There are four times in Scripture where Paul declares something to be a “faithful saying.” The first is in 1 Timothy 1:15:
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
This is the root system to all the other faithful sayings. Jesus came into this world to save sinners and I am one of them. Paul acknowledged his personal relationship with Christ by declaring himself the chief of sinners. Paul was the most ruthless and zealous persecutor of the early church. In his mind, he was doing God’s work by going after Christians, until Christ Himself met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). That’s when he learned that there is no way to God apart from a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Without that, anything else we do that looks Christ-like is artificial at best. Faith in Christ alone for salvation is foundational.
The next faithful saying that Paul recorded is found in 1 Timothy 4:8-9:
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.”
You’ll get no argument from me on Paul’s statement that “bodily exercise [profits] little.” I had a friend my age recently completed a solo 5K in very good time. I praised him for his accomplishment but told him: “Brother, if I tried that, they’d have to time me with a calendar!” Paul was not opposed to physical exercise. He was just putting bodily exercise in perspective. There are those who treat their bodies like a temple to the point of worshipping at that temple. Paul is reminding us that from the roots of our saving relationship with Christ must grow a life that is focused on the eternal. Our primary goal is to be more like our Savior in every way possible. Being good stewards of our bodies is fine, but even that must be done with an eternal purpose in mind.
The next faithful saying is found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:
“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
Growing from the roots in the salvation of Christ and a life lived for Him, we can expect that our identifying with Him will have its share of blessings and consequences. Because of Calvary we died in Christ and because of His resurrection, we are now alive in Christ. That gives us the blessed, eternal hope of heaven but also makes us targets for suffering in this life. Jesus said: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matthew 10:24). Jesus suffered for doing the will of His Father. Those who call themselves His disciples must be prepared to expect the same. But if we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him. Whether we choose to suffer with Him or not, does not change or affect Who He is, but our choice will have profound impact on our lives.
The last of the faithful sayings is in Titus 3:8:
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”
It is imperative on all who dare to call themselves disciples of Christ also live a life consistent with that testimony. If I choose to be the Lord’s disciple, my life is no longer mine to live. It belongs to my Lord and Master. That means I must actively and deliberately conduct myself in a way that reflects Him and give my life to serve Him. It doesn’t matter if I work in an office, or I’m a mechanic, or a pastor. All the things that I do – even the things that I do to pay the bills – must be done as a service to my Savior.
If we can picture these four faithful sayings as a tree, salvation in Christ is the root, Christlikeness is the trunk, and suffering and service are the two main branches. All these components must be part of my life if I want my life to be a faithful saying – living testimony.
[Photo by Glenn Haertlein on Unsplash]