Revelation 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Out of the 7 churches in the first century, addressed in Revelation 2 and 3, only 2 churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia) did not receive a call for repentance but encouragement and commendation from the Lord for their faithfulness. The above passage is from Revelation 3:7-13 , the word of the Lord to the church in Philadelphia - the faithful church. Faithfulness is a quality or attribute applied in the Scriptures to both God and man. It is established that the God we serve is and will forever be faithful. Faithfulness is one of the core characteristics of God's nature. It denotes the firmness, constancy and reliability of God in His relations with men, especially with His covenant people. This central attribute of God will never ever change and will always be rooted from His perfect love and truthfulness. But while God's faithfulness will never change, ours (humans) has always been frail and inconsistent. Hence, the Scriptures are filled with God's instructions and promises relating to faithfulness to God. Throughout history, God has sought for men and women of faith and faithfulness that He can work in and work with to fulfill His divine purpose on earth. The Bible is full of promises for the faithful (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9-10; Eph. 6:7-8, etc.) and this key passage is one of them. Note that faithfulness does not mean perfection, nor is it a means for salvation. We already know that the basis of our salvation is not our qualification or performance but God's grace and faithfulness alone. What we are talking about here is on our call as a redeemed people and the fruit of the Spirit that we bear as children of God. Let me explain further.
Faithfulness is the character of unfailingly remaining loyal to someone or something, and putting that loyalty into consistent practice regardless of extenuating circumstances. Literally, it is the state of being full of faith in the sense of steady devotion to a person, thing or concept. Eugene Peterson defines faithfulness as "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction." FAITHFULNESS CAN ONLY BE PRACTICED IN THE CONTEXT OF RELATIONSHIP. And the key to faithfulness and its motivation is and will always be His faithfulness to us. So if a relationship with God does not exist and is not experienced, faithfulness does not make sense. Faithfulness comes from a place of trust and loyalty. It is one thing to simply believe in Him, but another to be faithful to Him. When we are truly faithful to God, this shapes the way we live. In its most basic and practical terms, faithfulness has to do with the (1) KEEPING HIS WORD (that is, His commands/instructions and His promises), and (2) the courageous and bold declaration of His Name. No wonder the Church in Philadelphia is called the FAITHFUL CHURCH:
Revelation 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. So, in a limited scope let's define faithfulness in these two terms: (1) Keeping His Word and (2) Not Denying His Name WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO KEEP HIS WORD? The above image is an illustration of a Bible that's been well-used and engaged with. One saying goes, "if a Bible is falling apart, we can say that its owner's life isn't". Consistent in the pages of the Scripture is the Lord's instruction to dwell in His Word: "Blessed is the one... whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers." - Psalm 1:1-3 (see also Jeremiah 17:7-11) "How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word." - Psalm 119:9 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." - Joshua 1:7-8 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me... 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. - JESUS (John 15) "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." - Colossians 3:16 The DISCIPLINE of READING and MEDITATING HIS WORDtakes intentionality. It is not easy but it is, like any healthy habits, promotes life and produces fruits in us. OUR FRUITS are DETERMINED by our ROOTS. Faithfulness is depicted as a tree PLANTED and ROOTED by the STREAMS of the Living Water which is the Word of the Lord. It means that each day, we are to draw nourishment in our spirit in His Presnece and in His Word. The key word here for FAITHFULNESS is ABIDE or REMAIN. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO NOT DENY HIS NAME? As much as we are commanded to remain or abide; we are also commanded to GO! (Matt. 28:19-20) This is the great paradox of Christianity. It is the rhythm of "coming in" and "going out". Much like our breathing: There is an inhale to receive life and an exhale to give life around. Our DAILY MEDITATION and DEVOTION is for us to receive, but as we receive, the Lord leads by example in His ministry to go out and minister to give. A proper breathing is impossible without one or the other. To not deny His Name means to proclaim Him - to share His Message - to declare the Good News to everyone we meet. To speak the Name of JESUS! Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." - Romans 1:16 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” - Acts 4:12 The Church - God's people - you and I - are to be bearers and heralds of His Name to the nations. In Matthew 10:27, Jesus says: "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs." God's Message should be public and not hidden. To not deny His Name means, for our lives lived in His grace and love to shine bright and be seen by all so that they too can know our Lord! How many people in our lives have heard our testimony? Let's take heed of the word of the Lord: 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16 So let's be FAITHFUL! Let us KEEP HIS WORD and NOT DENY HIS NAME! For those who understand and knows the Lord truly, this is not an obligation, but a privilege and honour like no other! It is our deepest pleasure and our noble mission! QUESTIONS for DISCUSSION:
How would you define faithfulness?
What (or who) would you say you are faithful to?
Do you think our world / culture encourages or discourages faithfulness?
Why do you think being faithful is important to Christian character?
Do you believe being faithful is easy or difficult? Why?
What are some examples we see of God’s faithfulness throughout Scripture?
How have you personally seen God’s faithfulness in your life?
How is Jesus an example of faithfulness to us? In what ways was he faithful to the Word and to the will of the Father?
What do you think a faithful follower of Jesus should look like?
How can you become a more committed and faithful follower of Jesus Christ? What are some steps you need to take this week in order to grow in faithfulness?