Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
January 24, 2016
Central Passage
2 Peter 1:3-4
Subject
Promises of God
Description

January 24, 2016

FAITHFUL PROMISES

2 Peter 1:3-4

In his will Russell Edward Herman left trillions of dollars to thousands of people he had never met.  But, there was a catch.  The man didn’t have trillions of dollars.  In fact, he was a poor carpenter who (when he died) didn’t have much of anything of material value.

Being included in his will would be like me writing you a check for a million dollars.  Good luck on finding someone to cash it.

Although beneficiaries of Herman’s alleged generosity didn’t receive a dime…he give them something to talk about.  My take is that he would have made a wonderful politician…a man who would have been very generous with taxpayer money.  But, of course, we already have an entire government made up of people like him.

Herman must have been a guy with great intentions…just not the resources to make them a reality.  I mention Herman because the greatness of God stands in sharp contrast to him.  God not only has made great and precious promises…He has the ability and resources to follow through on every single one of them.

I love the song “How Great is Our God”…but when we sing it I also think about the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  The greatness of God is characterized by His faithfulness.  We should spend a lot of our worship time celebrating the faithfulness of God…because the Bible not only declares that God is faithful to His promises…it also reveals a history of that faithfulness.

And, we don’t have to engage in revisionist history to prove God’s faithfulness.  It hasn’t exactly been hidden.  It has been there from the beginning…past and present…and never failing.

Peter said it well: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

As I’ve mentioned before…there are some 32,000 of God’s promises in the Bible.  And, Peter likes to use the word “precious” when talking about these promises.  He uses the word five times in his two letters included in the New Testament.

Peter spoke of a PRECIOUS FAITH when he wrote: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

He also wrote: “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” (2 Peter 1:1).

Peter also spoke of PRECIOUS BLOOD in 1 Peter 1:19 where he wrote about: “…the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

And, in 1 Peter 2:4-6, he spoke of a PRECIOUS STONE with the words: “As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’.”

In 1 Peter 2:7-8, he discusses our PRECIOUS LORD, about whom he says: “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

In 2 Peter 1:4, God’s PRECIOUS PROMISES are referred to with these words: “…he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

As to why God’s promises are so great and precious…well, we don’t need any other reason than that they come from God.  His promises lead to eternal life…and He can also do what we consider impossible.  We have this assurance…you can’t break God’s promises by leaning on them…so lean away.

One of God’s great and precious promises came through Jesus when He said, “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).

People can destroy a congregation…and they often do…but God has promised that the True Church will exist to the end.  When I think of the True Church, I think of numerous Scriptures and also of that great hymn that goes like this: “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the Word.  From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her and for her life He died.”

Local Christian congregations are today being attacked from without and from within…and some of them will surrender and become part of the world…but you can’t kill God…and you can’t kill His True Church.

Another precious promise of God is thatI will be with you.”  That’s a promise He has made to His followers throughout the ages.  To Joshua God said, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

And, as part of the Great Commission Jesus said, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

And, in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, Paul wrote: “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…”  The Holy Spirit is always with us…even through our darkest hours.

Still another precious promise from God isI will strengthen you.”  Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

In 2 Thessalonians 3:3 Paul wrote: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”  And, in Philippians 4:13, he declared, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Another precious promise from God was:I will pour out my Spirit.”  That promise was uttered by prophets for centuries…realized on the day of Pentecost…and is available to all who put their faith in Christ.

Ephesians 1:13 clearly states: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”

A final precious promise I choose to mention came from Jesus’ lips.  That promise is “I will come again.”  In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

I’ve mentioned only five great and precious promises of God.  There are hundreds more.  As to how we can receive these promises…I can share with you four ways.

First we need to prayerfully study our Bibles.  The Word of God is the treasury that hold every one of God’s promises.  If you deeply mine the soil of God’s Word…you discover the gems contained within it.  We can’t know what our heavenly Father has promised unless we hear His voice from the pages of the Bible.  Because people don’t know the Bible…they assume that God has made certain promises to them when, in fact, He hasn’t.

Some people assume He has promised them physical healing…a job…fair treatment…or a good marriage.  But, the bottom line is that none of that is promised.  Christianity is not an insurance policy against severe trials and pain in life.

What God has promised the Christian is Jesus...an eternal sacrifice for our sin.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that in Christ all the promises of God are yes… but that we must search the Scriptures to find and claim each one.

A second aspect to receiving God’s precious promises is that we must patiently wait.  Hebrews 6:15 tells us that “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”  There was a 25 year wait between God’s original promise to Abraham and the birth of Isaac.  I’m sure Abraham never expected to have a son when he was 100 years old.

If you’ve waited for a long time for God to fulfill a promise to you…don’t give up.  God can’t be rushed.  Unlike us, He isn’t governed by time.

A third aspect of receiving God’s precious promises is living in obedience to God’s will.  Hebrews 10:36 teaches us that obedience is a key to obtaining God’s promise.  That verse says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

God’s promises are often conditional.  We have to fulfill our certain responsibilities before we can receive the rewards of God.  The greatest example is that of salvation.  Our Heavenly Father does not give the salvation provided by His Son to us automatically.  We must make a conscious decision to believe in, accept and trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior…which will result in a life of obedience to the teachings of Jesus.

A fourth way we receive God’s precious promises is by faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”  And, Heb. 11:6 tells us, “…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 2 Corinthians 5:7 the apostle Paul states that "…we walk by faith, not by sight."  We trust in the invisible God…our loving Heavenly Father…and we stand on His promises.  Being a person of faith doesn’t mean we never doubt.  It just means that we believe more than we doubt.  We should, in fact, believe our beliefs and doubt our doubts.

Which of God’s promises do you need to claim today?  I’m sure you can think of one or more.  Maybe it’s the one about victory over temptation.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Maybe you need to access the promise of wisdom for the trials that you’re undergoing in life.  James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

If bad stuff is going on in your life…God promises that good can come from it.  In 1 Peter 5:10 we’re told, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

If you’re shouldering a tremendous burden of guilt…receive this promise from 1 John 1:9 and wipe out your past sins: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God keeps His promises.  And, when we learn to trust Him according to His promises…our lives will never be the same.

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