Pastor John A. Railton
Pastor Railton would consider it a privilege to talk with anyone about the church, living the Christian life, how to become a Christian or any problem or discouragement you may be experiencing. Let him know and he will be glad to either come to your home or meet in the office.
God's Promises are Sure! (Part II)
I. INTRODUCTION TO WORSHIP
A. My last sermon was entitled, "God's Promises Are Sure!" We talked a bit about how we're sometimes disappointed with God in the way he keeps his word. I fear there are those who see God a bit like a fickle politician who doesn't keep his promises. It's like . . .
1. Maybe special interest groups sap his attention while others get lost between the cracks, or
2. Maybe some promises are beyond his power and ability to fulfill.
3. Maybe he changes his mind after he's spoken his word.
4. Or maybe he makes promises he has no intention of fulfilling in the first place! Such attitudes are disastrous to your spiritual health. But I know they exist! And yet, they don't have to!
5. I wonder if intellectually we know this isn't the case, but in our hearts we wonder what's wrong. At times I've wrestled with this myself. I would venture to guess that most of us have at one time or another claimed a promise from God only to be severely disappointed when he didn't come through according to expectations. The key word here is expectations. I'm convinced the problem lies in our understanding and expectations concerning his promises, rather than in God being fickle or untrustworthy.
B. Let's Begin Our Worship This Morning With Psalm 46.
1.This Psalm expresses confidence in the Lord God. It declares the trustworthiness of God and his plans for the earth, that though the world around us may crumble, God is there. He is our refuge, an ever present help in time of trouble. He will one day have his way. He will one day do everything he has said. He will be exalted. He is our fortress.
2. Please follow along as I read, then keep your Bibles open and meditate on this expression of trust in God.
3. Psalm 46:1-11.
II. BIBLE STUDY
A. God's promises are either conditional or unconditional.
1. Most are conditional. This is where God says, "I will do this, if you do that." We have to meet his conditions if we are to see the promise fulfilled.
2. A few are unconditional. These are promises where God will do what he has determined, no matter what we may or may not do. We'll talk about these in a bit, but first I want to review a bit of what we covered last week.
B. Conditional Promises Of God: Let me talk about what I see as the greatest of the promises, then I'd like you to help me list some of the other conditional promises. We talked about several last week.
1. Perhaps you've heard the phrase, conditional immortality. God offers conditional immortality to all the earth. Immortality is not unconditional. If we meet the required conditions, then we have the hope of immortality in the kingdom of God. Four conditions:
a. First, there is belief. We must believe the gospel of the kingdom of God that is featured throughout the scriptures. We must also believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, the one who will come to rule over that kingdom which will be established here on earth. (Acts 8:12)
b. Then there's repentance. (Recognition, Regret, Renunciation) (Acts 2:38).
c. Next, there's baptism. This is immersion as a result of belief and repentance (Galatians 3:26-29). It's an outward act showing inner faith and commitment. It symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It covers us with the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
d. Then, not to be left out, is obedience. It is not enough to believe only, or to believe and repent, or even to believe, repent, and be baptized (I John 2:3,4). Jesus becomes not only our savior, but also our Lord. We must obey his commandments.
e. These are the conditions God requires on our part, in order to be saved. This doesn't at all take away from grace. It's not as though we do these things to earn salvation. These are simply the conditions God requires in order that his grace may apply.
