By Roland W. Keith
Sometime after Moses had returned from the mountain with the ten commandments (for the second time), he spoke to the people concerning the need for them to trust in the Lord and to obey His commandments as they prepared to enter the promised land. During his admonition to the people he told them, “For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all His ways, and holding fast to Him, then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you” (Deuteronomy 11:22-23). The promises God had made to the Israelite's were great indeed, and by this point they had already witnessed the fulfillment of many of those promises firsthand— promises kept with a mighty hand done with signs and wonders and power beyond that of mortal man. Still, they were a headstrong people and, in the end, that generation was denied entry into the land of promise. Why?
To answer that question, we will first look at a few more verses from both the Old and New Testaments. The LORD told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). Addressing Judah’s disobedience God told them, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:18-20). In John 3:36 those of us who live under the new covenant are told this: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” In Hebrews 5:9 we are told, “And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” And again, in Romans 2:6-8 we read: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
God has given us a simple formula or pattern to follow: Submit to His will and receive the promises He has made to all who will come to Him in obedience to His Commands, or be disobedient and not only will you be denied His good promises, you will find yourself suffering the wrath of a just God. As our Creator and the Sovereign of the created universe and all the heavens beyond God has the inalienable right to make and uphold that demand. In fact, as a holy and just God He cannot act in opposition to His Own perfect nature. If that sounds like I am imposing a restriction on God’s power I am not— that which is truly perfect cannot be other than what it is because it is all good things, in thought and action and possibilities to an infinite degree, it is by definition GOD. Such a being cannot be wrong, or he would indeed be limited and therefore no god at all. Therefore, when God makes a demand of us, we can be assured, whether we wholly understand it or not, that it is a just condition or requirement that is ultimately for our own benefit.
With our inability to comprehend all that God does, it is interesting to see, in-so-far as we can understand, the dynamics of God’s love for His creation at work in the Holy Scriptures. Among His creation in this universe He created one being in His own image— which required Him to give that being free will. That being abused his free will and rebelled against his Creator— an act which requires justice at the hands of his Creator. Yet the Creator loves this rebellious creature so much that He determined to devise a plan that will allow the creature (man) to escape his due punishment, while at the same time meeting the Creator’s requirement for justice. The answer? God Himself (specifically, the second member of the Godhead) would receive the punishment for all of mankind, so long as the offending members of mankind who are willing to come to Him in repentance and sincerely (albeit imperfectly at times) live in obedience to His commands. Not only can man escape punishment he can be accepted into the Lord’s kingdom as a fellow heir of eternal life— an eternity wherein he will be in the presence of his Creator forever.
Those who accept God’s call are not merely heirs, but become children in the house of God, as Paul explained in his letter to the Galatians: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (3:25-29). This opportunity— this great gift— is offered to all men by the grace of God. Our part is to accept it in faith and live in obedience to God’s word. This faith is more than just believing there is a God. It is belief in action, whereby the believer actively seeks the God he believes in, trusting in His promises, and drawing near to Him in hope and submission, as Paul noted: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… 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…” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).
The truly faithful man or woman learns to trust God in all things (Matthew 6:31-34; Mark 11:22-25), and to approach Him without doubt (James 1:5-8; Hebrews 4:16). The one who turns away from sin and seeks to be a part of God’s kingdom in all earnestness will seek out God’s family to become a member of the household of saints supporting one another, as Paul wrote: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:23-26).
A true believer knows that God is able to accomplish all that He has promised. However, he also knows that God will not reward those who separate themselves from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). The faithful Christian is confident in his life, even when times are tough, because he knows God sees and hears him and will strengthen him in times of need and will meet all requests that are asked according to His will (I John 5:14-15). He also knows that faith requires patience and dedication to the work, trusting that God will reward the diligent and steadfast servant (Hebrews: 6:10-12). As Paul wrote: “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming One will come and will not delay; but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:35-39).
Do you want to receive the promises of God? Then repent of your sins and come to Him in humble obedience. And once you have become a member of His kingdom never look back to the world you left behind in longing. Instead, take Peter’s advice and continually develop, add to, and hone your understanding of God’s word and the characteristics of a faithful saint: “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 this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 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 1:3-11).
Any one of us can be assured of God’s promises. How to receive them is no mystery, as we have seen. It only requires us to have a believing heart that looks to God and desires to please Him by doing His will. However, it is important to understand that faith does not free us from temptation or the hardships of life, rather it brings us into the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ, broadens our avenue of prayer, and leads us into a relationship with God and His living word which arms us and gives us the strength to endure knowing the reward that awaits us when our brief sojourn on this earth comes to an end.
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.