Faithful means “…..steadfast in affection or allegiance…..firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)
God’s faithfulness is a bit more than even this definition. The term “steadfast” indicates that someone sticks with affection. The term “firm” indicates the same thought of stick to it. In God’s case there is no thought of steadfast and firm. In His case it is part of His nature to be constant in His affection and adherence to promises. He can do nothing else. He cannot, at any point in time, stop His affection or cease to adhere to His promises.
I would like to just list some attributes of God’s faithfulness and add references and comments as needed.
a. God’s Faithfulness Is Long In Duration Deuteronomy 7:8-10
He is just as faithful now as He was three trillion years before the creation. He will be just as faithful three trillion years into eternity as He was when He set the decrees in eternity past. There is nothing that will deter Him, nor alter His course. He will be faithful to Himself and to us throughout eternity. To cease to do less is not within His character.
b. God’s Faithfulness Is Far Reaching In Its Extent Psalm 36:5, “…thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” I have known many Christian farmers that would say a hearty Amen to that comment from the Psalmist.
c. God’s Faithfulness Is Sure Psalm 89:33,
“Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail.”
Nothing, not Satan, not man, not anger, nothing can cause God to be less than completely faithful.
d. God’s Faithfulness Assures The Upholding Of Creation Psalm 119:90,
“Thy faithfulness is unto all generations; thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.”
Link this verse with Genesis 8:22 which states,
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
and you have a good basis for a bold declaration that the fanatics that warn of nuclear annihilation, which warn of the sun exploding, which warn of a premature ice age, are wrong.
e. God’s Faithfulness Is As A Garment Isaiah 11:5,
“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his waist.”
A garment is something that is close to you and important to you. So, God’s faithfulness should be close to you and important to you.
f. God’s Faithfulness Is Great Lamentations 3:23, “…great is thy faithfulness.” His faithfulness is just as great as He is. As you begin to understand the greatness of God, you will begin to understand the faithfulness of God.
g. God’s Faithfulness Is Set In Heaven Psalm 89:2,
“For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever;
thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.”
When we understand His promises, and understand that they are backed by the faithfulness of the One that lives in heaven, we can then understand how sure those promises are.
1. His faithfulness guarantees all promises and warnings that He has given, will come to pass. Hebrews 10:23,
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that promised),”
2. His faithfulness guarantees the continuance of the universe until His plan is completed. Psalm 119:90,
“Thy faithfulness is unto all generations; thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.”
3. His faithfulness guarantees our fellowship with Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:9,
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called
unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
4. His faithfulness guarantees our victory over temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13
5. His faithfulness guarantees us that we will be kept from evil. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
6. His faithfulness guarantees our forgiveness for our sins of everyday life. 1 John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
7. His faithfulness guarantees our being preserved until the Day of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24
8. His faithfulness guarantees our ability to trust Him in all circumstances
— even trials. Psalm 119:75
9. His faithfulness is not dependant upon our belief. 2 Timothy 2:13
Note Of Interest: Faithfulness and mercy are found in the same verses at times. Deuteronomy 7:8-10, Psalm 36:5, Psalm 89:2.
GOD IS MERCIFUL
Walvoord relates a comment that explains the relationship between some similar terms. “Other terms are used to describe God’s goodness:
(1) benevolence, which is goodness in its generic sense as embracing all creatures and securing their welfare;
(2) complacency, which is that in God which approves all His own perfections as well as all that conforms to Himself;
(3) mercy, which is God’s goodness exercised on behalf of the needs of His creatures; and
(4) grace, which is God’s free action on behalf of those who are meritless, which freedom to act has been secured through the death of Christ.” (Reprinted by permission: Walvoord, John F. editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988, p 147)
Pardington and Bancroft agree on mercy. Pardington states, “Mercy has been defined as that eternal principle of God’s nature which leads Him to seek the temporal good and eternal salvation of those who have opposed themselves to His will, even at the cost of infinite self-sacrifice.” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 81 and Bancroft, Emery H./Ed. Mayers, Ronald B.; “Christian Theology”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, pp 83-84)
Cambron mentions “There is very little difference in the meaning of mercy and grace. Mercy, generally speaking, is used in the Old Testament, and grace in the New Testament. Old Testament mercy and loving-kindness go together. Someone has said that mercy is negative, and loving-kindness is positive. Mercy is shown to the disobedient, and loving-kindness is showered upon the obedient — both together mean grace.” (Cambron, Mark G. D.D.; “Bible Doctrines”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, p 45)
The term mercy is applied to both God and man. Again, we must point out that man may show mercy and know of the characteristic, yet God’s mercy is infinitely more than ours. His mercy is perfect and infinite, while ours is imperfect and finite.
God’s mercy is always extended and applied perfectly. We need to use mercy in our everyday lives with one another. The one thing that Christians seem to lack today is mercy toward others that disagree with them. There is good reason to disagree with some of the brethren, but Christian love and mercy are certainly needed as well.
