The Promises of God
Feeding Our Faith on The Promises of God
1. God wants us to know Him as the God who makes and keeps promises.
He makes promises because of the goodness and love that are the very nature of his character. The entire physical/spiritual world-universe is dependent on God and cannot exist or sustain itself on its own. God’s decision to create a dependent world binds him to his promise to sustain and care for it. Because He is good, he will follow through to care for the earth Genesis 1:2; Col 1:15-17; Rev 4:11; Psalm 24:1; Isaiah 40:25-26. After the fall into sin, God made another promise -His commitment to save, redeem and restore mankind and creation. God has bound himself to his promise to accomplish our salvation, as well as fulfilling all the (almost) countless attending promises he makes to us as his children. He has made these promises because he is good and loves to do so. We are as dependent on Him keeping his promise of our salvation, as we are for the sustaining of life itself. Genesis 3:15, Genesis 9:8-11 and Genesis 12:2-3, Genesis 15:14-17; Isaiah 49:13-16, Isaiah 49:22-26, Isaiah 51:1-3 Matthew 1:1. Genesis 12:1, 2Samuel 7:11-13; Matthew 1:21-23; Luke 1:31-33, Ephesians 1:18-23; Revelation 5:6-13
2. God wants us to trust Him as the God who can and will fulfill his promises.
What is really “on the line” in the fulfillment of God’s promises is not first of all, our faith, but the very character of God Himself. Genesis 15:9-21. Cf. Hebrews 6:13-20.
3. God will keep his promises because He is good- not because we are good.
God’s determination to love freely, not our “goodness” in deserving his promises, is the source of his follow through for our salvation and the fulfillment of his promises. cf Isaiah 57:14-19
4. God will keep his promises because he has the power and wisdom to make sure they will be fulfilled. Exodus 3:13-22
When God declares himself to be the God of Promise, Moses asks the initial question, “What is your Name?” Meaning: who are you that you make such promises? Who are you that you can do such a thing as this? God’s answer: “I AM WHO I AM”. Meaning: I will be who I will be. I have all the power, all the wisdom, all the presence, and all the character to do whatever I say I will do.
5. We need to know our faith does not activate God’s promise, as if he will do nothing in the world unless we “let him” or “help him” through our faith. What our faith does, is allow us the freedom and privilege to enter into and enjoy the unfolding of God’s promises in the world. Many in Jesus’ day did not believe. He “could not” do miracles in those places. Why? Because he chose to make the condition of our personal enjoyment of those miracles our own faith. However, that did not stop him from doing more miracles than could even be written down. Compare James 4:1 ff
6. The context of all the promises of God are related to the fulfillment of God’s Covenant (His “Promise”) purposes.
The many individual promises in Scripture are not a collection of random promises for us to pick and choose among to try and get God to meet our needs as we assess them. Our needs will be taken care of, profoundly. But we need to know that all the promises are moving us, and our circumstances toward the fulfillment of God’s purposes, as described in the major Covenant Structure of Scripture. There are seven major elements to God’s Covenant relationship with us, that all the other promises of God, in effect, support.
Genesis 3:15; Luke 3:23-37; John 3:16; John 17:1-3 The promise that God’s salvation- the complete restoration of all things- would come through Adam’s Offspring and would defeat the work of Satan and restore us to the joy of fellowship and life with God.
Genesis 8:21 ff cf. Luke 12 & Matthew 6 The promise that God would sustain the created world, no matter how evil men behave. Part of that “sustaining” is taking care of our physical needs.
Genesis 12:1-3; cf. Galatians 4:22 ff The promise that God’s salvation would bless all the nations of the earth specifically through Abraham child (Isaac) born of “promise”- who was a type of the “Promised Son”; and that God’s people are also children born of promise.
Exodus 20 (Ex & Lev) Deuteronomy 30:11-14, cf Romans 10:4-10; Romans 3:27-31, Romans 6:15-18 The promise that God would teach us Justice and Mercy through the Law, only to be lived out by receiving righteousness as a gift through faith in Christ.
The promise that Adam’s Offspring, who would be Abraham’s Seed, would also be the Son of David, and as such would be exalted as The King of all nations and would rule throughout history to establish justice, mercy and humility in the hearts of men (the establishment of God’s kingdom rule and reign).
Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Acts 2:32-39 The promise that God himself would do this work by the power of the Holy Spirit in the very depths of our hearts, and change our very nature from being people who disbelieve and disobey God, to those who love him and seek to obey him.
Isaiah 65:17ff, cf Romans 8:19-21; Revelation 21:1-4 The promise that he will complete this renewal and restoration and take creation and our lives even beyond the garden of Eden, to a place where sin can never enter again, the earth and all the universe will be restored, and we will live forever in the Presence and fellowship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
7. Our understanding of the promises is often tainted and obscured by our sin, Satan’s lies and the deceptions of our various cultures. Therefore we need to constantly re-submit our minds and our understanding to God’s Word when things don’t look right to us; and, constantly ask God to deepen our understanding of what the promises are and are not telling us.
8. Understanding what the Promises of God are Not (compare Exodus 3-6) Because God promises to work his salvation, that doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with doubts. Compare Jeremiah’s prayer recorded in Jeremiah 20:7-18 Or that others won’t oppose the work of God in their unbelief, with real, costly opposition. Or that we will always like how he fulfills his promise. Even Jesus said, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass….” Or that others will be able to see beyond their discouragement and hear the promises in a way that brings hope.
9. So, does God actually promise much?
If you want freedom from sin in this life- freedom to love and know God, freedom to love one another and the amazing hope of living together in the life to come with God and his people forever and inheriting the earth and all things in Christ – yes.
If you want an across the board, blanket freedom from pain in this life – either any personal pain or the pain associated with the suffering and cost of loving sinners in a sinful world – no. Satan can lie to you all day long and tell you how “unloving” God’s promises are, and how he really doesn’t have your best in mind; and in the end he can leave you forever disappointed with God, unwilling to learn from the things you suffer; unwillingly to freely enter into the sufferings of Christ for the sake of God’s love in other people’s lives; and basically controlled by a root of bitterness. Hebrews 12:1-3 But in the meantime, God will still be fulfilling his good promises throughout the earth, and his love will be there for you to enter into and enjoy any time you are ready to start believing him. This calls for a very “grown-up” faith.
10. Learning to Believe the Promises of God requires an act of humility. God never rebukes his children for having questions. He sometimes rebukes us for the way we ask them- in humility, or in arrogant unbelief – but the problem is not if the questions arise. The real issue is where you go with them. Do you resort to your own understanding, or, do you start by coming back to God to re-learn and to deepen your understanding of what it is God has actually promised us as his people. This is an act of humility because it means surrendering our “right” to interpret life on our own. It means we acknowledge that we can’t trust our own mental processes to come to the knowledge of the truth. It is a return to learning good and evil from God, as we were created to learn it at the beginning. Isaiah 66:2
11. The effect of believing the Promises of God is nothing less than a participating in the Divine Nature.
Such faith increases enjoyment of our fellowship with God that leads to a life of praise and worship and love and obedience. Believing the promises of God gives us hope for the present situation. Every new crises is not new cause to doubt God’s love, but a new opportunity to see his faithful promises unfold. If we know God is at work today, we will start looking at our situations through his wisdom instead of our own, and begin learning to see and enjoy his promises already being fulfilled now. Believing the Promises also brings hope for the future. As we see God more clearly working in the present, it will increasingly make us a people of hope for the future. God has given us Christ, and with him – all things (Romans 8:32), and if we are increasingly seeing the unfolding of God’s promise now, then what does the future hold? If we are learning to love more now, learning to enjoy God’s love more – not despite, but even through the trials and difficulties of life, then what hope do we have, whatever comes tomorrow? Just greater love – Romans 5:1-5. And that hope is sure, because God has promised and already told us where things are headed- to the restoration of all things and to a life forever with God. It also brings endurance through trials. Paul says we can endure when we know the outcome is good. And how do we know? By faith in God who keeps his promises. Romans 8:18-25 It also increases our confidence to risk our lives for the Kingdom of God. It produces the liberty to die daily; to hold all created things loosely; to not grab after power; to freely enter into the sufferings of Christ. 2Corinthians 3:12-4:15