How Great Is Our Faithfulness?
Luke 12:42-44 “And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? 43Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.”
A couple of weeks ago Brother Hunter presented a lesson regarding the great faithfulness of our God. We considered that God does not change (Malachi 3:6); that there is no “SHADOW OF TURNING” with God (James ). We considered that God’s compassion upon mankind, his crowning creation, has not and will not fail (Romans 5:7-9), even though man, generally, has lived in rebellion throughout his entire history. We considered that through his providence God provides the blessings of seasons, a fertile earth and all of the bounty of nature that we enjoy and that these are manifold witnesses of his goodness, mercy and love. We considered that God, through his Son, he gives us pardon for our sin, strength for today and a precious hope for tomorrow. And he gives us the assurance of a home in heaven (Colossians 1:4-6, Revelation ). Indeed as the Apostle told the Grecian philosophers in Athens God has provided all that we have needed; “HE GIVETH TO ALL LIFE, ALL BREATH AND ALL THINGS.” (Acts )
With these thoughts in mind let us turn to today’s lesson. In the face of God’s unending compassion, mercy and love, as a supplement to our consideration of the great faithfulness of God; let us consider for the time remaining, “How Great is Our Faithfulness?” For when we turn to the inspired words of David and his son Solomon we find:
Psalms 31:23 “O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer”
Proverbs 28:20 “A faithful man shall abound with blessings:…”
And we know that God is faithful. That God will continue to provide all of these rewards, all of these blessings even up to that wonderful promise made by his Son through the pen of the Apostle John:
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation
So as a pattern for our own living and faithfulness to God let us consider some of those recorded by inspiration as being faithful to God. Please turn to Hebrews chapter 11.
Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
What is it that Abel did that would cause God to hold him up to us as an example of great faith? Let us look at the inspired record:
Genesis 4:4 “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”
Abel brought as a sacrifice to God the “FIRSTLINGS OF HIS FLOCK AND OF THE FAT THEREOF” and the Hebrew writer tells us that he worshiped “BY FAITH”. So how did Abel gain that faith; how did Abel know what kind of worship God required? The scripture doesn’t tell us in Genesis or Hebrews but the Apostle Paul does in Romans:
Romans “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Abel’s faith came because he listened to the instructions of God, believed and obeyed what he heard.
But what is the prevailing attitude of men today? Is it like that of Abel or is it like that of Cain? What did Cain do?
Genesis 4:3 “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.”
And God’s reaction was to reject Cain’s offering:
Genesis 4:5 “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
Abel worshiped God “BY FAITH”, as the word of God had instructed him but Cain presented to God in worship what Cain wanted to present not what God had instructed. So God rejected him. Is mankind any different than Cain today? How many millions of people are gathered in great houses of worship and cathedrals this morning worshiping God? How many are worshiping “BY FAITH”, worshiping as God has required and how many are worshiping like Cain? We know the answer. The vast majority are offering up worship to God as they desire, not as God has required. They have taken the simple worship of the first century church that the Holy Spirit directed and added instruments of music, praise teams, choirs, even full bands and many of our brethren are following their footsteps.
Most have relegated the Lord’s Supper, that is to be observed every “FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK” to a few “special Sundays”. Or perhaps only to a a couple of annual religious holidays. Some of our brethren have gone off in the opposite direction. They have even added the “Lord’s Supper” to weddings, funerals and other activities conducted at times other than the “first day of the week”. We are to worship God “IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH” (John -24), with the proper attitude in our hearts and according to the commandments that we have been given. But the multitudes are like Cain not Abel.
Many others just don’t even bother to worship at all. Oh, they claim to be “Christians.” But where the New Testament clearly teaches that we are to be present when the church is “assembled” (Hebrews ); they willingly absent themselves. They count the worship of God and the study of God’s word less important than their own wants and pleasures. Are we guilty of the same? How great is our faithfulness in our worship to God?
Now let us consider Noah, a preacher of righteousness. The world has degenerated from that which God created and was “VERY GOOD” into a pit of evil.
Genesis 6:5-6 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
Yet there was one man who had not fallen under the spell of Satan, one man who stood in God’s sight a righteous man, Noah.
Genesis 6:8 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
So God makes provision for the salvation of Noah and any who would go with him from the destruction that he will bring upon the earth.
Now let’s, for a moment, put ourselves in Noah’s shoes. He’s standing virtually alone in a world that is so evil that God is sorry he created it. He is tasked with building a huge monstrosity (at least in the eyes of men) of a boat. He has been tasked with warning a rebellious generation that an angry God is going to bring a flood upon the earth. An earth that to our knowledge; has never even known adverse weather or probably even rain. For we know that at the end of creation, God had not yet caused it to rain upon the earth (Genesis 2:5).
All through the time of the preparation of the ark Noah preaches to the people, undoubtedly pleading with them to repent and join him and his family in the ark. Though there is not agreement among scholars, many think that Noah continued to preach to these evil men for 120 years before the flood destroyed them. What ridicule this man must have endured. Yet:
“By faith Noah, being
warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an
“BY FAITH” because he believed the “WORD OF GOD; Noah “MOVED WITH FEAR”, the NKJV and the ASV say “GODLY FEAR”; the ESV reads “REVERENT FEAR”. He preached salvation from God’s anger to this wicked generation, built the ark as God commanded and saved himself, his family and all of God’s creation that he was instructed to carry in that ark.
