May 3, 2017
THE PROMISES OF GOD
THE PROMISES OF GOD are great and precious. Why? Because, says the apostle Peter, those who believe them escape from the corruption of the world and are made partakers of the divine nature. (see 2 Peter 1.4)
What is a partaker of the divine nature? Peter does not mean that believers become part of the being of God. That idea is taught by mystics. They have existed for a long time. They were common in Peter’s day, and can be found today.
Peter has in mind God’s original design. He made you to know God. That is not the only purpose he has for you. But it is the most important. You are to look after God’s creation, and you are able to share with others in your family, in the world, and in the Church. God does not want you to engage in those activities apart from him. He created you to enjoy fellow-ship with him. His promise is that he will provide you with all that you need as you seek to know and serve him.
God wants you to know the way by which you can come into a living relationship with him. It is by believing the promises he has given. They are about how you can know life and enjoy it in all its fullness. Here are some of the great and precious promises God has given.
He says that he will blot out your sins and remember them no more (Isaiah 43.25); that he will forgive your iniquity (Jeremiah 31.34); that he will plead for you with the Father (1 John 2.1); that he will put a new heart and a new spirit within you (Ezekiel 36.26); that you will know the truth and be set free by it (John 8.32); that he will give you his Holy Spirit (John 14.16; 16.13); and that he will give you eternal life, keep you, and never let you perish (John 10.28).
These promises are given, Peter says, for an important reason. There are two parts to it.
First, by means of such great promises God would have you escape the corruption of this world. You can see that this world is marked by change and decay. However the decay which you need to especially note is that associated with your heart. It is that upon which Peter focuses. Mankind is not what he was made to be. Men and women are in a fallen state. They do not love God as they should.
The state of rightness with God, in which Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were made, no longer exists. Instead of seeking to please God, people now seek to please themselves. They cannot help it. And Peter tells us why that is so. It is because we follow the lust, or inordinate desire, of our hearts. That was so in the days of Noah when the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Genesis 6.9). And it is so today, for the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5.19).
Our depravity is seen in the desire we have for that which God forbids. It is that lust which feeds the corruption that is in the world (2 Peter 1.4). Not one of us is righteous, no, not one (Psalm 14.3; 53.3; Romans 3.10). There is no fear of God in us (Psalm 36.1; Romans 3.18). Instead we seek to gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 3.16f). Does this mean there is no hope for us? Is there no escape from the corruption of our own hearts? It is true that we have no power to change ourselves. Not one individual can put right what is wrong. But God can. And that, as you can see from the promises listed above, he says he will do.
Who experiences what God promises? Who finds them true and completely trustworthy? It is not those who ignore God’s Word. It is not those who refuse to take seriously his promises. Rather it is those who receive and believe them.
Christians are called to tell others about Jesus Christ. That includes telling others what God promises to do with those who rely solely upon him for acceptance with God. It is those who hear, understand and believe God’s great and precious promises who escape the corruption of the world. They are born again from above. The Spirit of God gives them new desires. Their affections are no longer fixed on the things of this world. Instead they put ungodly ways behind them and live godly, sober and upright lives. They live to the glory of God and not the glory of self.
Secondly, by means of such great and precious promises God would have you become a partaker of the divine nature. Peter does not mean that you become part of God’s being or essence. He does not want you to imagine that you will be made divine. Rather, he wants you to know that those who believe God’s promises are those who are made able to be the people God created men and women to be. As the author of Hebrews says, they share his holiness (Hebrews 12.10).
It is the Holy Spirit who makes a person new. And he does so by means of the great and precious promises of Almighty God. It is your responsibility to hear, receive and believe what God has revealed to mankind. You are to listen with care to his promises. And you are to ask God to do for you and within you that which he promises to do. Those who do what God calls us to do find their thoughts are brought into line with God’s truth; their will comes to conform to his will; and that they become godly people. They become those who seek the things of God, love what God loves, choose what God chooses, and are pleased with that which pleases God.
The more you escape the corruption of the world, the more you show the godly character God calls you to show. And the more you partake of the godliness God enables believers to enjoy the more you will find you will escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
I shall close with a word of encouragement. I want to encourage you to trust in the God who has given to us so many great and precious promises.
To that end please note that every promise of God points to (1) the faithfulness of the Father who
gives it; (2) the love of the Son through whom the blessings of the promise are enjoyed; and (3) the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us not just to believe the promise but also to rely upon the God who gives it.
In Hebrews we read that he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10.23). And Paul writes that he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2.13).
The Lord Jesus reassures us that his grace is sufficient for us, even in the face of great pressure (2 Corinthians 12.9).
And the Holy Spirit is he who will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that Christ taught and God promises (John 14.26).
Because God is faithful, loving and powerful you may be sure that his promises are indeed great and precious.
EPC 16 April 2017