Understanding the Promises of God (2 Peter 1:4)

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Often times people can get so disappointed with God because of all the promises that God has given to us in the scriptures and we expect God to answer all of our prayers according to our timeline and in the method of our choosing. Question yourself at this point, Is it really God who is letting you down or are your expectations on the promise of God, and what you want God to do for you that is letting you down?

In this study let us explore and gain a right understanding of the promises of God by re-focusing our minds and our thoughts to our true treasure Jesus Christ. When He becomes bigger than our problems and when seeking Christ and doing His will becomes our hearts true desire, then everything else will fall in its rightful place. To do this we will look into scriptures and see the blessings that a Christian enjoys when following the teachings of the Bible.

John Cuthrie a Scottish Pastor and writer once said very beautifully:

“The Bible is an armory of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth. It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, and a balm for every wound. Rob us of our Bible and our sky has lost its sun.”

So, let us look at three points that will further clarify this. We will begin by first looking at Conditional and Unconditional promises, then looking at the promises of good with the right perspective (being all things done ultimately for the glory of God) and finally learning to stand on God’s promises despite our circumstances.

1. ‘Conditional’ and ‘Unconditional’ Promises
First and foremost we must understand that Gods promises can be divided into two sections. His promises are both ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’. Thank God His love to us is unconditional. We can glorify God that our salvation doesn’t depend on anything we do, but it is purely and strictly by grace alone through faith. It is a gift of God.

Some of these unconditional promises in scripture relate to the redemption plan in Christ. Let us look at a few scriptures:

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

Ephesians 1:4, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,” and in v11 saying “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”

John 1:12-13 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Although there are unconditional promises and covenants throughout scripture; for the purpose of our study today we will focus on the conditional promises of God which consists of promises given to us as children of God. Are we willing to meet His conditions?

2 Peter 1: 4 says “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

By reading this verse we can first and foremost see that God already granted us His precious and very great promises, and then we hit the condition – “so that“; the condition being that through these great promises we may become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption and sinful desires of the world. This is part of the sanctification process in our lives after we are saved. As and when we fulfill the conditional part of God’s promises, we will see Him move through us like never before – in purity, power and unity. So, the purpose of the promises of God in our life is to first and foremost to change us and renew us that we may become more like Jesus Christ. More like the person God wants us to be and while we do that, we escape the corruption in the world and those sinful desires no longer have power over us. This is the goal of the promises of God and that is why some promises in the Bible are conditional so that it will lead you to become a partaker in the divine nature of Christ.

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of using select scriptures to teach that when we give our lives to our Lord Jesus Christ then, God is obligated to fulfill His promises of wealth, health and well-being. The problem with this kind of thinking is that God is reduced to little more than a genie-in-a-bottle, granting wishes out of sheer compulsion.

The fact is, the Bible is full of promises, but let us look at some examples where we can see the conditional promises given to us in order that we may partake of the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world due to sinful desire.

In John 14:16 it says “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it”. The conditions of this can be seen in other scriptures such as in 1 John 3:22 saying “and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” – It is when we keep his commandments and do what pleases Him, then we receive whatever we ask; as the things we now ask will be in alignment to His will.

Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (also refer to 1 John 3:22 – your asking will be in accordance to Gods will because you keep His commandments.) – have faith in God, trust Him completely in your situation.

Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – the, ‘all’ these things are in verses 25-32 of the same chapter and talks about Gods provision for your life. The condition that makes the promise possible is to put God first in your life and seek the things that will glorify God in your lives THEN these things shall be added to you.

James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow due to change” God is not going to give you something or a gift that is not good for you!!

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
God promises to give us the desires of our heart but they are conditional. It is conditional upon us delighting in Him and in His character. This in turn will ensure that our desires will be a reflection of Who He is and God will then delight in giving us the desires of our heart.

