Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958
NUMBER 43, PAGE 8-9b

Faithfulness -- Fruit Of The Spirit

Robert C. Welch, Birmingham, Alabama

The Galatian letter arrays the fruit of the Spirit against the works of the flesh. One is destructive, the other is edifying; one is ugly, the other is beautiful; one is shameful, the other is graceful; one is opposed to God, the other accepts him; one is absent of God's blessings; the other embraces them. One of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness, or faith, as the most common version has it. (Gal. 5:22.) This element in Spirit-fruit needs fine analysis and such synthesis and development by Christians.

A Critical View Of The Word

The best definition of terms which are used in the Scriptures is to be found in the Scriptures themselves. In this manner we are sure to have the right usage of the term. The same word in the original, as that of Galatians, is used in John 20:27, in the case of Thomas; where it is placed as the opposite of faithless. The Lord said to him, "Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."

The same original word is used in Romans 10:17, which says that "belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Therefore, we see the source or basis of faithfulness; it is the truth, the word of Christ. Faithfulness is the characteristic of the man who has faith. Just as faith includes trust, so faithfulness includes trustworthiness. Just as faith involve conviction and assurance, so faithfulness involves abiding and steadfast adherence to that of which we have assurance. Simply stated, faithfulness means living and standing for the truth.

A study of antithesis is discovered in Titus 2:10; where purloining is used as the direct opposite of faithfulness, or fidelity, for it is the same word which is used in describing the fruit of the Spirit. The passage says; "not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." An interesting fact to be noted is that this word for purloining is used with reference to the action of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:3; here translated, "keep back." Peter said; "why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land." Hence, we see that their sin consisted of purloining or embezzlement, in conjunction with lying. Faithfulness is the opposite of that practice of Ananias and Sapphira.

Faithfulness In Our Times

Because of certain outstanding prevailing world conditions there are some pertinent applications of faithfulness. Modernism and neo-orthodoxy, not atheism in the absolute sense, pervades human society in general and denominations to an equal extent; and it is invading the circle of Christians. Higher education, the 'spawning ground of modernism, is coming to be the ambition of preachers and teachers. Ralph Wilburn has gone to the digressive Christian Church, and is now teaching in one of their schools, which is noted for its rank modernism. Many others are pursuing the same course; some having gone all the way; others in various stages of the departure. Faithfulness requires that we steadfastly stand for the complete inspiration of the complete Scriptures for a complete man of God. It requires that we be on guard against apparently innocent intrusions of this form of faithlessness. It may appear through a careless use of their otherwise useful material in our own study material. It often crops out through the usual channels of propaganda such as the press, popular magazines, the television and other forms of entertainment.

A high degree of spiritual fervor and constancy is demanded in these times of stress on science and material gain. Time is becoming the rarest element of man's existence. He has so much business requiring immediate attention, so many community affairs, so many commitments of this kind and another, that he has little time for church attendance, righteous deeds and study. He can lose it all before he hardly realizes that he has taken the first step away from the Way. Faithfulness requires a purposed and deliberate attendance at all the assemblies of the church. It requires a planned and deliberate devotion of much time and effort in "working that which is good toward all men." It requires a willingness to "speed and be spent" for the brethren. It requires a determined effort to study and understand the Lord's will. The man who has been aware of any problem of spiritual life and service and admits that he is not studying and teaching the truth on the question is virtually admitting that he does not possess the trait of faithfulness.

How many of us are verging on that brink of disastrous deception and desertion which Peter discovered in Ananias and Sapphira? How many of us are "keeping back" that which belongs unto the Lord; thus are guilty of spiritual embezzlement? We would not think of secretly taking money from our employer's account. But do we all act with the same honesty when it comes to giving as we have been prospered? If not, we are guilty of the same kind of purloining as that of Ananias. Faithfulness requires that each man give AS prospered; total collections indicate that some have not exercised that faithfulness.

Moral purity must be sought for, both in personal life and in teaching, to have the characteristic of faithfulness. This is emphasized in Galatians five. Adultery and divorce are common things today; and nearly every congregation has its own cases and problems. Faithfulness requires that whatever teaching and other disciplinary action that is necessary be undertaken to keep the purity of the church. (1 Cor. 5.) It is now popular to condone drunkenness as sickness and lasciviousness as changing customs; but faithfulness demands that we call them what they are and deal with them accordingly. We are treating more cases of alcoholism every day; but we are creating more drunkards than we are curing. We are apprehending more sexual perverts every day; but we have more lewdness and nakedness paraded in the public also. 0 daughters of Zion, we need chastity, modesty and faithfulness demonstrated as never before! Division in the ranks of Christ's kingdom is ever being incited by men with a party spirit. We need men who are faithful in "giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

We need faithful men who will stand for the truth, in whom we can repose confidence for their reliability in always striving to do what is right, who will not compromise through fear or favor. Faithfulness places Christ above self at all times and in any circumstances; it accepts the truth above any human whim, will or wisdom; it lives the truth despite all temptation; it stands for the truth against all perverse teaching, false ways, party pressure, physical force or carnal weapon. Faithfulness is steadfastness even unto death. (Rev. 2:10.)