[‘encouragement’, ‘exhortation’, for godliness and good ministry]
One of my favourite books is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress: it is full of wonderfully vivid characters, who are just like people you and I know! At one time, Christian is defeated by Giant Despair, and confined to Doubting-Castle. After some days of self-pity, Christian makes a wonderful discovery!
What a fool … am I, thus to lay in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a key … called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.
I read this before I became a Christian, and when I began reading the Bible, it alerted me to the marvellous Bible word ‘promise’, notably the promises of God in the Bible.
In the words of King Solomon,
Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses [1 Kgs 8:56].
From the Psalms: For he rememberd his holy promise given to his servant Abraham [Ps 105:42].
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors [Luke 1 54,55].
Paul: No matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ [2 Cor 1:20].
He has given us his great and precious promises, that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption of the world caused by evil desires [2 Pet 1:4].
And I love the words of Adoniram Judson, pioneer missionary to Burma [Myanmar] tied up, ready for the flames, and asked by his opponents what he thought about his future. He replied: ‘The future is as bright as the promises of God’!
D. T. Niles wrote that ‘Hope lies in the ruin of our expectations’. To which I add, ‘Hope lies in the promises of God’.
I have been reading Augustine of Hippo recently. I love meeting fellow believers who were members of Christ’s church in times past.
Enjoy his vivid words about God and his promises to us in Christ.
God makes promises, and does them.
Christ was not on the earth; God promised, and he did it. No virgin had conceived; he promised, and he did it. The precious blood had not been shed by which the hand-writing of our death would be effaced; he promised, and he did it. Human flesh had not risen from the dead; he promised, and he did it. The Gentiles had not believed; he promised, and he did it. Nor were heretics under the name of Christ, fighting against Christ; he promised, and he did it. Nor yet had the idols of the Gentiles been removed; he promised, and he did it. When all these things he has promised and done, would he lie about concerning the day of judgement? It will come as these things came [Enarrationes in Ps 73:25].
By making promises to us, God makes himself our debtor!
And he wrote his promises in the Holy Scriptures: he gave them to us in writing!
God is faithful, who made himself our debtor! This was not by accepting any things from us, but by promising us great blessings. But a spoken promise was not enough. He even chose to bind himself to keep his promise by writing, creating for us a written bond of his promises. So that when he began to fulfil his promises, we might see their fulfilment in Scripture [En in Ps 109:1]
‘You don’t believe me; I am writing it for you’. For because one generation goes and another comes, and so generations pass by, it was necessary that God’s Scriptures should remain as God’s written bond for all to read, so we can remain in the paths of its promises [En in Ps 147:17].
So let us trust in the promises of God!
Let us trust in God as a debtor most faithful, because we trust him as a promiser most merciful [En in Ps 23, II, 9.]
From what God has done, we must believe in what he will still do [Sermo 130:3].
God’s promises are always sincere, certain, firm, credible and indubitable [En in Ps 130:3].
Promises point us to God’s works, not our own. Promise is what God himself will do [Epistula 140, 48].
For no person in this world is strong, except in the hope of God’s promises [En in Ps 88:1].
Dear brothers and sisters, may God grace our hearts and lives, so that together, in the words of Heb 6:12, we will, ‘through faith and patience, inherit the promises’.
And may the promises of God set you free from all stinking dungeons [and dangerous dragons]!
With love in Christ,