“God's Absolute Faithfulness”
God’s Absolute Faithfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
by Bobby L. Graham
“Faithful is he who calleth you, who will also do it.” In these wonderfully reassuring words, the Lord prompts Christians to a similar constancy. There can be no more inspiring example of such than that of the Lord. In the immediate context the apostle also was saying that his petition of verse 23 was not fruitless. Observe that the gospel call is God’s way of guaranteeing us that He will not abandon us or disregard His great purpose of redemption. He has not sent His Son to die for us and later called us by the gospel to follow Christ, only to forget His purpose. God’s absolute faithfulness was used by the Holy Spirit to motivate diligence in the task addressed in this section (Christian constancy, 5:14–24); we can do no better today than to fix our minds on the goodness of God continuing to act on our behalf.
Certifies effectiveness of prayer
The prayer of Paul was for the saints being completely sanctified and preserved blameless to the coming of the Lord. The immediate context clearly shows that such work on God’s part is conditioned on the Christian’s constancy. He must pursue that which is good, be joyous in life, continue in praying, yearn for God’s Spirit-given utterances, and reject all evil. In such a response, he yields to the purifying influences of the gospel. The combined thought of God’s work and our response stresses that God preserves as we persevere. The necessary implication is that sanctification is a growth, not a gift, and it depends on our desire to grow.
Based on the call of God in the gospel
The only call that God issues today is that of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Why would the God of our salvation, who spared not His own Son, grow weary in the great work of salvation? The call of the gospel involves God’s promise to accept us in Christ, to forgive us, and to sustain us spiritually. The spiritual growth involved in God’s sanctification and preservation demands our constancy. He will be sure to maintain His role in this great work. We can depend on His promise, for He is not loose with His words (2 Peter 3:9).
Justifies our confidence
While Paul’s purpose in verse 24 was to help the Thessalonians to trust God to sanctify and preserve them, the rest of the Bible recounts God’s trustworthiness in this regard. He did not fail to remember His people in the deliverance from Egypt. He did not forget the remnant in Babylonian captivity. In the coming of the Christ, all of the Messianic promises of the Old Testament were kept. Whenever God has made an unconditional promise, He has always carried it out. His conditional promises have also been kept, depending on the meeting of His conditions. It is clear that God’s promises do not delude. The reason for the dependability of God’s promises is His own nature and character. “Faithful is the saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:11–13).
Elicits favorable response
What understandings of God does this assurance evoke in your mind? What emotion-laden response does it elicit in your life? Surely there are some desirable ones that the Lord had in mind in giving such certitude to His children.
Trust. Because God can be relied upon to perform what He promises and to complete the work He began in calling us to salvation, we have a firm foundation for our faith. He will not leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Adoration. Do we not highly respect and honor those of earth who are eminently trustworthy? We willingly entrust to them our possessions, our children, and our minds. The One with whom we have to do in heaven far surpasses earth’s most honest and honorable citizen. The praise of our souls must find expression, for none is so worthy as He (Revelation 5:1–14).
Fidelity. Christ’s faithfulness to our lost cause out of sheer love certainly calls for the loving devotion of sincere hearts. His fidelity to us has never been in doubt. Even before the foundation of the world He volunteered to place Himself in the gap created by sin. Such fidelity as His has never been witnessed. “Lo, I have come to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). God’s absolute faithfulness to us prepares our hearts for the same kind of faithful service to Him. Though our fidelity differs in degree, we have His model to remind us of our failings and to draw us back to the constancy pictured in this great section of the New Testament.