Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE CHRISTIAN AND GOD'S PROMISES”

Second Peter 1.4 

I would like to encourage you in the Lord. I will attempt to do that by ministering grace to you, as is suggested by Ephesians 4.29, where the Apostle Paul writes, 

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” 

That verse is comprised of three phrases, with the first phrase forbidding improper speech, the second phrase encouraging proper speech, and the final phrase informing readers of the benefit of good communication that edifies others. Using the spoken word, we can minister grace to other people. That is what I seek to accomplish with you, most especially to those of you who know Christ as your Savior.

In his first New Testament letter, the letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul developed his comments in the first chapter of that letter using the phrases “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “patience of hope” as indications to the Apostle Paul of their relationship with Christ. Then, in First Corinthians chapter 13 the Apostle Paul remarked on the presence in the Christian’s life of faith, hope, and charity (frequently used to translate a Greek word for love). Thus, faith, hope, and love are something of a set of recurring themes in Paul’s instructions for living the Christian life, and not just in the new Christian’s life, but in every Christian’s life.

Of course, it is by means of faith that a sinner comes to possess life in Christ because it is by or through faith that a sinner is saved. In Acts 16.30-31 Paul and Silas answered the Philippian jailor’s question. They could have said anything. But what they said was, 

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” 

With faith being the means by which the sinner comes to life in Christ, we are informed by Paul in Romans 5.1-5 that faith is the means of becoming a believer and after that living the Christian life, one’s faith in Christ then very directly relating to both hope and love: 

1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 

This is where Augustine went off the rails, by misinterpreting the Greek word here translated “justified,” erroneously thinking it referred to God making one righteous.[1] Not so. The word ever and always refers to declaring one righteous.[2] The moment you trust Christ as your Savior you are as right with God as you ever will be. Justification is not a process, as Augustine wrongly thought, but an event.

So you see, one’s faith, one’s hope, and one’s love are bound up in the person and work of Jesus Christ, with each of them related to the others. Your faith is related to your hope and love. Your hope is related to your faith and love. And your love is related to your faith and hope. These matters can be discussed separately, but they are inseparable in fact and reality and are best understood and appreciated as they are bound up in and connected to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

After all, Hebrews 11.1 reveals to us that 

“faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 

Then there is First Peter 1.8: 

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 

See the connection in this verse of love, faith, and the implication of someday seeing Christ, which is hope? So faith and hope and love have obviously connected the one to the other. Your faith is in the One you love and hope to see someday. With hope not being wishful thinking, but the confident expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God. So you see, they are each related. Is your faith wavering? It happens to almost everyone. Remember, in Mark 9.24 when 

“the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief”? 

On other occasions, the Lord rebuked His disciples for having little faith. In Matthew 24.12, He said 

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” 

Thus, faith wavers and love waxes cold.

I don’t have the time to deal with faith, and with hope, and with love. However, let me state without proving that faith is strengthened by the ministry of the Word and by working it, the work of faith. You must live by faith for your faith to grow stronger, and that will not happen in the lives of those who do nothing. As well, love is intensified and strengthened by the ministry of the Word and by actually loving, the labor of love. You must love for your love to grow in intensity, and that will not happen in the lives of those who do nothing. That is why ministry dropouts waste away over time. Their faith atrophies and their love inevitably cools.

People who do not actively seek the salvation of others grow progressively weaker in faith over time. People who do not intentionally engage in loving ministry activities will possess a love that diminishes in its intensity over time. But those are topics to be dealt with in other messages from God’s Word. At this time I want to address this matter of hope as a means of encouraging you in this most holy faith. What is hope? It is the confident expectation of future blessings based on the promises of God. That said, remember that hope is rightly and responsibly related to the Lord Jesus Christ’s promises and to promises that are made about Him.

To help you develop your big picture view of the Christian life and so that you might mature and develop as a believer, I want to speak to you about promises. Please make your way to Second Peter chapter one. While you are turning there let me make two more comments about faith and love before settling in on this matter of hope and its necessary connection to promises. In Habakkuk 2.4 we are told, 

“the just shall live by his faith.” 

