by Roland W. Keith
As Christians we possess greater treasures than all other people on the earth. Have you ever considered that? Others may have mansions or palaces, private planes, and multi-million dollar yachts but we have something greater— a heavenly bounty that will not rust or perish or be taken away, which includes salvation and an eternal home with God (Matthew 6:19-21). Along with these heavenly glories are spiritual gifts we begin to receive here on earth as His children. The gift of His word, of prayer, and of fellowship in His body, the church, and all that comes with these things.
Promises, promises. How often have you been given a promise only to be left empty-handed and disappointed? A promise from a parent or spouse, a boss or a friend. People often let us down (and let’s be honest, we have let someone else down a time or two ourselves). Just because someone gives us their word or “swears to it” is no surety. Humans are, well, human after all. We make mistakes, including overstating what we can deliver on. Or, we speak without properly appraising our ability to deliver. Whatever the reason people don’t always come through. But God does.
In speaking of the faith of Abraham Paul noted, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself… So, when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us (Hebrews 6:13, 17-18).
God’s promises are guaranteed by One Who cannot lie (nor fail)— God Himself. In another statement about Abraham (Romans 4:20-21), Paul also made note that the father of many nations never wavered in his faith, being fully convinced that God would deliver. It took patience on his part (Hebrews 6:15), but he obtained the promise. A lesson for those of us today who live in a fast-paced world, with on demand expectations (remember when it used to take forever for a computer to load something? Today if we have to wait ten seconds we’re drumming our fingers in frustration). Peter also counseled patience: “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” (II Peter 3:9).
Patience means more than just waiting, however. It means persevering, trusting that God will ultimately enable us to achieve the goal. James observed: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:12-17).
God’s gifts do not come without testing and obedience. As Peter was sifted (Luke 22:31), each of us will face trials. And, when those trials come each of us must choose the path that we will take. If we choose obedience to God we will be set free from sin (Romans 6:17-18), however, if we make the wrong choice we will find ourselves slipping back into the world becoming enslaved to sin once again, endangering our souls (Galatians 6:7-9; II Peter 2:20; John 8:34). Therefore, if we fail a test not only should we pray for strengthening, we should also seek the prayers of others to help us regain our spiritual focus and strength (James 5:16; Matthew 26:41; Luke 18:1; Acts 8:24; II Corinthians 13:7, 9).
If we trust in God, especially during testing, we will not fail. As Paul wrote, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:14-17).
In his second letter Peter offered these assurances to those who were struggling with their faith and commitment: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, 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 the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire… For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Peter 1:3-5, 16).
Peter’s certainty was based on what he witnessed in the Son of God. And, he is telling his readers that his testimony is trustworthy. These promises that he and the other inspired writers revealed are based on God’s love for mankind. Our adoption as God's children, what He does for us in this life, and what awaits us, including what we shall become in the next life are extended to us through a father’s love.
Promises born of love have a unique nature. They always have the best interest of the recipient at heart. Every parent knows that. Even discipline carries with it the promise that you are doing it for their benefit, their growth and betterment. God will allow us to be tested, and He may on occasion have to discipline us, but it is for our eternal welfare (Hebrews 12:6, 10). In the end He wants His children to be all He hoped for them, and to that end He sacrificed much.
In his first letter Peter spoke at length about God’s relationship with His children, and His desire for them:
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
“And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (I Peter 1:13-25).
The good news is Christ crucified— and resurrected! We have been reconciled to the Father through the blood of His Son. A reconciliation that comes with a promise awaited at the end of the age, as Peter stated, “But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (II Peter 3:13-14).
With all the promises of heaven in mind let us also consider these further words from Peter, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:10-11).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.