A Bulwark of Trust

A Bulwark of Trust

Ernest Barker

It is ever profitable to consider the attributes of the Godhead, and to recognize that each attribute is perfect in its character, and eternal in its duration.

There is something very noble in the words of Psalm 48: 12-13, “Walk about Zion, and go round about her: … Mark ye well her bulwarks.” What magnificent bulwarks they are which support God’s plan of redemption: His wisdom, His righteousness, His holiness, His love, and His faithfulness!

The Book of books, the Bible, is full of invitations, promises, and encouragements, and over each we may write, “God is faithful.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he must have laboured with an aching heart. Things had gone altogether wrong at Corinth. The believers had strayed away from the centre, and consequently were abusing those heavenly and eternal blessings which were their spiritual birthright. A glance through the Epistle will show how very unscriptural they had become. Think of it! They ought to have been united, instead of which they were divided (chapter one). They ought to have been spiritually minded, instead of which they were carnal (chapter three). They ought to have humbled themselves in the dust, instead of which they were puffed up (chapter five). They ought to have been a powerful testimony, instead of which they were a stumbling-block, and they actually resorted to heathen courts for the adjustment of personal grievances which ought to have been dealt with by the saints (chapter six). The Lord’s supper ought to have been the most sacred feast this side of Heaven, instead of which it degenerated into an unspeakable mockery, so much so that one was hungry and another was drunken (chapter eleven). Their convocations ought to have been seasons of edification and encouragement, instead of which they were occasions of God-dishonouring confusion (chapter fourteen). They ought to have held the glorious fact of the resurrection of Christ more dearly than life, instead of which there were some who, like the Sadducees, said that there was no such thing (chapter fifteen). All these errors had to be put right, therefore, censure after censure fell relentlessly from the pen of the inspired Apostle.

Nevertheless, before writing a single condemnatory word, before placing his finger upon one defect, before reminding them of their lamentable unfaithfulness, he emphasizes the magnificent truth, “God is faithful” (1:9).

Divine Faithfulness and Human Failure

When we on our part remember our lack of devotion, our coldness of heart, our slowness to believe all that God has said, and to regulate our lives accordingly, we are filled with a sense of shame and sorrow; but when we consider the undeviating and eternal faithfulness of our God, we are filled with joy and encouragement.

In 2 Timothy 2:13, we read, “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” However changeable we may be toward Him, He can only be faithful toward us, … the same yesterday, today, and forever. We may deny Him, and He may deny us, but He cannot deny Himself. In point of fact there are four things which God cannot do: He cannot die, He cannot lie, He cannot change, He cannot deny Himself.

One of the outstanding evidences of God’s faithfulness is recorded in Genesis 9, where we have the first mention of the rainbow. When Noah left the ark, God promised that the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood, and, willing more abundantly to show the immutability of His counsel, He confirmed the promise by a token: “I do set My bow in the clouds.” What an outstanding piece of workmanship is the rainbow! How perfectly symetrical, how admirably designed, how beautifully coloured is this natural phenomenon, this joint product of storm and sunshine! We cannot wonder that it forms a favourite theme for poets. When one sees a rainbow, he is not occupied so much with its exquisite features, nor with the perfect blending of its colours, but rather with the fact that it is both an unmistakeable and an undeniable proof that “God is faithful.”

“And the bow shall be in the cloud: and I will look upon it, that I may remember …” We are below the clouds and are therefore not always able to see the rainbow, but God is above the clouds, and His eye is always upon the “bow,” and He incessantly remembers His lasting covenant between Himself and His creatures.

Divine Faithfulness and Discipline

God loves His children too much to spoil them. It, therefore, follows that when they forsake His law, and walk not in His judgments; when they dishonour His statutes, and fail to keep His commandments, He must visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes.

What poor specimens of Christians we should be if God allowed us to have all our own way. A spoiled child is often a disgrace to his parents, and a burden to other people. Although no chastening is pleasant at first, yet to those who are exercised thereby, and who are willing to submit to the providential dispensations of an all-wise Father, the outcome is “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

When God corrects us, does He withdraw His loving kindness, or cause His faithfulness to fail? Nay, we know Him too well to suggest that He could do either. Behind the rod and the stripes, behind the correction there lie His loving kindness and His faithfulness.

The writer of Psalm 119 says that before he was afflicted he went astray, but as a result of the affliction he had kept God’s word (ver. 67). He also recognised that God in faithfulness had afflicted him (ver. 75).

Why is it that we are the recipients of so much blessing? Why are our lives filled every day with divine favours? Why has God dealt so bountifully with us ever since we became His children by faith in His Son? The answer to these interrogations is found in Lamentations 3:23, “His compassions fail not: They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” All is on account of the greatness of His faithfulness.

If we turn to Psalm 36:5-7, we shall find five divine attributes clustered together. His mercy is in the heavens; His righteousness is like the great mountains; His judgments are a great deep; His lovingkindness is excellent. But observe what David says about His faithfulness: “It reacheth unto the clouds.” Why the clouds, seeing that many of them are not at all a great height? Surely because it is there where the rainbow is seen.

There are many passages in the Psalms where God’s faithfulness and lovingkindness are blended together. We ought not to be surprised at this, seeing that the latter is dependent upon the former. Thus in Psalm 92:1-2, we read that it is a good thing to show forth His lovingkindness in the morning, and His faithfulness every night. When we remember that according to Psalm 42:8, “He will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,” we see that all the hours of the day and night are included. Consequently, we may confidently rely upon the faithfulness and lovingkindness of our God at all times and in all circumstances.

All this confirms the truth that we are in the best of hands; that we are the objects of the care of a loving Father; and that we are never away from His thoughts day or night.

Divine Faithfulness and Christian Service

If ever a man proved the undeviating faithfulness of God, it was the great Apostle to the Gentiles. What a life of devotion he lived; what a far-reaching influence for Christ he exercised! Wherever he journyed, bonds and afflictions were awaiting him. Five times he received forty stripes save one; on three occasions he was beaten with rods; once he was stoned and left for dead; three times he suffered shipwreck; a night and a day he spent in the deep; besides weariness, painfulness, watchings, hunger, thirst, fastings, cold, and nakedness; to say nothing of those things which crowded upon him daily, the care of all the churches.

We might well ask what it was that enabled the Apostle to endure this mental and physical strain. The only adequate answer is that he was sustained by three of the greatest factors in the spiritual realm, namely: the love, the power, and the faithfulness of a never failing God.

Divine Faithfulness and Temptation

We all know what it is to be confronted with temptation, and there are occasions when these assaults of the enemy seem to come upon us to an almost overwhelming degree. Left to ourselves, we are certain to be overcome. One of the clearest passages on the subject of temptation is 1 Corinthians 10:13, where the words “God is faithful” are nestled in the centre of the text. Were it not for the truth of this statement we should be in despair. Because God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our powers of endurance. Furthermore, He will make a way of escape, enabling us to be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Divine Faithfulness and Sanctification

When the Apostle prayed that the believers at Thessalonica might be sanctified wholly, and that their entire spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, he realized that God alone was equal to the task. This is confirmed in the words which follow, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5 : 23-24) .

God has called us to a holy blameless life, not intermittently, but consistently until the Lord shall come, or until we are taken home.

The Lord Jesus is now in Heaven as our Great High Priest, and He is able to save to the uttermost. Why? Because He is not only a merciful, but also a faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God. Both these indispensable qualifications are perfectly combined in Christ’s glorious person.

In Revelation chapter four is recorded a wonderful vision. John sees a throne set in Heaven and around it there is a rainbow like unto an emerald.