God's Promises

God’s Promises

There is a difference between God’s commands and His promises. George Parsons explained it this way, “A command from God is something we should do; a promise from God is something God will do. A command must be obeyed; a promise must be believed. When God gives a command He says, ‘YOU WILL’; when God gives a promise He says, ‘I WILL.’”

Unlike people, who make promises and don’t fulfill them, God is faithful to do what He promises He will do. We can trust what He says.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

There are several things to keep in mind while considering God’s promises. The first thing to keep in mind is that God makes two kinds of promises.

1. Limited Promises.

God has made many promises to specific people, living in particular circumstances, for explicit purposes. These promises are definitely not for everybody. If you try to claim these promises for yourself, you are headed for trouble.

For example, Genesis 18:10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.

Obviously, this promise from God was limited to Abraham and Sarah. It should not be claimed even if you or your wife’s name is Sarah.

2. General Promises.

God’s general promises are applicable to all His children throughout all of history.

For example, Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is a command followed by a promise, which should encourage us to obey the command. We can be at peace and have contentment, for God has promised never to leave or forsake us. In addition to that, Jesus promised to return for us.

John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Although general promises are for every believer across all of time, “general promises” can also be of two different types.

a. Conditional Promises. Many of God’s promises are conditional.

For example, 2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

This promise is clearly conditional with the “if—then” stipulation. God will do what He said if we will do what He said.

A promise with a condition (that is often missed) is Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

The condition here is that we must be in Christ Jesus. To claim God will supply every need, a person must be a believer in Christ. A believer is a person living for Jesus, in total submission to His will, and in obedience to His Word. He is in Christ and Christ is in Him. God will fulfill His promise to the believer in Christ Jesus.

Another example is Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The condition to this promise is that an intimate relationship with the LORD must exist before the He gives the desires of your heart. The person must be captivated and delighted in his relationship with the LORD. The irony of this promise is that the one who delights himself in the LORD, desires the LORD, not the things of this world. The promise is fulfilled because the LORD gives Himself to the one who delights in Him. With his focus on the LORD, the believer is also delighted to discover the LORD also gives him things he needs and special gifts he didn’t expect that also delight his heart.

b. Unconditional Promises. Unconditional promises require nothing from man. God will fulfill these promises because He has pledged to fulfill them. Nothing anyone does, good nor bad, can alter God’s promise nor change His plans. He will keep these promises, not because of anything we do, but because of His own faithfulness.

For example, Genesis 9:11 “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

In spite of God’s perfect track record of keeping His promises, the enemy will still whisper doubt to our minds. When that happens, rebuke the enemy and trust God and His Word, for we have this promise:

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The word “yes” in Greek means certain and true. “Amen” is Hebrew and means “so be it” or “it’s already done.” We can be sure that God’s promises will be fulfilled unto us in Christ because He has given us His Spirit as a guarantee. He abides in us and therefore we can rest in Him and His promises.

For example, all of God’s promises of peace, joy, goodness, forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, fellowship, hope, glorification, and Heaven are made possible and fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ. We know the promises apply to us by the assurance the Holy Spirit gives us and because He abides in us.

In 1994, a 67-year-old carpenter named Russell Herman died in Marion, Illinois. In his last will and testament he bequeathed the following:

• $2.4 billion to the town of Cave-In-Rock

• $2.4 billion to the city of East St. Louis

• $1.5 billion for projects in southeastern Illinois

And in a final act of unprecedented generosity, he left $6 trillion to the Federal Reserve to help pay off the national debt. There was only one problem: at the time of his death, the only thing Mr. Herman owned was a 1983 Olds Toronado.

Russell Herman may not have left behind anything of monetary value, but he did leave us all with a good reminder: you can’t give away what you don’t possess.

Mr. Herman did not have the resources to make any of his promises a reality. Not so with God. He has all the means to make good on all His promises. In a world of broken promises, God can be counted on.

However, we can’t pick and choose from among God’s promises. We can’t say, “I will claim that promise”, nor can we say, “I won’t claim that one”. We must be willing to accept all of God’s promises, not just the ones we like.

Hear Jesus’ words in John 16:33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The promise is “in the world, you will have tribulation”. You may not like this promise, but you must accept that Jesus has promised it will occur. However, in His love for you, Jesus has foretold you what to expect and encouraged you to have peace in Him, for He has overcome the world.

God’s promises must be appropriated and applied by faith. If they are conditional, the condition must be met before God fulfills it.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Our natural instinct is to be proud and self-reliant. To humble oneself is not easy nor fun; however, it is the condition we must appropriate before God will exalt us.

Hebrews 11:6-7 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

God rewards those who believe He exists and obey Him. Noah is an example of one who hears God’s promises and commands and acts on them.

Charles Spurgeon once said: “Do not treat God’s promises as if they were curiosities for a museum; but believe them and use them.”

When we talk about God’s promises, it’s worth noting that God is not like FedEx. He doesn’t always deliver what we want the same day. It took Noah 100 years of obedience in preaching and building the ark before God fulfilled His promise to destroy all living things. We can have confidence in God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises, but He is not always as quick to fulfill them as we might like. He operates on His own schedule, and for that, we should be grateful. He is patient with us.

2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

As humans, we should be very cautious about making promises and vows, because we cannot make anything happen if God doesn’t want it to happen. If you think about it, we really can’t promise anything because we cannot over-ride God’s will. Therefore, it is best if we don’t make any promises.

James 4:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

That almost makes the saying, “If the Lord wills and the creek doesn’t rise,” sound biblical. Well, it makes the point that while we intend to do something, we cannot promise it because we are not in control. God is.

On the other hand, God can make all the promises He wants to. There is no one who is powerful enough to interfere with God’s plan.

Therefore, when you read a promise from God in the Bible, ask Him how to apply it to your life. But, make sure you are prepared to receive God’s promises.

Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

God does not reward sin. The only prayer He will listen to, from one who cherishes a sin, is one of repentance. Cherishing a sin negates all of God’s conditional promises to us. That is why our Father continually prunes the sin from our life. He wants us to enjoy His promises.

1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace that will be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, “Be holy, because I am holy.”

To prepare our minds for action, we cannot rely on our own talents or strength. We must rely on the grace of God given to us by the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus Christ promised to those who believe. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control and He renews our minds to think like God instead of our flesh.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

How do we receive that power?

Acts 2:38-39 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, for whom the Lord will call.”

These promises are general promises for all believers, but they are conditional. If you want to receive what God promised, do what He says.

Many believers say, “I was baptized; therefore, I have the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and all of God’s promises”. However, they have ignored the first condition, which is a continuous condition, “repent”. Without meeting all the conditions for the promises, we don’t receive God’s promises, including the Holy Spirit. If we have the Holy Spirit, then He will continually tell us to “repent and follow Jesus”. If we are walking in sin, we are not walking by the Holy Spirit, neither are we following Jesus, nor enjoying fellowship with Him. We are in darkness instead of His light. We cannot do both at the same time. Repentance is denying self and walking by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

To be clear, salvation has nothing to do with our promises to God, but rather with His promises to us. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” We don’t have to worry if He will make good on what He has promised. We just need to concern ourselves with meeting His conditions. The Father has guaranteed that we will inherit all that He has promised if we have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and we follow Him.

1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

So, if you want to receive God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life, then confess your faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Repent of your sin and be baptized in His Name. Your sin will be forgiven and you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will abide in you and empower you to follow Jesus. That is God’s promise.