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Saturday, September 8, 2007

All God's Promises Are Yes In Christ

Back in the beginning of the 18th century an English clergyman and scholar by the name of Samuel Clarke put together a book containing what he described as "All God's Precious Promises." The book, also known as "Clarke's Promises," has survived and is still available online.

The promises of God's Word remain as true today as they have ever been. That's the message I'm planning to share with a group of ladies in my area who have asked me to lead them in a one-day retreat we're entitling "All God's Promises Are Yes in Christ." That's based upon the Apostle Paul's second letter to the Corinthians (1:20). Paul wrote those words against a background of many troubles in his personal life. He said that in Asia (Minor) he was under pressure far beyond his ability to endure. He even despaired of his life, feeling he was under the sentence of death. All this happened, he decided, so that he might not rely on himself, but on God who raises the dead. An important lesson for us also in our day.

In my files I found a fifty year-old article carried by TIME magazine about Everett R. Storms, a Canadian schoolteacher who made his own study of the promises in the Bible. According to his reckoning there are 7,487 promises by God to man, two by God the Father to the Son, 991 by one man to another, 290 by men to God, 21 by angels, one by a man to an angel and two by an evil spirit to the Lord. The devil made nine promises to Jesus if he would worship him. That equals 8,810 of all sorts in the Bible.

In the Old Testament there are two words for our word 'promise.' The first is Dabar, found both in its noun and verb forms. King Solomon, for instance, used the word in his prayer for the dedication of the Temple. He said, "Praise 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 Kings 8:56).

The other O.T. word is Omer. King David, describing the Exodus from Egypt and the settling into the promised land, wrote, "The LORD announced the word (Omer) and great was the company of those who proclaimed it" (Psalm 68:11). In other words, the LORD promised His people they would see victory over the idolatrous Canaanites who opposed them and they did.

The New Testament has several promise words: two nouns and four verbs. I've already mentioned Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Here are another example of what the N.T. teaches.

Speaking about God's promise to childless Abraham to make of him a great nation and to bless all peoples on earth through him (Genesis 12;17;22), Paul wrote that it all has come to pass now through that single descendent (seed) of Abraham, Jesus Christ. Jew, Greek, slave, free, male and female are now all one in Christ. So "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3).

I commend the thousands of promises by God meant for you personally. There is so much negativity in our world, so much despair, so much hopelessness. Consider again that God does not intend for that darkness to overwhelm you. He has provided a way to receive His mercy and forgiveness. That way is none other than a person, His Son Jesus Christ. In him all God's promises are yes and will come true, even as they always have.

If you'd like to receive my outline for my one-day seminar on God's promises, write me. I'll happily send it to you. And remember this promise shared later in Paul's Corinthian letter:
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the LORD to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me," (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).