Ephesians 6:2 “Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise) that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Young people don’t have too much that is going well with them at the moment. Many times it can be traced back to the violation of this conditional promise.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” God has promised to guide us and direct us, but that guidance is conditional upon us acknowledging Him in all our ways

2. God’s Work In Us for His Ultimate Glory
Often times when we talk about the promises of God we come with a preconceived idea that God is to fulfill His promises according to how we determine it to be. We need to change our way of thinking into a biblical perspective. We need to understand that if we are going through a problem, then God has His reasons for it and it will be turned ultimately for His Glory. Romans 8:27-28 says “And he who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Now that we have an understanding of the work of God in our lives, through the Holy Spirit who is always interceding for us – according to the will of God, let us align ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit seeking the will of God in our lives and NOT our own will or for our own purposes. Amen. The promise of the word is that when we do this, then we know for certain that we love God, desire to please Him and do His will; and then all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Let us look at some ways God uses adversity and problems in our lives for His purpose:

1 – God uses problems to examine us. When we go through problems, this is truly the time when it becomes raw for us and those things that are deep in our hearts and not of God begins to rear its head. The true intents and desires of our heart begin to manifest itself. When God has tested your faith with a problem, how do you respond? This is often a clear indication of the condition of your heart. The thoughts that you think in the midst of your troubles or sickness will reveal a lot about your walk and stand with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time to ask yourself the question: Is my will and desire ruling over me or is Christ the true Lord of my life?

James 1:2-4 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

2 – God uses problems to lead you in the right direction. Sometimes God needs to wake us up in order to get our attention. This is truly an act of grace and mercy on the part of God. Before we keep walking down the wrong path that leads to an even greater disappointment and ruin, God intervenes. We need to have complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ knowing that he is there leading us and protecting us. He will begin to work in the midst of your trials and will ensure you start moving in the right direction. If He did not do this, it means that He really doesn’t love you. Just as an earthly parent would discipline you out of their love for you, in like manner that problems that come our way will point us in the right direction if we surrender our will over to His. His love is there to motivate us and change us into the plan that was laid out before the foundation of the world. Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.

Proverbs 20:30 says “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.”

3 – God uses problems to discipline you. Sometimes the only way we will learn lessons in life is only by suffering and failure. We often hear of success stories which were a result of multiple failures and suffering. If we continue on the analogy of a parent and child, it is like a parent telling their child not to touch a hot stove. When a child disobeys this command and touches the hot stove, they get burnt. They learn from this experience and will now think twice before touching a hot stove. As our heavenly Father, God loves us so much that He will use the discipline that is required to bring us close to Him, because it is in Him the true treasure lies, it is in Him there is blessing and peace.

His amazing love for us is not just words spoken, but was put on display by the sacrifice of His own Son Jesus Christ and the pain that our Lord and God went through so that we could have life eternal in Him. Pain is a part of life and we can expect it in order that we learn from it. Most of us only learn the value of something, such as health, money or relationships only by losing them.

Psalm 119:71-72 “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

4 – God uses problems to shield you from greater harm. In other words, problems can be a blessing in disguise because they can prevent you from being harmed by something more severe. An example from our everyday life could be, if you have a very important meeting to attend and you find out that morning your car doesn’t start, delaying you and making you late for a very important meeting. You then find out that if you had left home in your car at the intended time, you could have been in a serious car crash that cost your life. Being late for an important meeting is far better than dying in a car crash. In the Bible we read of a similar type of event in Josephs life. We may think that Joseph suffered needlessly from our perspective, but God took him through those trials and protected him turning the whole situation into incredible good. We finally read the conclusion in Genesis 50:20 saying “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

5 – God uses problems to refine and improve you. Problems can be a great way to build character in us. God is far more interested in our character than our comfort. The main point to remember is that God is at work in your life even when you cannot see Him. We may go through trials and suffering because of the sin problem in our lives and in the world. We will grow and change best, for His glory by recognizing and confessing our sin. It is when we do this that we learn, mature and our character is built up from these experiences.

