Over the past few weeks we have begun to look at the Promises of God. The journey of discovering the Promises of God is both fulfilling and challenging. We begin to realize just how committed God is to His family. The Scriptures lay a solid foundation of knowing God while the promises of God help us to know God more intimately. In both the Old and New Testaments, we see the Promises of God made available to us. On one hand, the Promises of God are unconditional, and nothing can stop the purposes of God being fulfilled, not self, sin, or Satan. However, we know that God is not some Sugar-Daddy who grants us everything we ask for. The Promises of God directed towards us are both personally and conditional and often begin some sort of qualification. Ultimately the Promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus and it is as we draw near to him, we find great satisfaction within life.
One of the greatest revelations of Scripture is the unconditional Love of God. The knowledge of God’s love begins to open the door to eternal life. We understand that through the Love and Mercy of God our sins are forgiven, past present and future. He promises that His presence and love will never leave us. Foundations are extremely important and knowing by experience the love of God is one of the foundations of life. The writer of Hebrews tells us that through the elementary truths of God’s Word we are trained to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14). He then gives us a list of foundations, elementary teachings, for right Christian thinking and living. These basic teachings are something that we grow into thereby moving onto maturity.
1. The foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death
2. Faith in God
3. Instruction about baptisms
4. The laying on of hands
5. The resurrection of the dead
6. Eternal judgment
This is Christianity 101. Once we have learned the basics of our Christian faith, we can then move onto the deeper rewards and challenges of bringing God’s kingdom from heaven to earth. We are exhorted to hold onto the flavour of heaven – the Holy Spirit – and beware of “falling away” from God. The idea of falling away speaks of stumbling, to go astray, to be mistaken; in other words, we forget the elementary teachings of Christ. The readers are then encouraged that salvation is theirs, and that “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebr 6:10).
Imitators of God’s People
The idea of imitating is also foundational in regard to walking in God’s kingdom. “In the beginning” speaks of a time when Adam and Eve were to imitate or mimic God. They were to be fruitful and reproduce and pass this onto their children. We understand that mankind fell into sin and since that time we have reproduced or imitated a lot of things that are contrary to God’s original design. In Hebrews 6:12 the writer tells us to imitate men and women of God. In other words, we are to mimic those who have grown past the elementary truths of God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews gives a fuller explanation found in Hebrews 11; the hall of fame of faith.
Inherit the Promises of God
Rightful inheritance refers to actual property or goods received after a family member's death. Jewish inheritances were linked to family blood lines, while Greek and Roman laws provided for the disposition of family possessions through the adoption of an heir. The Scriptures transform the concept of inheritance to include the gaining of spiritual blessings and promises from God; this means to “receive an irrevocable gift” with an emphasis on a special relationship between the benefactor and the recipients. Unlike legal inheritance, the benefactor, God, does not die, yet he provides material and spiritual blessings for His children.
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom 8:16-17). The Promises of God are available to us today just as they were to the fathers of our faith as seen in the Scriptures.
The question remains “How do God’s people inherit God’s promises?” The writer of Hebrews speaks of faith and patience and a man named Abraham.
Faith and Patience
God’s children have been graced with “salvation faith,” which is the ability to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This saving faith is one of the elementary teachings directed towards new believers. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8-9). However, it is my belief that the faith spoken of in Hebrews 6:13 is the gift of faith referred to as one of the spiritual gifts. So what does this mean for us? If we want to inherit the Promises of God we must not only believe in God and His Son (even the demons believe and shudder - James 2:19), we must enact on the gift of grace, our salvation, by the gift of faith provided for us by the Holy Spirit. It is through the faith provided for us that we attain the promises of God. We are told in Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. In order to inherit God’s promises we must engage our divine gift of faith in two ways.
· We must also diligently and earnestly make a careful search of God through His Word and Holy Spirit. It is said of Abraham, (our Father of Faith) “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). What did Abram believe – God’s spoken Spirit-Word to him.
· We must be OK with our faith being tested. In Gen 22 Abram was challenged to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The second aspect for inheriting the Promises of God is patience. And we all want our promises right now… What is patience? It is waiting, enduring, sometimes long-suffering. Was not this the case with Abraham? “So after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15). Patience is necessary in order to prove the genuineness and reality of faith. The Lord generally does not accomplish his purposes at once. He usually works by gradations. Is not this the case in creation? Is this not the case with Abraham and the forming of the Nation of Israel? The same is true of men and women of faith who are years growing up to their full stature. The same is true of the Promises of God. Through faith and time we receive the fulfillment of God’s promises.
We live is a fast pace society. Fast cars, fast food, quick fixes and so on. There are “suddenlies” in God’s Kingdom, however they are often preceded by the patient and faithful prayers of the saints. These prayers and petitions include asking, seeking, pleading, crying and most importantly waiting on God. To be patient overcomes challenges, hopes in the midst of despair, trusts in God despite circumstances, looks to the light of God in dark places. It is interesting to note that the Fruit of the Spirit begins with “love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4). The testing of our faith increases our patience and it is the unconditional Love of God that enables us to pass through those challenging times.
We all need to learn and grow in knowledge and understanding of the elementary foundations of Christian life. Hopefully, no one wants to stay in elementary school for the rest of their life. We are created for growth and maturity. All of us have dreams and desires that we want to see fulfilled in our lifetime. As believers in Jesus the promises of God are available to us to help us reach those goals. We are to become like Jesus, and to imitate the fathers and mothers of our faith. Therefore, there is a need of faith on the one hand, and of patience on the other, to inherit the promises. The gift of faith is necessary as we reach out our hands into heaven to lay hold of the promises. And patience is necessary to wait for their fulfillment. Faith is necessary to give us possession and the abundance of the glorious realities of God's Promises. And patience is necessary to prove to ourselves and to others that we are true partakers on our road to maturity.
There are many promises in the Scriptures and it is important to identify the one promise that God is highlighting to you. This allows you to ask God for the specific faith and patience you need in order to attain your promise. The Scriptures tell us to ask God for the wisdom we lack. The same is true with regards to faith and patience. The one challenge of asking for faith and patience is that they both come with testing. So we don’t want to lose heart is doing good so the sake of God’s Kingdom.
…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him… Psalm 37:7a