TRUSTING GOD'S PROMISES
Life has taught us that “promises are made to be broken.” for this reason we have learned to take most of them with a grain of salt. Yet the Christian faith calls us to stake our eternal destinies upon the promises of God. For this reason it is important that we understand the nature of those promises and how they are realized in our lives.
I. God’s Immutable Purpose.
God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised (Hebrews 6:17).
A. God’s promises are credible.
1. God’s promises are grounded in His character. He has the absolute ability and the uncompromising integrity to fulfill them. They are, therefore, completely credible.
2. So important is it to God that His children believe in His promises that He on several occasions confirmed them by a sacred oath. He has voluntarily sworn by the highest power in the universe—Himself (Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 22:5). It is as if God raises His right hand to us and says, “I will keep my promises, so help Me, Me!”
3. God’s promise and God’s oath are “two unchangeable things” (v. 18). They are fixed and immutable. They are as certain as the setting of the sun (Jeremiah 33:20, 21).
B. God’s promises are conditional.
1. Yet, as our author has repeatedly warned, not all of God’s children “inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12). This is not due to any failing on the part of God. It is due to some failing on the part of man.
2. Attached to God’s promises to man are his expectations of man. One may see this all through scripture. It was true of his promise to David (1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 9:4–7). It was true of his promises to Israel through Moses (Deuteronomy 4:23ff). And, in the example which the author cites here, it was true of his promise to Abraham.
3. The condition which the author says the believer today must meet if he is to enjoy the fulfillment of God’s promises is “patience” (v. 15). As God made Abraham wait for his child of promise, so also does God make us wait to see the ultimate fulfillment of his promises. By this the genuineness of our faith is “tested.”
II. Man’s Immovable Prospect.
God did this so that … we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered us may he greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:18, 19).
There is nothing more Christian than hope. Along with faith and love, it is one of the three principle graces of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13:13). We are a people who are “saved by hope” (Romans 8:24) and who live “resting on the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2).
A. The character of Christian hope.
1. Those cheerful expressions—“all will be well,” “look on the bright side,” “hope for the best”—that we often use are mostly just sentiment, wishful thinking, empty optimism. The paths of life are strewn with the victims of such misplaced and ungrounded hope.
2. Christian hope, however, is not based upon the empty wishes of men but upon the nature and character of God. As long as our hope is founded in Him, it will never fail us, it will never let us down.
B. The consequences of Christian hope.
1. Hope is the Christian’s asylum. As the ancient Israelite could cling to the altar in hope of redemption, so can the believer cling to hope as a temporary asylum until the time of our final vindication (v. 18).
2. Hope is the Christian’s anchor. It functions like a spiritual mooring to bind us to the “Rock of our salvation” (v. 18; Psalm 95:1).
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
One day, President Abraham Lincoln was riding in a coach with a colonel from Kentucky. The colonel took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket. He offered Mr. Lincoln a drink. Mr. Lincoln said, “No thank you, Colonel. I never drink whiskey.” In a little while, the colonel took some cigars out of his pocket and offered one to Mr. Lincoln. Again Mr. Lincoln said, “No, thank you, Colonel.” Then Mr. Lincoln said, “I want to tell you a story.”
“One day, when I was about nine years old, my mother called me to her bed. She was very sick. She said, ‘Abe, the doctor tells me that I am not going to get well. I want you to be a good boy. I want you to promise me before I go that you will never use whiskey or tobacco as long as you live.’ I promised my mother that I never would, and up to this hour, I kept this promise! Would you Advice me to break that promise?”
The colonel put his hand on Mr. Lincoln’s shoulder and said, “Mr. Lincoln, I would not have you break that promise for the world! It is one of the best promises you ever made. I would give a thousand dollars today if I had made my mother a promise like that and had kept it like you have done. I would be a much better man than I am!”