This is why it says in Romans 5:3-5 saying “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

When you co-operate and allow God’s love to rule in your life, and surrender your fears, desires and pain to Him, then you will truly be content, have joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

3. Learn to Stand On God’s Promises Despite Our Circumstances
The foundation of our faith in God is the based on the absolute trustworthiness of God’s promises given to us in the word of God. Promises to protect us and to keep us safe even in the midst of adversity and suffering. Note I did not say you will be free from adversity and suffering, but God is faithful even in the “midst” of adversity and suffering. This is why the word of God is such a treasure to us, it is our daily bread, our daily manna. Psalm 12:6 says “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”

As children of God Almighty, we need to be able to stand on the promises of God’s word, despite the circumstances in which we are surrounded by. As mentioned earlier, the promise of God is the foundation of our faith. Faith admits Gods truthfulness in all things and faith properly begins with the promises of God, on which it stands and which it ends. Whenever you say you have faith in God, you are really saying that you have faith in the promises of God and what He has declared. All of the promises of God rests on Christ and it is in Christ alone that it finds its fulfillment. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says “For all the promises of God find their yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God.”

1 – Faith in Gods promises sometimes falters
Often times when we are going through a time of trouble and suffering, our strong faith in the promises of God is often overshadowed by doubt. When you don’t see answers the way you want to, you begin to question God’s provision and questioning your value in God’s kingdom. You might even question Gods love for you. This is the natural human response when you are walking through a period of suffering or trouble. A perfect example of this is King David from scriptures. When we read through the Psalms we identify that often times Davids mind was far from peace and we can see this through his complaints. Psalm 31:22 says “I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” And again in Psalm 77:9 “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

We often react the very same way as David did, but the sustaining power in our relationship with the Lord must be our “faith”. Our faith in the person of Christ, that He is God and He is able to do all that He has promised. That He is ultimately good in all that He does. This is why you see David finally concluding that it must be our faith and hope in God. In Psalm 42:5 he says “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”, then David says, in faith “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Again from our previous reading of Psalm 31:22 where David says “I am cut off from your sight”, now concluding in the very same verse “But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried for your help.” Again in Psalm 27:4 says it beautifully “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”. Twice it says “wait”. Be patient and conform to the perfect timing of God.

Only the person who knows the promises of God can truly make this type of conclusion. A person who has faith in the promises of God. Faith often fails in times of suffering from a sickness or a trouble that you are going through. Consequently we are so overcome by the situation due to fear we lack the courage required and are afraid to take the situation head on. You see, what we need to understand is that those who are Godly – the children of God, are frequently faced with situations which require us to subdue our desires of the heart and to fight distrust in ourselves. James 1:2-3 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” when you read verse 4, it shows you the results of this steadfastness, saying in v4 “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

What we see here is that during this time of trouble and suffering we are often discouraged leading to grumbling, complaining and worrying. The answer to overcome this is by faith and just as we see David’s response in these situation, always remember to “hope in God” and “wait for the Lord”, and why do we do this, because the promises of God are true.

2 – Gods word and His promises are solid and sure
Why can we claim that the promises of God are solid and sure? Firstly I think we need to remind ourselves that God is the number one promise keeper. Amen! His words never change nor his promises never fail. When we read Psalm 119, we can very quickly see that there are three essential, irreducible characteristics we should believe about God’s word.

Firstly it is that; God’s word says what is true. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:42 “…I trust in your word.”, and again in v142 saying “…your law is true.” Whenever we are told things in the world, we cannot fully trust that it is true, may it be the internet, the news paper, politicians, not even the statistics that are provided to us, nor our families, friends, teachers etc. They can all deceive us, sometimes even what your body tells you can be deceiving. Your eyes could deceive you, sometimes you think you saw something that wasn’t really there BUT the word of God is entirely true and always true. Psalm 119 continues to proclaim, v89 saying “,your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” It does not change. v160 then says “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endure forever.”; they never get old and never wear out. Praise God.

