13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us. (Acts 16:13–15, NKJV)
Paul and his companions looked for an opportunity to teach the gospel, and a group of women were found by the riverside. Among them was Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened “to heed the things spoken by Paul.” How and why did the Lord open Lydia’s heart? Does He still open hearts? First, Lydia was not shown preferential treatment over the other women. God opened her heart the way He does today, by the power of the gospel she heard. God’s saving word addresses the heart, convicting and converting the lost (John 16:8-13; Romans 1:16). Lydia’s heart was opened “to heed” the things Paul said (to give close attention to and respond). The gospel prompted her to answer God’s call to believe and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Her actions were deemed “faithful to the Lord” inasmuch as Paul and his companions lodged at her house. Lydia chose to heed the gospel and by doing so, she was faithful to the Lord.
“But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.” (2 Corinthians 1:18, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit contains the attribute of faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). There is a wide range of applications of this trait in the Scriptures, from being faithful to God, to being reliable and trustworthy in one’s character and treatment of others (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:10). At the heart of faithfulness is one’s reliability, trustworthiness and dependability. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can always depend of Him and His word. The person who is faithful to God relies on Him, trusting His word and following His directives. We are to always be faithful toward others. Paul was thankful for Philemon because he was hearing of his “love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” (Philemon 5). Spiritual maturity not only means we are reliable in following the will of God, but by doing so, we are also trustworthy in our dealings with others. Just as the Corinthians could trust Paul’s word in today’s passage, our words must be faithful, reliable, trustworthy. The integrity of faith defines the person who is led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2, NKJV)
God expects His word to be taught to successive generations. Teaching the gospel of Christ is not covert indoctrination. Bible instruction is an open exercise, where the truth is heard “among many witnesses.” Having been taught by the apostle Paul, Timothy was to deposit that same apostolic instruction to trustworthy souls, who could competently teach others. So goes the cycle of teaching and learning and teaching – from the teacher to the student, who then becomes the teacher of others. Parents, your children do not inherit your knowledge of the truth, any more than they inherit your sin. Each generation must be taught the word of God so they can learn and live God’s will, and be saved (Phil. 2:12). One final note: it is “faithful” ones who are equipped to teach others. One who cannot be trusted to faithfully follow the word of God is ill prepared to teach others (1 Tim. 1:5-7). Listen to the apostolic teaching. Learn it. Live it. Teach it to others, so they can do the same.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39–40, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews had just recited a list of Old Testament people whose faith testified of their righteousness: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and many more unnamed men and women (Heb. 11:3-38). Although they “obtained a good testimony through faith,” they “did not receive the promise” –namely, the promise made to Abraham that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 39; Gen. 22:18). They died in faith, before Christ came (the One to whom the promise was made, and through whom the promise was kept, Gal. 3:16, 19). Now, Christ has come, perfecting or completing their faith (Heb. 11:40). This great cloud of witnesses gathers to compel us to have enduring faith, because we have, in fact, received the promise (Heb. 12:1; Gal. 3:14).These Old Testament examples of faith forcefully influence Christians to remain faithful. They believed God’s promise, endured in their faith, and now are blessed by its fulfillment. Christians, who have the promise in Christ, must not “draw back to perdition,” but have faith “to the saving of the soul.” We must “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 10:39; 12:1).
47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47–48, NKJV)
Knowledge brings increased responsibility. At the same time, a person cannot plead ignorance to escape his or her personal responsibility to God. The master tells his servants what is expected of them, therefore, a servant ought to know his master’s will. So, even when the servant who failed to know his master’s will “committed things deserving of stripes,” he did not escape punishment. The “faithful and wise steward” is watchful and careful to do his master’s will (Lk. 12:37-46). Similarly, Christians are responsible for knowing the Lord’s will and being watchful to carefully do His will. We are warned, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Sins of ignorance are still sin against the Master’s will which call for repentance and conversion (Acts 3:17, 19; 8:18-24). Disciples of Christ have great spiritual blessings, and along with them, great responsibilities. The Lord expects us to faithfully do His will, especially since we know His will and have His blessings. To do otherwise brings upon us punishment with unbelievers (Lk. 12:46).
“holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9, NKJV)
This instruction to elders of the local church gives us insight into the nature of sound doctrine, and how God views its importance. It is clear to see in today’s verse that “the faithful word” corresponds to “sound doctrine.” The word of God is the tool by which the elders are to encourage and warn those who oppose the truth. Those who are not “sound in the faith” need the rebuke from God’s word that convicts and corrects (see Titus 1:13). Just as elders must “hold fast the faithful word,” each Christian must “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13). Christians are not sound in the faith by merely claiming it to be so. We must hold fast to God’s word, examining ourselves and correcting ourselves to be in harmony with the truth. Personal opinions and self-approving proclamations of “soundness” are meaningless without Scriptural approval. Obey sound doctrine, and then you will be sound in the faith.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 5, NKJV)
Christians need to be continually reminded of the truth we have known (2 Pet. 1:12). Being reminded of the truth we once knew” is a prevention against falling away. Yes indeed, God’s people can fall away. Among God’s people Israel, those who “did not believe” were “destroyed” in the wilderness (Heb. 3:7-11). Although God had saved them out of Egyptian bondage, when they “rebelled,” “sinned,” “did not obey,” they not enter the land of promise due to their “unbelief” (Heb. 3:16-19). Jude uses Israel’s apostasy to warn faithful brethren of false teachers (Jude 3-4, 8). You see, it matters to God what Christians believe and the teachings we accept. False teaching produces false faith. Although we have been saved from the bondage of sin, if we do not faithfully continue in “the faith,” then we become like the wilderness Israelites. And like them, we will be destroyed because of our unbelief.