Holding on to the Promises of God
The Bible is full of promises of God that can encourage us in our faith. After all, faith and hope are dependent on promises – something that we expect, look forward to. A promise is an anchor. If we can trust a promise that we have been given, it will become life-giving. A hopeful expectancy can fill one with joy and motivation.
We know we can trust the promises of God. He is not a man, that He would lie (Numbers 23:19). And that in all cases, the words of the Lord stand true, though every man be a liar. (Romans 3:4). When we trust God’s promises, we know that:
“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans. 5:5).
The Word Promise
The word “promise” can equate to a declaration or commitment. It was binding in Biblical times. And still today, it can be legally binding in certain cultures. According to the English dictionary, a promise gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.
Making a promise gives ground for expectation of success, improvement, or excellence. It is an assurance. Unsurprisingly, it gives hope, builds faith, and encourages optimism.
In the Hebrew Bible, the word “promise” is used over 50 times, and the New Testament adds another 70+ to that. But that’s just the word alone. If you consider the actual promises, depending on the source, you will discover that there are close to 9,000 promises in the Word of God! Some say it’s more like 30,000, if you include ones made to specific people that were fulfilled.
Bible Verses about the Promises of God
Thus, considering the vast number of biblical promises, it would be impossible to list them here. The author of The Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan wrote: “The pathway of life is strewn so thickly with the promises of God, that it is impossible to take one step without treading upon one of them.”
What is important to remember, however, is the fact that God’s promises can be trusted and depended on! Hebrews 10:23 says: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that hath promised.”
Jesus promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:15). And that He is with us unto the end of age (Matthew 28:20). We are promised a place in the world to come, as well as the riches and grace of being seated with Jesus in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
We are saved by grace through faith, which is also a promise that God made (Ephesians 2:8). And since there is no falsehood in God, we know that promise is true! We are the work of the Lord’s hands, created for good works which God created before we were born (Ephesians 2:10).
The List of Biblical Promises
In summary, we are promised by God some very foundational things that we could not live without. They are essential to our existence and give us hope for the future. We are promised:
- salvation from judgement
- a place in the world to come
- to share in spiritual blessings with the Messiah
- in Heaven, we will have a new name (Revelation 2:17)
- we can never be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39)
- there will be no more suffering and pain in the world to come (Revelation 21:4)
These promises are at the core of our faith. God has so loved the world that He made it clear how we can regain access to His presence. He gave His Son to unite us with Himself and to invite us to His Kingdom. That is the Good News of the Gospel and the great promise that will not be broken.
The Promises of God to Israel
When we talk about the promises of God, we have to acknowledge an important fact. Before any of His promises can be applied to the Body of Messiah, God’s promises were first given to His people Israel. And it is impressive how often God stresses the fact that His promises are eternal and last forever.
The whole story of salvation centers around the story of Israel, her creation, redemption and restoration. God’s might and power is made evident through his everlasting promise to Israel (first laid out in Genesis 12:1-3), when the Lord promises He. Will make Abram into a great nation and will bless him.
Later on, in Deuteronomy 30:3-5, God promises to Israel a specific land – you guessed it! The Promised Land, as it was referenced from that moment on. The Lord said He would bring his people to the land He chose, and He would make their descendants prosperous.
From Jews to the Gentiles
Throughout the books of Moses, we can read promises that the Lord will be Israel’s God, and they will be His special treasure in all of the earth. Israel is God’s very own possession. God also promises that the Messiah would come out of Israel, out of the kingly Davidic line. (Isaiah 11:1, Genesis 3:5, Isaiah 7:14)
The Apostle Paul promises that the future hope for Israel’s salvation is sure and that God will make good on His promises (Romans 9-11). We see a revolution after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, when the gentiles are invited to the table, so to speak.
A revelation comes over the first church that many of God’s promises are for the whole world. Gentiles are welcomed into the family of God through faith in Jesus and granted full access to the throne of grace, just as Jewish people are (Matthew 8:5-13).
The Promises of God to the Gentiles
Just as the Jewish people received special promises from God, gentiles were also promised a place within the family of God. They were grafted in to the “wild olive branches” which is Israel and the Jewish people (Romans 11:17).
However, God’s heart for all nations and all people can be noticed in the Word of God long centuries before Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. Before kings and queens, before God chose Israel, even before God made Abraham His friend, God gave a promise to all mankind.
Do you remember the story of Noah? Early on in world history, Noah and his family were miraculously saved. They were the only humans on earth to survive a flood. And that is when God showed up in nature to send a message. He gave mankind a promise in the rainbow.
“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. …The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13,16-17)
The Promises of God are Yes and Amen
In all God’s goodness, we know that He is for us and His promises are true. We see a beautiful confirmation of that in Paul’s letter to Corinthians: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (1 Cor. 1:20).
But what does it mean, that His promises are yes and amen?
It does not mean that He says yes to any request we may utter towards the heavens. If you’d consider the Greek language, you’d notice that what Paul is essentially saying is that God’s promises are always sure and firm.
God’s promises are “yes and amen” because they are unwavering, unchangeable and alive in us. His “Yes” is a declaration of life. And Jesus’ “Amen” is an assurance that what He promised, will come to pass.
Praying the Promises of God
Whenever we feel like we have lost hope, we can turn to God’s promise that His mercies are new every morning. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, which is another promise of God. We can put our daily hope in an unchangeable Messiah.
When we pray the promises of God over ourselves, they strengthen our faith. We find in them the assurance of our identity in Jesus. Which in turn enables us to stand firm against evil and the works of the devil. The author of Hebrews 11:1 tells us that,
“…Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
This being so, we hold on to the substance of hope… that which we do not see, through the promise of the Word. We can hold God’s promises to the highest standard and expectation. Because His plans and purposes are unchanging, and He himself, does not change.
He is the Finisher of our Faith
Anything we face in life, or in the world at large, is not outside of God’s foreknowledge and plan. On this side of heaven, we face opposition for our faith. Both from within our sinful nature and from the external pressures of the world. But we are strengthened in our inner man when we pray through the promises of God.
We have the strength in our heart and stand firm in our confidence in Messiah. And place in our identity in Him as redeemed, sanctified, victorious and seated with him in heavenly places.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
This article originally appeared on FIRM, March 3, 2021, and is reposted with permission.