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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
You may have heard the saying, “Promises are made to be broken.” In our day of selfishness and promiscuity, it seems all too obvious that many promises are mere meaningless words; not worth the paper they may be written upon. The increase in divorces is clearly a reflection of infidelity permeating culture.
So many social evils of these days result from failure in keeping promises. Broken businesses, bad debts, bankruptcies, divorces and other similar evils reflect the lack of sincerity and dependability in our modern society. All of us can cite many more incidents and practices that reflect the growing trend of unreliability among the people of our time.
But even in the best of times, promises were made and then broken. Those who had promised with the best of intentions also failed to deliver. Sometimes promises were made that could not be kept or there was not enough time to make good on sincere promises. Changing circumstances and unforeseen problems have also made many promises void.
In such a world of uncertain and unreliable promises, where can we assuredly look for help to meet our trials and challenges? Can we rely on anything when life is daunted with troubles?
Godly men throughout the ages have written a great deal about the exceeding preciousness of God’s promises in their lives. One of the most eloquent descriptions of God’s precious promises comes from the pen of Charles Spurgeon, and it is quoted below for your edification.
“The promises of God are to the believer an inexhaustible mine of wealth. Happy is it for him if he knows how to search out their secret veins and enrich himself with their hidden treasures. They are an armoury, containing all manner of offensive and defensive weapons. Blessed is he who has learned to enter into the sacred arsenal, to put on the breastplate and the helmet, and to lay his hand to the spear and to the sword. They are a surgery, in which the believer will find all manner of restoratives, and blessed elixirs; nor lacks there an ointment for every wound, a cordial for every faintness, a remedy for every disease. Blessed is he who is well skilled in heavenly pharmacy and knoweth how to lay hold on the healing virtues of the promises of God. The promises are to the Christian a storehouse of food. They are as the granaries which Joseph built in Egypt, or as the golden pot wherein the manna was preserved. Blessed is he who can take the five barley loaves and fishes of promise and break them till his five thousand necessities shall all be supplied, and he is able to gather up baskets full of fragments. The promises are the Christian’s Magna Charta of liberty; they are the title deeds of his heavenly estate. Happy is he who knoweth how to read them well and call them all his own. Yea, they are the jewel room in which the Christian’s crown treasures are preserved. The regalia are his, secretly to admire today, which he shall openly wear in Paradise hereafter. He is already privileged as a king with the silver key that unlocks the strong room; he may even now grasp the sceptre, wear the crown, and put upon his shoulders the imperial mantle. O, how unutterably rich are the promises of our faithful, covenant-keeping God! If we had the tongue of the mightiest of orators, and if that tongue could be touched with a live coal from off the altar, yet still it could not utter a tenth of the praises of the exceeding great and precious promises of God. Nay, they who have entered into rest, whose tongues are attuned to the lofty and rapturous eloquence of cherubim and seraphim, even they can never tell the height and depth, the length and breadth of the unsearchable riches of Christ which are stored up in the treasure house of God – the promises of the covenant of His grace.”
Indeed, Christians can find their most assured help in God’s promises. When doubts and fears assail our hearts, God’s people must firmly stand upon the promises of God.
It is wrong to allow doubts and anxiety to prevail within our hearts. Jesus taught us, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31–32). The Lord’s instruction to us is that we should have confidence in His promises toward us rather than be troubled by various anxieties.
When anxious moments arrive, we must recall the promises of God. We must learn to appropriate the message of Kelso Carter’s favourite hymn, “Standing on the Promises”:
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
The greatness of the promises in the Scriptures is the greatness of Him that made those promises. As God is great, so are His promises.
The Apostle Paul said, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). The promises of God are established in Himself, upon His marvellous attributes. He shall keep them to every letter for His own glory. He shall fulfil them in us that His glory may be seen through us.
His great power to bring about all His plans and promises, is our great source of strength and confidence in life. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). Our Lord Jesus Himself said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
When God has promised, He will perform, because it is His word of truth and of power. Every biblical promise from God is absolutely trustworthy because the Promiser is unchanging, faithful, evertrue, all-powerful, and all-wise.
The promises of the Bible are an expression of the fulness and all-sufficiency of God. He performs all that He utters. We can trust Him to keep His promises.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). Promises are like the pages of a chequebook that are to be signed to receive the blessings. We are to sign it with prayers of faith made toward God who has given the promise. We read about Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:20–21).
To a child of God, the divine promises are a great motivation to live out his life with patience and endurance. He is persuaded to press on, though with trembling legs of faith, till he finds all the golden fulfilment of the promises he obtained from his God. The more he believes the promises, the more he finds in them to believe.
Spurgeon once wrote, “Faith has to bring all the faculties of the child of God upon their knees, and say to them, ‘be quiet; listen while God speaks.’ … ‘Wait, I say, on the Lord.’ May that which is written with the ink in the Bible be written with grace on our hearts. May the public promise become a private promise to each one of us by the living experience of our own soul.”
Peter told us in 2 Peter 1:4 that God’s exceeding precious and great promises are given that “ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Likewise the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The one great purpose of God’s promises is that we may perfect the holiness of God in us. It is impossible to live a godly life without having full assurance in His promises.
Firstly, God promises us His forgiveness if we repent (1 John 1:7–9) that we may leave the darkness of sin and walk in His light. His promises are broader than all our sins and deeper than all our guilt. He who moves deeper by experience into God’s promises shall be fully aware that there is yet a lower depth of God’s unfathomable grace and love in His promises.
Secondly, God’s promises are given to prevent us from the quick pleasure that sin offers. If we take time to study the promises of God, we shall see that the glory of His promises surpasses the attractions of this world and sin. Promises of God provide a greater pull to the holiness of God than the pull of the world to sin.
Thirdly, God’s promises make His precepts easy, His yoke is not just tolerable, but pleasant, sweet and comfortable. We will prosper in our faith and spiritual walk if we are able to quote the promises of God to defend ourselves against the fiery darts of the devil.
Isn’t it great that our heavenly Father has no difficulty keeping all His promises to His children? He never leaves us in the lurch. He has all the time, energy and ability to bring to pass His promises. There is no shadow of turning with Him.
All that we needed His hand has provided; and all that we will need in the future will come our way according to His precious promises. Let us be fully persuaded that He is able to perform all that He has promised.
Rev. Prabhudas Koshy is the pastor of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church and he also lectures at the Far Eastern Bible College.
– Published in Bible Witness, July – September 2001