Secondly, His words demand what is right. The Psalmist gladly acknowledges God’s right to issue commands and humbly accept that all His commands are right. Psalm 119:75 says “I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,” and in v86 “All your commandments are sure;”, and again in v128 “Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;” We need to love what God loves and delight in whatever He says. Understand today that God does not lay down arbitrary rules. His demands are always noble, always just and always righteous.

Thirdly, His word provides what is good:
– The word of God is the way to happiness Psalms 119:1-2 says “Blessed are those whose way is blameless who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with all their heart,”
– It is the way to avoid shame, v6 says “Then I shall not be put to shame”
– It is the way of safety, v9 says “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
– It is the way of good counsel, v24 “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors”
– The word strengthens us, v28 says “…strengthen me according to your word!”
– It gives us hope, v43 says “…for my hope is in your rules”
– It provides wisdom, v130 says “it imparts understanding to the simple.”
– It shows us the way we should go, v105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

As we are the children of God, we believe that the word of God can be fully trusted in every way, to speak what is true, command what is right and to provide us what is good. Amen!!

3. We must rest on the promises of God
People who do not have a hope in the Lord Jesus Christ or those that do not know and understand the word of God, do not have peace in their lives. Their minds and hearts do not have rest because they are relying on their own strength and not resting on the promises of God. When we rest on the promise of God – then there is a peace that passes all understanding. In order to rest on the promise of God, you must know His promises and meditate on the living word of God. A great example of this is David, when he was being pursued by Saul, he penned Psalm 11. Here when David was advised to flee to the mountains and hide, David responded in Psalm 11:1 saying “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to the mountain,”. This shows us that no matter how much the world may hate us or persecute us, or are unfair to us, we must stay steadfast on the promises of God.

This is the same in your sickness or when you are close to death. Another Psalmist says in Psalm 119:107 saying “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” Often times when we are at the beginning of trials, troubles or sickness in our life, we may call upon the Lord with great promptness and with all of our hearts crying out to him. Yet when these trials increases in severity as it often does, our hearts begin to fail and fear sets in. Notice here that the Psalmist, although very close to death, is still calling upon God, still confident in God to keep His promises, even at the point of death. This is how we ought to be to be sure that God is able to keep His promises, and even if it does not turn out the way that you want it to; to be one who is confident in the will of the Father and that God knows best for your life. Amen.

This is beautifully summarized in Habakkuk 3:17-18 saying “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herds in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Just like Habakkuk may our joy be found in God despite the circumstances around us. When you trust in the promises of God, the evidence of that trust is the joy in the midst of our circumstance. When we have this kind of joy by trusting in the promises of God, it is a faith that overcomes all fears, terrors, sorrows and anxieties. Now consider all the promises of “eternity” given to us in the word of God – what a joy this evokes in the life of a believer. Amen.

4. Fulfillment of Gods promises is sometimes differed
Often times when we are in the midst of suffering affliction and in the midst of trials we begin to become impatient and agitated if our prayers for restoration and deliverance is not answered speedily. When this happens and we do not see immediate deliverance we start to look elsewhere for relief. Psalm 13:1-2 says “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

We need to clearly understand that God does not promise us a timetable for his promises. When suffering goes on and on we become impatient. But let us remind ourselves that regardless of the situation you are in and surrounded by, if we are truly satisfied in the enjoyment of God alone, he will give us the desires of our heart. This is because your joy is now in alignment with the will of God. That is why Psalm37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Notice again, the first step is to delight in the Lord and when you do this, He will give you the desires of your heart.

Finally we also need to take note of a very important fact. In Psalm 37:9 it says “For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait on the LORD shall inherit the land.” This vitally important point to remember is that promises are not always realized in this side of eternity, because it is God’s will that we are living on this earth as strangers and sojourners and life is not going to be easy due to the fallen nature of this world. In the midst of this, let us desire the everlasting dwelling place of heaven which is truly our eternal home. We often try and make for ourselves a permanent home here and if we truly get too comfortable with everything around us then there would be no real desire for a far better heavenly dwelling place. Remember that in the midst of all of our troubles, God is still faithful, kind, good and able to deliver according to His will.

God Bless.

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