We have all heard people say … “It’s easy to make a promise.” It’s true, we readily say “I promise you” without thinking that every promise requires fulfilment. Some promises are difficult to discern such as “I promise you I didn’t do it.” There is no way to measure that promise. Yet when a man asks a girl to marry him and he places a ring on her finger, they both make a promise which is realized in marriage. It’s measurable. True there are times when one or both parties break their promise and there is no marriage. How is a promise made? A promise is made by the use of words. A promise is articulated in understandable words so that the one making the promise and the one receiving the promise clearly understand the ingredient of the promise. If a promise is not fulfilled it becomes a lie. Over a few days we have been working through the following text slowly:
Mt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As you think through the last sentence … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age … you see the promise is dependent upon obedience to … “everything I have commanded you”. On a general level this means obedience to all of Scripture and on a specific level this means obedience to “go and make disciples, baptize and teach”.
1) God’s first promise to man.
Ge 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
This promise comes in the shape of a command. The promise is freedom with one exception, coupled to dying if there is failure. The Genesis 3 record exposes lies and deceit (sin and rebellion) with God confronting the man:
Ge 3:11 “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
He disobeyed and God’s promise became forcible!
Ge 3:22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
God had promise man … (1) Fail and not live forever – physical death. (2) Fail and loose a relationship with God – spiritual death. (3) Fail and be removed from the Paradise of Eden – hardship and turmoil. When God makes a promise He is serious. Remember that a promise relates to two parties. In God’s case, He never fails! 2) God’s promises require obedience. When we do as He requires, He honors His Word. Take the promise associated with money. Money is that commodity that we need to exist and survive.
Mal 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
In the Old Covenant the main method that drove the economy was agricultural and farming products. Today we use money. God requires we separate 10% of our income, before deductions as a tithe (means 10%) unto Him. Some try to cheat God and find ways to work their personal books to make the tithe far less as some might try with the tax man. Others refuse to tithe; some tithe now and then whilst a handful of God’s people tithe correctly. To these God is faithful and they never suffer needs. In the miraculous scheme of heavenly things, God receives their full tithe and ensures their needs are met. Those who cheat in one way or another will find their budgets can’t work; their requirements exceed their income and they always live on the edge of financial disaster. When God makes a promise obedience is required. 3) God’s practical example of obedience and promise.
Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Before the writer to the Hebrews says God will never leave nor forsake the believer, He requires marital, sexual and financial purity. Always remember we need to quote the text in context to prevent making it a pretext. This passage speaks about marriage, sex and money but implies all of life! Obey and enjoy God’s promise to always be with you and never ever dump you. 4) God proves what has already been said in the Gospels remains intact … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Where the context seems to be faith and complete evangelism and church growth … and it is … it also includes faithful commitment to Jesus in general! Take as a last illustration:
Jn 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Notice the promise’s requirement … “listen” and “follow” are followed by “know them”: “give them eternal life” and “no one can snatch them out of my hand / out of my Father’s hand”. As you look at all these promises God gives to us, each ones fulfilment is dependent upon the believer being faithful, obedient and intentional. Now … do you believe His Words? Belief carries with it faith and faith carries with it appropriation but appropriation requires obedience. All the Daily Notes from before Good Friday up to today shows us what God did for us and what He requires we do for Him.
Thank You Lord for clarity about the Gospel and Service. Amen.