That principle is central to a person’s relationship with God, which is why that statement is repeated in Romans 1.17, Galatians 3.11, and Hebrews 10.38, and what we are told in Hebrews 11.6 that without faith it is impossible to please God.

However, if you read the Bible through will you not see God’s people challenged again and again to test and to strengthen the resilience of their faith? Of course, you do. And this is accomplished by disappointments and discouragements and defeats that test our mettle when things do not go according to plan or expectation. Thus, faith will always be tested and challenged.

How about love? If love is meeting the needs of the needy, loving the unlovely, and praying for those who despitefully use you, can you ever really learn what love is apart from disappointment and betrayal and retaliation being directed at you by the very ones you have loved? You love someone. That someone hurts you in some way. You are then offended or wounded and determined never to allow such a thing to happen again. So you break off the relationship, or you quit the ministry. However, that is the opposite of real love’s response.

Perfect love casts out, sets aside, refuses to succumb to the fear of pain, to the fear of embarrassment, to the fear of rejection, and the fear of failure. Real love recognizes the real possibility of those things happening, all the while being determined to love despite what can happen when your heart is vulnerable. You love. Someone strikes out at you and wounds you. Yet you love again, or love still, because the love of Christ works through you and your humility reminds you that you are not important enough to let your feelings get in the way of ministry and service to Christ. Real love covers a multitude of sins. If you recoil and react by so protecting yourself that you can no longer truly love, then you never had love in the first place. It was something disguised as love.

We turn now to hope, which is bound up in promises. Second Peter 1.4: 

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

Of course, I am oversimplifying a bit, but the Apostle Peter is so much as telling his readers that we who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been given great and precious promises, and it is by means of these promises that we might be partakers of the divine nature, with the last phrase describing our deliverance from the power of sins in our life.

In short, Peter informs his readers that promises are crucial to the living of the Christian’s life as one born of God. But whose promises are we talking about? Not your promises. Not my promises. Of course, we are concerned only with God’s promises.

I want to make three remarks to you about promises, God’s promises since His promises are so crucial to the Christian life. Only God is of such a nature as being able to deliver on His promises: 

First, SOME COMMENTS ABOUT PROMISES MADE 

A review for most of you. Concerning promises made by God in the Old Testament, there are two kinds of promises God has made, promises to all mankind and promises to a chosen people:

First, the promises made to all mankind. May I make mention of only two promises made to all mankind? In Genesis 3.15, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, He made this promise of a coming Redeemer: 

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” 

Then there is Genesis 9.11, the promise made in connection with the covenant God established with Noah and all mankind following the worldwide flood: 

“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” 

Then, there are promises made to Abraham and his descendants: 

Genesis 12.1-3 is the first of the promises made concerning a coming kingdom: 

1  Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 

This promise was restated to Abraham’s son Isaac, not Ishmael, and to Isaac’s son Jacob, not Esau. As well, other promises were made that expanded on the promise made to Abraham, them being the promise of a land,[3] the promise of a king,[4] and the promise of qualified citizens.[5] When Moses delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery and encamped them at the foot of Mount Sinai, a covenant was instituted known as the Mosaic Covenant, which featured the promise of blessing in return for obedience. Notice what Moses said, in Deuteronomy 5.1-3 concerning the covenant and its related promise: 

1  And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.

2  The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.

3  The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 

Paul’s comment in Romans 3.19 shows complete agreement: 

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” 

Concerning the promises made to Abraham and his descendants, it is very interesting to note what the Apostle Paul says about them. 

In Romans 9.4 he writes, 

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” 

This verifies to whom the promises were made in the Old Testament. 

