God does not make promises and then change His mind. Every promise of God in the Bible that fits my situation and fills my need is for me NOW-and there are over eight thousand of them! But many of these promises are conditional-we have no right to the promise until we meet God's conditions.
It’s good to be with you again, sharing with you some of the Keys to Successful Living that God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
Yesterday we looked together at the picture of Israel entering the inheritance which God had promised them under their leader Joshua. We saw that this provides a wonderful pattern for us as Christians entering our inheritance in Christ. I explained that there’s a very simple, illuminating parallel between the two Testaments. The Joshua in Hebrew is the same in form as the name Jesus (Yehoshue, Yeshua). And so we have this parable. In the Old Testament, under a leader named Joshua, God led His people into a promised land. In the New Testament, under a leader named Jesus, God leads His people into a land of promises.
Today I’ll be unfolding to you the full extent of our inheritance which is no less than all the promises of God. The key verse that unfolds this to us is found in 2 Corinthians 1:20. Make a note of that verse, 2 Corinthians 1:20. It has so much to tell us. Now there are various different ways of translating this verse because the original language in the Greek of the New Testament is so condensed that it’s hard to translate it. I’ll read to you two translations. First of all, the King James Version which is very beautiful, which says this:
“For all the promises of God in him [that’s Jesus Christ] are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (KJV)
Now I’ll read the New International Version which is also a very powerful translation of this particular verse:
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (NIV)
Let me read that last passage again. “And so through him [that’s Jesus], the Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” Whichever translation we follow, and both of them are good, there are certain very important points that emerge, and I’ll just simply explain them to you. First of all, it’s all the promises. All God’s promises are available to us. Not some of them, but all of them. The inheritance is all the promises of God.
Secondly, it’s in the present tense. All the promises of God are YES and AMEN. It’s not in the past. It’s not in the future. Some people have an unfortunate way of interpreting the Scripture that robs us in this present age of practically everything that’s worth having. Miracles were for the past. Prosperity’s for the millennium. In the meanwhile, we’re just left hanging on to a bare crust that just barely sustains life. That’s not what this Scripture says. It doesn’t say they were. It doesn’t say they will be. It says they are now. This is our inheritance right now. It’s all the promises of God. And then it says they are yes, in Christ.
I’ve pointed out earlier this week there is only one source, that’s God. There is only one channel, that’s Jesus. There is no other way that these things can come to us but from God, through Jesus. They are yes. That’s very emphatic! God doesn’t make promises and then change His mind. He doesn’t say, “I’ll do this” and then, when you go to Him for it, He says, “Well, as a matter of fact, I’m not sure I will do it after all.” But this is one of the most emphatic and positive verses in the whole Bible. All the promises are yes. Just a plain, simple, clear, emphatic yes. God says, “I promised it and I meant it, and I’ll stand behind what I promised.”
However, we have to add something to God’s “Yes.” The New International Version that I read says, “through him [Jesus] the Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” I think this is a vivid picture. You find the promise. You say, “God, did you mean this?” And God says, “Yes, I meant it.” It’s yes, but in order to appropriate it we have to respond to God’s “yes” by our “amen.” You know, of course, the word “Amen” means “so let it be,” “be it established.” So when God says yes, we appropriate it by our “Amen.” It’s our “Amen” that makes the promise ours at that given moment, in that given situation.
Now the next exciting statement is that all this is “by us.” Oh, how glad I am for those two words, each of two letters: “by us.” “Us” means you and me. It means people just like ourselves. It doesn’t say, “by the apostles” or “by great preachers” or “by evangelists” or “by missionaries” or “by great saints in the past,” but it says, “by us.” All God’s promises are available to us, to people like you and me, here and now.
