God has made his promises very clear to us throughout the Bible. Oftentimes believers do not properly distinguish the difference between facts and promises. A fact is a truth distinguished from a mere statement of belief. Bible facts are to be accepted as being authentic and true and therefore must be believed. Promises, on the other hand, are to be received and claimed.
A promise is the declaration of some benefit to be conferred. Webster’s dictionary says it this way: “One’s pledge to another to do or not to do something specified, narrowly; a declaration which gives to the person to whom it is made a right to expect or claim the performance of the forbearance of a specified act.
The “World” Of Promises
The Christian’s understanding of promise cannot be shaped by how the world views promises. An example of those that promise much but deliver little are politicians. A former state governor once said he would “promise the world to anyone that would give him a vote.” Samuel Johnson, a famous English writer once said, “Promising large promises is the soul of an advertisement.” There are scores of ‘old proverbs’ addressing promises. For example, “To promise and give nothing is a comfort to a fool.” And, “He that promises too much means nothing.” Judge Darling once wrote in his Scintillac Juris, “To convince a poor voter by common argument of promised reforms is merely to corrupt him with hope.” How different are the promises of God, none of which ever corrupt a believer with unrealized hope.
Source Of The Promises
The substance of a promise is only as good as its source. The source of the promise is the surety that it can be fulfilled and made a reality. The worth and excellency of the promises are enhanced by the evidences that every one of them can be realized. Behind every promise of God we have the word and oath of Him who cannot lie. Christ is made our surety, not only of all God’s promises, which He ratified by His own blood, but all the promises concerning his blood-washed children. God’s promises are backed by His faithfulness. “He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:23). “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24). And one of my favorite verses, “Great is thy faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:23.
Surety Of The Promises
God encourages us to accept the promises as a living hope and who furnishes us with well-provided evidences of the reliability of every God-given promise. Our Lord has dated each promise in heaven for us. Therefore we cannot read the time when many of them are to be fulfilled. The fact that He does all things according to His will and infinite knowledge of what is best does not diminish their value nor render their final accomplishment uncertain. This is where our faith comes into action. We are to believe and patiently wait upon Him who knows when it is best to fulfill His promises. We have many witnesses from His Word of those that had to exercise patience through faith in seeing God’s promise fulfilled. In the case of Abraham, He was promised a son but after many years had passed, and the promise unfulfilled, he stepped in with a concocted plan to “help” God, and as a result, Ishmael was born and caused difficulty to the promised child Isaac, even unto this day. David was God’s anointed king yet suffered as a fugitive dwelling in caves while hunted like an animal before the promise of being king of Israel and Judah became his. Read the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews to gain a better understanding of God’s “hall of faith.” God is never before or after His time but rather He is, “a very present help in trouble,” (Ps. 46:1).
There is another guarantee of fulfillment, and it is in the very names of God. His name Jehovah is used 6,823 times in the Old Testament. God introduced Himself to Moses in this way: “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Ex. 3:15).
In the New Testament, we see that Peter and Paul referred to him as Lord, i.e. Jehovah. Jesus Christ is then, Jehovah incarnate, God manifest in the flesh. Jehovah was the covenant name, and in Christ, God was mindful of His gracious covenant. Therefore, we have the assurance to faithfully stand on the promises of God, because, “For all the promises of God in him are yea and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (II Cor. 1:20).
Power To Fulfill Promises
Only God has the power to fulfill His promises. Our only responsibility is to believe Him and trust him. He is totally reliable because He cannot act contrary to His nature. Christ is truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth thereby confirming the trustworthiness of our triune God to fulfill their respective promises on man’s behalf:
Jesus has been given all power in heaven and earth. As quoted above we know that all the promises of God in him are yes and amen. He who defeated death through the sacrifice of Himself for us at the cross and created a new race—apart from the fallen Adamic race—is the promise, or better said, the covenant of God toward man and God. This was foreordained from before the foundation of the world. We can then say it this way: the whole world is upheld by the foundation of the cross, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:9-10).
- “God is not a man, that he should lie…Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or, hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
- “Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isa. 25:1).
Psalm 119 magnifies God’s Word and His promises. This psalm is known as an alphabetical acrostic. Throughout its 176 verses, we see a monotony and sameness in the ever recurring phases which, under slightly different expressions, state the same fact. The use of word and saying are both translated “word” throughout Psalm 119. Of the 42 times used, 19 times it is used as “saying.” Both expressions are tied to the Hebrew meaning, “promise.” His sayings and very Word is a promise to us. The word law is often used in this psalm and means “a complete code or duty for all to observe.” The promise of Messiah was for Him to fulfill the law for us and take it out of the way; ordinances and penalties. He is the end of the law, for righteousness. We are placed in Christ by God when we accept Him as our Saviour. God now sees us as law keepers. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Christ is the fulfillment of the law and He completed the law. The law required outward obedience to its code. The new covenant requires faith in Christ, who is the new covenant. The law’s sayings and teachings are now written on hearts that have received a spiritual circumcision. “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:29).
We now have the promise of the Holy Spirit living in us and quickening us with the power of God—all made possible by the cross! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). This was the promise of God that was a mystery hid from ages and generations, but is now manifested to his saints, all because of the cross (Col. 1:24-29). We can say with confidence that the cross fulfilled all the promises of God toward us, and we can expect Him to meet every need.