Perhaps the best known “faithful saying” in Scripture is the one about Christ coming to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15, however, there are six such “sayings” in the New Testament. We’ll start with 1 Timothy and look at all six, which span all our spiritual life, from sin to glory.
- 1 Timothy 1:15, the saying of Salvation:
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
The Lord Jesus didn’t come just to be a good example or to give us a set of moral sayings. He wasn’t just another prophet. He didn’t just come to help us to save ourselves or to make it “possible” for us to be saved. He came to save sinners; that’s the only kind of people He’s interested in. Religious people, moral people, “good” people – these have no need of Him, or so they think.
There was a time when Paul was like that. He thought he was doing God service. He thought he was blameless as far as the Law was concerned. I believe it was during the witnessing of Stephen in Acts 7 that the light began to dawn and Paul began to understand how far short he fell of the mark, cf. Romans 3:23. That his “best” was bogus. And on his way to Damascus, the Lord stopped him short and turned him around.
- 1 Timothy 4:9, the saying of Realization:
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
We might ask, “a saying of what?” I think it refers to all of vs. 1-11.
In this section, Paul prophesies a time in which “the faith” will be replaced by teachings from deceiving spirits, teachings which are the doctrines of demons, v. 1. According to Paul, we need to realize that there is an active warfare – in a realm we can’t see, but which greatly impacts the one we can see. The truth will suffer reproach, but God’s people are called on to both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.
Verses 1-11 speak of a Christian’s perseverance in times of apostasy.
We certainly live in such a time, when a supposedly Christian college will invite a Muslim scholar to lecture about “the historical Jesus” – as opposed to the Christ of faith. This happened here locally just a few weeks ago. The religious organization which sponsors this college prides itself that they’re the true one and that their teachings are the true faith, yet they host a man who denies everything they say they believe. A man who says that the Gospels aren’t to be trusted as accurate history, but were written much later than the events they portray.
- 2 Timothy 2:11-13, the saying of identification:
This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Some look at these verses as teaching that a true believer can lose his or her salvation. If that were the case, then they would contradict all the verses which teach that salvation once entered can never be lost.
I think there’s another thought in these verses. Many people have just identified with a church or a denomination. They were sprinkled into it, maybe “confirmed” a few years later, but the Bible may as well still be in the original languages. They never read it, and have no idea what it says.
This goes for those who don’t accept infant baptism, as well. My earlier years were spent in fundamentalism, where I was privileged to know and work among many wonderful Christian people. At the same time, because of the tremendous emphasis on “soul-winning,” there were many who were manipulated into making a “profession of faith” who never seemed ever to be any different. They never went to church or were baptized. They seemed no different after than they did before. I think Paul would say that there’s something wrong with that.
I believe in evangelism; it’s just not about working a particular “method.”
When persecution comes, and we believe it will, we’ll find out who’ve merely identified with some church and who’ve truly identified with Christ.
- Titus 3:8, the saying of exhortation:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
There’s a big discussion going on about the relationship of faith and works. Some vociferously maintain that we’re saved by faith alone. No works at all. “Just believe.” There’s a certain amount of truth to that. We are saved by faith alone. The difficulty comes in when one asserts that “faith” is alone.
Paul put it like this in Galatians 5:6, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything but faith working through love. (emphasis added.) Make no mistake. Paul isn’t talking about faith AND works, but faith WHICH works. There’s an eternal difference.
- Revelation 21:5, the saying of expectation:
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
While the saying is a little different, the thought is the same. V. 4 speaks of tears, death, sorrow, crying, pain. These are all common to this life, even for Christians. I know Christians who suffer terribly physically, or mentally, or emotionally. Some of the blogs I follow speak eloquently of this, as well.
John assures us these things will soon be over; there is coming a time when they all have passed away.
- Revelation 22:6, the saying of confirmation:
Then he [one of the seven angels, 21:9] said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”
There’s a lot of discussion about Revelation: how to understand and interpret it. That’s not the point of this post. The Book of Revelation isn’t just the hallucinations of a tired, overworked old man, as some blasphemously assert, but is the very word of God. This applies not only to Revelation itself, but to every part of God’s Word; it has all been given to us by divine inspiration. It is, therefore, to be handled with reverence and respect. It is the Word of God.