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Intro: I am excited about the coming year. I foresee that God will continue to bless this church abundantly. But I am more excited about our opportunities to praise Him, become stronger in Him, and point others to His grace. An important part of that endeavor is the assembly. I hope you will make a resolution to assemble on every available occasion.
- As I have done in the past, I will follow a specific biblical theme in my sermons. I am hopeful that this is an effective way for us to study together.
- The theme this year is entitled, “Standing on the Promises”. This is intended to be a focused look at the faithfulness of God, as it is viewed from the many promises that God has given to His people. On these promise we stand. Our identity, work, value, and hope are all dependent on the integrity and certainty of the promises of God. These promises are found throughout the Bible. They provide a roadmap through the redemptive story of scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation.
- In his book, All the Promises of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer reports that Everet Storms in 1956 counted up all the promises of God to man in the Bible, during his 27th reading of the entire Bible. He figured (in studying for over 18 months) that there are 7,487 promises to man in 31,173 verses of the entire Bible. The Bible is a general treasury of divine 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.
I assure you we will not be able to consider all 7,000+ promises in the Bible. But we have chosen a few of these precious promises:
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
I. What is a Promise? We all know what a promise is. Some form of the word promise appears in the Old Testament 42 times, and in the New Testament 72 times. The NT word is NT is epaggelia (ep-ang-el-ee’-ah); I means an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good). In Biblical usage, promise contains the elements of covenant, contract and pledge, with blessings in store to the beneficiary. In a sense a promise is a prophecy, the fulfillment of which is properly expected (Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible IV:872).
A. Some promises are conditional and appear in the form of a covenant.
B. Some promises found in the Bible are physical in fulfillment (promises of physical good – land, good health, protection from enemies, etc)
C. 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)
D. The Promises of the Bible form a thread throughout the scriptures from the physical promises in the O.T. to their spiritual significance in the N.T. s: (1) the seed of woman promise (proto-evangelium – Gen 3:15); (2) the promise of judgment through a flood to Noah, and to no more destroy the earth with a flood. (Gen 6-9); (3) the promise to Abraham to make of him a great nation in whom all families of the earth should be blessed, to give to him and his seed the land of Canaan (Gen 12:2,7) (4) the promise to David to continue his house on the throne (2 Sam 7) (5) the promise of restoration of a remnant of Israel, of the Messiah, of the new and everlasting kingdom, of the new covenant and outpouring of the Spirit.
- In the New Testament these 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. (Eph 3:6).
- The promise of a Savior of the seed of David is fulfilled in Christ (Acts 13:23, 32; 26:6; Rom 1:2; 4:13; 9:4).
- Paul argues that the promise to Abraham is not confined to Israel, but is open to all who are children of Abraham by faith (Rom 4:13-16; compare Gal 3:16, 19, 29).
- 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” (Heb 8:6).
- The New Testament is filled with promises to 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).
II. The Value of a Promise: We are called upon to believe promises every day. The car salesman makes promises, the teacher in school makes promises; our political leaders make promises; your spouse and children makes promises; how many of these promises do you believe? Maybe not all of them? Why not? Why should you believe the promises of God?
A. 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.
1. Integrity of the one who promised: How does God rate here? The absolute integrity of God is the assurance of His promises. The scriptures consistently argue for the trustworthiness of God.
- “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9)
- “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).
- “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim 2:13)
- 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. Ability of the one who promises: I may make you a promise and you might be inclined to believe it because you account me as an honest person. But if it is something I cannot control, then I may have to break my promise. (promises I make to my grandchildren – we will go fishing when you come to my house, but then it rains or the wind blows, etc) God is not hampered in the fulfillment of His promises. He is omnipotent.
a. When God revealed himself to the patriarchs and made promises on which they were to trust, He made Himself known as “El Shaddai” (God Almighty). When God appeared to Abram to reaffirm the promise of a son in his old age, He came to Abram and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1) The promise was assured because God was Almighty.
- ‘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. The past record of the One who has promised: (I will pay you back next month; I will never hit you again; I will not raise taxes, etc.) 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.
- “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” (Deut. 7:9)
a. The ISBE points out that this characteristic is one aspect of His truth and unchangeableness. ” God is true not only because He is really God in contrast to all that is not God, and because He realizes the idea of Godhead, but also because He is constant or faithful in keeping His promises, and therefore is worthy of trust…This unchangeableness the Scripture often connects with God’s goodness and mercy, and also with His constancy in reference to His covenant promises, and this is what the Old Testament means by the Faithfulness of God (from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
b. Often the O.T. scriptures use the term “rock” to refer to this character trait, as it is His faithfulness to His words that provide true security for His people. Ps 18:2 – The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
c. It is God’s unwavering commitment to keep His promises that elicit the praise and worship of His people. Ps 89:5-8 – And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. 6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? 7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. 8 O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. Ps 36:5 – Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 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.
III. God’s Faithfulness Expressed in the Gospel Message of the New Testament: 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. Paul uses the noun form (pistis) in Romans 3:3 to indicate that the Jews unbelief did not nullify God’s faithfulness, or the integrity of His promises. He will fulfill what He has promised.
- Paul’s hope of eternal life rests on the fact that God who cannot lie promised it before the world began (Titus 1:2)
- The certainty that God will abide faithful notwithstanding human faithlessness rests on the fact that God cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13).
- 2 Cor 1:20 – For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen,
- This attribute of God, moreover, is the basis of Paul’s confident assurance that God will preserve the Christian in temptation (1 Cor 10:13); and establish him and preserve him from evil (2 Thess 3:3).
- Paul often refers to the words of inspiration given to him concerning the gospel as “faithful saying” – since they come from God.
B. Heb 10:19-23 – Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 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. The writer of Hebrews sets forth God’s past faithfulness as the object of the Christians sure trust. Because He is faithful we can draw near to Him and not waver.
- Heb 11:11 – By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Her confidence rested in God’s fulfillment of previous promises. His character.
C. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John says that God’s faithfulness, as well as His righteousness, is manifested in the forgiveness of sin NKJV1 John 1:9).
D. 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. Peter connects God’s faithfulness to His position as Creator. If God made you and you are suffering in accordance with Hid will, then you ought to trust Him to be faithful to you.
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.”