2. Now, what are some of the other conditional promises God has made over the years? Do any come to mind? If not . . .
a. He put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and gave them the tree of life to eat and live forever. But, they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They did. They were expelled. They died.
b. In Genesis 12 God promised Abram he would bless him, and make his name great, and make him into a great nation, etc. But, he first had to leave his country, his people, and his father's household.
c. In Exodus 19 God told Israel he would bless them, take care of them, and they would be his treasured possession. But this was if they would obey him fully and keep his covenant.
d. In Leviticus 26 God went on and on with promises for the Israelites, if they would obey him fully. He would take care of them in every way. But, he also promised if they did not obey him fully, that he would bring a curse upon them. He further promised if they continued to disobey that he would punish them for their sins seven times over. It becomes apparent his purpose is to break them, to bring them back in submission to himself. If you ever wonder why Israel always seemed to have such a stroke of bad luck - read Leviticus 26. If you ever wonder why nothing goes your way, read Leviticus 26, and consider that perhaps you deny yourself the blessings and help of God. I realize this is written for Israel, but I can see application to God's people of any age.
e. There are many more conditional promises. Whenever you read the promises of God, be certain you understand any conditions.
C. Now, God Has Also Made Some Unconditional Promises
1. We didn't get to these last week. An unconditional promise is one in which the Lord says he will do something and there's nothing we can do that would prevent it from happening. There are no conditions. The fulfillment of unconditional promises is not affected by the unfaithfulness of men, but is rather dependent on the faithfulness of God.
2. Genesis 9:8-17. Unconditional! We can all count on it!
3. In Genesis 12-15 God expanded his conditional promise to Abram to an unconditional promise to Abram and his descendants.
a. Genesis 13:14-17. He promised Abram, and his descendants, the land of Israel, forever. Interestingly, the only portion of the promised land that Abram ever owned was a field in which his wife was buried in a cave.
b. Genesis 15:7-18 God even explained that Abram would die, and sleep with his fathers. And yet, this was an unconditional promise, that God would give the promised land to Abram, and to his descendants forever. But he didn't! I have to admit that never took place. The key is to remember God is not under the same time restraints as we are. If it has not yet taken place, you can be certain it one day will. The faithfulness of God dictates that nothing in the world could cause God to renege on that promise.
4. II Samuel 7:1-17. Unconditional promise! This will be fulfilled when Jesus rules over the land that was promised to the descendants of Abram. He will sit on the throne of his father David.
5. Turn now to Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah was prophet to the people of Judah, the southern two tribes of Israel. He had the unpleasant task of warning the people that judgment was coming because of their continual sin before God.
a. Well, the people did not repent or change their ways. Judgment did come. They were conquered, destroyed, and many carried off to Babylon. Jeremiah then had the pleasant task of giving them hope. Jeremiah 29:10-14.
b. The next two chapters prophesy of the restoration of Israel. God assures her he will bring them back to the land he promised Abram. He assures forgiveness of her sins. He assures there will always be an Israel. He will never totally destroy her for all her sins. There will come a time when the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt, never to be destroyed again.
c. Jeremiah 31:27-40. Unconditional! These things have still not yet happened, but you can be sure the promises of God are sure.
6. In the New Testament Jesus promised, and in fact every New Testament writer promised that Jesus would return to the earth. Unconditional!
7. Jesus further promised he would send the Holy Spirit, the power of God to comfort and equip the church.
8. He also promised to resurrect from the dead and give eternal life to those who had believed on him. Incidentally, to believe on Jesus is more than to simply believe there was a Jesus. It is to believe his teachings; the gospel he came preaching; to obey his commands. These are all unconditional promises. There is nothing in the world that can change them. God is committed! He is faithful! His word is sure!
9. II Peter 3:3-13. Comments.
III. BIBLE APPLICATION / LIFE RESPONSE
A. I've entered into this study because it's critical we understand the promises of God. We must not take them out of context to make them mean something that was never intended. The promises of God are so great, but let's be certain we understand them, especially whether they are conditional or unconditional!
B. In the weeks to come we'll consider the recipients of the promises, God's methods of fulfillment, and his timing. I'm confident this will benefit our faith, our relation with the Lord, as we progress through this study. Where there is misunderstanding of the promises, or the terms, or the recipients, there will be invalid expectations put upon God. Where there are invalid expectations, there will be dissatisfaction and stress in the relationship with the Lord. May we read God's word more carefully. May we study more thoroughly. May we understand and apply more accurately.
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