What would we have done in Noah’s shoes? If we had never seen rain, did not know what a flood was, perhaps did not even understand the magnitude of destruction that God was going to bring upon the earth. Would we have done what Noah did? Could we have built this great boat in the face of the ridicule that Noah probably faced? Could we have preached salvation for 120 years with only our immediate family for converts? Could we have endured what Noah endured, could we have “run with patience the race that” was set before him as he did? (Hebrews 12:1) How great is our faithfulness?
Are we reaching out to those around us that are facing eternal destruction in a devil’s hell? Are we teaching our friends, neighbors, or others about God’s great spiritual ark of safety that will carry us to eternal life with him? Or do we need to strengthen our faith from the only source of strength that there is, the Word of God? Do we need to be revived from a faith that is weak and sickly because of our failure to work?
a wealthy and probably a powerful man.
He was well established in or near the city of
Acts 7:2-3 “And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.”
Abraham is to leave his position in his community, his homeland, his extended family, his friends and move to a foreign land, not even knowing where he was going or what perils he might encounter on the way. So what did Abraham do?
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8
Abraham got up and went just as God had commanded. We might say, God gave him his instructions directly, he knew without doubt that God was with him. But should his faith be any stronger than ours? God has given us our instructions; he has given us a very similar commission:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19
Are we going? Many will say we can’t go and many have solid, legitimate reasons why we can’t. But are we even going by proxy, sending, helping and supporting others who are more physically able, or more willing that we are to answer God’s call? Men like Cliff Lyon who despite being near or beyond his 80th year travels as often as the Russian government will allow to Murmansk, Russia, a city well north of the Artic Circle where winter reigns 8 months of the year to preach and to teach the Word of God.
Men like Jimmie Hill who, in spite of dealing with thyroid cancer that thankfully is in remission, just returned from about a month in Zambia where he and another preacher taught in two preacher schools, preached to about 3,000 souls in several gospel meetings where 51 were baptized and 276 were restored.
Men and women like Charlie DiPalma
and his wife Mary who continue their work in
Abraham was focused on what is important in this life because:
“By faith he
sojourned in the
Abraham didn’t dwell in the here and now in his faith in God. Abraham looked forward to his eternal destiny, “HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS, WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER is GOD.” Are we? Is our faithfulness as great as that of Abraham? Is our desire to be in that wonderful city as strong as it should be?
There are many more examples that we could bring from both the Old and the New Testaments as examples of faithfulness to God. We will consider a few more briefly and then the lesson will be yours:
First Sarah: Oh, Sarah did not accept what the messenger of God told Abraham at first. When God told Abraham and Sarah that they would bear a child what was her reaction?
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” Genesis
Sarah laughed because both she and Abraham were too old to bear a child. But their faith prevailed and when God was ready:
“And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” Genesis 21:1-2
Would our faithfulness be as great as that of Sarah? Even if we did not believe at first would we allow God’s word to turn our hearts to him?
Then we see the time that God decided to “PROVE” Abraham’s faith. He wanted to know the extent of Abraham’s faithfulness, just how great was it? So he commands him to take his and Sarah’s only son, this son that God had given him and Sarah in their old age and make a sacrifice of him:
Genesis 22:2 “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
Abraham was to kill Isaac and offer him to God on an altar as a burnt offering! Did Abraham hesitate? Did Abraham beg and plead with God not to cause him to do this? No, Abraham went forward and did exactly as God had commanded him. When the boy asked the obvious question, where is the animal that we are to sacrifice in worship he answered “GOD WILL PROVIDE” (Genesis 22:8). When we compare ourselves to the patriarch in this regard, how great is our faithfulness?
Isaac when he was old, blind and knew that his days left on this earth were few passed on the blessing of God’s promise to Jacob:
Genesis 27:29” Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.”
Jacob when he was ready to depart this earth he turned to God in worship:
“By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” Hebrews 11:21
when time came for him to leave this earth gave commandment for the sons of
Amram and Jocebed, the parents of Moses, by faith defied the edict of the Pharoah and hid their son to preserve his life. Exodus 2:1-4
We know through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Moses himself:
“…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” Hebrews -25
And we could include Joshua, Rahab, Hannah, mother of Samuel, all of the great prophets and many others but our time is gone.
As we close this lesson I want all of us, myself included, to think about our faithfulness to God. Is it great, is it good, is it mediocre or is it poor and weak? Are we following the admonition of the Apostle as he wrote to the Colossian brethren?
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where
Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set
your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For
ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-2
Is our focus on those things that are above? Is our resolve and determination set on serving God, doing God’s will above our own and all others, working to be “FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH”, so that we will be given “A CROWN OF LIFE”? (Revelation 2:10) Are we working servants in God’s kingdom so that we will hear in the day of judgment:
“…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21
If not; then there are things in our lives that need to be changed. If you are a child of God and there are things in your life that are amiss, that are contrary to the will of God, that are sin; you need to repent and go to Him in prayer. If they are of a public nature then your repentance and prayer needs to be done publicly.
If you have not obeyed the commandments given by God to become his child then there is no hope for your soul; there is no basis for any hope for life with God beyond this present world. You need to obey God. First you need to heed what you have heard and believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the son of God (Mark 16:15-16), repent of your past sins (Luke 13:3-5), confess that faith before men (Matthew 10:32) and be baptized for the remission of those sins as Peter commanded the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:38) to wash away those sins as Ananias commanded Saul (Acts 22:16).
William L. Schwegler – Sunset