Bible Teachings - Jesus & The Promises
The Promises to Us
The previous fact sheets on the promises related to those given by God to Abraham, and reiterated to David, the king of Israel. We might ask, 'so what? What has that to do with me?' It so happens that it has everything to do with us today, for Peter, in his second letter, 2 Peter 4:3-4 say this:
'According as his divine power has given unto us all things that have to do with life (eternal life) and goodliness, through knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption (death) that is in the world through lust' .
The importance of these verses is crucial because it explains that while our calling to salvation is gifted from God himself, by having knowledge of him, it is the exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to partake of the divine nature (eternal life). Verse one and two has told us eternal life, or salvation, is by the righteousness (rightness with-God) of Jesus. This is a common held Christian belief; but if salvation is possible by knowledge and belief in Jesus, it is obtained by access to the promises given to Abraham .
Paul writing to the Galatian church, Galatians 3:26-29 says:
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ (See our fact sheet on baptism) have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek (all people other than Jews), there is neither slave nor free people, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's then are you Abrahams descendants, and heirs according to the promises.
It is plain then that the apostles fully understood, and preached, that the promises given to Abraham are still active and that by at baptism we are given the promise to possess them, if we have been adopted into Abrahams family through baptism.
That these promises are still central to Gods plan of salvation makes sense else otherwise the promises given to Abraham would be nul-and-void. In stead we see that they play an on-going part in Gods plan of salvation from the very beginning, and continue down through the ages, even to our time. Some believe these promises ceased with the coming of the Jesus and the New Testament. If this were the case we would be left with the dilemma that either God had changed His mind about the promises to Abraham, or that He was unable to carry them through. Either of these alternatives is unacceptable in terms of being able to trust a God who offers salvation. How could we place confidence in a God who offers eternal life to believers if He is not capable of fulfilling His promises to Abraham?
In point of fact there is nobody that has lived who has yet received the promises given to Abraham, save His Son Jesus Christ. Even Abraham did not expect to inherit the promises in his own lifetime. We read in the letter to the Hebrews about Abraham, and many faithful people that have lived through the ages, and yet did not receive these promises but died in hope, waiting in patience for God to fulfil them in His own good time. Hebrews 11: 13, 16-17, 19 says:
'These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed they were strangers on the earth. (16-17) But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly.(whereby) God has prepared them a city. (17) By faith Abraham offered up Isaac.(19) accounting God was able to raise him up, even from the dead' .
These verses are interesting as they explain Old Testament people understood how salvation worked - through the power of resurrection. This gives great meaning to Jesus' own resurrection, 'who was the "first fruit" of them that slept' (1 Corinthians 15:20) Hebrews 11:39-40 continues the idea of faithful believers wait for the fulfilment of time when God will raise them to life and fulfil his promises to them.
And all these, having obtained a good report through faith, did not receive the promises; God having foreseen something better for us, (so that) they would not be perfected without us.
So, we have briefly seen that the promises given to Abraham of inheritance to a kingdom, and salvation through his 'seed' (Jesus Christ) is as relevant for us today as it was back then.