fill the “online pulpit” in the first Sunday of the new reality.
By Grant McClung
My chosen topic was “the faithfulness of God,” with the stated central focus that the faithful God is faithful to call, to love, and to keep. I drew this basic outline from the declaration of Jude 1, written “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.”
Scripture declares repeated that “God is faithful” and wants His people to, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7.9).
The faithful God is utterly dependable, entirely trustworthy, reliable, constantly consistent in character, devoted and dedicated to the covenants He has initiated with those who love Him. His Word is His bond – you can count on Him to deliver and provide what He has promised.
God is Faithful to Call
God took the initiative and reached out to us. We are called: according to God’s purpose to belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 1.6; 8.28 – 30),to one hope (Ephesians 4.4); to peace (Colossians 3.15). We are called out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2.9) and to follow Christ’s steps in suffering (1 Peter 2.21). Through everything and in all things, “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful”(1 Corinthians 1.9).
God is Faithful to Love
God revealed to Jeremiah the inseparable connection between love and faithfulness. Jeremiah then wrote, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3.22 – 23). Another translation reads, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (English Standard Version). The soaring worship of Romans 8.31 – 39 promises us that nothing will, “…separate us from the love of God.”
God is Faithful to Keep
In the backdrop and surrounding context of uncertainty, moral darkness, persecution, and suffering, the New Testament is filled with reassurance to early Christians. Paul stated that, “…the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4.7 (KJV); “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Peter declared to suffering believers that they were, “…kept by the power of God” (KJV), “… shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Peter 1.3 – 5).
The word “kept” is from the same word used for “guarding.” It is a military term which means to keep by guarding, to keep under guard; providing protection within a fortress. The idea is not merely that of physical protection but of inward garrisoning of our mind and emotions by the Holy Spirit. Later, Peter also adds that God’s divine power, “… has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1.3).
In the new reality of stressful times, God is faithful to keep us by fully equipping us with what we need. We have the far-reaching effect of His divine power in all that is included in our salvation and ultimate glorification. We have an “abundance” of grace and peace in Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1.2), along with His ongoing intercession as our high priest. We have the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, our Christian family, and the fulfillment of being on mission with God in this world.
Therefore, Jude encourages stressed out believers, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 20 – 23).
God is faithful in the new reality. The faithful God has called you, loves you, and will keep you. “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24 – 25).
Grant McClung is president of Missions Resource Group (MissionsResourceGroup.org) and an International missionary educator with Church of God World Missions.