Faithful and True
The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a furnace, like gold refined seven times
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
In a world where trust is fast disappearing, and where we have learned the hard way to trust only ourselves (ironically!), the faithfulness of God shines like a blazing sun against a dark night sky. We are told very specifically in the Bible – more than once – that God does not and cannot lie (Tit.1:2; Heb.6:18; I Sam.15:29 etc.). Jesus Himself claims to be the very personification of truth (Jn.14:6; Note also Jn.15:26, where the Holy Spirit is designated the Spirit of Truth). The most basic act of faith is to believe God (Gen. 15:6). Sin, by contrast, is fundamentally rooted in the denial that what God has revealed about Himself is true. The Fall began with a questioning of the truthfulness of God’s Word: ‘Did God really say..?’ We often call becoming a Christian, ‘trusting Christ’. Our very conversion is based on the conviction that God is to be trusted: that He is faithful and true.
It is clearly important to the LORD that He is seen as trustworthy. We’ve already considered in this course Heb.6:13-18. God doesn’t need to make an oath to make His word more secure. His aim is to draw out from us a confidence that is more secure.
But if take the Bible seriously, it isn’t enough to say that God is true. Indeed, He is faithful, and as such can be relied upon implicitly. All He has revealed about Himself will prove utterly reliable, and He will never prove unfaithful to those who trust what He has said. In fact the LORD is the only true God (Jer.10:10; Jn.17:3; I Jn.5:20), but He is more than this. He is true and He is the standard of truth: ‘Your Word is truth’ (Jn.17:17). Words spoken by the One who the Truth. The God who has revealed Himself through Jesus, by the Spirit is very personification and epitome of the Truth (Jn.14:6). It is not just that He chooses not to lie, but that He cannot lie (Heb.6:18). The Character and Word of God are the standard of truth against which all else is to be measured. It is not as if God is measured against a standard external to Himself and found to be true. He Himself is that standard.
In a society that is increasingly careless with the truth, and that seems to celebrate unfaithfulness, we can face deliberate and open pressure to compromise in both our faithfulness and truthfulness. In such a world, this vision of God’s relentless and inevitable commitment to the truth is little short of trauma. But it can also inspire us to re-imagine a daring and profoundly different life in our discipleship of the Truth (see e.g. Job 27:4). Our truthfulness and faithfulness are so critical they finds expression in the Decalogue (Ex.20:14-16), and throughout the Law. The wisdom literature is littered with a vision of faithfulness and of love for the truth (Ps.15; 34:12-13; Prov.4:24; 6:16-19; 12:22; 28:20 etc., see also where folly is bound up with deceit and unfaithfulness). The Prophets rail against injustice and deceit (e.g. Is.59:3-4). The question of our trustworthiness finds its way into the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5:33-37). The Epistles regularly call us to uncompromising truthfulness (Col.3:9-10; Eph.4:25). An authenticating mark of Christian ministry is that it has renounced the ways of deceit (II Cor.4:2).
Perhaps most intriguingly, Paul sees questions about our faithfulness as reflecting directly on the trustworthiness of God and all He has done in Christ (II Cor.1:17-20). Our great hope includes the prospect of being made pure so that we ‘will tell no lies, and a deceitful tongue will not be found in our mouths’ (Zeph.3:9 & 13). Conversely, the Bible closes with the warning that ‘…all liars – they will be confined to the fiery lake’ (Rev.21:8).
What is it about the ‘Faithful and True’ character of the Lord that inspires worship?
What does the doctrine of the faithfulness and truthfulness of God imply about the nature of the Word of God? How does that affect our relationship with the Bible?
In what ways have we learned about the untrustworthiness of other people?
Do you think the teaching of the Bible is too harsh when it condemns everyone as basically dishonest? Why is dishonesty so prevalent?
Why are we so careless of truth and of faithfulness when we claim to prize them so highly and to recognise their value? …and when we know our dishonesty does such damage to the honour of God?
Where are we most tempted to be less honest? How can we guard against succumbing to these temptations?
Given the emphasis on the Truth that we encounter in the LORD, how do we make sense of passages such as I Kings 22:19-22?
Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
For further Reflection:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most penetrating analysis of dishonesty and deceit comes from the lips of Jesus Himself. With devastating brevity He exposes the nature of dishonesty:
“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” (John 8:43-45).
How does this affect your thinking about the question of truth? … and of the worship of the God who istruth?