In Romans 15.8 he adds, 

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” 

More verification that the promises of which we speak were made to the Jewish patriarchs. Notice, however, what we are told in Hebrew 11.13: 

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” 

Realize, then, that the saints of the former dispensation had hope since hope is the confident expectation of future blessing based on the promises of God. That said, their hopes have not yet been realized because some of the promises have not yet been fulfilled. The promise to send His Son was fulfilled by God. The promise related to where God would send His Son was fulfilled. But some of the promises have not yet been fulfilled. 

Next, SOME COMMENTS MADE ABOUT PROMISES MISSING 

If Paul in Romans 9.4 writes, 

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises,” 

what does this tell us about those to whom the promises were not made in the Old Testament?

To confirm our suspicion, take care to notice Paul’s words to the Gentile congregation of Ephesus in Ephesians 2.12, where he states 

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” 

Because Gentiles are not Jewish, and are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have had no promises made by God, the unsaved are both without hope and without God.

What are we to conclude about promises God has made to the unsaved who are not Jewish? There are no promises. God has not in any way obligated Himself to unsaved people. He owes unsaved people nothing, nothing at all. That He lets the lost bask in His sunlight, breathe His air, drink His water, and enjoy some of His prosperity is a testament to His mercy. 

Finally, SOME COMMENTS ABOUT PROMISES MINE 

The wonderful thing about God is that though He owes no sinner anything, He does mercifully save some of the undeserving. And He does so exclusively concerning those who respond to the Gospel of God’s grace by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

That is where our text comes to bear, on the child of God, on the person who has heard the Gospel and turned from his sins to Christ: 

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” 

Thus, it is using promises made to Christ and therefore that have become applicable to we who have trusted Christ, that we now have promises and therefore hope.

Let me convince you of this with two comments made by Paul: 

Second Corinthians 1.20: 

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 

Here Paul informs the Corinthians that the promises God made that did not formerly apply to Gentiles at all are completely applicable to anyone who has trusted Christ as his Savior. 

Galatians 3.16: 

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” 

This is a powerful testimony that God’s promises to Abraham and his seed were always with a view toward fulfilling them in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, we are possessors of promises made by God, though we only possess those promises because of our relationship with Christ. No Christ no promises. Own Christ own promises. And it is using these promises that we live the Christian life since their fulfillment will, for the most part, take place in the next life, just as so many of the promises made to Old Testament saints have not yet been fulfilled.

Would you like me to read some of the promises Christians have to you? 

First Corinthians 1.8: 

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

First Corinthians 10.13: 

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 

Philippians 1.6: 

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” 

Philippians 2.13: 

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” 

Philippians 4.13: 

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

Second Timothy 1.12: 

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 

Faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love because when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, we will no longer have faith (which is the evidence of things not seen, after all) or hope (since our expectation of future blessing will be realized). Nevertheless, both faith and hope are vital to the Christian’s life, along with love. Faith is crucial because the just shall live by faith, must live by faith, and actually, do live by faith. Faith gives rise to hope because faith enables us to endure now because of a future expectation. But that future expectation, hope, is utterly dependent upon an awareness of God’s promises to those who are in Christ. However, if you do not read your Bible, you won’t know what the promises are or be reminded of them when needed. If you do not sit under Bible preaching and teaching, I cannot remind you of God’s promises. If you do not relate God’s promises to others in ministry, His promises will not be reinforced in your own life.

And, as I said, this all relates to your faith and your love as you patiently await the Lord’s return for you while suffering, while service, while witnessing, while ministering, while praying, and while groaning in the flesh.

Can I leave you with one of our Lord’s many promises made to we who are His, we who are God’s children? Hebrews 13.5 ends with these words of our Savior: 

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” 

Be encouraged by friends. May God bless you this Christmas season.

__________

[1] David R. Anderson, Free Grace Soteriology, (Grace Theology Press, Revised Edition edited by James S. Reitman, 2012), page 96.

[2] dikaiow to justify, to declare to be in the right, Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 359.

[3] Referring to the Palestinian Covenant.

[4] Referring to the Davidic Covenant.

[5] Referring to the New Covenant.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org