All the history of the church, if you read it, from the days of Christ till now, will go to show that He deals with His church in such a way as to make her see that He is faithful, whatever she may be. He will help her when she turns to Him. He will bless her when she trusts Him. He will crown her when she exalts Him. But He will bring her low and chasten her when she turns, in any measure, aside from the simplicity of her faith. Thus does He prove that He is still faithful.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Sermon on 2 Timothy 2:13: “Eternal Faithfulness Unaffected by Human Belief”
In scripture, the proper framework for understanding God’s faithfulness to His people and our faithfulness to Him is expressed in terms of “covenantal” language1, with its associated ideas of promises, blessings, warnings, provisions and stipulations (somewhat akin to a marriage covenant; see Hosea).
We enter into this “covenantal relationship” with God through faith in Christ – our Covenant Head, Architect, and Model. All talk of God’s faithfulness, therefore, as well as evaluating our own faithfulness, must take into account the various aspects of His covenant with us; our evaluation must not exclude the parts we don’t like or over emphasize the parts we do.
In this lesson we will focus mainly on God’s faithfulness to Himself, His purposes and His covenantal promises. This is very important, for if there were even a hint that He could somehow renege on His promises – and if He actually did renege – we would be lost forever (cf. 1 Cor 15); our faith would lead to nothing. In the next lesson, we will discuss our faithfulness to God’s covenant with us in Christ.
God Is Faithful To Himself & His Covenant Promises
God’s Faithfulness and His Covenant Promises
- According to Zechariah 14:9 – taken together with Exodus 6:6-7 and its fulfillment in Revelation 21:3-4 – what are God’s ultimate purposes?
- What should our response to God’s covenantal promises, warnings, provisions and stipulations be?2 See Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Compare Titus 2:11-14.
Can God Abandon His Promises or Purposes, Thus Denying Himself?
- Can God deny Himself and His eternal purposes, according to an early Christian confession in 2 Timothy 2:13?
- Compare Numbers 23:19 and Lamentations 3:22-23. How are these passages a blessing to you?
Portraits of God’s Faithfulness
The Life of Abraham & His Son (~2100BC)
- Read Genesis 15:1-19. What was Abraham’s complaint (15:2-3) and what was God’s answer (15:4ff; compare God’s answer with Abraham’s actions in Gen 16)?
- God gave Abraham startling instructions (22:1-2). What were they?
- How did Abraham respond (22:3-10)?
- How did God respond to Abraham’s faith/obedience (22:11-19)?
The Period of the Judges (~1350-1000BC)
- As He had promised Abraham, the Patriarchs, Moses and His entire covenant people, God did indeed rescue them from Egyptian bondage (Genesis – Exodus). He then led them faithfully through the desert and eventually into the Promised Land (Exodus – Joshua). But, even after He had demonstrated loyal covenant love to them, over many years, they still turned away from Him and sought other gods. This persistent rebellion is recorded for us in the book of Judges.
- Reflect on Judges 2:6-23 (cf. the “cycle” outlined in 3:7-11). This “sin->bondage/defeat->crying out-> deliverance” cycle repeats itself many times in the period of the Judges and demonstrates God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. What do the people do and what does God do?
- What do you learn about God’s faithfulness to His promises from Judges? What do you learn about the human heart (cf. Jer 17:9; Proverbs 4:23)?
Jesus & the Disciples in the Garden – Faithfulness and Its Opposite
- Reflect on Jesus’ prayers and the disciples’ behaviour in Matthew 26:36-46. Record your thoughts.
- Think of Jesus’ struggles and victory in Gethsemane. To what lengths does faithfulness go to remain true to God?
God’s faithfulness To You
Below is a list of some of God’s promises to us in Christ, our Covenant Head. Read each one, meditate on it and record your thoughts. Mark one passage from which you’d like to share your thoughts with the group.
- 2 Corinthians 1:18-22
- Isaiah 46:4 (cf. 2 Cor 1:9)
- Jeremiah 17:7-8 and John 15:7-8
- Romans 8:26-32
- Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5
Summarize Your Thoughts from This Study
Quiet Times & Scripture Memory
- Continue to build daily Quiet Times into your life.
- John 3:16
- Ephesians 2:8-9
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Galatians 6:7-8 (This week’s passage)
1 Covenant (To enter into a formal agreement ; to stipulate; to bind ones self by contract) The word is used with reference to God’s revelation of himself in the way of promise or of favour to men. (Jeremiah 33:20)
2 Examples: (1) Promise: “I will be your rock and fortress…”; (2) Warning: Galatians 6:7-8; (3) Provision: Romans 8:32; (4) Stipulations: John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 1:15; Romans 6:12-14.