A couple that we knew wrote a letter to tell us that they had gone into the Charismatic movement. When teaching, I always tried to relate the theology lessons I was teaching to life and proper application. We were studying the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us at the time, so I asked the class
to write a letter of doctrinal rebuke to the couple, using Christian love. The class went to work. They said that writing the letter was no problem, but that doing it in Christian love was the really hard part. They were well versed on theology, but lacked in their understanding of, and ability to share Christian love. The letters did show a great knowledge of doctrine, and I might add they showed that the students had learned much about Christian love in the short assignment.
Is there a difference between love and mercy? Love is a strong feeling or love for another which develops from time spent with the other. Mercy on the other hand is the forbearance and patience that is shown to the one loved when they wrong you. Mercy seems to be the outworking of love. The love of the Father for His creatures extended salvation to mankind.
Walvoord suggests three areas in which God’s mercy is operative. (p 147)
a. To those that have trusted Him and they are invited to fellowship with Him. b. It will be extended once more to Israel when God begins to work with them again. c. When a sinner accepts the salvation offered so freely.
The giving of His Son was the supreme manifestation of mercy to us. He has provided through His mercy for all of mankind, but man must respond individually to benefit from that mercy.
SCRIPTURAL COMMENTS CONCERNING GOD’S MERCY
a. God’s mercy assures us of His continued watchfulness over us. Deuteronomy 4:31 If He took the trouble to save us, surely He would watch over all the details of that salvation for all time.
b. God’s mercy assures us of forgiveness of our sins. Micah 7:18,
“Who is a God like unto thee, who pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy.”
That Is Encouraging.
c. God’s mercy assures us of our status as children of God. 2 Corinthians 1:3 We are His children and nothing can affect that relationship.
d. God’s mercy assures us of His love. Deuteronomy 5:10 He has chosen to show us mercy — why would He ever choose not to continue in those things in which He has engaged.
e. God’s mercy is available through prayer. Nehemiah 1:11
f. God’s mercy was extended to the Gentiles because of Israel’s unbelief. Romans 11:30 We can glory in the great mercy that He gave to the gentiles. He did not need to, He was not required to, nor were we worth that act of mercy. He decided to do so for our benefit.
Is God’s mercy conditional? Yes and no. God’s mercy, in general, is unconditional. He cares for the universe, He provides seasons for food etc., yet His mercy is limited when it comes to those that reject Christ and His free salvation.
God’s mercy, in specific, is conditional. a. His mercy to the saved seems conditional and varies with the believer’s walk before Him. (I Chron. 17:13) B. His mercy to the unsaved is conditional upon their acceptance or rejection of His son.
The Greatness Of His Mercy is declared through the Scripture: 1 Chronicles 21:13, Psalm 57:10, Psalm 86:5, Psalm 89:2, Psalm 108:4,
Psalm 119:64, Psalm 136.
MANIFESTATION OF GOD’S MERCY
a. His mercy is seen In the caring for all His creatures: Psalm 145:9, “The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” This includes the continuation of the universe, as well as the caring for His creatures in their everyday life.
b. His mercy is seen in the helping of His people even when they do not deserve it: Nehemiah 9:17-21, 27-32. Many of His children live in sin, yet God continues to uphold them. The longsuffering of God in these cases may not extend forever. Some find that He will ultimately take them home.
Others live long lives. His mercy is extended according to His own good pleasure.
c. His mercy is seen supremely in our salvation through Christ: Ephesians 2:4-8 The fact that mercy was extended to gentiles is purely mercy. That may seem like a funny statement, however it is very true.
1. His mercy should stir up the mercy in the believer. Luke 6:36, “Be ye, therefore, merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” When we relate to one another, we should extend mercy as mercy was extended to us.
2. His mercy should motivate us toward commitment. Romans 12:1,
“I beseech you therfore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
God extended mercy to us through salvation. This should bring us to the place where we desire to do things for Him. The common response to a large gift is gratitude and service.
The logical response of being saved would be to share that salvation with those that remain lost.
3. His mercy should move us toward unity and away from self- centeredness. Philippians 2:1-4 In Christ, we share the same mercy. None is greater than the other, and none is less than the other.
4. His mercy can be removed. 1 Chronicles 17:13, “…I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee,” Within this thought, we should be quick to mention that He is also quite often longsuffering. He normally gives numerous opportunities before withdrawing mercy.
5. How do we show mercy to nonbelievers? Give them the Gospel. Beyond the gospel you can share with them in the material and emotional realm as you have opportunity.
6. How do we show mercy to believers? Help them materially or physically as we can. This may mean, give money, give possessions, give help, or give emotional support. The use of our tongue in a gentle and kind way at all times would certainly help. You can assume the best in all situations. You can forgive, even those that are miserable, lousy, no-good creeps. Forgive all types in other words. Confronting others with their sin is also a method of showing mercy. It shows that you care for them, and that you want to keep them from further trouble.
 Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.