Promises of God
A promise may be defined as “a reason to hope.” Much of our lives revolves around promises: Our marriage vows, the credit record we have carefully established, the expectation of a payday with wages earned, etc. In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the apostle Paul states this principle: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith involves promises believed, hope involves the same. Studying and meditating on God’s promises will affect our behavior.
The character of God’s promises is described in His word in very strong terms. Some of the attributes of His promises are included in the following list:
- God’s promises are trustworthy. Notice Solomon’s praise before Israel after he concluded his prayer at the dedication of the temple. “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.” 1 Kings 8:56
- God’s promises are backed by His oath – “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Hebrews 6:17, 18
- In Jesus we have the confirmation of many of God’s Old Testament promises. Paul’s summary of this great truth is recorded along with his appeal to Jew and Gentile to glorify God together. “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: ‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.’” Romans 15:7-9
- Actually, all of God’s promises to us are centered in Christ. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
- God’s promises through Christ are the foundation elements upon which our Christian character is built. Peter’s inspired reasoning develops this thought: “as 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.” 2 Peter 1:3, 4. Peter then gives us the “very reason” to exercise diligence as we add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly-kindness, and love.
God’s promises and their fulfillment made to Noah, recorded in the book of Genesis, allow us to see the whole promise-fulfillment process. God promised Noah that He would destroy the people on the earth (Genesis 6:13). The fulfillment of that promise is recorded in Genesis 7:17-24. God then made another promise that extends from Noah to us today. “And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.’” Genesis 9:12, 13
Many other promise-fulfillment examples are recorded for us, such as: the thee-fold promise made to Abraham and his descendants Isaac and Jacob: (1) great nation, (2) the land of Canaan, and (3) blessings to all nations through Christ – Galatians 3:29.
God’s promises to Israel occur over and over and are fulfilled. His promise to destroy the Amalekites was fulfilled 400 years after the promise was made – Exodus 17:14ff,1 Samuel 15:3, and 1 Chronicles 4:43.
Based on God’s promise-keeping record, we can fully trust that God’s promises to us today are a firm foundation for our hope. Here are seven precious promises to Christians who wish to please God:
- Salvation from sin – “Then Peter said to them, ‘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. 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.’” Acts 2:38, 39
- Heirs of the kingdom – “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” James 2:5
- Members of a new covenant – “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:39, 40
- Spiritual life through Christ – “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Timothy 1:1
- Life throughout eternity with Christ – “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,” Titus 1:2
- A crown of life – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
- A new dwelling place – “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13
On the basis of these passages showing God as a promise-making God, and as a promise-keeping God, what should be our response? Two key passages show our ideal response: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1, and “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.” 2 Peter 1:4
R. Kelso Carter in 1886 wrote an appropriate song for Christians to sing when he wrote: “Standing on the Promises.”
“Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Thru eternal ages let His praises ring;
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.”