Then, the other point we need to see is that they are “to the glory of God.” The ultimate purpose of existence is to glorify God and God has so arranged the promises He’s given us that every time we appropriate those promises in faith, we glorify God. The more we appropriate God’s promises, the more we glorify Him! You see really, there are two alternatives before us: Unbelief, that robs God of His glory; or faith, that gives God the glory due to Him. Romans 3:23, a familiar verse, says:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (KJV)
The essential nature of sin is it’s robbing God of the glory that’s due to Him. On the other hand, in Romans 4 we have the pattern of Abraham who is set forth before us as the father or the leader of all who believe. And this is what Paul says in Romans 4:20-21 about Abraham:
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (NIV)
Notice Abraham’s conviction, that if God promised anything, He had the power to do it. He didn’t waver. He just responded to God’s “Yes” with his “Amen” and in that way he gave glory to God. So, claiming the promises of God in unwavering faith gives God the glory that is due to Him. But unbelief robs God of the glory that is due to Him.
Now, someone calculated that there are about 8,000 promises of God in the Bible and they’re all available to us when we need them, but we don’t need them all at any given moment. At any given moment we need to put our foot on one particular promise that represents God’s provision for our need in that given situation. So the way I sum up 2 Corinthians 1:20 is this: “Every promise that fits my situation and meets my need is for me now.” Let me say that once more: “Every promise that fits my situation and meets my need is for me now.” And remember the ultimate objective is the glory of God. They’re all for the glory of God.
Now I want to point out an important thing that many Christians overlook. Most of God’s promises are conditional! In other words, in most cases, but not in all cases, when God gives a promise He says to His people, “If you will do soandso, then I will do soandso.” But we have no right to claim the promise unless we first meet the condition.
A good example of this is the promises of blessings that I was dealing with last week. I found in Deuteronomy 28 the whole list of blessings, but we need to bear in mind that the condition stated first of all is: “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God.” So, if we do not diligently listen to the voice of the Lord, we have no scriptural right to claim those blessings. We have to fulfill God’s conditions.
Then the next thing we need to see, and this is also very important, is that the fulfillment of God’s promises does not depend upon our circumstances, but upon our fulfilling God’s conditions. In other words, we have to keep our eyes on the conditions, make sure that we fulfill them. We do not have to be influenced by the circumstances. What often happens to God’s people is that a believer finds a promise which he needs and he begins to claim it and then he looks at his circumstances and he finds that his circumstances are totally unfavorable. And so he more or less concludes, “Well, it’s true. God made that promise, but this is not the situation in which God can fulfill that promise.” Now, that’s totally wrong. That’s where many of us lose our inheritance.
We can go back again for a moment to the example of Abraham. God had promised Abraham a son of his own body who was to be his heir. He reached the age of 99 and no son had come. He tried on his own and all he’d produced was Ishmael, who was not to be the heir. Why did God allow Abraham to get to the age of 99 before He fulfilled His promise? Why does God often allow us to come to a position of seeming impossibility before He comes out and fulfills the promises we are claiming? I believe there are two practical reasons. Of course, there may be many more. But first of all, we are emptied of selfconfidence. We come to the point where we know that if it’s going to be done, God is going to be the one that does it. That’s where Abraham came to. He knew his own body was, from the view of procreation, dead. He knew that Sarah’s womb was dead. He knew that there was no natural possibility any longer for the promise to be fulfilled. Therefore, he had to focus his eyes solely and exclusively on God. There was no one who could do it but God.
The second reason, I believe, is that when this happens all the glory goes to God. And remember, that’s the purpose of the promises, that God may be glorified. When there’s a possibility that we can do it by our own effort, then we may take some of the credit for it, but when we come to the place where we know we cannot do it by our own effort, we’re exhausted of selfconfidence, then the glory truly goes to God.
Well our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week we’ll actually start walking together through the land of God’s promises. I’ll consider various specific needs or problems that commonly arise in our lives, and I’ll show you how to locate and appropriate the promises of God that are suited to that particular situation.
Stay tuned now for some important announcements. In particular, how you may obtain a copy of my book, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This book explains what is meant by “the promise of the Spirit.” It shows you how to appropriate the help and power of the Holy Spirit in claiming your inheritance.