Intro: We come to the end of another year together. For the most of the last 52 weeks we have spent this hour together considering a single theme from the scriptures – the promises of God. But this single theme has not restricted our view of the whole. We have noticed clearly that God’s promises are many, and that these many promises form a consistent thread throughout the Bible. From Genesis (the promise of a Seed) to Revelation (the promise of a crown) the purposes and faithfulness of God have been in view.
The apostle Peter connects the comprehensive revelation of God’s redemptive work to our reception of God’s promises: 2 Peter 1:3-4 – His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. As we have seen, the promises of God provide a roadmap through the redemptive story of scriptures.
Consider what we have studied together:
|January||Our Faithful God – “He Who promised is faithful” – Hebrews 10:23|
|February||Promise to the Patriarchs – “In your seed” – Genesis 12:1-3|
|March||Promise of the Kingdom – “I will build My church” – Matthew 16:18|
|April||Promise of Salvation – He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.“ – Mark 16:16|
|May||Promise of Deliverance – “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” – 1 Corinthians 10:13|
|June||Promise of Provision – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33|
|July||Promise to Hear – “His ears are open to their prayers” – 1 Peter 3:11-12|
|August||Promise of Rest – “I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28|
|September||Promise of Justice – ” I will repay, says the Lord” – Romans 12:19|
|October||Promise of Grace – “My grace is sufficient for you.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9|
|November||Promise of Harvest – “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” – Galatians 6:9|
|December||Promise of a Crown – “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” – Revelation 2:10|
God’s people in every age have placed their confidence in God’s words, and lived in anticipation of the promises He has given to them. We are today truly “standing on the promises of God.”I want to review some of the important elements of the promises of God that we have noticed through this year.
I. Promise and Prophecy: A promise is a pledge, or an announcement of what one will do. Some form of the word promise appears in the Old Testament 42 times, and in the New Testament 72 times. In Biblical usage, promise contains the elements of covenant, contract and pledge, with blessings in store to the beneficiary. What we have seen in exploring some of the promises of God is that His promises form the words of prophecy in scripture. The people could look forward to future events based on their knowledge of God’s promises.
II. Promise and Covenant: God’s promises are often revealed in the form of a covenant. God desired to enter into a formal binding relationship with people. Some of His promises were given unconditionally as a pledge of the redemptive work He was doing. He promised Abram He would multiply his descendants, and that through his seed all nations would be blessed.
A. But many of God’s promises were (and are) conditional. In fact, the personal responsibility to obey is consistent throughout the scriptures, transcending dispensations, and defining every covenant of promise between God and man. We certainly saw this in viewing the promises made to the patriarchs and later Israel under the covenant at Sinai. (land, nation) Deut 11:13-14– ‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. Deut 11:26-28 – “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. There were inherent blessings and curses, based on the veracity of God’s law.
1. The promises of God on which we rest are based on the faithfulness of God, but are conditional on our faithfulness to Him.
III. Promises and Fulfillment: God keeps His promises. When we can view that in scripture, we recognize it as a fulfillment of prophecy – a certain proof of inspiration and God’s activity in our behalf. What we learned is that Some promises found in the Bible are physical in fulfillment (promises of physical good – land, good health, protection from enemies, etc.) Some promises are spiritual in their fulfillment. These promises are the greater and are often prefigured in physical promises of the OT (promise of rest; promise of harvest; promise of protection).
A. The fulfillment of God’s promises in scripture exhibit God’s purposes, and show a transition from the physical to the spiritual.
• A physical seed… and a spiritual seed.
• Physical judgments (flood) that point to spiritual judgments;
• A physical land as a place of security and rest that point to a spiritual “land” whose builder and maker is God, reserved in heaven.
• A physical nation to a spiritual nation;
• A physical David to a spiritual David;
• A physical restoration to a spiritual restoration.
• A physical kingdom to a spiritual kingdom
B. In the New Testament these OT promises are founded on, and regarded as having their true fulfillment in, Christ and those who are His are spoken of as partakers of the promise (even those who were not under the previous covenant. Ephesians 3:6 – 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,
• In like manner the writer to the Hebrews goes back to the original promises, giving them a spiritual and eternal significance in a better covenant based upon “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6 – But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
• The New Testament is filled with promises to be fulfilled in the spiritual relationship made possible through Christ. “eternal life”; the Spirit of God; and Christ’s “coming” and a “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13).
IV. Promise and Character: What do the promises of God in scripture reveal about God Himself? This was really the first lesson we recognized in our study. God is a faithful God. The value of a promise is vested in the character of the one who made the promise. The idea of God’s faithfulness to His promises is a vital theme of NT teaching. It is often referred to in the use of the Greek word adjective pistos, faith as a characteristic of God is faithfulness.
A. We suggested in our first lesson that the value of a promise to be believed is based on three things: 1) the integrity of the one who promises; 2) the ability of the one who promises; and 3) the past record of the one who promises. God’s promises are assured to us on all three.
1. God’s integrity:
• “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24);
• “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
• The Hebrew writer calls on Christians to lay hold on the hope presented to them in the counsel of God because it is impossible for God to lie. (Heb. 6:13-20)
2. God’s ability: God is not hampered in the fulfillment of His promises. He is omnipotent.
• ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Jeremiah 32:17)
• “For nothing will be impossible with God.”(Luke 1:37)
• The promises of the N.T. were confirmed in the power of the resurrection – Acts 17:31 -” because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
3. God’s Record: Has God ever failed to keep His promises? The unequivocal answer that question is NO. This absolute constancy and fidelity is often referred to in scripture as God’s faithfulness.
• Deut. 7:9 – “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments”
• Isa 25:1 – Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
V. Promise and Hope: Are confident? Do you have a real hope? If so, what is it based on, and how do you express it. The weather man promises you it is not going to rain today. Do you have enough confidence to leave your umbrella at home and roll the windows down in your car?
A. Paul’s hope of eternal life rested on the fact that God who cannot lie promised it before the world began Titus 1:2 – in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
• He told Timothy that the certainty that God will abide faithful notwithstanding human faithlessness rests on the fact that God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13 – 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.)
• He told the Corinthians in 2 Cor 1:20 – For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen,
B. Do you have enough real hope to act upon the promises of God.
• He has promised to save us,
• deliver us from temptation,
• provide for our every need,
• to hear our prayers,
• give us rest from our labors,
• provide justice in the face all injustice,
• give us grace to endure every thorn,
• send a harvest when we plant the seed,
• and in the end, crown us with every blessing in heaven
Heb 10:22-23 – 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Conclusion: The gospel is good news because God keeps His promises. That promise is still intact. But it is conditional on your obedience to His will. Acts 2:38-39 – Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”