“But Mom (or Dad), you promised!” Sound familiar? I’m sure you said it more than once when you were a kid, I know I did. Kids might forget almost anything you tell them but when it’s something they want and then are told, “Not now, but later, I promise,” it now becomes something they will never forget or stop reminding you of. Promises are something we almost instinctively know from childhood to be serious and not to be made flippantly or casually. As for adults making promises to other adults, that’s a whole other matter. There was a day, I’ve been told, that a promise was a serious matter and to break it meant a loss of face or reputation. Today the prevailing attitude on the subject of keeping a promise usually comes with a caveat such as, “unless of course” or “well that changes everything” or my favorite “I’ve changed my mind.” Thankfully, God adheres to old adage, “a promise is a promise.”
A promise by definition is synonymous with a pledge or vow, a commitment or agreement to follow through and fulfill a specific expectation. Once made it is to be regarded as a firm and becomes the basis upon which future commitments and actions can be planned. The uniqueness of God’s promises is that they are unchanging, unambiguous, and anchored in His will and His plan for our lives. The “gospel” of Christ or “good news” is the most important promise God has made and is central to all the other promises recorded for us in the Word of God. Yet the promise of salvation is inextricably linked to another promise that often is overlooked.
John 3:16, a verse most every believer is familiar with states, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There are actually two promises in this verse; the first of course is that eternal life is ours if we trust in Christ for our salvation, a promise born out of God’s love for us. The second is emphasized, along with the first in verse 18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned.” Jesus came into this world to save men not to condemn them to death (v.17), but He also promises that if we don’t accept His free gift of salvation, our fate is already determined, which is spiritual death, the eternal separation from the Father. The choice is between eternal light and darkness (vs. 19, 20); eternal life or eternal death. To simply ignore God’s promise of life eternal is no choice at all since by our total depravity, as compared to God’s perfect righteousness, we are already condemned to eternal death. In a very real sense the “good news” has a bad news component, like two sides of the same coin, for those who choose to ignore and ultimately reject the effectual call of Christ; their fate is sure, as promised. This is the central promise of the New Testament and is the fulfillment of the central promise of the Old, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God (Exodus 6:7).”
In a very real and practical sense, the promises of God are of infinite value in our daily life. They allow us to plan each and every day with the knowledge and confidence that He, by His very nature, will not break any of His promises and as such any commitment we might make in His name, that is in accord with His will, will surely come to pass. This is what is meant by living our faith. When we seek God’s hope, God’s help or God’s healing we can know, for sure, that He hears us and will answer. It may not always be what we expect or want, but His answer will be made clear to us through the Holy Spirit, who lives in us to be our Counselor and guide (John 16:8-15).
In John, chapter 16, after Jesus finished telling His disciples the good news regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit and His purposes, the disciples finally understood His promises and they said, “This makes us believe that you came from God (v.30).” Jesus exclaimed with enthusiasm saying, “You believe at last! I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (vs. 31-33).”
Tool #294 Do you remember your vow…your promise to each other? “From this day forward, until death do you part.” Your promise is to be lived daily, as evidence to your faith in Christ.